SAT Question of the Day ( & ACT): Mar. 8, 2014

If you are reading this in an email you received from me, do not click the link to below. Use the link to my website that is farther down on the email. (This link takes you to today’s question. If you use my archive, you will see the question related to my SAT explanation for that date.)

Thousands of you will be taking the SAT this morning.  Good luck.  Today’s question is a great last minute test-taking tip.

The answer is D.  The test writers love 30:60:90 triangles.  They are on the test frequently.  So, you should either memorize the ratio of the sides or remember it is on the cheat sheet.  It is x:2x:x√3.  The hypotenuse is always 2 times the short side and the long side (not hypotenuse) is always the length of the short side times √3.  For this question, when you see the sizes of the angles, you should immediately think, “Half of the hypotenuse is 6 and 6 times the square root of 3 is the length of the long side.  There’s 6√3 in the answers; all done.

Often you will see x√3 as one side of a triangle and they don’t tell you directly that you are dealing with a 30:60:90 triangle.  However, you will be.  I don’t ever recall seeing x√3 on a side (not hypotenuse) of a triangle when it wasn’t a 30:60:90.  Immediately you should use the ratio you memorized or you’ll find on the cheat sheet to answer the question.

Also on the test, watch out for x√2 on the hypotenuse.  This is the signal you are doing a question about a 45:45 right triangle and it is also on the cheat sheet.  Keep in mind it is 1) an isosceles triangle and 2) half of a square because the hypotenuse for these triangles  is the diagonal of a square.

Now hurry up and get to the test!  Read about the ACT later.

I wonder if the ACT folks have something new for us this morning.

ACT Question of the Day: Use your “back” button to return to my website after reading the ACT Question of the Day.

Well, they certainly don’t have anything new up their sleeves.  We’ve seen this question many times before.

The answer is J.  We can use the Wizard’s Checklist to make short work of this question.  Step 1 of the checklist is to eliminate answers that add to the passage.  So, we can eliminate F and G.  Step 2 eliminates H because it disagrees because they aren’t speaking to the narrator.  We are left with Answer J.

What’s more important than getting this question correct is using it to understand a common mistake students make when taking any reading test.  It is causing them to waste time and to miss questions.  That mistake is trying to figure out IF an answer could be right.  That’s backwards.  They should be figuring out IF the answer can be wrong.  That’s much quicker.  Use the Checklist and you’ll greatly increase your speed and get more questions correct.  Did you notice how my explanation focused on quickly eliminating answers?  That is the key to reading test success.

Enjoy your day.  It’s Saturday and you need to take the time to have some fun and relax.

Bob Alexander, the “SAT and ACT Wizard”


About Bob Alexander

Bob has been a professional educator starting with teaching biology, becoming a school administrator, and then working as an education lobbyist in Washington, DC. He got his start in national testing by becoming a consulting test writer, later joining Kaplan as a director, and finally starting his own business in 1995. He has written numerous books, consulted for school districts and colleges, developed his website and been featured on a DVD set. He offers SAT and ACT prep classes and tutors individuals and small groups of students in central Florida.
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