SAT Question of the Day & ACT QotD: May 21

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. If you are seeing this in my blog, do the SAT Question of the Day by clicking on this link: (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.)

The answer is E.  I don’t like the SAT explanation this morning; I believe it is inadequate.  “They” doesn’t have a clear antecedent in the original sentence and that is certainly a problem rather than calling it an “unnecessary pronoun.”  In addition, the sentence needs a clear and specific subject and Answer E is the best way to do that.  That creates a flaw in their answer in the sense that the test writers much prefer active rather than passive sentences.  Answer E is a passive sentence and is only the “best” because it is better than all of the other alternatives.  There is certainly a better way to reconstruct the original sentence.

Use active sentences in which the subject is initiating the action rather than receiving the action.  The best way to rewrite the original sentence would be to make it active.  You could do that by rewriting it as: “The flowers from which nectar is taken determines the color and flavor of honey.”  In this revision, “flowers” is the subject and it is an active sentence because “flowers determine…” makes it an active sentence.

This is an important issue when you write your SAT and ACT essays.  As Ms. Murphy always said, “Being active is always better than being passive.  You can take charge or let somebody else be in charge of you.  Which do you prefer?”

Let’s see how we can take charge of the ACT question. (The ACT staff does not put a date on their questions so if you click on an archived blog, you’ll get today’s question and the old explanation. Sorry. The SAT staff has dated their questions; so, the archive is helpful. The ACT folks simply don’t do that.)

The answer is C.  The ACT explanation is the long version of how to fix the sentence and you should read it.  I saw that there was a mistake with the original because you don’t “lecture proof” or lecture any other noun.  You may “lecture about the proof.”  My hunt for a better answer eliminated Answer B because “proof” would have needed to be the verb “prove.”  Answer C looked good since the comma provided a pause and a description of the lecture (creating an appositive).  Answer D has the same problem as the original sentence.

Be sure you think about yesterday’s events in Oklahoma.  Not only may you come up with a way you may be of assistance but also it will help you remember how fortunate you are.  We often think our problems are overwhelming until we compare them to problems of the magnitude the Oklahoma residents are experiencing.  Count your blessings and not your challenges; doing so will make for a happier day.


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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