SAT Question of the Day & ACT QotD May 7

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 D.  If you want to do it the hard way, read the SAT staff’s explanation if you can follow it!  Their way of explaining it is harder to understand than the question itself.  How about doing it the easy way?

The Wizard’s strategy is to remember the key to answering ratio questions is to use the sum of the parts.  For seniors there are 3 parts boys and 5 parts girls, a total of 8 parts for each group.  8 goes into the total of 80 seniors (the population of seniors) 10 times.  So, multiply 10 times both 3 and 5 to get 30 boys and 50 girls in the population of seniors; that’s 20 more girls than boys.  Since we are told there are an equal number of boys and girls combined in the two classes, we know we have to make up the deficit of 20 fewer boys than girls.  In the junior class, the ratio of boys to girls is 3 to 2.  That means out of each group of 5 students (3 boys plus 2 girls) we gain 1 boy.  Because we need to make up the shortage of 20 boys, we need 20 groups of juniors.  Each junior group has 5 students and 20 times 5 is 100, answer D.

Let’s summarize the key strategy here and be sure to remember it on test day.  You always do math questions by answering two questions: 1) “What did the test writers tell me?” and 2) “What do I know because they told me that?”  They told you a ratio and you know the total of the group by adding the parts.  The population is going to be a multiple of the group.  For example in this question 3 + 5 = 8 and 8 times 10 is 80; 3 + 2 = 5 and 5 times 20 is 100.  We are all done.

Your success on the math test is largely determined by recognizing signals (or “flags”) and applying the two questions I mentioned above.  In this case, the flag was it is a ratio question.  That means you’ll need to add the parts and usually determine a population.  Doing so makes ratio questions fairly simple.

Let’s see what kind of puzzle the ACT folks have for us today. (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 H.  Remember that the SAT and ACT tests are games and you need a game plan with a play book of strategies to win.  The SAT question helped you learn a strategy for dealing with math questions in general (the two questions) and a strategy for dealing specifically with ratio questions (the sum of the parts).  Here’s a very cool strategy for answering reading questions for both tests (and other reading tests as well).

Always insert answers (imagine copying and pasting) into the passage and determine if they fit.  If answers add or disagree, they are wrong.  Answers F, G, and J all fail the Wizard’s test by either adding or disagreeing.  However, H could be inserted into the passage without adding anything new or disagreeing with the passage.  If you inserted the sentence, “Ms. Sennett doesn’t want to reveal her affection for them,” into the passage, it would fit quite well.  In fact, it sounds like it could have been in the passage at one time and the test writers removed it and made it Answer H!

Strategies are critical to raising your scores.  Be sure you learn them, practice them, and use them on test day.  Focused practice is going to be critical to raising your score because it will improve your confidence.  And as my mentor once said, “Test prep raises confidence and confidence raises scores.”

Use my DVD set, live classes or tutoring, and online course to learn the strategies that will raise your confidence.

Keep reading my blog each day and you’ll learn useful strategies for the tests.

Enjoy your day.  Learn something useful and thank a teacher.


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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