SAT Question of the Day (ACT too!) August 31, 2013

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.  The “comma splice” error is one of the test writers’ favorite mistakes that you’ll see on the test: two independent clauses combined into one sentence.  You can bet on seeing it on both the SAT and ACT.  Be prepared. has a great lesson about this issue.  If you aren’t an expert yet and need some help, the gorilla awaits.  (Go to the website to see why I say that.)

There are a couple of ways to fix this sentence and the test writers provide you one.  Another possible  “fix” you will see on the tests is use of a semi-colon.  “There are many famous quotations previously credited to ‘Anonymous’; researchers have discovered that they were in fact written by female authors.”

More grammar tips and tricks are on Video #9.  Take a look.

As always, it isn’t simply getting this question that is important.  You must learn your opponents’ favorite grammar errors; the comma splice is just one of them.  Once you know their favorite topics, learn how they present them and the strategies you use to overcome their “tricks.”

I wonder what the ACT folks have in store 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, their archive is helpful. The ACT folks simply don’t do that.)

The answer is B.  Lines 16-18 answer the question.  The other answers add something new to the story and are, therefore, wrong.

Watch my free reading video to get a more detailed explanation of the value of the “Add” strategy.  There’s even more information on Video #3.

As I was mentioning earlier, use these Questions of the Day to learn things about the tests, not simply get this one right.  The biggest challenge for many students is finishing the reading section on time.  That is especially true for the ACT: 40 questions in 35 minutes.  There are relatively few line references for locating the right answer.  This question is a perfect example: three lines out of 97 give you the answer.  In all likelihood, you don’t remember the detail from reading the passage and it will be time consuming to go find the answer.  On the ACT,  less than 50% of the questions have line references and it is usually around 35%!  However, on the SAT, you have more time per question: 70 minutes to do 67 questions (and 19 are quicker to do since they are Sentence Completion).  But best of all, the SAT gives line references for 80% of the questions and some of the passages have up to 100% line references.  On the positive side for the ACT, they only have 3 wrong answers/distractors/foils while the SAT has 4.  That will add to your time on the SAT.

What you should get out of this issue: try both tests!  Most students do equally well on both tests but about 15% do much better on the SAT and another 15% do much better on the ACT.  This comment is based on my 22 years of helping kids and a large district in central Florida did the research that supported my expectation.

If you are a slow reader and have trouble finishing reading on time, please take this advice to heart and try both tests.  You can even do it for free by doing the sample SAT and ACT tests that are available in your counselor’s office and online.

I’d like to thank a special group of my students.  I do tutoring, run classes, and provide special programs during and after school at schools, at youth organizations, at churches, at public libraries, etc.  At the ends of those sessions there are always a few students who come up and shake my hand and express their gratitude for spending my time with them and helping them improve their scores.  I want to say that those special “thank you’s” make my day.  There is nothing else I receive for participating in those programs that makes me feel like I’m making a difference.  “Thank you,” to all of those students, parents, and educators who have said, “Thank you,” to me and my wife who is there with me at the community events.  (She does a great job of explaining college admissions and financial aid.)



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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