SAT Question of the Day (ACT too!): Dec. 14, 2013

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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.)

This is a really difficult question.  Only 36% are getting it right!  However, the grammar is easy; it is the way the sentence is structured that makes it hard.

The answer is A.  You know the basic rule: singular subjects need singular predicates/verbs and plural subjects need plural verbs.  So, why is the question so hard?  It’s because the test writers love to put prepositional phrases containing objects that are the opposite of the subject closer to the predicate/verb.  Take a look.  The subject is origin (singular) but they put parks (plural) right next to the predicate lie (plural).  That makes it sound just fine but parks isn’t the subject that goes with lie, origin is.  I’ll bet over twice as many students would have gotten this question correct if the prepositional phrase of amusement parks wasn’t there.

All right, what do we need to learn from this question?  First, get your hands on my list of common errors that show up on the test.  You’ll find it on my free website or in my student manual Demystifying the SAT & ACT.  Look at the chapter that goes with Video #9.  One of the first things on the list is subject-predicate/verb agreement.  If you see a noun underlined, be sure that it agrees (singular vs. plural) with its verb.  (Of course, if a verb is underlined, you have to check the noun that goes with it.)  Second, always watch out for how the test writers turn the easy stuff (in this case, subject-verb agreement) into difficult stuff.  They buried the verb a distance away from the subject by putting in a prepositional phrase and they often put additional words between them causing even more problems.  In short, when you see a noun underlined, go find its verb and ignore all the stuff in between.  With practice, you’ll immediately get these questions correct.

Let’s see what the ACT folks have for us today.

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

When you get to the point that you can answer the questions without referring to the information in the passage, you know something is wrong.  In this case, it is that the ACT test writers are too lazy to put some new questions on their website.

The answer is F.  You can see in Table 1 that as the time of the year changes the direction of the shadow changes.  That means the sun is coming up at a different place along the horizon on the different days.

Do you know what the most important things are to learn from this question?  First, you’ll never predict the science knowledge that will be on the test; so don’t worry about reviewing science information as part of your test prep.  Second, they’ll explain the science on the test which is all the more reason to not review science topics.  Third, this is a science reasoning test.  You need to apply scientific principles and the most important skill is analyzing and interpreting data.  That is what you need to practice prior to the test.  Get your hands on some actual ACT Science Tests and study the way the test writers present data and ask questions about the charts and graphs in those tests–the more the better.  Work on your speed because that is the major challenge of the test.  Let’s get to work!  Only practice will raise your score.

Here’s a great strategy for the Science Test to pick up your speed.  Do NOT do the science passages in the order they are in the test booklet.  The seven passages include: 3 Reading Data passages, 3 Understanding Experiments passages, and 1 Disputing Scientists passages.  They will appear in random order in your test booklet.  Find and do the data passages first, then do the experiment passages, and always save the disputing scientists until last.  Read more about this issue on my free website and take a look at the science section of Video #10: The ACT Test.

Good luck on the ACT test today.  Let me know how you think my blog helped you improve your performance.

The SAT & 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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