SAT Question of the Day (ACT too!): Dec. 4, 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.)

The answer is A.  As always, let’s start with the topic: the senators had a history of disagreeing and so the fact that one of them would suddenly agree would seem misleading or maybe even a lie.  So, we should predict a word that means “misleading” or “deceiving” or “not really honest.”  Looking at the answers, the only synonym is “fatuous.”  (Since I was once a lobbyist in DC, I recognized these two guys right away!  They think it is easier to lie than to debate.)

Many students will be stuck by the meanings of some of the answers.  However, precious and meritorious are words that most could eliminate and guess at the other three.  Rather than randomly guess, read the sentence while plugging in the remaining words one at a time.  One will sound better than the others even though you may not know why.  Pick that one; it will be better than randomly guessing.  That’s a strategy that will raise your score.

Let’s see what the ACT folks have 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.

The answer is C.  I was dumbfounded by the first explanation that the test writer provided.  Yes, it works but why would anybody do that?  My students certainly wouldn’t.  You have a calculator in your hands that would be much faster.

I did it by multiplying 7 times 9 in my head which are the square roots of 49 and 81.   Because the question says “approximates,” I picked the perfect squares that were closest to 50 and 80.  I suspect that was even faster than using your calculator.

Calculators will slow you down on many questions!  Take the time to memorize a few things: perfect squares through 18, perfect cubes through 5, fraction/decimal equivalents for common fractions, the times tables through 12, etc.

Many students ask me why they should bother to memorize perfect squares because it is easy to put 14 into their calculator and come up with 196.  That’s certainly true (even though it is slower than having memorized it).  The big advantage is that the test writers use numbers on the test that are easy to manipulate without a calculator.  For example, if you see 121 or 169 or 225, you should recognize them as the squares of 11, 13, and 15.  Doing so will get you to the right answer more quickly.  In addition, seeing the number is a perfect square will help get you started on how to solve the problem because you know using the square root is important to solving the problem.

Enjoy your hump day–Friday is coming!

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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