SAT Question of the Day (ACT too!): Jan. 13, 2014

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. (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 question sure teaches us a lot about the test.  Because the SAT and ACT are standardized tests, doing the Question of the Day can be used to predict what we’ll see on test day and eliminate surprises.  I don’t think the specific question is of much value!  It sure isn’t going to show up on the test but it will expose our opponents’ (test writers’) tendencies.

The answer is C.  As usual, the test writer’s explanation is far more complicated than it needs to be!  Many of my students say that the SAT math explanations are often more complicated than the question and I agree.  There are a couple of things on my free website course and the geometry videos (Series 700) that make this question a snap.  Barely half of the students are getting it right today.  Using my strategies, you can get this question correct in half the time (or maybe faster) that it takes to use the explanation you are given by the SAT folks.

First, the key to all circle questions is the radius.  They tell you the diameter of the little circle is the same as the radius of the big circle; so, you know the radius of the smaller circle is half the radius of the larger circle.  Second, you probably remember the area of a circle is πr2.  (If you’ve forgotten, of course it is on the “cheat sheet” at the beginning of the math section.)  Third, I discuss in my course (live class, website, and videos) how to use the ratios of two geometric figures to calculate their relative sizes.  It is quite simple.  In this case the smaller circle’s radius is 1/2 the larger circle’s radius.  Plug in 1/2 for the radius into the formula for the area of a circle.  When you square it, you get 1/4; therefore the smaller circle is 1/4 as large as the the larger circle.  The area of the larger circle is 2 times 24, 48, because they only give you the area of half of the larger circle.  Now just divide by 4 and you get 48/4 is 12, Answer C.

One of the important things to learn, and you need to develop some confidence related to this issue, is that your calculator is often going to slow you down!  No kidding.  If you had done this question the test writer’s or math teacher’s way, think about how much time you would have to spend pushing buttons on your calculator.  Compare that with doing this question in your head.  1)  The radius is 1/2 as big.  2) 1/2 times 1/2 is 1/4.  3) 2 times 24 is 48.  4)  48 divided by 4 is 12.  Doing it in my head took me as long as it took you to read these four steps!!  Learning my test-taking strategies will speed you up and raise your score.  They are definitely going to raise your score more than all the calculators you could buy.

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.

The answer is D.  A key issue to watch for on both the ACT English Test and the SAT Writing Test is the placement of phrases.  The only thing that makes sense would be that the boy had a comic book tucked inside his school book so that he could hide it from his teacher.  Therefore, put “inside his schoolbook” right after “contraband comic opened.”  Now it would read, “with a contraband comic opened inside his schoolbook.”

If you’ve read my rant about the ACT directions before, skip this paragraph but if you haven’t, you need to read it.  The ACT “directions” tell you to read the whole passage and then come back and fix the underlined portions.  What an awful thing to tell you to do!  It is not only unnecessary but also is a terrible waste of time.  The test writers need to be put on trial as their reading passage related to Medieval Trials describes.  (You’ll see it soon; I promise.)  I think trial by ordeal is in order!  Completely disregard these directions.  Just start reading and do the underlined stuff as you come to it.  Today’s question proves my point.  You could answer this question by only reading this sentence.  That’s true for the vast majority of the questions.  There will be a few that will require you to read a few lines in addition to the sentence that includes the underlined stuff but deal with those on an individual basis.

It’s the beginning of a new week.  Make the most of it and get off to a great start today.  Doing so will make rest of the week much easier.

If you have any questions about the tests, send me an email.

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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