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

The answer is E.

The key to Sentence Completion Questions is always to identify the topic of the sentence and then predict a word for each of the blanks before looking at the answers.  That is because the sentences will sound like topic sentences for paragraphs and the right answer will always sound like a word that belongs in the paragraph.

For example, in this case the subject of the sentence is “conference speakers” and we are told that they “disliked one another” but were able “to avoid petty squabbling.”  That’s the topic: we expect them to fight but they didn’t.  We need to predict a word for the first blank that is consistent with “petty squabbling.”   I picked “fight, disagree, confront.”  Sometimes I just use a word that is in the sentence (squabbling) because then I know it has to be consistent.  Or you can just pick a synonym.  If you don’t know what “squabble” means, you sure know they disliked each other and they’d be expected to have a negative encounter of some sort.

For the second blank, we know they didn’t have a negative encounter and they actually got along.  I predicted “agreement.”

Now for the trick–start with one of your two predictions and eliminate as many answers as possible for that blank.  Let’s start with the second blank, “agreement,” because I feel really good about it.  Wow.  Only E works!  I can eliminate all the other answers because none of them mean “agreement.”  It turns out we don’t even need to worry about the first blank.  That sure saves a lot of time.

Often when you use one blank to eliminate as many answers as possible, you still have two and sometimes three answers in the running.  That is because the test writers use synonyms in each column that can work.  Then you have to use the other blank.  In this case, they didn’t do that; so, we are all done with this question and are ready to move on.

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.

Hopefully, you’ve memorized the formula for calculating the area of a triangle.  You’ll need it on the ACT.  For the SAT, it is on the “cheat sheet.”

The answer is K.  They give you the base but not the height.  Because you only know the triangle is an isosceles, you can’t figure out a height.  There are lots of possible heights.  There’s nothing you can do.

They could have given you the tangent of B or C and you could have solved it using trig.  (They’ll have 4 trig questions on the test.)  You know that the adjacent side to C is 5 (half of the base) and you could calculate the opposite side (the height) because the tan = opp/adj.  However, they didn’t give you this information, so it’s time to pick K and move on.

I hope you have a productive day.  As for me, I’m off to deal with Comcast.  I had DirecTV for 10 years and never had a problem.  I’ve had Comcast for 8 months and am now dealing with my 5th problem which requires me to drive an hour and stand in a ridiculous line.  I’d rather be helping a student!

I promise I’ll be in a better mood tomorrow unless I get the run around from Comcast this morning!

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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