SAT Question of the Day (ACT too!): Mar. 16, 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 D.  The antecedent for “it” is “manacles or shackles.”  “It” is singular and “manacles” and “shackles” are plural.  “It” needs to be “they.”

This question is a reminder that the test writers have a pool of common grammar and composition rules that they include on the test.  They do the same for math and reading!  Knowing what is on the list of topics that is tested for each section of the test helps you prepare.  It focuses you on the right material and makes your preparation more efficient.  For grammar and composition questions, I’ve prepared a list of common rules that are tested by the SAT Writing and ACT English Tests.  You will find it on my free website, on my videos, and in my student workbook, Demystifying the SAT & ACT.

One of the common rules on the test is pronoun/antecedent agreement.  In this case, the mistake is singular/plural inconsistency.  Other pronoun issues could be gender and form/case (subjective, objective, and possessive) errors.  Then there are specific pronoun problems like who/whom.  It is certainly in your best interest to review my list and refresh your skills related to identifying and correcting these common errors.

Not only will items from the list be tested on the multiple-choice part of the test but also they will be used to judge your essay.  Be sure you avoid these mistakes when you write.


It sure is boring when I’ve seen the question before and I don’t have to read the passage to get the right answer.  Where’s the fun in that?

The answer is C.  Even though this question has appeared many times before, let’s use it as a reminder of how to most efficiently take a reading test: use PICK.  Begin with the “I” in PICK, Insertable.  Ask yourself for each answer, “Does this answer fit in the passage without adding or disagreeing with it?”  If an answer doesn’t fit, then eliminate it.  Answers A, B, and D all violate the Insertable rule by adding or disagreeing.  Eliminate them.  Answer C is the “Goldilocks” answer; it fits just right because it neither adds nor disagrees!  Lines 24-26: “Her hair must have been sadly thin, because she always wore, indoors and out, either a hat or a sort of turban,” support our answer.  Answer C, “has thin hair,” would fit very well into those lines without either adding or disagreeing.

When you take the reading test, keep in mind a common strategical error students make.  They try to justify keeping an answer by saying to themselves something like, “I can see how this could be true if…”  Whoa, stop right there!  That approach is going to severely damage your score.  First, it slows you down when you do that kind of thinking.  Second, you end up talking yourself into wrong answers because you add information to the passage that wasn’t there in the first place.

Your approach should be just the opposite.  You need to justify eliminating answers.  Using the PICK strategy does exactly that.  It efficiently and accurately identifies answers that cannot be the best answer.  Read about it in my materials or watch the 300 Video Series.  It has proven to raise hundreds of thousands of reading test scores.  Yours will be next!

There’s an old saying, “Insanity is to continue doing what you’ve always done and to expect different results.”  It’s time to change what you’ve been doing on the reading test.  Use PICK!

My blog reminds me of another of my favorite quotes: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”  It only takes you a few minutes to read my blog each day.  But the total effect of reading and learning the strategies is enormous.  Keep it up.


Bob Alexander, the “SAT and 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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