SAT Question of the Day (ACT too!): Nov. 26, 2013

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.

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 wonderful thing about the SAT and ACT is that they are standardized tests!  Yes, I know that the mention of standardized tests causes the adrenalin level to ratchet up a bit for most students.  However, it is actually a very good thing that the tests are standardized.  When anything is standardized, it is quite predictable.  (For example, red traffic lights always mean “stop.”  Imagine the chaos if they meant “go” on Tuesdays!)  It is this standardization that lets me make my guarantee for students who complete my program: no surprises on test day.  I can make this promise because I know what is going to be on the test.  When students do what I tell them, they learn what is going to be on the test and are better prepared to use strategies to deal with the questions.  Use today’s question as an example.

The answer is C.  I knew before I even got to the answer what I was going to find for an error in this sentence.  That is because the test writers predictably test the same grammar and composition rules all the time.  What I saw was, “became less mobile, built more substantial…”  I immediately focused on the fact that there is a series of verbs in the past tense with the subject noun “they” that is at the beginning of the clause.  That led me to expect an additional verb that would be part of the series but fail to be parallel with the first two.  There it is, “…they developed…”  The tense is fine but they repeated the subject “they.”  Oops, the construction is not parallel; therefore, it is improper composition and is the right answer because this section of the test requires us to find the error.

Use my list of common grammar and composition errors on my free website and/or my manual Demystifying the SAT & ACT (and Video #9) and start studying.  Learn the common errors and then practice identifying them.  You will find them on the SAT Writing Test and the ACT English Test.  Finally, be sure to avoid them when you write your essays.

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 H.  Yes, the test writer’s explanation is one way to do it.  It is a rather long way to explain the algebra for that method but it works.  I would have stopped at the point that I saw that x = ±.  That’s two answers: the positive and negative square roots of 15.  Why bother with all the other calculations unless you trying to show off?!

For me it was simpler to just factor the left side of the equation and get (x-3) (x+5) = 0.  Therefore, x = 3 and x = -5.  There are two answers.  Boom all done.  Of course, if you factored it to (x+3) and (x-5), you would also get two solutions.  This could lead some students to think that there are actually four solutions.  However, there are only two because you can’t factor the original equation more than one way at any given time.  I think my explanation is faster.  I know it is for me.  How about for you?

Did you see an even faster way?  There is.  I know that when I factor a binomial with a negative constant (-15), I have to have a positive and a negative constant in the factors which will result in two solutions to the equation.  Again, that seems faster than both of the above techniques.

My point is that there is usually more than one way to solve math problems on the ACT and SAT.  Practice will help you figure out which techniques will improve your speed and raise your score.  Let’s get to work.

What a great day!  We are only two days away from Thanksgiving and lots of football.  Enjoy.

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.
Category: SAT & ACT Question Of The Day No Comments

Comments are closed.