SAT Question of the Day (ACT too!): Oct. 12, 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 answer is A.  Lots of students are missing this question (60%) which means it is a “hard” question.  What makes it so difficult?  My guess is that there’s no mistake.  We are all expecting to see a mistake; so, we find one when there isn’t one.  Keep an eye on where you are on the test.  Remember that questions are arranged from easy to hard within question format (except Reading Passages).  That means this question is going to be late in the question format where you have to fix the mistake if there is one.  When you are in the last few questions, the incidence of “no mistake” answers goes up; therefore, be careful.  Keep in mind that the grammar isn’t necessarily harder.  It’s just that students are expecting a mistake and erroneously find one!  That means fewer students get them right and these questions end up late in the question format.  Remember when you are playing the game that you will find more “no mistake” answers toward the end of that section.

The test writers hate it when I tell you these things!

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 B.  Unlike today’s SAT Question of the Day, the ACT Question of the Day has an error and you need to fix it.  The comma needs eliminating because the clause that follows it is essential to the sentence.  The clause “that have engaged people’s minds for centuries” places limits on “ideas” which makes it a restrictive clause.   Therefore, don’t use a comma.

What’s important to learn about the test is that you shouldn’t be paying attention to and following all the “directions” on the ACT English Test!  They tell you to read the whole passage through first and then come back and answer the questions.  Nuts to that!!  Doing so is a terrible waste of time.  Just start reading and do the questions as you come to them.  For example, in this case, I just scrolled to the question and answered it.  The context of the rest of the passage was meaningless.

On occasion, you will need to read a sentence or two and possibly a paragraph surrounding the underlined portion in order to answer a question.  (This is especially common if they ask a question about a topic sentence for a paragraph.)  However, this is so unusual that you just deal with those situations when you find them.  I don’t ever recall needing to read the entire passage to answer a question.  You should ignore their directions regarding this issue because it is really “advice” and not directions at all.  They need to eliminate that statement from the directions.

Enjoy your Saturday.  Thanks for spending a few minutes with me and I’m hoping my blog is helping you feel more confident about taking the tests.

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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