SAT Question of the Day (and ACT): Apr. 24, 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 C.  It fixes two problems: 1) the improper preposition “for” is changed to “in,” and 2) the use of “both/and” is better because the construction is now parallel: “both his…” and “and his….”

“Both/and” is one of a group of paired grammatical constructions that show up on the test.  Others include neither/nor, either/or, and not only/but also.  Think about them as BFFs!  They always go together.  Keep these pairs in mind as you take the test — and as you write.

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.  The key to this question is to recognize the standard function (equation) for a circle in the coordinate grid (plane).  It always reminds me of the Pythagorean Theorem: a2+b2=c2.  The difference is that the a2 becomes (x +/- h)2 and the b2 becomes (y +/- k)2.  Then the c2 becomes r2, where r is the radius of the circle instead of the hypotenuse of a right triangle.  The h and k tell us where the center of the circle is on the grid.  Just change the sign in the parentheses, and you get the x and y coordinates.  Using this question as an example, the (x – 2) tells us the x coordinate is at +2 and the (y + 4) tells us the y coordinate is at -4.  (This information isn’t important for answering this question but I’m including it in my blog because this could be an important fact on ACT test day.  This concept is not tested on the SAT.)

The 9 in the question tells us the radius squared.  Because the area of circle is πr2, we just have to multiply 9 times π to get the right answer.

In addition to graphs of circles, be prepared to recognize the equations for parabolas and ellipses.  Take a look at the ACT section of Demystifying the SAT & ACT for a complete explanation of these functions.  Watch Video #1004 for a thorough explanation of this and other graphs of functions.

You should begin preparing for the SAT and ACT tests by reviewing lists of the math concepts that show up on the tests.  Today’s question is a good example of why that is true.  The graphs of functions show up on the ACT but not the SAT.  Getting the lists will limit your prep only to  math that shows up on the tests and you’ll avoid wasting time reviewing things that aren’t on the tests.  You not only get such valuable lists but also can determine which math concepts you need to review by doing my free math diagnostics.  You will find them on my website:  Do one of those tests and you will optimize your math review for the tests.  If you are taking only the SAT, do the SAT Diagnostic.  If you are taking the ACT or both the SAT and ACT, do the ACT Diagnostic.  The latter has not only the SAT math concepts but also the ACT concepts on it.  (Did you notice how I included a pair of the grammar constructions (not only/but also) I mentioned in today’s SAT explanation in the previous sentence?)  Remember — it is best initially to take both tests in case you do significantly better on one than the other.  If you scores are about equal, continue with the test you prefer.  However, if you do significantly better on one, just take that test.  Almost all colleges will accept scores for either test.

QotD Words of “Wiz-dom”:

The Pillars of  Test-taking Wiz-dom are the foundation of score improvement.  They are the six key principles that are used by exceptional test-takers.  I’m going to summarize one each day over the course of the next six days.

Pillar I: Use the Structure of the Test

The tests are games.  You are playing against an opponent, the test writer, who creates puzzles and provides challenges for you in the form of questions.  The more you understand the structure of the game and its puzzles, the better you will do.

When you start to learn any game, you begin by studying its format and you use that format or layout to your advantage.  It doesn’t matter whether you are playing tic-tac-toe, Monopoly, or football.  The layout of the board or field affects how you play.

When you take the SAT and/or ACT, you need to understand their structures and take advantage of them.  For example, the scoring system is critical.  The SAT has a “guessing penalty” and the ACT does not.  Should you ever guess when taking the SAT?  Sure.  Anytime you can eliminate at least one multiple-choice answer, you should guess at the rest.  (If you’ve heard “two or more,” trust me; whoever told you that is wrong.  My detailed explanation is available in my program.)  Never leave a blank on the ACT.  Another example is that the best (correct) answers on the reading tests have 5 specific characteristics; you need to learn them.  A final example is the math questions so rarely include extraneous information, you need to treat everything they tell you as essential to answering the questions.

Read my free website or register for the online video course.  You will learn more details about how the structure of the test becomes essential to your success.  If you don’t understand the layout of a game, your opponent has a huge advantage.  Level the playing field by learning the structure of the tests and using that information to improve your score.

Enjoy your day.

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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