SAT Question of the Day (plus ACT): Apr. 11, 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.  The topic is easy to determine.  The guy won an award for bravery.  So, let’s use “brave” as our prediction.  (Frequently, it is easiest to just use a word in the sentence as our prediction because the words in the sentence tell us the topic!)  After making your prediction, it is simply a matter of finding a synonym for it.  Answer C, dauntless, means brave.  All done.

This question is a good example of why predicting a word before looking at the answers is important.  The wrong answers are words that are going to look attractive.  For example, Answer A, virile, means “manly.”  Certainly “manly” men can receive awards — but they get them for bravery, not virility.  Answer B, heedless, means “without paying attention” or “without taking notice” and if you are in a hurry on this question, you may pick this answer because a brave person may disregard danger.  However, he had better recognize the danger so that he can deal with it properly!  Answer D, callow, means “immature.”  Immature responses to danger don’t win any awards for bravery.  (In addition, it is a word that most students won’t know.  Many of them will be attracted to this answer because it is an unusual word but that is an awful reason to pick it!)  Finally, Answer E, timorous, means “fearful” or “lacking confidence.”  That’s an antonym of the right answer.  The test writers must have a rule that at least one of the wrong answers has to mean the opposite of the right answer.  Timorous describes a possible reaction to danger, but it is the opposite of a brave person’s response.  Don’t be confused by antonyms.

Now you are beginning to see why predicting a word prior to looking at the answers is important.  It helps you quickly filter out the distractors (wrong answers).  So, your prediction will speed you up and increase your accuracy.

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.  Here’s a clue–the question asked “the most succinct.”  That means “shortest.”  The right answer happens to be the shortest answer!  Ms. Murphy was right; shorter is better.  Answers A, C, and D are also nonsense when inserted into the paragraph.  If you needed an additional clue, they tell you the meaning of chaos in the original last sentence that needs replacing and then use chaos in the right answer!  That was a great clue.  I love it when they make things this simple and practically tell you what the right answer is.

QotD Words of “Wiz-dom”:

Tonight is the “night before the test.”  Tomorrow morning hundreds of thousands of students will be taking the ACT.  What should they do with their final hours?

First, don’t do any more preparing after dinner.  If you don’t know it by then, whatever “it” is, you won’t learn it tonight!  Relax.  Watch TV, read a book, play a video game.  Do something enjoyable.  Get your mind off the test and you will sleep better.  You need a good night’s sleep.

Second, don’t communicate with anybody!  No phone calls, chat rooms, or text messaging.  (Smoke signals from the driveway are also to be avoided!)  Why do I say that?  Nobody is going to tell you anything that can raise your score but you could hear something distressing that will keep you from sleeping and be distracting during the test.  For example, a boyfriend (or girlfriend) could call to break up!  It has happened.  A cousin may want to cry about not getting into any colleges!  It has happened.  Maybe somebody has died!  It has happened.  These and many other pieces of “news” could hurt your score.  So, relax and don’t communicate with anybody.  The news can wait until tomorrow after the test.

Finally, get yourself organized tonight.  Lay out your clothes. Put your ticket in the pocket of what you are going to wear.  Change the batteries in your calculator.  Grab your snack.  Sharpen your pencils.  Make sure you have your ID.  Maybe you need to go shopping to pick up some of the breakfast items I recommended in yesterday’s blog.  Make yourself a checklist of everything you need and post it where you can’t miss it (perhaps on the front door).  Now that you’ve gotten yourself together, relax and get a good night’s sleep.  Don’t forget to set your alarm and ask your parents to make sure you are awake.

Yes, I know it isn’t cool but ask your parents to drive you to the test.  Use the ride to do a few “warm up” questions from your practice materials.

Leave for the testing center in plenty of time to be early.

Good luck.

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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