SAT Question of the Day (plus ACT): Feb. 23, 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.)

Welcome to the Olympia Titans.  I hope you learned a few things in class yesterday.  Of course, a big shout out to the rest of you as well who are spending some of your Sunday with me.

The answer is B.  This sentence is one of those questions that I got right due to the fact that “because” just sounded wrong but I didn’t immediately remember any grammar rule.  It needed “due to.”  Then I started thinking about Ms. Murphy, my ninth grade English teacher, who explained the difference between “because” and “due to.”  “Because” is an adverb and needs to be modifying a verb, which it isn’t.  It is modifying “care,” a noun.  We need an adjective and so the proper words are “due to.”  How do you decide when you are writing an essay whether to use “because” or “due to?”  Try this.  If a noun is “attributable to” something, then you should use “due to.”  In this sentence, “care“ is “attributable to” the water temperatures and unstable stream beds.  So, “due to” is the correct idiom to use.

This is a great example showing that the SAT and ACT grammar and composition tests are about formal, written English.  In daily conversation, you could use “because of” or “due to” in this sentence and nobody would even notice the subtlety or nuance of the difference between the choice of words.  However, in written English, prose, you would be expected to know and use the proper term, “due to.”

Do you need a review of common errors in the English language?  Check out this website:

I wonder what the ACT folks have up their sleeves 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 G.  Add the two equations together and you get 3x + 3y = 6.  Then divide both sides by 3 and you get x + y = 2.  All done.  Bubble in G and move on.  That was easy.

What did I see in this question that made it so quick?  Through practice I’ve come to recognize that both the SAT and ACT test writers, my opponents, like to create questions related to “systems of equations” or “2 equations with 2 unknowns.”  One of their favorite types of these questions is to have coefficients that flip flop for the unknowns.  For example, in this equation the coefficients in the first equation are 1 and 2.  In the second equation, they are 2 and 1.  That is a signal to add them because when you do, both unknowns have the same coefficient, 3 or 3x + 3y.  Immediately you can see that if you divide by 3, you get x + y which is what you need to solve for: x + y = ?

Why concern yourself with all of this?  First, it points out that questions have signals or what I often call “flags” that head you in the right direction for quickly solving the problem.  For example, if you see a ratio question, always start by adding the individual parts to get the whole.  (A ratio of 3:2 has a total of 5 parts.)  Second, practice is critical.  The more questions you do, the easier it becomes to recognize the flags and quickly maneuver through the maze of math puzzles.  Just use my program to learn the flags and you’ll move through the tests more quickly!

Have a great 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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