The Wizard Explains the Official SAT Question of the Day (& ACT): May 1, 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.)

Reading this blog is 10% about learning how to answer today’s questions and 90% learning how to apply strategies and analyze questions you may see on test day.

The answer is D.  Once again the test writers explain how to do this question in a way that takes too much time.  They started by plugging in Answer A, one.  Always start plugging in with Answer C.  That way if C is wrong, you know whether to go in the direction of larger or smaller answers.  When you use this tactic, you eliminate three answers in the time it takes to do one!

Checking out Answer C, three, we get 3 cars with two people (a total of 6) which leaves us with 28 people for the other seven cars.  That’s 34 total people which is more than the original 32 they give us in the question.  So, let’s try Answer D, four.  If four cars have have 2 people that’s 8 which leaves us with 6 cars carrying 4 people  (24 more) that means we have 32 people which is just right.  To check our work, let’s try Answer E, five.  If five cars have two people, we have a total of 10.  Then the other five have 4 each, a total of 20.  10 plus 20 isn’t enough because we need 32 people..  Pick Answer D and move on.

How do you know when to use the answers to do the question?  It’s easy.  Anytime the test writer asks for a specific number, such as “what is the greatest number…,” “solve for x,” “what is the value of y,” plug in the answers.  One of the numbers in the answers has to be correct.  Remember to start with Answer C.

There’s an algebraic way to do this question and there will be ways to answer questions by doing the standard math. You could have set up an equation using x as the number of cars with two people.  Here it is: 2x + 4(10 – x) = 32.  (10 – x) is the number of cars with 4 people.  Turn the algebra crank and you’ll get 4 for x which is the number of cars carrying 2 people, Answer D.

You can certainly do that.  Just do some practice and you’ll discover which approach works best for you.  Then on test day, you will be confident that you’ll be attacking each question using the most efficient way for you.

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 most important thing you can learn from this question is that you should not pay attention to some of the directions for the ACT English Test!  They tell you to read the whole passage and then go back and answer the questions.  Nuts to them!!  Never do that.  That is a terrible waste of time.  Let’s use this passage and question to see why I say that.

The answer is J.  I only need to read that sentence to answer the question, not the whole passage.

They provide a long, detailed English teacher explanation for why Answer is J is correct and it is worth reading it.  However, there’s also a much shorter reason.  Following an “if” clause, you should insert a comma.  For example, “If you follow my advice, you’ll get more questions correct.”  Then when you insert the comma, the word “for” becomes unnecessary and you are all done.

QotD Words of “Wiz-dom”:

Part of your preparation for Saturday should be to have the right groceries in the pantry and refrigerator.  Have you read my blog about the best breakfast to eat?  You should.  Here it is: Breakfast on Test Day.

Be sure to come back tomorrow and I’ll give you some tips on how to spend your Friday evening.  Doing so could help improve your performance.

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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