Un- Official SAT Question of the Day (ACT too!): Mar. 29, 2014

If you are reading this in an email you received from me, do not click the link to sat.collegeboard.org below. Use the link to my website that is farther down on the email.

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?questionId=20140329&oq=1 (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.)

Happy Saturday!  First, I’d like to start by apologizing for not writing my blog yesterday.  I’m on a road trip working with families and students in southern Florida.  My RV broke down in the middle of nowhere.  No wifi but at least there was a cell signal!  After being towed to civilization, I’m now sitting in a truck stop waiting for the mechanics to show up for work.  Thanks to Adel for doing a great job for getting my RV safely to the repair shop.

Second, I’d like to say “hello” to all of you who are in the Houston area.  I started getting phone calls from you yesterday after one of your local TV stations rebroadcast the SAT/ACT Wizard news report that was originally broadcast in Orlando a few weeks ago.  My website was blasted with visits from you and the number of phone calls, texts, and emails told me something: Houston needs my help!  I’ll start looking for a very smart test taker and exceptional teacher who would like to be trained by me to start my program in the Houston area.  Please spread the word.  Do you know somebody like that?  Ask them to call me: (407) 497-1102.  Thanks.

Third, let’s get to the Official SAT Question of the Day.  Here’s an unofficial explanation for how to do the question that the test writers would rather you not know!

The answer is A.  This is a pretty tough question for the “unwizardly” students based on the fact that only about 40% of the students who have done the question so far are getting it right.  Let’s take a look at a “wizardly” quick and accurate way to do the problem.

If you’ve been reading my blog, I hope you immediately saw how to do the problem: “Change the algebra to arithmetic” (also called “Change the abstract to the concrete,” and “Substitute numbers for the variables.”)  I bet you get the point.  Let’s get rid of a, b, and c and use real numbers.  b/c is 7; so, let’s make b/c = 7/1 which means b = 7 and c = 1.  Now we are told a/b = 3 and we know that b = 7, a has to be 21 because 21/7 = 3!  So, a = 21, b = 7, and c = 1.  That was easy, wasn’t it?  This all means that (a + b)/(b + c) = (21 + 7)/(7 + 1) or 28/8 which reduces to 7/2, Answer A.

Here’s the deal.  My slogan, “The world of math is a world of patterns” is the basis for this and many other strategies in my program.  It really doesn’t matter what a, b, and c are as long as they follow the rules you are given: b/c = 3 and a/b = 7.  I picked easy numbers to play with and you should too!  For example, it wouldn’t be too smart to use 42/6 = 7 and then 126/42 = 3.  That would require a lot more math (maybe even a calculator) and it would have been easy to make a mistake.  Sure, you would have gotten the right answer but it would take a lot more work.  Just remember when they don’t give you numbers, you get to make stuff up following the rules they give you.  For example, in this case the rules are a/b has to equal 3 and b/c has to equal 7.  Any numbers will work as long as they follow these two rules.

I’m betting this was a lot easier than doing it the SAT writers’ way.  Check out their explanation and see if I’m right.

I wonder if the ACT folks have something new for us this morning.

ACT Question of the Day: Use your “back” button to return to my website after reading the ACT Question of the Day.

I’ve seen this question so many times that that I don’t even need to look at the table anymore!  This is an “extrapolation” question which is a topic that shows up frequently on the test.  They are asking you to project a value that is beyond the given data.  Using the depth, we can see that we need to go three more steps/increments of 5 cm to get to 35 which means we have to reduce the pH three more steps of .5.  That would get us to 3.5.  All done.

This question reminds me of some important things to understand about the ACT science test.  First, you’ll never predict the science topics that will be on the test; so, don’t bother to review your science knowledge base which will be a waste of time.  Second, the kinds of questions that you will see are quite predictable.  You need to review the ACT Science section of my free website or register for my video course and watch/study the ACT Science portion of the Video 10 series.  Third you need to practice.  And finally, when you get stuck on a question, let me know and I’ll help you out.

Thought for the day:

Yesterday’s experience reminded me to keep life’s challenges in perspective.  Yes, I was understandably frustrated by being stuck in the middle of nowhere and had to wait hours for the tow truck to arrive.  Then the driver could only tow me 10 miles per hour.  Now I’m stuck here waiting for a mechanic and who knows when they’ll be able to get my RV fixed.  My plans are completely blown for the next day or two,  However, I bet there were people not too far from me who had much worse days than I did.  Possibly they were in car wrecks with serious injury.  Others experienced life-changing events.  I simply am being inconvenienced.  Not a big deal.

This reminds me of the old adage: “I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes but then I met a man with no feet.”  Perspective.

Have a great Saturday.

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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