Pillar IV: Focus on What the Question Asks

Test takers often lose points because they don’t answer the right question! When you take the SAT, you’ve got to answer the questions the test writer wrote, not ones you were expecting. You need to develop a habit of focusing on what the question asks. Focusing on the question reveals what the test writer was thinking. Remember: you’ve got to think like the test writer. In math word problems, this is especially important. I want you to underline the actual question part of word problems–not the information–just the question.  When you are stuck on math problems a great strategy is to start with the questions, “what did they ask me.”  Then determine what you need to know.  If the test write gave it to you, fine but usually you have to derive it from the given information.  In any event, focusing on what the question asks provide you with guidance on what you need to do next.

Try this multiple-choice question.

  1. If circle O has a circumference of 20π , and OC is 6, how long is AB?

(A) 8
(B) 10
(C) 15
(D) 16
(E) 18

Pillar IV: Question #1

Both applications of Pillar IV were found in the above question. Did you identify them?

“Wiz-dom” on Focus on the Question

When we get to reading sections of the test, Pillar IV takes on an additional meaning. In short Sentence Completions, the question often reveals a topic or theme. So focusing on the topic of a Sentence Completion question leads you to a topic and the topic leads you to the right answer. Keep in mind, you’re not going to be an expert Sentence Completion test taker after these two examples. They are designed to show you the importance of focusing on the question.  You’ll be learning about Sentence Completion questions in great detail in a later lesson.

Both by __________ and by gender, the gray sled dog, Daisy, was an ________, because the rest of the team were black males.

(A) breeding..anamoly
(B) heredity..experience
(C) color..exception
(D) size..achiever
(E) hue..aggravation

Due to the approaching thunderstorm, the golfers headed for _____________________.

(A) congratulations
(B) a refuge
(C) help
(D) victory
(E) the caddy

Explanations for SC questions 

Now you see how focusing on the questions means much more than being sure you answer the right question.  For math, you need to focus on the question part of the word problem.  For Sentence Completion it means find the topic of the sentence/question.  It means even something else for the Reading test that you’ll learn in that lesson.