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Many schools in the United States participate in campaigns to keep children from smoking.  However, there are countries that are taking even greater measures to make smoking unattractive.  Cigarette packaging in Australia will no longer display colorful logos, but instead will display images depicting the dangers of smoking.  As you read this article, think about whether or not you agree with these measures, and then think about the themes that might relate this current event to an SAT essay topic.

Also, if you are a senior who dreads the college application process, take a look at this checklist and remember to breathe in the next few months!

8/16 Functions

Read the following SAT test question and then select the correct answer. 

Read each math question carefully so that you can identify exactly what is being asked of you.  Once you have identified the bottom line, assess your options to find an efficient way to solve the problem.  Finally, attack the problem, solve it, and loop back to make sure that your answer addresses the bottom line that you were asked to find.

 math image
Which of the following could be the equation of the function graphed in the xy-plane above?

You have been given a graph, and you must find the equation that has been graphed.  You could plug all of the answer choices into your calculator, but that would take a long time and you risk making a typo.  Instead, break the graph down into its most basic components.  What shape that you have often seen does this graph most resemble?  It looks like a parabola opening upwards, so you know that f(x) = x² will be part of your equation.

Picture the f(x) = x² parabola in your mind.  It passes through the origin at (0,0).  However, the graph in this problem would extend past the point (0,0) into the negative numbers if you continued the basic curve of the parabola.  To translate the function down on the graph, you would need to subtract a number from the original function.  Now you have f(x) = x² - n, where n = any number.

There is one more step.  The basic curve of the normal parabola has been reflected across the x-axis in this problem so that all the values of the parabola are now positive.  What can you do to make sure that all of the numbers in a function are positive?  Take the absolute value of the function.  Now you have f(x) = |x² - n|.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) y =  (-x)² + 1
(B) y = -x² + 1
(C) y = |x² + 1|
(D) y = |x² - 1|
(E) y = |(x – 1)²|

(A), (B), and (C) cannot be the answers because they all add to the equation and would result in a parabola that has been shifted above the x-axis.  (E) will not be symmetric to the y-axis, and the graph that you have remains symmetric to the y-axis; it has not been shifted to the right or the left. The (x – 1)² part of the equation in (E) shifts the entire parabola away from its original position on the y-axis.  (D) is the only answer that matches the equation you wrote for this graph.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 39% of the answers were correct.

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