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Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover the answer choices so that you can read the sentence carefully without any distractions.  Then make a prediction for the blank that seems easier.  Check that prediction against your answer choices.  Use the same process for the other blank.  Make sure that you have examined each answer choice, even if you find one of your predictions among the answer choices.

Observing the newspaper’s tradition of ------- attention to accuracy, the reporter ------- every statement made by her informant.

Start with the first blank if it seems easier than the second blank.  A newspaper is intended to accurately report the news, so you could predict that it has a tradition of “careful” attention to accuracy.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) scrupulous . . verified
(B) lax . . challenged
(C) sporadic . . corroborated
(D) systematic . . bungled
(E) inordinate . . exaggerated

(A) matches your prediction.  Keep it.  (B) is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate it.  (C) does not match your prediction.  Eliminate it.  (D) matches your prediction.  (E) might have something to do with taking care.  If you are not sure, keep it.

Look now at the second blank.  The reporter is doing something to every statement that her informant says.  If she wants to be sure that her information is accurate, she will check each statement against the known facts.  Use the word “checked” as your prediction, and look down at the answer choices that remain.

(A) scrupulous . . verified
(D) systematic . . bungled
(E) inordinate . . exaggerated

(A) matches your prediction.  (D) and (E) do not match your prediction and would not mean that the reporter observed a tradition of careful attention to accuracy.

The correct answer is (A).

Words used in this SC:
Scrupulous: exact and careful, painstaking
Verified: confirmed
Lax: lenient
Challenged: questioned
Sporadic: rare or scattered
Corroborated: confirmed
Systematic: planned and ordered
Bungled: did something poorly
Inordinate: excessive or extreme
Exaggerated: overstated


On sat.collegeboard.org, 70% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT math, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Coordinate Geometry

Link of the Day

Today is Veterans Day, a day set aside to thank those who have risked their lives to serve our country.  As you gather historical, current, and literary examples for your SAT essay, consider including an example involving soldiers.  Think about the courage that it takes to be willing to serve in such a capacity, and the reasons behind the choice to enlist.  Take a look at this article and think about how our lives are different due to the sacrifices of many veterans.

11/11 Coordinate Geometry

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

Use the same process for every math problem.  Read the problem carefully.  Identify the bottom line.  Assess your options, then choose the most efficient method to attack the problem.  Once you have worked the problem, loop back to verify that you have solved for the bottom line.

 math image
In the figure above, which quadrants contain pairs (x, y) that satisfy the condition  x over y = 1?

Bottom line:  Where can you find an x and a y that work for this problem?

Assess your options:  This question concerns coordinate geometry, so you will have to use the facts that you know about graphing to answer the question.  You could pick specific points in each quadrant to see if they work, but simply knowing the properties of the graph should be enough to get you to the answer.

Attack the problem:  In order to divide a number by another number and get one, you need equal numbers.  To satisfy this condition, x and y must be equal to each other.  Ask yourself whether the x and y can be equal to each other in each quadrant.  In quadrant I, all the numbers are positive (+, +), so it is possible for x and y to equal each other and create a positive 1 after division.

Now think about the characteristics of quadrant II.  In quadrant II, all of the x values are negative and all of the y values are positive (-, +), so x and y cannot be equal.  When you divide a negative number by a positive number, you will get a negative number; there is no way to get a positive 1.  Quadrant II does not satisfy this condition.

In quadrant III x and y are both negative (-, -), so they could be equal.  If you divide a negative number by a negative number, the result will be positive.  You can get a positive number 1 in this quadrant.

In quadrant IV, the x values are positive while the y values are negative (+, -).  Once again x and y cannot be equal.  You cannot divide a positive by a negative and get a positive number, so quadrant IV does not satisfy this condition.

Loop Back:  You checked all four quadrants, so look down at your answer choices now.

(A) I only
(B) I and II only
(C) I and III only
(D) II and IV only
(E) I, II, III, and IV

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 59% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT math, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Modifiers

Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.  

Read the original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules that are taught in Knowsys classes.  Focus on the first error that you find to help you eliminate wrong answer choices.

Clara Barton founded the American branch of the Red Cross, a nurse who was sometimes called the “angel of the battlefield.”

This sentence should sound odd to you the first time that you read it.  You know that Clara Barton founded the American branch of the Red Cross, but how does she relate to “a nurse who was sometimes called the ‘angel of the battlefield?’” When you first read the sentence, it sounds as if that nurse is a new person rather than Clara Barton.  How can you fix this sentence?  The phrase following the comma modifies Clara Barton; it explains a little more about her.  Modifiers are part of the Knowsys Big 8 Grammar Rules.  The first rule that you learn about modifiers is to place the modifier as close as possible to the words that they modify.  You cannot move the modifying phrase after the comma because it is not underlined.  Therefore, you will have to move the subject, Clara Barton, closer to the modifying phrase.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) Clara Barton founded the American branch of the Red Cross,
(B) The founder of the American branch of the Red Cross was Clara Barton,
(C) It was Clara Barton founding the American branch of the Red Cross,
(D) Clara Barton, who founded the American branch of the Red Cross, she was
(E) In founding the American branch of the Red Cross, Clara Barton was

(A)  You do not need to reread this choice because it matches the original sentence, which has an error.  Eliminate it.

(B) This sentence moves Clara Barton as close as possible to the phrase that modifies her, matching your prediction about how to improve the sentence.  Keep this answer choice and quickly check your other options.

(C)  This choice does not fix the fact that Clara Barton is separated from the phrase that modifies her.  It also introduces an expletive construction: “it was.”  Avoid expletive constructions whenever possible.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  This sentence contains a relative clause that is set off by two commas.  You should be able to ignore the information between the commas and have a complete sentence.  However, when you ignore the relative clause in this sentence, you will see an unnecessary pronoun: "Clara Barton she was a nurse who was sometimes called the “angel of the battlefield.”"  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This answer is more grammatically correct than some of the other options, but it changes the meaning of the sentence.  This choice makes it sound as if Clara Barton earned her nickname, “the angel of the battlefield,” and became a nurse by founding an organization.  Does that make sense?  No!  She earned the nickname for helping wounded soldiers, and she was a nurse before she founded the Red Cross.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 69% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT writing, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Circumference of a Circle

Link of the Day

On this day in 1964 President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Surprisingly, it was met by much opposition from both white and African Americans. Many historians now believe it was a major influence in shaping America's social and political development. You can learn more about the Civil Rights Act here.

Geometry: Circumference of a Circle


Read the following SAT test question and then click on a button to select your answer. 

Remember to read the question carefully. Some students panic when they see a complicated diagram. Every problem on the SAT has a solution that you can reach without any particular, specialized knowledge (though you do still need to memorize basic math formulas). Slow down and reread the problem carefully; make sure that you understand what the question is actually asking.


math image
In the figure above, inscribed triangle A B C is equilateral. If the radius of the circle is r, then the length of arc A X B is

At first, when you look at this diagram it looks quite complicated. You might know some facts about triangles inscribed in circles, but those facts won't help you in this problem. Instead, remember that after you read the problem carefully, you need to identify the "bottom line." You are looking for the length of arc AXB. Note that there is no label that says "figure not drawn to scale." That means that the figure is drawn to scale (in other words, you could make an estimate based on how the figure looks). It does look like the arc AXB is just 1/3 of the circumference of the circle. In fact, if you think about it, it must be (since the triangle is an equilateral triangle). Since you know that the radius of the circle is r, the diameter must be


and therefore, the length of arc AXB is just



Now, take a look at the answers and select the choice that matches your prediction. Don't forget to loop back and verify that your answer matches the "bottom line."

(A) (2 times pi times r) over 3
(B) (4 times pi times r) over 3
(C) (3 times pi times r) over 2
(D) (pi times r^2) over 3
(E) (2 times pi times r^2) over 3



The correct answer choice is (A).

On sat.collegeboard.org 54% of the responses were correct.

For more help with math, visit www.myknowsys.com.

Quadrilaterals

Geometry: Quadrilaterals

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

Remember the Knowsys Method: Without looking at the answer choices, read the question carefully, note the bottom line, assess your options, attack the problem, and loop back to check that you found what the question wanted.

What is the maximum number of nonoverlapping squares with sides of length 3 that will fit inside a square with sides of length 6?

At the top of your scratch work, summarize "the maximum number of nonoverlapping squares":

max squares = ?



Next, assess your options. There are two good ways to solve this quadrilaterals problem: visual and mathematical. Those who learn and think more visually can sketch or imagine a square with side length of 6, then reason that each side would be cut in half to make squares with sides of length 3. Two small squares touch each side of the large square, so four small squares total fit into the larger square.

Alternately, you can calculate the area of the large square and divide it among the smaller squares. The large square has sides of length 6, so its area is  . You will also need the area of the small squares. Their area is . Finally, divide the area of the large square by the area of the small square to determine how many will fit in the larger square.

Both methods gave 4. Now look at the answer choices:

A) Two
B) Three
C) Four
D) Six
E) Nine

The answer is C.



66% of responses on sat.collegeboard.org were correct.

Want more help with math? Visit myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

A ------- person, he found the training almost unbearably monotonous, but he resolved to check his ------- and perform the basic tasks required.

The first step in the Knowsys Method for Sentence Completions is to cover the answers, but the best I can do over the Internet is to move them below the jump. Don't peek! Looking at the answer choices before examining the given sentence can prejudice the way you think about the question. This sentence has two blanks, so the second step is to determine which is the easier--that is, which one tells you the most about the answer. For this sentence, look at the first blank first because the surrounding words indicate that this person found his training "unbearably monotonous." What kinds of people find training monotonous? Vivacious, ebullient, animated people would. Any of these--or any synonym--could be your prediction for this blank. Once you've chosen a prediction, look at the words available for the first blank.

A ------- person, he found the training almost unbearably monotonous...

Answer Choices
  • (D) mercurial . . constancy

You can immediately eliminate A and B, because we are not talking about a "bitter" or "reclusive" person, just someone who finds his training boring. If you don't know what "mercurial" means, don't rule out D just yet. Of course, you can look it up and discover that it means "changeable" or "animated," but remember that you won't have a dictionary on the SAT. For now, you've narrowed the possible answer choices down to three--few enough that you could guess if you had to. Fortunately, you don't have to yet. Look at the second blank.


...but he resolved to check his ------- and perform the basic tasks required.

It's harder to make a true prediction after looking at the answer choices, but think about how you would feel in a monotonous training. If you don't know what "constancy" (D) means, you can reason that it seems related to "constant" and tentatively rule it out. "Ambition" (E) could work; after all, an ambitious person might not like other people trying to train him to do things their way, but this answer choice requires too much explanation. That only leaves choice C, "restless," which along with "dynamic" fits the meaning of the sentence perfectly.

dynamic person, he found the training almost unbearably monotonous, but he resolved to check his restlessness and perform the basic tasks required.


Words tested in this SC:
Monotonous: unvaried and boring
Bitter: characterized by intense antagonism or hostility
Submissiveness: inclination or readiness to submit; unresisting or humble obedience
Reclusive: characterized by seclusion; solitary
Reservedcharacterized by reserve, restraint, silence, or reticence
Dynamic: characterized by energy or effective action; vigorously active or forceful; energetic
Restlessness: inability to remain at rest
Mercurial: changeable or animated
Constancy: the quality of being unchanging or unwavering
Vivacious: lively, animated
Ambitionan earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction


Need to build your SAT Vocab?  Visit www.myknowsys.com to check out the Knowsys Vocabulary Builder Program.