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SAT and ACT Preparation

Link of the Day

As you prepare for the SAT, make sure that you are preparing excellent examples for the SAT essay.  You learn about history and literature in your classes, but don't forget about current events!  Citing a current event to support your position on an SAT essay prompt will make you sound informed and ensure that your argument is relevant to the present.  Choose a news story, and make yourself an expert on the details about the story and the themes that will help you relate this story to a broad SAT essay prompt.  

Are you interested in nature?  Take a look at this story abut the problems that sea lion pups are having in California.

Are you interested in politics?  Take a look at this story about the G8 and the stated priorities of these nations.

SAT Question of the Day

The SAT question of the day is a Fractions Question that has already been addressed on this blog: click here to see an explanation.


ACT Question of the Day

The ACT question of the day is a Science Question that has already been addressed on this blog: click here to see an explanation.

To get help preparing for the SAT, PSAT, or ACT Exam, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Today's question has to do with the environment.  Take a look at this article, which suggests ways to reduce food waste.  Do you agree that this is a significant problem?  Why or why not?  Do you see themes in this article that could help you link it to a broad SAT essay question?  What details would make you sound informed as you write about this issue?

Critical Reading: 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 up the answer choices and read the sentence carefully.  Make a prediction to fill the blank, then match that prediction to the correct answer choice.  Eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction.  Make sure you look at all of the answer choices before selecting one, even if the first choice seems to be correct.

Currently rising temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic are ------- of a still warmer world that could result from an excess of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the burning of oil, gas, and coal.

This is a sentence that is very carefully crafted in order to ensure that there is only one correct answer.  You must read carefully in order to make the correct choice.  When you see that the first word of the sentence is “currently,” you should realize that time will be important in this question.  The second part of the sentence that has to do with time reads, “a still warmer world that could result.”  Notice that this is something that may or may not happen in the future.  You need a word to show that the temperatures that are rising now indicate that future temperatures could also rise.  Predict a word such as “indicative,” “forerunners,” or “signs.”  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) polarities
(B) harbingers
(C) vestiges
(D) counterexamples
(E) aftereffects

(A)  This word is here to distract you.  Two different poles were mentioned in the sentence, the Arctic and Antarctic, but you are worried about the impact on the whole world.  Also, remember that if things are polar, they are usually opposite, but the same thing seems to be happening in both of these places.  Eliminate this choice.

(B)  In the 15th century a “herbengar” was someone who went ahead of a large group of travelers (such as an army or a king’s retinue) and made sure that they would be able to secure lodgings in the next town.  The modern word is very similar in meaning.  A “harbinger” is a forerunner, letting you know that something else is coming.  This matches your prediction exactly.  Keep this choice.

(C)  This word is also tricky.  You may have learned that a vestige is a trace or a sign.  At first that seems exactly like your prediction.  Think of a vestige as more like a footprint.  It tells you that something has already passed or happened.   You are looking for a word that indicates that something will happen in the future.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  The Arctic and the Antarctic cannot be counterexamples because the same thing is happening in both places.  Temperatures are rising in both places, and that may mean that temperatures will rise in other places.  The rising temperatures are consistent.  Furthermore, this does not match your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This word, like option (C), points to something that has occurred in the past.  You are looking for a word that points to the future.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Polarities: two opposite or contrasting principles or tendencies
Harbingers: people or things that foreshadow or foretell the coming of another
Vestiges: traces or signs left by something that is no longer present
Counterexamples: exceptions to a proposed general rule
Aftereffects:  delayed effects that are not immediately manifested


On sat.collegeboard.org, 45% of the responses were correct.

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

Idioms

Link of the Day

Today’s link is actually two links.  Read this article and then this article.  Both articles are about the same event, but they have very different interpretations of that event.  Why do they differ so much?  What does this tell you about finding news on the internet?  Even if you think that you have found a good news source, double check the accuracy of the report. 

Next think about these articles in terms of a current event.  How could you use the information surrounding the fact that a man just won $338 million to support a position on an SAT essay? What conclusions could you draw about the themes of money, fame, power, motivation, success, planning, chance, and even information?

Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

Read the entire sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then quickly check each underlined portion of the sentence against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Identify and mark any error, but be sure to look at all of the answer choices.

Between 1508 to 1512, Michelangelo, working on a scaffold 60 feet above the floor, painted the vaulted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome with hundreds of giant figures that represented his vision of the world’s creation. No error

(A)  The underlined word “to” connects two different times.  This is actually a conflation of two different idioms.  You can say “from 1508 to 1512,” but there is no “from” in this sentence.  Instead, you have the word “between.”  The correct idiom is “between x and y,” so you must change the “to” into an “and.”  Make this change and quickly look at the rest of the answer choices.

(B)  Whenever you see an “-ing” ending, check to make sure it is necessary.  Here, the “-ing” ending lets you know that this is not the main verb.  The main verb is “painted.”  The entire part of the sentence that reads “working on a scaffold 60 feet above the floor” is set off by commas and simply describes Michelangelo’s position while painting.  The preposition “on” is the correct preposition because Michelangelo is actually on top of the scaffold.  There is no error here.

(C)   This underlined portion is idiomatically correct.  You can use the word “with” to say “I paint with a brush” and mean that you are using the brush, but you can also use the word “with” to indicate what you have painted.  Both uses are correct.  Michelangelo has painted “hundreds of giant figures.”  The preposition “of” is also idiomatically correct.  There is no error here.

(D)  When you see the word “that,” check to make sure that the word “which” is not needed.  The word “which” must have a comma before it, and there is no comma here.  The word “represented” is also correct.  It is in past tense to match the tense of “painted.”  Although you could change the tense of “represented” and still be technically correct, you are looking for errors, not ways to revise the sentence.  There is no error here.

(E)  This answer choice cannot be correct because you have already identified an error.

The correct answer is (A).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 55% of the responses were correct.

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

Equation of a Line

Link of the Day

How do you make sure that you have the best doctors and the best conditions for patients?  First there was a push for doctors to get more sleep.  Now there is a push to make sure that doctors are getting more hours to finish their work.  Take a look at the debate in this current event.  Write down the broad themes in this article, and the specific details that will make you sound informed.  Then try linking this current event to the following previous SAT essay prompts:  Is there always another explanation or another point of view?  Can success be disastrous?  Should people let their feelings guide them when they make important decisions?  Should people change their decisions when circumstances change, or is it best for them to stick with their original decisions?

Geometry: Coordinate Geometry

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

Always read the question carefully and identify the bottom line.  Assess your options for reaching the bottom line, and use the most efficient method to attack the problem.  When you have an answer, loop back to verify that your answer matches the bottom line.

If the graph of the function f is a line with slope 2, which of the following could be the equation of f?

Bottom Line: WOTF (which of the following)

Assess your Options:  For a “which of the following” question you should look at the answers choices, but not until you have used what you know about the equation of a line to decide what kind of equation you need to find.  Start with the information that you are given.

Attack the Problem:  Remember the generic equation for a line is y = mx + b.  In any equation, f(x) and y can mean the same thing.  The variable m is the slope of the line.  You know that your slope must be 2.  Plug that 2 into the equation.  You now have:

f(x) = 2x + b

(The variable b is the y-intercept.  You were not told anything about the y-intercept, so that could be any number.  All you need to do is match the part that you do know, the 2x.)

Loop Back:  You used all the information that you were given, so look down at your answer choices.

(A) f(x) = 4x - 2
(B) f(x) = 2x + 4
(C) f(x) = -2x – 2
(D) 
(E) 

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 64% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

When the SAT test makers write an essay question, they give you a little bit of information.  Generally, it does not take much thought to agree with whatever has been stated, or to simply use the exact same words in the prompt to frame your essay.  Really high scoring students know that the way the question is phrased may prompt students to answer one way when normally they might answer another way.  For example, read this SAT essay prompt:

“There is, of course, no legitimate branch of science that enables us to predict the future accurately.  Yet the degree of change in the world is so overwhelming and so promising, that the future, I believe, is far brighter than anyone has contemplated since the end of the Second World War.  Assignment: Is the world changing for the better?”

Now, you may really believe the world is changing for the better, but this prompt leads many students to answer yes without providing good reasons.  Maybe the world is fixing one problem while a new problem develops.  Maybe someone needs to point out that there have been many wars after World War II.  Before you answer a prompt, rephrase the question in your own words and be sure that you know what it is asking and whether the prompt itself is influencing your thought about the subject.  You want your essay to clearly demonstrate that you have a reason beyond the prompt to think the way that you do.

Leading questions occur outside the SAT too.  Check out this current event that shows that how people ask questions can change the results of polls about global warming.  If you want to use this as one of your five prepared current events, make notes about the broad themes in this article as well as specific details and facts that you can use to back up an opinion on an SAT essay prompt.


Critical Reading: 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 up your answer choices as you read the sentence carefully.  That way, incorrect answers will not distract you as you predict a word to fill the blank.  When you have your prediction, match it to the correct answer choice.  Eliminate any answer that does not match your prediction.  Make sure that you look at all of the answer choices before you select an answer.

Bolstered by his unflagging determination and ------- physical preparation, Tom Whittaker became the first amputee to successfully climb to the summit of Mount Everest.

Did you notice two Knowsys SAT words in the sentence?  Even if you do not know what “bolstered” and “unflagging” mean, you know that Whittaker was determined to climb the mountain and that he was successful.  In order to do that he, he must have trained hard.  Predict that his physical preparation was “persistent,” “diligent,” “steady,” or even “unflagging,” if you recognize the term.  Then look down at your answer choices.

(A) fortuitous
(B) assiduous
(C) heedless
(D) expeditious
(E) pedantic

(A)  Perhaps you know that the Latin root “fort” generally means strong and figure that Whittaker’s preparation made him stronger.  Or perhaps you link this word to the word “fortunate” and realize that this is a positive word. This answer choice is here to trick you.  The word “fortuitous” does not just mean “fortunate,” although many fortuitous occurrences are fortunate.  The word “fortuitous” is related to the idea of chance, of accidental luck.  There is no way that Whittaker accidentally practiced or that he got lucky and just ended up physically prepared – he worked hard.  Bottom line: this choice doesn’t really match your prediction.  Eliminate it.

(B)  Assiduous is a difficult word.  If you don’t know it, you cannot eliminate it.

(C)  If you heed something, you pay attention to it.  Being heedless would be the opposite of paying attention.  You know that Whittaker paid attention to physical preparation.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  Knowsys word!  If you don’t know the definition right away, think of expedited shipping.  That is when you pay extra to make sure a package gets somewhere quickly.  The idea here is not to prepare for the climb quickly, but to prepare for it in such a way as to be ready for the challenge.  “Expeditious” does not mean “diligent.”  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This word is going to be really confusing if you assume that the Latin root “ped” means “foot.”  The same root can also mean “child.”  If you know that teachers have been called “pedagogues,” you will realize that this word also does not match your prediction.  “Pedantic” means acting like a teacher, especially in situations where no one wants a teacher.  Eliminate this choice.

You only have one answer remaining.  If you have eliminated all the other answer choices for specific reasons, then you can confidently select that answer, even if you do not know precisely what it means.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Bolstered: encouraged or supported
Unflagging: not declining in strength or vigor, tireless
Amputee: a person who has had a limb removed
Fortuitous: happening by a lucky chance, accidental
Assiduous: hard-working, diligent, or industrious
Heedless: unaware, not noticing something
Expeditious: fast, prompt, speedy
Pedantic: teaching or ostentatious in one’s learning, too concerned about formal details


On sat.collegeboard.org, 37% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Those who overcome obstacles inspire others to do the same.  Remember the young girl who was shot for advocating education for girls?  (You can review the original story from last October here.)  This girl has been nominated for a Nobel peace prize and is now resuming her own education.  If this story interests you, write down the broad themes from it (such as education) and specific details (such as the spelling of Malala and her age, 15).  Think about how you could use the broad themes in this current event to support a position on almost any essay prompt, then try connecting it to the prompts below:

(1) Is it important to question the ideas and decisions of people in positions of authority?
(2) Can knowledge be a burden rather than a benefit?
(3) Has today’s abundance of information only made it more difficult to understand the world around us?

Critical Reading: 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 up the answer choices until you have read the sentence carefully and made a prediction to fill the easier blank.  Then eliminate any choices that do not match your prediction.  Do the same with the other blank.

Laboratories have been warned that provisions for animal protection that in the past were merely ------- will now be mandatory; ------- of this policy will lose their federal research grants.

Look at the first blank.  Animal protection was once one thing, but now it is mandatory.  The “now” lets you know that a change has been made.  You can predict the word “optional,” but remember that any word that could be used for something that is “not mandatory” will work.

(A) comprehensive . . adversaries
(B) nominal . . advocates
(C) disregarded . . proponents
(D) recommended . . violators
(E) compulsory . . resisters

(A) Your teachers have probably told you at some point that you would have a comprehensive test.  That kind of test covers a lot of the topics that you studied.  These tests are generally not optional!  Look back at the original sentence and notice the word “merely.”  The words “merely” and “comprehensive” sound odd together.  This is like saying that the test “only includes a lot,” which is not strictly logical.  Eliminate this choice.  (B)  If you don’t know a word, keep the answer choice.  (C) Something disregarded could be optional. Keep this choice.  (D)  This seems like the strongest answer.  Recommended means optional but advisable, and it seems advisable to protect animals.  Keep it.  (E)  This word is a synonym of mandatory; it is the opposite of what you want.  Eliminate it.

Now look at the second blank.  The second blank involves a punishment, the loss of research grants.  People who do not do mandatory things get punished for it.  Predict “disobedient people” and look down at your answer choices.

(B) nominal . . advocates
(C) disregarded . . proponents
(D) recommended . . violators

(B)  Knowsys word!  People who advocate something are for that thing.  If they are for the policy, they will not disobey it.  Eliminate this choice.  (C) A proponent is also for something.  Eliminate this choice.  (D)  You see signs everywhere that list rules along with the words, “Violators will be prosecuted.”  Violators break rules.  Keep this choice.

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Comprehensive: broadly or completely covering something
Adversaries: opponents or rivals
Nominal: being such in name only, or minimal
Advocates: people speaking in support of something
Disregarded: ignored
Proponents: supporters, advocates
Recommended: suggested, encouraged
Violators: people who break the rules
Compulsory: required, mandatory
Resisters: people who fight against something


On sat.collegeboard.org, 73% of the responses were correct.

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

Modifiers

Link of the Day

Traveling is easier than ever today, and many people routinely take vacations in distant places.  Travelers can increase awareness of wonders and issues around the globe, but they can also drastically change the places that they visit.  Take a look at this article about how tourists are changing the feeding habits of stingrays in the Caribbean.  Think about the SAT question, “Can success be disastrous?” in terms of the area’s success in entertaining tourists.  Then think about the broad themes and specific details that could help you use this current event as an excellent example for any SAT essay prompt.

Writing: 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 entire sentence carefully, listening for errors.  Then focus on the underlined portion of the sentence and check it against the Big Eight Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate answer choices that do not address that error.

Combining both figurative and abstract elements in his paintings, such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn were greatly influenced by American artist Willem de Kooning, a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement.

The key to this question is realizing that the only part of this sentence that you cannot change is an introductory phrase.  In an introductory phrase, the subject is not clear; you do not know who is doing the “combining,” although you do know that the subject must be male and singular due to the pronoun “his.”  For any introductory phrase followed by a comma, the very next independent noun must be the subject of the sentence.  You can eliminate any answer choice that does not have the subject who is “combining” as the very first independent noun!

(A)  such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn were greatly influenced by American artist Willem de Kooning, a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement

(B)  a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement who greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn was American artist Willem de Kooning

(C)  American artist Willem de Kooning became a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement and greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn

(D)  Willem de Kooning, an American artist who became a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement and greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn

(E) and a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement, Willem de Kooning greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn as an American artist

Explanations:

(A)  This answer choice matches the original.  It follows the introductory phrase with “such painters,” but you know that the subject of this sentence must be male and singular.  Eliminate this choice.

(B)  The words “a key figure” identify the artist “Willem de Kooning,” but you do not learn the name of the artist until the very last part of the sentence.  This choice does not fix the modification error that you found, and it is also wordy and unnatural because it inverts the subject and verb, putting “was” before “Kooning” in an unnecessarily passive structure.  Eliminate this choice.

(C)  This choice fixes the problem that you found in the original sentence.  The first independent noun after the comma is “Willem de Kooning” because the words “American artist” modify how you understand who Kooning is.  The rest of the sentence is clear and free of errors.  Keep this choice.

(D)  This sentence is long, but it is still a fragment.  There is no main verb because everything after the comma describes who Kooning was, but does so without a “to be” verb.  Also, notice that Kooning’s name is alone between two commas.  This construction is generally only used when you are providing an alternative way to address someone or when you are addressing that person directly.  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This choice is unnecessarily wordy.   One of the issues that the extra words creates is that the words “as an American Artist” are now separated from Kooning and seem more connected with Diebenkorn, changing the meaning of the sentence.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 63% of the responses were correct.

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

Absolute Value

Link of the Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  If you like celebrating holidays, consider tracing the history of a holiday celebration as one of your historical events, or even tracing the history of a holiday up to the present for a current event.  There are many misconceptions about the origins of ideas and traditions, and the way that certain practices came about is fascinating.  Think about how this article about the history of St. Patrick’s day could be used to answer the following SAT essay questions:

(1)  Should people change their decisions when circumstances change, or is it best for them to stick with their original decisions?
(2)  Do you think that ease does not challenge us and that we need adversity to help us discover who we are?
(3)  What motivates people to change?


Algebra: Absolute Value

Read the following SAT test question and then select the correct answer. 
If (absolute value of a) minus (absolute value of b) equals 5, which of the following could be true?

Bottom Line: which of the following COULD be true?

Assess your Options:  You could come up with answers to solve this problem, but that will be a waste of time if they are not included in your answer choices.  Instead, look at the answer choices and methodically eliminate incorrect answers.

Attack the Problem:  Look at your answer choices:

(A) a = 0
(B) b = 0
(C) a = b
(D) a = -b
(E) a = 1

For a “which of the following” question, Knowsys recommends that you begin with answer choice (E).

Hint:  Instead of thinking of the bars in your equation as absolute value, think of them as simply showing where a positive number will be.  If you do this, you will not have to plug in actual numbers and you can check each answer choice using logic. (This works because an absolute value simply tells you how far a number is from zero.  The double bars only affect negative numbers, making them positive.)

(E) a = 1    Plug a = 1 into your original equation.   Is there any way to start out with the number 1 and subtract a positive number to get the answer 5?  There is not.  Eliminate this answer.

(D) a = -b     This answer choice has a negative sign, but remember that any negative sign will go within the bars and come out a positive number.  So if you plug in b where the variable a is in this equation, you still end up with bb = 5.  Is that possible?  No!  Anything minus itself will be zero.  Eliminate this answer.

(C) a = b     This answer is essentially the same as the last one!  If you plug in b where you have an a, you wind up with bb = 5.  Again, anything minus itself will be zero.  Eliminate this answer.

(B) b = 0     Plug in 0 for the b in your equation.  You now have a positive number minus 0 equals 5.  Is that possible?  Yes!  5 – 0 = 5.  You are finished.  You don’t have to know that a can be either negative 5 or 5, and you don’t have to check the last answer choice.  Let’s check it just for practice.

(A) a = 0     Is there any way to start with 0 and subtract a positive number to get 5?  No!  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 63% of the responses were correct.

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

Circles

Link of the Day

Anytime something new happens to something very old, the result is a rich current event that could be interpreted in many different ways.  The Catholic Church has chosen a new pope, and for the first time ever, the pope is from the Americas.  Look for broad themes in this article that would make it easy to relate this current event to an SAT essay topic.

Geometry: Circles

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

Read the question carefully and identify the bottom line.  Then assess your options and choose the most efficient method to attack the problem.  When you have an answer, loop back to make sure that your answer matches the bottom line.
graphic
In the figure above, a shaded circle with diameter line C D is tangent to a large semicircle with diameter line A B at points C and D. Point is the center of the semicircle, and line A B is perpendicular to line C D. If the area of the large semicircle is 24, what is the area of the shaded circle?

Bottom Line: A sm =? (What is the area of the small, shaded circle?)

Assess your Options:  There are two good ways to approach this problem.  Both ways require you to know the formula for the area of a circle. On collegeboard.org you will find a method that is especially efficient for students who are good at writing equations.  The method used here will focus on geometry skills and estimation in order to avoid the mistakes that often come with working more abstract formulas.

Attack the Problem:  You know the most about the large circle, so start there.  A semicircle is just half of a whole circle.  Therefore, to find the area of the whole circle, you would simply double the 24. 

24 × 2 = 48

If you know the area of the large circle, you can use the area formula to find out more information.  The area of a circle is   Plug in the area you just found to find the radius. 

Note: working backwards using the area formula for a circle is difficult, because using pi will always result in icky decimals.  If you glance at your answer choices, all of them are whole numbers.  You can estimate pi as 3 instead of 3.14 in order to keep this problem as easy as possible.

48 = 3r²
16 = 
4 = r

You now have the radius for the big circle.  Now look back up at the diagram.  The radius for the big circle is also the diameter for the little circle!  If the diameter of the little circle is 4, the radius will be half of that.  Once you know that the radius of the little circle is 2, you are ready to find the area!


A = 3 × 2²

A = 3 × 4
A = 12

Loop Back:  You found the area of the small circle, so you are ready to look at your answer choices.

(A) 8
(B) 10
(C) 12
(D) 14
(E) It cannot be determined from the information given.

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 56% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

The SAT question of the day is about Gordon Parks.  If you have not yet chosen your five literary examples (or historical examples) to prepare for your SAT essay, consider using Gordon Parks.  This man is celebrated for his writing, photography, and film making.  Read more about Gordon Parks here and think about what a rich example he would make for any SAT essay question involving creativity.

Critical Reading: 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. 

Always cover up the answer choices so that they do not distract you as you read the sentence carefully.  Use the context clues in the sentence to predict an answer to fill the blank.  Then match your prediction to the correct answer choice, eliminating any word that does not match your prediction in meaning.  Be sure to look at all of the answer choices before selecting one.

With the 1969 film The Learning Tree, Gordon Parks proved what a truly ------- artist he was: he not only directed the film and composed its musical score, but also adapted its screenplay from his own novel.

This sentence tells you that Gordon Parks was extremely involved in doing a lot of different types of work for his movie.  Predict that he was an “accomplished” artist or an “all-around” artist and look down at your answer choices.

(A) complacent
(B) protean
(C) lauded
(D) clairvoyant
(E) harried

(A) Knowsys word!  The word “complacent” means “self-satisfied” or “unconcerned.”  While Gordon Parks may have good reason to be “self-satisfied” after so much work, doing a lot of work does not prove that one is self-satisfied.  This answer choice does not match your prediction.  Eliminate it.

(B) You may know that the Greek root “prot” means first.  You may also know that Proteus was a sea god who could change his form.  From these clues you can discern that protean means “like Proteus” in the ability to work with many forms, just as Gordon Parks works with many forms of art.  If you have no idea what this word means, keep it.  You can still find out the correct answer through the process of elimination.

(C) Knowsys word!  Remember that the word “lauded” is related to the word “applauded.”  The Latin root “laud” means “praise.”  If you check the logic of the sentence, you will see that finishing a movie, no matter how wonderful, will not prove that a person is praised.  This choice does not match your prediction.  Eliminate it.

(D)  This word comes from both Latin and French.  The Latin root “clar” means “clear” and the root “voyant” means “seeing, ”and is related to the French verb “voir.”  Making a movie does not prove that one sees clearly.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This word comes from an Old English word that is related to an Old Norse word.  Does it sound negative to you?  Think about the word harassed.  You are not looking for a negative word.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Complacent: self-satisfied or unconcerned
Protean: exceedingly variable, assuming different shapes or forms
Lauded: praised
Clairvoyant: able to see things not perceived by normal senses, such as the future
Harried: harassed, rushed, panicked or devastated


On sat.collegeboard.org, 45% of the responses were correct.

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

Comparisons

Link of the Day

Interested in technology?  On March 10, 1876, the first words were communicated by phone.  Check out this article to find out who said them and find more information about this famous inventor here.  The invention of the telephone would make an excellent historical example for an SAT essay.  Think about how telephones have changed over time and write down themes from the articles that will help you relate this historical event to an essay topic, as well as the details that will make you stand out as a prepared and informed writer.

Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

Read the entire sentence to get a sense of its structure and meaning before focusing in on the underlined portions.  Then valuate each underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules, being careful to look at all the answer choices before selecting one. 

The introduction of elevators in hotels meant that previously undesirable rooms on the top floors, away from the bustle and noise of the street, became sought after and more expensive than the lower floorsNo error

(A)  The word “of” is idiomatically correct after the word “introduction.”  If you want to use a preposition after the word “introduction,” the most commonly used words are “of” or “to.”  There is no error here.

(B)  The word “previously” is an adverb modifying “undesirable.”  It is placed as close as possible to the word it describes, so there is no error here.

(C)  The words “away from” are idiomatically correct and clearly indicate that the location of the rooms on the top floor.  They are far from or distant from the noisy streets.

(D)  There is nothing wrong with the phrase “the lower floors.”  However, it comes right after the word “than.”  The word “than” sets up a comparison, so you should check to make sure that the two things that are being compared are logical.  You cannot compare “rooms on the top floors” with “the lower floors,” because there may be aspects of the lower floors that are not confined within the rooms.  You must compare “rooms on the top floors” with “rooms on the lower floors.”  Mark this error.

(E)  This answer cannot be correct because you have already marked an error.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 34% of the responses were correct.

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

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Does history repeat itself?  Think about what you learned in your history classes about the Cold War in general and the Korean War in particular.  Then read this article about North Korea’s threats against the United States.  Why are these events happening now?  What is the motivation behind the actions of different countries?  How could you use the facts from this article to back up an opinion on a variety of SAT questions involving the themes of motivation, power, the trajectory of history, authority, knowledge, and even creativity?

Writing: 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 focus on the underlined portion and evaluate it using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Use the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

Listening to good storybooks sharpen children’s awareness and appreciation for the sounds of spoken language.

Check the first underlined word first.  “Sharpen” is a verb, so find the subject of the sentence and make sure the subject and verb agree.  You might be tempted to say that “storybooks sharpen” is correct, but storybooks cannot be the subject of this sentence.  “To good storybooks” is a prepositional phrase, and the subject of the sentence cannot be the object of a prepositional phrase.  Instead, the subject is actually “listening.”  You would not say “listening sharpen awareness;” you would say “listening sharpens awareness.”  You need a singular verb to agree with a singular subject.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) sharpen children’s awareness
(B) sharpens children’s awareness of
(C) are what sharpens the awareness of children
(D) sharpens the awareness of children
(E) is to sharpen children’s awareness

(A) The first answer choice for this type of question always matches the original sentence, so you can eliminate it right away.

(B) This answer choice fixes the error that you found.  It also adds a preposition, so check to make sure that the word “of” is necessary in this sentence.  Parallelism dictates that you should have the same form of words on either side of an “and.”  In the original sentence, you have “awareness and appreciation for” something.  You would not say “I have an awareness for something;” it is correct to say “I have an awareness of something.”  “Awareness of and appreciation for” a certain thing is both parallel and idiomatically correct.  Keep this answer choice and quickly check the remaining choices.

(C) You already know that the word “listening” is singular, but the verb “are” is plural.  Eliminate this choice because the subject and verb do not match.

(D) This choice is more confused than the previous ones, and there is no parallelism.  Instead of having “awareness of and appreciation for,” which is balanced and correct, you now have “awareness of children and appreciation.”  The appreciation is no longer the children’s, and the meaning of the sentence has subtly shifted.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This answer choice also changes the meaning of the sentence.  In the original sentence, you learn that listening benefits children in specific ways.  However, in this answer choice listening “is to,” (exists for the purpose of) benefiting children in specific ways, an odd statement to make.  The phrase “is to” is unnecessary.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 51% of the responses were correct.

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

Multiples

Link of the Day

Elections in the United States are generally taken as a matter of course, but this is not true in many other nations.  Right now Kenyans are waiting to see the results of an election that, although violent, has so far been much more peaceful than the elections in 2007 that left over a thousand dead.  Read this article and think about all the complexities involved in this story – especially about what it means to have a credible leader.  Think about the themes of progress, respect for humanity, the role of citizens and leaders in society, courage, and the motivations behind actions.  This story has many connections to themes that show up frequently in SAT essay questions.  Think about the people who are waiting for the results, and follow up on this story as it progresses.

Arithmetic: Multiples

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

Approach each problem the same way so that you feel confident about your ability to solve it.  Start by reading the question carefully and identifying your bottom line.  Then assess your options and choose the most efficient method to attack the problem.  When you have an answer, loop back to verify that the answer addresses the bottom line.

Add 8x to 2x and then subtract 5 from the sum. If x is a positive integer, the result must be an integer multiple of

Bottom Line:  multiple of = ?

Assess your Options:  You have to write an equation for this problem, but after doing so you can use logic or the strategy of plugging in numbers to find possible answers to the equation.  Both methods are quick and will result in the correct answer.

Attack the Problem:  Your first step is to translate all the words you are given into an equation. If you add 8x to 2x, you get 8x + 2x.  Then subtract 5.  You should have:

8x + 2x – 5

Always simplify as much as possible before moving to the next step.  Here, you can combine like terms.

10x – 5

Now go back to the other information that you are given.  The variable x must be a positive integer.  Plug in the smallest possible value for x, and you will get the smallest possible result of this equation.  Plug in x = 1.

10(1) – 5 = 5

Now, multiples will always get larger, so there are other possible answers to this equation.  However, this is the smallest answer and you are looking for what the result “must” be an integer multiple of.  Multiples are simply the product of a number and an integer.  5 is a prime number, so the only thing that the answer must be a multiple of is 5. 

(If you want to make sure you are on the right track, plug in x = 2.  The answer is 15.  15 is still a multiple of 5.  Any positive number that you plug in will still be a multiple of 5 because when you subtract 5 from a multiple of 10, you will always get a number ending in a 5.)

Loop Back:  You found that the answer must be a multiple of 5.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) 2
(B) 5
(C) 8
(D) 10
(E) 15

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 68% of the responses were correct.

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