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SAT Question of the Day

2012-03-21 09:00:50

Some readers complained that the novel was overly _______ and explained too many things to the reader.

A) abstruse
B) diffident
C) ethereal
D) inept
E) didactic

The correct answer is E

Explanation: Use key words to predict the meaning of the missing word. Here, the key words are “and explained too many things,” words that elaborate on the adjective used in place of the missing word. Thus, the missing word must mean something like “too explanatory.” Because “didactic” means "designed to teach," choice E is right. Additionally, none of the other answer choices work either:

Abstruse: difficult to understand

Diffident: shy or lacking in self-confidence

Ethereal: light or airy

Inept: lacking in ability

SAT Question of the Day

2012-03-22 09:00:04

If 2x + y = 17, and x + 2y = 25, what does x + y equal?

The correct answer is 14

Explanation: Combine the two equations by adding them together:

2x + y = 17
+ x + 2y = 25
3x + 3x = 52

Now, factor out the common factor of 3: 3(x + y) = 3(14), meaning x + y = 14.

SAT Question of the Day

2012-03-23 09:00:40

Though Stephenie Meyers' series of books
have not garnered much critical acclaim,  all
of the books became smash hits in bookstores
and were adapted into a successful movie
franchise. No error

The correct answer is B

Explanation: The error in this sentence occurs at choice B where the plural verb “have” does not agree in number with its singular subject, the collective noun phrase “Stephenie Meyers’ series of book.” This error could be corrected by changing “have” to the singular “has.”

Reasons and Resources to Consider a Gap-Year

2012-03-20 12:00:53

For many students, college feels like simply the “next step” in the hamster wheel of life: automatic, and without clear purpose. Taking a year off between high school and college can be a great way for students to challenge such passivity and re-evaluate their reasons for pursuing higher education. In this blog entry, I will attempt to assuage some fears associated with the gap-year, address reasons why students opt for a year off, and suggest some ways the year can be spent. I will also advise on a few practical issues, such as planning the gap-year or finding a program, and whether students should alter or maintain the college application timeline.

What is a gap-year and how is it different from "taking time off"?

Many parents are (understandably) nervous that the gap-year will cause their children to stagnate and flounder. In response, I want to note the distinction between a gap year and simply taking time off. “Taking time off” implies a sort of directionlessness. It is an unbounded, unrefined period of time that tends to end in the same place it began. A gap-year, by contrast, is well-structured and planned for students to resolve a question or achieve a goal.

Harvard University officially encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year “to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way.” Many universities have likewise noted that students who take a year off are more academically focused when they begin college. In short, a gap-year done right can promote immense confidence and maturity, as well as instigate a sense of direction about the future.

So, parents: Don’t balk if your kid doesn’t want to go to college right away. Instead, push your student to question his/her reasons for wanting a break from school. This will help your child turn his/her ambivalence into a focused plan that he/she feels comfortable with and excited about.

Why take a gap year?

In my research, I have come across three common reasons why students opt for a year off:

1. Post-high school exhaustion

This is essentially self-explanatory. After the tremendous pressure of junior & senior years, many students feel burnt-out and dread the thought of 4 more years of (increasingly difficult) essays and tests. A year spent traveling or pursuing a non-academic interest or hobby can help such students refresh and refocus.

2. Lack of clarity about future goals

Taking a break after high school to clarify one’s goals is actually a deeply mature, forward-thinking move. If you feel this way, you should make gap year plans that are not only refreshing, but that will also galvanize your passions and excitement for the future. A year in the workforce—as a paid employee, volunteer or intern—may excite you about potential careers that require a college degree. At worst, spending a year doing a hated, menial, full time job will help you feel more motivated to go through with college. Meeting new people, making responsible choices, and navigating unfamiliar terrain while traveling or volunteering abroad also helps students self-examine and become more independent.

3. Gap year as a back door to top-choice schools

Some students see a gap-year as a way to get into a better college than those that admitted them in high school. This is generally not an effective strategy, unless your gap-year plans include taking classes at a local college to raise your GPA and prove your potential. However, according to an article on College Confidential, gap year plans that build on passions pursued in high school can also impress admissions committees. For example, if your college application already demonstrates an interest in painting, you might take this to the next level by looking for a pre-college artist residency program or interning at a gallery or as an artist’s assistant.

So, I think I'm gonna take a gap-year! But I still have a few questions...

1. What's the most common gap-year pitfall?

Ah! The beautiful feeling of nothing to do! So liberating! So many options! I… uhhh… think I’m gonna go play PS3.

BEWARE OF THIS. Spending your valuable gap-year vegging out before the boob tube is, of course, a waste of time. Avoid this by planning your gap year in advance. If you’re staying at home to work or pursue a personal interest, make a contract with your parents that limits the amount of time you can just “hang around”.

Parents: If your child plans to work, volunteer, or intern while staying at home, he/she will gain valuable experience by seeking opportunities on his/her own. Encourage your child to use our student resume writing tutorial to get started. Avoid holding his/her hand too much, but also give direction and guidance so he/she doesn't feel overwhelmed, stagnate, and fall into the cavern of video games and TV.

2. Should I still apply to college during my senior year?

Most experts advise that students taking a gap-year should still apply to, and select a college during their senior year of high school, while they have access to guidance counselors and teachers for letters of recommendation. Most colleges are happy to defer enrollment for one year, provided the student has a meaningful, well-thought-out interim plan.

That said, it’s fairly common for students to emerge from a gap-year with new perspective on their interests, as well as an altered idea of what they want in a school. In such instances, it may be wise to defer application, or reapply to college during the gap-year.

3. What's the best way to plan my gap-year?

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to planning the gap year. As the gap-year is often intended to facilitate independence and self-exploration, some experts recommend that the structure of the trip or activity should be left to the student. This is how Gregory Kristof approached his thoroughly rewarding gap-year in China. “Just do what I did,” he writes, “sign up for a foreign language school and book a flight.”

If Kristof’s larky independence makes you or your parents uncomfortable, there are numerous formal gap-year programs you can use. Here is a short list to get you started:

Global Citizen Year – Kind of like a mini peace corps, Global Citizen Year is a gap-year program that guides high-achieving high school graduates through a year of volunteer service and leadership training in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

City Year – A division of AmeriCorps that places high school graduates, ages 18-24, in high-need public schools across America as tutors and mentors. This is an excellent, eye-opening opportunity for students interested in education to see what it's like to teach in a real classroom, impact the academic success and confidence of young students, and learn about issues related to the sociology of education.

Cross Cultural Solutions –A volunteer abroad placement program that provides room & board and a thorough professional support system. Students choose to volunteer in one of 12 countries, located in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

TeenLife.com Gap Year Listings – This is a general catalog of gap year programs. Spend some time surfing and researching the options they provide!

However you plan it, if you choose to do a gap-year, I am sure it will be an exciting and enriching experience!

These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Assuage: to relieve; to lessen; to ease
Galvanize: to electrify; stir into action

SAT Question of the Day

2012-03-26 09:00:30

At a certain party, the ratio of girl guests to boy guests is 2:3. If 10 boys left, then the ratio would be reversed. How many boys are at the party right now?

(A) 8
(B) 12
(C) 18
(D) 20
(E) 30

The correct answer is C

Explanation: Set up two proportions, one for the current ratio of boys to girls and one for the hypothetical ratio. Let b = the number of boys at the party and g = the number of girls. Thus, in its current form,

g/b = ⅔

And in its hypothetical form, in which the number of girls stays the same but the number of boys decreases by 10, the ratio is

g/(b - 10) = 3/2  (the "reversed" ratio of 2:3 is 3:2)

Cross multiply each of these to get

2b = 3g     &     3(b - 10) = 2g or 3b - 30 = 2g

Solve the 2b = 3g equation for g by dividing both sides of the equation by 3 to get g = ⅔b Now, substitute this value in for g in the second equation:

3b - 30 = 2(⅔b)

This simplifies to 3b - 30 = 1⅓b . Subtract 3b from both sides to isolate the variables. This leaves

-30 = -1⅔b

Divide both sides by - 1⅔  to get b = 18, making choice C correct.

SAT Question of the Day

2012-03-27 09:00:40

Professor Kurtz was so strict that even the smallest ______ committed in his classroom would not go unpunished.

(A) apostasy
(B) zeal
(C) venality
(D) peccadillo
(E) concurrence

The correct answer is D

Explanation: Look for keywords in the sentence to help you predict the meaning of the missing word. Here, the keywords are in the phrase, “so strict that,” a phrase that implies that Kurtz expected his students to act properly and follow the rules. The other keywords are in the phrase “would not go unpunished” and the adjective “smallest” which modifies the missing word. Together, these all imply that Kurtz would not let even the slightest of infractions be committed without punishment. Thus, the missing word must likewise mean “infractions.” Because a “peccadillo” is “a petty sin or small offense,” choice D is correct.

The other answer choices do not work either:

Apostasy: the abandonment or renunciation of a political or religious belief

Zeal: fervor or passion

Venality: a susceptibility to bribery

Concurrence: an agreement or accordance in opinion

SAT Question of the Day

2012-03-28 09:00:35

During his second week of mowing lawns, William earned $200. This represented a 300% increase over the amount he earned in his first week of work. If on the third week of work, he increased his earnings by 50% of his week two earnings, how much more money did he make in week three of mowing lawns than he did in week one?

(A) $150.67
(B) $233.34
(C) $250
(D) $300
(E) $350

The correct answer is C

Explanation: Start by finding out how much money William earned in his first week of mowing lawns. If $200 is a 300% increase from his first week’s earnings, then $200 is 400% of what he earned in the first week (since percent increase is calculated as the difference between the original amount and the final amount, and 400 - 300 = 100%). Let x = the amount he earned in that first week, then. If $200 is 400% of that amount, then 400%x = 200, meaning 4x = 200, meaning x = $50 (since 200/4 = 50).

Now, calculate how much William earned in his third week of mowing lawns by finding how much money a 50% increase of $200 is. A 50% increase of a number means the new number is 150% of the original number, meaning 1.5(200) will provide William’s third week earnings. 1.5(200) = $300.

Finally, calculate the difference between WIlliam’s third and first week earnings by subtracting 50 from 300 to get $300 - $50 = $250, making choice C correct.

SAT Question of the Day

2012-03-29 09:00:35

The writings of Thomas Pynchon can feel too complicated to many readers, and the Byzantine, conspiracy-filled plots often leave its readers feeling as paranoid as Pynchon’s many protagonists.

(A) often leave its readers feeling as paranoid as Pynchon’s many protagonists.
(B) often leave its readers feeling as paranoidly as are Pynchon’s many protagonists.
(C) often leave its readers feeling as paranoidly as the Pynchon protagonists do.
(D) often leave their readers feeling as paranoid as are Pynchon’s many protagonists.
(E) often leave their readers feeling as paranoid as Pynchon’s many protagonists.

The correct answer is E

Explanation: As written, the prompt contains a pronoun error. The singular possessive pronoun “its” does not agree in number with its plural antecedents, “the writings of Thomas Pynchon.” Choice E corrects this by changing “its” to the plural “their.”

SAT Question of the Day

2012-03-30 09:00:45

The average of five consecutive odd integers is x. If the median of the integers is 17, what does x equal?

The correct answer is 17

Explanation: In a set of consecutive odd integers, the median will be equal to the average, since each number is equally spaced apart. To prove this, simply find the numbers that make up this set. If the median is 17, that means two numbers must be smaller and two numbers larger than 17. This makes the other numbers 13, 15, 19, and 21, respectively. The average of these five numbers is calculated by adding them together and dividing by 5 (the number of objects in the set). 13 + 15 + 17 + 19 + 21 = 85. 85/5 = 17.

SAT Question of the Day

2012-04-02 09:00:05

Many critics have complained about the author’s habit in recent works to ______ a point, rather than trusting the reader to understand it on his or her own; while some ______ is fine, these critics feel the writer’s fiction is ruined due to its heavy-handedness.

(A) equivocate... sermonizing
(B) exaggerate... imprecision
(C) de-emphasize...pedanticism
(D) overwork... hyperbole
(E) belabor... didacticism

The correct answer is E.

Explanation: To find the missing words, look for keywords in the prompt. Here, the two missing words share the same set of keywords, namely the phrase, “rather than trusting the reader to understand it on his or her own,” as well as the phrase “due to its heavy-handedness.” The first missing word describes what the author did “rather than trusting the audience,” implying that the author was “heavy-handed” in making a point. The second missing word likewise must mean “heavy-handedness” since a little of it is okay but not as much as the author uses. Together, then, the two words must have similar meanings, and both must suggest that the author explains his or her point too much. Because “belabor” means “to argue or elaborate in a heavy-handed or excessively detailed manner” while “didacticism” means “the excessive use of something intended to teach,” choice E is correct.

The other answer choices do not work either, as none of them form the proper synonymous relationship:

(A) Equivocate: to conceal the truth by using ambiguous language; Sermonizing: delivering a dogmatic and opinionated speech to someone

(B) Exaggerate: to represent something as larger or more important than it actually is;  Imprecision: inexactness or carelessness

(C) De-emphasize: to reduce the importance or prominence of something; Pedanticism: being excessively concerned with minor details and rules or with displaying academic learning.

(D) Overwork: to exhaust with too much work or use of; Hyperbole: exaggerated statements or claims meant to be taken literally