SAT Math: Question of the Day!

It’s been awhile since we took a look at an SAT word problem! Let’s try one out today!

Three types of pencils J, K, and L cost $0.05, $0.10, and $0.25. If a box of 32 of these pencils costs a total of $3.40 and if there are twice as many K pencils as L pencils in the box, how many J pencils are there?

A) 6
B) 12
C) 14
D) 18
E) 20

.05j + .10k + .25l = $3.40

j + k + l = 32

2l = k

Plug the third equation into the 1st and 2nd equations and simplify:

.05j + .2l + .25l = 3.40
.05j + .45l = 3.40
5j + 45l = 340
j + 9l = 68

j + 2l + l = 32
j + 3l = 32

Now we have two equations with two variables. We can solve for j.

j + 9l = 68
– (j + 3l = 32)

6l = 36
l = 6

Plug l back in to solve for j.

j + 9(6) = 68
j + 54 = 68
j = 14

The answer is (C).

Run-Up to the November/December ACT and SAT!

The remaining 2013 dates for the ACT and SAT are:

  • October 26th – ACT
  • November 2nd – SAT
  • December 7th – SAT
  • December 14th – ACT

Check out this Learnboard for exam basics, format, how to register, and kick-off your Test Prep!

Fragments and Run-ons on the SAT: How to Spot ‘Em and Fix ‘Em!

Before we can spot Fragments and Run-Ons it’s important to understand a few key definitions when it comes to sentence construction. A clause is a group of words with a verb and a subject. An independent clause can stand alone as a complete sentence. A dependent or subordinate clause cannot. Let’s look at a couple of quick examples:

Independent clause: I love studying for the SAT.

Dependent clause: Because I use

The first sentence is a complete thought and can stand on its own while the second can not. The dependent clause is what we would call a fragment. A fragment is missing one of three things: a subject, a predicate verb, or the information needed to logically complete the sentence (like the dependent clause above). A subject is the main noun of the sentence. It is the person or thing doing the action. A predicate verb is the verb that says what the subject is doing. It must be in a tense that matches the subject.

Here are some examples of fragments:

Missing a Subject
WRONG: Climbed to the top of the mountain.
RIGHT: He climbed to the top of the mountain.

Missing a Predicate Verb
WRONG: She sleeping like a baby.
RIGHT: She sleeps like a baby.

In both of these examples we fixed the Fragment by adding the missing subject or the missing predicate verb. You can also fix a fragment by keeping it as it is and joining it to an independent clause:

Because I use, I love studying for the SAT.

A run-on is a sentence that contains more than one independent clauses which are not properly combined. The most common run-on you will see on the SAT is two complete sentences separated by a comma.

Example: They went to the store, she bought a candy bar.

You CANNOT combine two independent clauses with a comma. That is a big SAT no-no! So let’s look at the ways we can fix this Run-on:

#1. Make it Two Sentences
They went to the store. She bought a candy bar.

#2 Add a FANBOYS (leave the comma)
They went to the store, so she bought a candy bar.

FANBOYS is an acronym for all of the coordinating conjunctions. These are special words that can link independent clauses. FANBOYS stands for:


#3 Add a Semi-colon
They went to the store; she bought a candy bar.

#4 Making One Clause Dependent
Because they went to the store, she bought a candy bar.

Those are the most common ways to fix a run-on! Occasionally, you can also fix one with a Colon or a Dash.

A colon (:) is used to introduce a list, an explanation or a quote. If the first independent clause is doing one of those things, then adding the Colon is acceptable.

INCORRECT: She packed her lunch an apple, a sandwich and a soft drink went into the bag.
CORRECT: She packed her lunch: an apple, a sandwich and a soft drink went into the bag.

A dash (-) indicates a sudden change in thought:

Our teacher wanted all of us to fail the test – or so we thought.

For SAT purposes, the most common ways to fix the run-on will be to add a FANBOYS or a Semi-Colon. Run-ons can also contain no commas or more than two independent clauses, so let’s make sure we can identify those as well:

INCORRECT: She went surfing the wave she caught was huge. (No comma)
CORRECT: She went surfing; the wave she caught was huge.

INCORRECT: She went surfing the wave she caught was huge she fell off her board.
CORRECT: She went surfing; the wave she caught was huge and she fell off her board.

One important thing to remember is that the correct answer will always be the one that fixes the error, without introducing a new one. If there is more than one answer choice that fixes the error, compare them. Does one introduce a new grammatical error? Is one wordier or slightly awkward? Look for the subtle differences in style between the two.

The best answer choice on the SAT will fix the error and will be the most concise choice that does not change the sentence’s meaning.

10 Important Differences Between the ACT and SAT

Students preparing for college admissions are often confused about which test to take to make their college applications stronger, the ACT, or the SAT? While neither test is “better” and make great schools accept either, it’s important to consider both the similarities and differences before you register. Whether you take one, or both, you’ll need to know how they are similar and divergent in terms of format, content, and pacing requirements so you can ensure your Test Day success!

1. The SAT has more sections. The SAT consists of 10 sections testing three different categories: Writing, Reading, and Math. The ACT consists of 5 separate tests of varying lengths testing five different categories: English, Math, Science, Reading and Writing.

2. Both tests contain an essay. The SAT essay is always Section 1. The Writing section of the ACT will always be last and is optional (though highly recommended).

3. Each question correctly answered is worth one “raw” point. Unlike the SAT, there is no penalty on the ACT for marking incorrect answers on multiple-choice questions.

4. The SAT is more vocabulary-heavy. There are no Sentence Completions on the ACT, although a strong vocabulary makes the ACT English and Reading Tests easier.

5. The tests have different scaled scores. On the SAT, each of the three sections has a maximum scaled score of 800. The highest possible SAT score is a 2400.
On the ACT, you will receive a separate ACT score (from 1 to 36) for each of the five tests and a Composite ACT score, which is an average of the first four 4 tests.

6. The essay is 25% of the SAT Writing score, but is counted separately on the ACT. The Writing Test on the ACT is scored separately from the ACT English Test, although you will receive a combined English/Writing score on your report.

7. There are no subscores on the SAT. In addition to the English/Writing subscore, you will receive subscores in English, Math, and Reading on the ACT that range between 1 and 18. These scores provide you with more detail about your performance, but they are not actually used by schools.

8. Schools typically prefer one test over the other. Although more and more schools accept both tests, the SAT is generally the preferred test for schools on the East and West coasts, while the ACT remains popular with schools in the Midwest and in the South. To determine whether you should take the SAT, the ACT, or both, you should see what the schools to which you are applying prefer.

9. There is a lot of overlap in the tested content. Most of the concepts in the SAT Math are tested on the ACT Math as well, although generally the ACT Math is considered slightly more challenging as it includes Trigonometry. The grammar rules underlying the SAT Writing sections are also tested on the ACT English Test.

10. The ACT has no wrong answer penalty! Even if Math and Science aren’t your strengths, you may want to try taking the ACT to see how you do! Unlike the SAT, there is no wrong answer penalty. You should be able to get points simply by using elimination strategies and intelligent guesswork!

Any questions about the differences between the tests? You can always find out more here!

How to Use Learnist to Study for the GMAT (and other tests)!

As a test prep tutor, Learnist’s breadth of offerings has benefited me both as a board creator and a consumer. Working with my SAT and GMAT students, it has been super helpful to create individual boards to target each specific aspect of these tests. For example, if I’m Skyping with a GMAT student and outlining the basics of the Integrated Reasoning section, it’s so great to be able to walk them through the IR: Table Analysis board I’ve created. It’s my virtual textbook, including the most-useful YouTube explanations, chapters from GoogleBooks, and practice questions all in one easily-accessible place.

As a tutor, I’m choosing the content, but Learnist gives a great medium to present it in a clear, easily accessible manner so I’m really encouraging test prep students to discover this platform. I’ve even started assigned boards for homework, and I find students are actually much more enthusiastic about “doing a board” then simply reading a chapter from a book (I know I would be). The combination of audio, visual, interactive, and yes, some reading, makes Learnist more powerful than any 2-D textbook, which is why I’ll be posting a series of blogs highlighting my various Learnist GMAT, GRE, SAT, and ACT boards. It’s a free resource to help students overcome these standardized tests. Enjoy!

P.S. You can read more about my experience using Learnist here!

Welcome to GMAT Rockstar!

Looking for an experienced online tutor for the ACT, SAT, GRE, or GMAT? Whether you’re starting your study plan from scratch, looking for a solid strategy tune-up, or facing total burn-out after your second re-take, I’m here to help!

I offer:

  • hand-picked questions to address YOUR weaknesses
  • effective strategies for every question-type
  • thorough review of all tested content
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