ACT and SAT Math Tips: Sequences

Posted by Vicki Wood on February 17, 2017 at 11:06 AM

There are three main types of sequence questions on the ACT and SAT:

  1. Those that require the use of formulas to solve arithmetic or geometric sequences.
  2. Those that ask you to compute a small-numbered term (such as the 8th term or less).
  3. Those that assess your ability to discover a repetitive pattern in order to find a higher-numbered term (such as the 51st term).

It is this third type of sequence--often considered the most difficult by unprepared test takers--that we will address today. Like many ACT and SAT math questions, there is a trick that makes these sequence questions quite easy to solve.

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Topics: SAT Prep, ACT Prep, SAT Math, ACT Math

ACT English and SAT Writing Tips: Parallel Prepositions

Posted by Vicki Wood on January 27, 2017 at 9:25 AM

The use of prepositions in a series must either be used by all members of a series or by only the first member of the series in order to be considered parallel.

Both of the following sentences are correct:

You can succeed on the SAT by reading, by studying, and by taking a prep class.    [Correct]

You can succeed on the SAT by reading, studying, and taking a prep class.    [Correct]

In the first sentence, the preposition by is used by all three items in the list: by reading, by studying, and by taking. In the second example, the preposition by is only used by the first item: by reading, studying, and taking.

This sentence, however, is incorrect:

You can succeed on the SAT by reading, by studying, and taking a prep class.    [Incorrect]

Only two of the items in the series use the preposition by, making the sentence ungrammatical.

A series using prepositions does not have to repeat the same preposition:

We have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Just ensure that all of the objects receive a preposition. This sentence is incorrect:

You can travel to the town on a plane, in a car, or a boat.    [Incorrect]

The nouns plane and car are the objects of the prepositions on and in. Because the noun boat is in the same series, it must also be the object of a preposition:

You can travel to the town on a plane, in a car, or by a boat.    [Correct]

Examine a question type that might appear on the ACT or SAT using unparallel prepositions:

In the relative phrase, there are three groups of people for whom the toys are being collected: for children, parents, and for babies. Notice that the second group, parents, is missing a preposition. Either all three of the groups must use a preposition:

for children in the shelter,

for parents who are unemployed over the holidays, and

for babies in the hospital

Or just the first group:

for children in the shelter,

parents who are unemployed over the holidays, and

babies in the hospital

Choice (B) is correct, as it deletes the preposition for  from the third group, babies:

The toy drive—which collects new toys for children in the shelter, parents who are unemployed over the holidays, and babies in the hospital—is slated to start the last week in November.    [Correct]

Now the sentence is parallel.

 

Did you find this helpful? If so, check out our ACT courses.

 

Photo: Today's repeating pattern, courtesty of Kevin Dooley

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Topics: SAT Prep, ACT Prep, SAT Writing, ACT English

How to Set a (Realistic) Target ACT or SAT Score

Posted by Vicki Wood on January 13, 2017 at 10:26 AM

When we teach courses, we hand out a student profile which asks students about their testing experience and expectations. One of the questions prompts them to list their target score. So many of the responses are the same: 25 on the ACT and 1200 on the SAT. When we ask why they want these scores, their answer is simple: “Because that’s a good score.”

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Topics: SAT Prep, ACT Prep

ACT and SAT Math Tips: Holiday Dilemmas

Posted by Jon Denning on December 23, 2016 at 10:11 AM

We have a special SAT Math and ACT Math post today from our senior curriculum developer (and VP!), Jon Denning. He'll help you get into the test prep spirit with a little winter break math.

Everyone at PowerScore wishes you a happy holiday! 

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Topics: SAT Prep, ACT Prep, SAT Math, ACT Math

ACT and SAT Math Tips: Turkey Day Drills

Posted by Vicki Wood on November 23, 2016 at 10:26 AM

Just because the holidays are rolling around does not mean you can skip your ACT and SAT prep! It's important to use your time off to focus on the test while you're not worrying about school work. And I'm here to help you out with a few Thanksgiving math questions to kickstart your day of family, football, and sweet, sweet gluttony.

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Topics: SAT Prep, ACT Prep, SAT Math, ACT Math

ACT and SAT Reading Tips: Opposite Answer Traps

Posted by Vicki Wood on November 18, 2016 at 10:45 AM

If only one answer can be right on the ACT and SAT Reading sections, then three other answers are wrong. The test makers carefully write these wrong answer choices, intentionally using language and ideas that trick unsuspecting test takers. Learning how these incorrect answers are crafted can help you spot them, which is why eliminating wrong answers can sometimes be easier than determining the right answer.

One type of answer trap is the Opposite Answer. 

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Topics: SAT Prep, ACT Prep, SAT Reading, ACT Reading

ACT and SAT Math Tips: The Surprise Inside Every Equilateral Triangle

Posted by Vicki Wood on November 11, 2016 at 11:09 AM

Remember when you were a kid and the box of Lucky Charms had a toy buried inside? Yeah, hold on to that memory, because thanks to advertising laws, most cereal manufacturers stopped offering such promotions in 2008. I sure wish law makers would at least allow cereal manufacturers to put toys in cereals with low sugar content, as I can't get my twins to even listen to the Snap! Crackle! and Pop! of Rice Krispies. But I guess that's for another blog on another day.

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Topics: SAT Prep, ACT Prep, SAT Math, ACT Math

Should you retake the ACT or SAT?

Posted by PowerScore Test Preparation on November 4, 2016 at 12:36 PM

After all the tough questions on the ACT or SAT, you have another one to answer when your scores arrive: Should you take the test again?

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Topics: College Admissions, SAT Prep, ACT Prep

ACT English and SAT Writing Tips: Ambiguous Pronouns

Posted by Vicki Wood on October 20, 2016 at 10:51 AM

I must apologize for my absence: Hurricane Matthew chased me from home for over a week and then kept me busy for another week when I came back. I am happy to settle back into a routine today, so let's get right to it: Ambiguous pronouns.

Ambiguous  means unclear  or open to more than one interpretation.  The movie Inception  has an ambiguous ending, as does the book The Giver  by Lois Lowry. Audiences and readers are left with questions about these endings because the authors have left them open to interpretation.

While book and movie endings are intentionally made ambiguous, pronouns should never be unclear. Ambiguous pronoun errors occur on the ACT and SAT when the proper antecedent has more than one possibility, leaving the reader to wonder whom or what the pronoun is referencing.

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Topics: SAT Prep, ACT Prep, SAT Writing, ACT English

ACT and SAT Math Tips: Percentage Problems

Posted by Vicki Wood on September 9, 2016 at 1:21 PM

 Word problems notoriously cause students stress and anxiety on the ACT and the SAT. Since the test makers know this, you should plan to see word problems frequently, especially in questions involving percentages. But there are a couple of strategies to help you conquer your fears and attack percentage problems successfully.

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Topics: SAT Prep, ACT Prep, SAT Math, ACT Math