how would you do on a college entrance exam?

Middle is preparing for his college entrance exam.
It's an archaic, odd kind of test, and he's working with a tutor - not so much to improve his grade (he took a practice test and did okay) but to help him understand how to take the test and feel confident that day.
Each day he gets an email with the question of the day, which I'm pretty sure he's been ignoring, but K and I have been having fun trying to answer them. I'm completely lost on any math questions, which K is very proficient at, and he sometimes stumbles on the English questions - but he usually gets them right.

How would you do?
Here are some examples...

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

Whereas the caterpillars of most butterflies
are harmless, moth caterpillars cause
an enormous amount of damage on
plants, forest and shade trees, clothing,

and household goods. No error

Part of the following sentence is red; 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.

It is thought that a dog’s sense of smell is generally 10,000 to 100,000 times better than humans.

A. humans
B. humans’ are
C. humans have
D. a human’s
E. a human has

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

Their conversation was unsettling, for the gravity of their topic contrasted so oddly with the ------- of their tone.

A. uniqueness
B. rapidity
C. lightness
E. reverence

In a community of 416 people, each person owns a dog or a cat or both. If there are 316 dog owners and 280 cat owners, how many of the dog owners own no cat?

A. 36
B. 100
C. 136
D. 180
E. 316

I'll tell you this: between the mention of dogs and cats and the math involved, I didn't do too well on number 4.

1 - The error in this sentence occurs at (D), where there is an improper idiom. Caterpillars (or anything else) can cause damage
to something, but they cannot cause damage on something.

2- Choice (D) is correct. It avoids the error of the original by properly comparing “a dog’s sense of smell” to “a human’s” sense of smell.

3- Only “lightness” fits the logic of the sentence as being contrary to the “gravity” of the topic. Listening to others discuss a grave (or serious) topic in a light-hearted tone would be unsettling and confusing.

4- To solve this problem, you must realize that some of the 316 dog owners also own cats and some of the 280 cat owners also own dogs. This has to be true because
316 + 280 is more than 416! The question asks how many of the dog owners do not own cats. To solve the problem, first find the number of people who own both a dog and a cat. To do this, let b equal the number who own both a dog and a cat. Then 416 = 316 + 280 – b. (Note: Adding 316 and 280 counts b twice, so b must be subtracted from the sum to get 416.) Next, the equation 416 = 596 – b can be solved for b, yielding b = 180. Finally, the number of dog owners who own no cat is 316 – 180 = 136.


Wendy said…
I'm feeling very smug. I got them all. However, I worked the math problem backwards by plugging in the answers to see which one worked. Does middle know that strategy? It would take too long to use that strategy on most of the math portion, but can work really well for a few that really have him stuck.
Badger said…
Okay, well I was right on the first three. For the fourth one, I don't even understand the explanation. But I would have gotten that one right too, because I always pick C for the ones I don't know.
tutugirl1345 said…
4/4, but I did just take this test 4-5 years ago.

I think working with a tutor to better understand the test is a great idea. My brother did that and it helped his score a lot. Wish I'd had that opportunity!
eurolush said…
I hate caterpillar moths.
Anonymous said…
Verbal: 3/3
Math: 0/1

Good luck to Middle. It is all about one's test taking skills in the end, and not one's "innate knowledge." He'll be fine.

Anonymous said…
To be honest, I still don't understand the fourth answer.

There are 416 members of the community all together. 280 own cats.

416-280 = 136 who don't own cats (they only own dogs).

316 own dogs (some also own cats).

316-136 = 180. The answer SHOULD BE 180.

316 own dogs (and cats)
136 own only dogs.

316-136 = 180 own dogs and cats. Seriously. How is it 136?
Anonymous said…
Oh crap. I did too many steps. Nevermind. =(
barbra said…
Woo hoo! Phew, I am so relieved that I got them all. I am a teacher, after all!
barbra said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
kmkat said…
Got them all. [polishes fingernails on shirt, smiling smugly]
barbra said…
Here's how I did #4:

All 416 families have a dog or cat, or both.

416 families - 316 dog owners = 100 "cat-only" families.

280 cat families - 100 "cat-only" families = 180 "both dog and cat" families.

316 dog families - 180 "both dog and cat" families = 136 "dog only" families.

I accidentally put a minus sign instead of an equal sign in my previous post, so I deleted it.
whitneybee said…
I got 2 out of 4. I guess it's a good thing I didn't have to take an entrance exam for the college I attended.
Sharon said…
I LOVE standardized tests. I'm weird that way. And I used Wendy's technique, too, and got a 700 on the math SAT even though I'd never taken anything above Algebra. (Of course, that was back in the dark ages when we took the SATs on an abacus.)
halloweenlover said…
Holy smokes! I used to teach the SAT and I still got #4 wrong. 1-3 were okay, though. Shhhh, don't tell my former students.
Anonymous said…
Going thru the same with my "middle". so much pressure over test scores!

Ree said…
Excuse me. I have a math minor and couldn't have done that last question. Of course, some brain cells have atrophied since then, but still.....
Anonymous said…
Isn't it as simple as 416 people minus 280 cat owners (who cares if they have dogs too, since the question is how many dog owners own NO CAT)= 136? That lengthy explaination made my head hurt. 416-280=136.

I enjoyed these challenges.

margalit said…
I get these every day in my email too (As does every other mother of Juniors, not that the kids every attempt them...) and I've been enjoying the verbal ones too. If it's math, I just delete the mail.

Our tutoring is going quite well, and I'm hoping that by June, when the Boy is signed up for the SAT, he'll be well prepared. I hope.

But he got all A's this term and I'm so verklempt I can't even begin to mention how thrilled and proud I am. Finally the kid connects that high school performance does affect college admission. Better late than never, right?
paola said…
I am so happy I got 3 out of 4!
Math is my forever enemy, but I loved ErinH explanation, it made it all sound so EASY.
Loved this test.
Eleanor said…
I totally forgot what I wanted to say, because I am SO EXCITED that one of your readers used the word "verklempt" in your comment box.

I'm verklempt about this!
sueeeus said…
Oh phew, I got them all right. I guess my college education just paid off!
wendy said…
3/4 - skipped a step on the math one!

Good luck!
Velma said…
Owie. My brain hurts.