SAT QOTD: When in doubt, write it out!

College Board Question of the Day June 15On June 15th the College Board QOTD apparently killed those not yet prepared for the SAT. Well today we’re going to help the 154,000 of you that got this question wrong (and all of you who’ve yet to try this question) by showing you great strategy that would make this question a piece of cake.

Today’s strategy is: When in doubt, write it out!

One of the biggest challenges in taking the SAT is being able to “see” what the question writers are trying to hide from you. SAT question writers love to present things you’ve seen in ways you’ve never seen them, which makes the test particularly tricky. But if you are ready for their games with a few key strategies (and the right knowledge) then you’ll be able to master even the toughest questions. Now let’s review the knowledge that’s necessary for this question:


1. “Lie in a plane”

This phrase is designed to tell you that the question takes place in 2-dimensional space. So you only need to consider the x and y axes (there is no z axis). A simple way to think about this phrase is basically telling you things are “normal.”

2. Distinct

Distinct means different. This is again basically telling you the problem is not trying to trick you with overlapping lines.


Now that we have that all cleared away let’s get to today’s strategy.


When in doubt, write it out!


One of the biggest mistakes many of students make is trying to do all math in their heads or in the calculator. This typically doesn’t work because the SAT is not a pure math test, it’s a math reasoning test (that’s why it’s called the SAT Reasoning Test). The difference between a math test and a math reasoning test is that a math reasoning test focuses on making you think and “see” things rather than memorize and do things. If you remember that and write things down so you can see them better you’ll typically do better. So we should start with this question by writing (drawing) it out.


The other thing that’s important is recognizing that whenever the SAT says “could” they are specifically telling you there are multiple options. So for this question what you want to do is not only draw out the lines, but make sure you draw it out several different ways to be sure that you’ve found as many different ways as you can. Here are our drawings for this question:




After drawing it out several times we can be pretty confident that we’ve accounted for all possible options and we’ve got our answer!


Hope this helps! Keep working on those Questions of the Day and let us know if we can do anything else to help you get ahead on the SAT.

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