kitchen table math, the sequel: how the SAT changed in 2006

## Monday, July 18, 2011

### how the SAT changed in 2006

I'm tossing old papers, or trying to, and in my rummaging came across this Times article from 2005.

I was tickled to see that one of the problem types added to the revised test was the absolute value inequality word problem, a category I had never seen or imagined until I encountered one in Dr. Chung's SAT Math:
For pumpkin carving, Mr. Sephera will not use pumpkins that weigh less than 2 pounds or more than 10 pounds. If x represents the weight of a pumpkin, in pounds, he will not use, which of the following inequalities represents all possible values of x?
a. | x - 2 | > 10
b. | x - 4 | > 6
c. | x - 5 | > 5
d. | x - 6 | > 4
e. | x - 10 | > 4

Pop Quiz; New and (Maybe) Improved
Published: November 7, 2004
Talk about inflexible knowledge. Somehow I had concluded that absolute value inequality calculations were just that: calculations. Arithmetic. I was stunned to discover that you could have an absolute value inequality word problem.

Wonders never cease.

Elizabeth King's explanation of these problems is excellent.

Debbie Stier said...

That NY Times article (which is actually from 2004) is rich with quotable stuff. I'm wondering how much has changed since then.

Here's one (of the many) that I've pulled out about the change of the SAT:

"Nor does it seem a bad idea for students to pay a little more attention to the mechanics of grammar and usage, though good grammar is not necessarily a guarantee of good writing. (A number of professional teachers organizations have actively opposed the formal teaching of grammar, in fact, on the ground that worrying about correctness discourages a student's ''creativity.'')"

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... looks to me like the answer is (f) - none of the above

| x - 6 | < 4

(if x plus or minus anything is GREATER than some small integer, it will be be further away from some central value, and therefore include very large positive and negative numbers)

Hopefully this was a transcription issue (in the NYT article) and the original SAT question had a correct answer.

Andy

Glen said...

There is a nasty trap in the problem, which states "x is the weight of a pumpkin he will NOT use," so that when the last line asks for "all possible values of x", it really means "all NOT-possible values of x", making (d) the answer.