The Vein Poppers: Linear Equations


Don’t figure out the answer, just eliminate the wrong answers!

(The graphics that follow are pages 108-112 in the binder)

The format for these 7 questions is based on the fact that any line can be expressed in 4 different ways:

In other words, the question stem will be one of the four expressions above, and all the answers will use the other three expressions. You will have to find the expression in the answer list that is identical to the expression in the question stem. For example, if the question is a data table, then the correct answer will be a plot, algebraic or verbal expression that is identical to the line specified in the data table.

Again, you don’t need to know what the mathematical expression of the line is, just eliminate the answers that are obviously wrong. Here’s how:

(What follows is pages 112-115 in the binder)

The first thing to figure out is whether the y-intercept is positive or negative, that is, is it above or below the x-axis.

Next, is the slope positive or negative, that is, does the line go up or down, left to right?

Finally, is the slope “steep” or “flat”?

Once you get familiar with this process, these 7 questions will be easy for you.

When I sat for the exam, every so often I would look around the room to see how people were doing. I could always spot those who did not take a test prep class, because when they got to these questions, I could see the veins in their necks and foreheads start bulging out. These 7 questions aren’t that hard to answer (you should try to get them all right) but the format of the questions is so twisted that the vein popper’s brains melted trying to figure out what to do.

But your veins won’t because you now understand the format, and can quickly use the steps to eliminate the wrong answers:

  1. Is the y-intercept positive or negative?
  2. Is the slope positive or negative?
  3. Is the slope flat or steep?
  4. Eliminate the answers that don’t have the answers you found in Steps 1, 2, and 3.