Test Prep: A few tricks to beat the test?

I’m always stunned by the lack of clarity that people have about what test prep is and what test prep isn’t. Many people seem to believe that test preparation involves sprinkling pixie dust on a test-taker and waiting for the score to soar to new heights. Think about how often you’ve heard of “tricks” to “beat the test.” Now don’t get me wrong, I know it’s largely the test preparation industry that sold the nation this bill of goods (thanks Joe Bloggs), but the impact of this thinking is being compounded by the current atmosphere in education of over-testing, misuse of testing, and over-reliance on test results. This post will clarify “once and for all” what test prep is and what it isn’t. I hope after this post that I’ll never again hear the phrase “just a few tricks” combined with “get me a great score.”

“I just need a few tricks to boost my score.”

ACT vs SAT: The Amazing Race

ACT is to SAT as Wedges is to Fries

In our continuing ACT vs SAT series (if you’ve not been following you might want to click this link and check out the others), we break down the difference in pacing on the two tests. We’ll help you make sense of pacing and timing on the SAT versus the ACT. You’ve probably already read or heard that the ACT is a faster test than the SAT, and we’re here to give that a little more context and help you figure out what that means to you.

 

Timing

When people say “The ACT is a faster test” what they really mean is that the ACT overall allots less time per question.  

GMAT Tip: Advanced Sentence Correction Strategy

Some of the more difficult Sentence Correction questions for test-takers are those that have a lot words in the underlined portion, which can create confusion and indecisiveness. The difficulty can be compounded when the underlined portion doesn’t seem to have any obvious errors but nevertheless “sounds” bad. SC questions that have these characteristics can, however, be better managed with the right approach. Let’s take a look at an example and then outline how to tackle it:

ACT vs SAT: The only difference that matters

Darth SAT vs Darth ACT

In our continuing quest to put to rest the fruitless debate between the two college entry behemoths, we give you the definitive answer to which test you should take.

After all talk is over and after all the pros and cons have been listed, the one and only difference you need to worry about is which test you do better on!

No matter what the group statistics imply, no matter what your friends have done, no matter who was admitted with which scores last year, all that matters is which test provides you the best opportunity to demonstrate to colleges your ability to do well at their school.

GMAT/GRE Quant Tip: Summation? Swap Rules for Strategy

Questions that involve the summation formula, whether on their own or one component of a more complicated problem, often trip test-takers up for the simplest of reasons: figuring out “how many items” are in the set can sometimes prove tricky. One way to avoid the headache of trying to remember the rule for each different kind of limitation (consecutive even/odd/other, inclusive vs. exclusive, whether the set starts/ends with an even/odd), is to simply employ a strategy that will quickly and consistently allow you to determine the number of items in the set: patterns.

Before we delve into how, let’s review the summation formula and when it’s used. The summation formula:

∑ = (# of Numbers in the Set)(Largest Number + Smallest Number)/2

Don’t Increase the Hype: The SAT is a’changing

Not too long ago the College Board hired David Coleman as the new president and his first few months can be summarized by the Wu Tang Clan  – “Kaboom, guess who stepped in the room!” In just a few short months, Coleman has kicked up enough dust to make notoriety seekers like  Lady Gaga and Madonna proud by speaking of the failures of the College Board and its programs (notably the SAT and AP).

“I have a problem with the SAT writing” – David Coleman, president of the College Board

 

GMAT or GRE, As Easy as 1-2-3

With a growing number of schools accepting the GRE for the MBA, we constantly get questions about which test people should take, so here are a few considerations to help students answer that question of GMAT or GRE:

1. The Advantage of History. The GMAT is the gold standard for the MBA application. Institutions have no questions about what GMAT scores mean and how to compare them retrospectively to students in their programs both current and past. Only recently (the last half-decade) has the number of schools accepting the GRE increased significantly. Advantage: GMAT.

ACT vs SAT: Myths and Legends

 

In recent years, students have increasingly faced the challenge of deciding which college admission tests to take. They are receiving conflicting, vague, or incorrect advice from counselors, parents, blogs, internet experts, admission officers, concerned citizens, and busybodies of all varieties. Instead of solving the problem and making the decision easier, this information overload can often increase the confusion. To help you make a decision (and hopefully not just add to the noise), we’ve started this “ACT vs. SAT” series, which will provide specific points points of comparison and clear (hopefully) unbiased information that will help you create your ACT vs. SAT scorecard. To kick things off, we’ll dispel a few of the most egregious myths we’ve heard in the ACT/SAT discussion.

5 Common Misconceptions

BC Review: GMATPrep v. 2.2

It has always been a love hate relationship with the GMATPrep software.  Every version of it has had some major flaw, but at the same time you have to love the thing because it houses the only official GMAT CATs available.  In any event, each revision of the software has come with incremental improvements (happily 2.1 brought GMATPrep to Apple computers! woot!), and the new GMATPrep 2.2 continues the slow crawl forward.

Installation was a snap.  I downloaded it, double clicked the install package, agreed to the terms and conditions, and entered my log-in information and within minutes I was exploring the new GMATPrep software.  I have had many install and functionality issues with the last version so this smooth sailing was a nice surprise.

What’s new?  There have been some solid organizational improvements in Question Pack 1, as well as a very critical functionality upgrade.

The Meaning and Value of Practice Tests

Often, confusion exists about the uses and benefits of practice tests, and the role of practice tests in preparing for the GMAT. Let’s try and offer some clarity to the situation:

Practice Tests

Practice tests are evaluative tools and should be used as such. They are NOT learning tools. You use tests to assess what you have learned and your ability to apply that learning under conditions as similar to the real exam as you can make them. As such you should only be taking practice tests at most once per week (unless you are not working), and should seek to simulate the conditions of the actual test as much as possible when doing so (especially in the last few weeks before the real exam). In the larger preparation picture, you should take a practice test at the very beginning of your preparations to establish a baseline and determine your areas of strength and weakness. After that, it would be advisable to hold off on doing another practice test until you’ve had a chance to do some content review and focused, small-scale practice. Once you’ve gotten a sizable chunk of material and practice behind you, you should start incorporating full-length practice tests into your preparation regiment.

Key points for simulating practice tests:

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