Word Challenge VI: Two Words, One Speech – Our President’s!

The sixth and final entry in the Word Challenge: Two Words, One Speech series, ends with our current commander in chief. Written by Bell Curves co-founder Akil Bello, this entry was posted on 4RIISE.com

In the final installment of our speeches series, I offer to you a man triply fitting for mention on this President’s Day. A man known as one of the greatest orators of our time. A man of historic stature and prodigious ability. This week’s speech comes to us from the first African-American President of the United States of America: Barack Obama.

Word Challenge V: Two Words, One Speech – Frederick Douglass!

Part V of our six part series examines the words of Frederick Douglass.  Written by Akil Bello, co-founder of Bell Curves, this entry was originally posted by Riise on 2/13/12.

In keeping with the theme of Independence Day, this week’s speech was delivered by Fredrick Douglass on that date in 1852. This speech is not only a great oration it also provides an interesting insight into the time and place of its delivery. Douglass had been invited to speak as part of an Independence Day celebration by the leading citizens of Rochester, NY. The line highlighted below shows not only the depth of his language mastery but also his opinion of the state of American “independence” and the arrogance of inviting him to participate in the Independence Day events, given that he was an escaped slave who had been freed, and was still fighting for freedom for all other slaves.

Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!”

Word Challenge IV: Two Words, One Speech – You’ll Never Guess!

This entry was posted on 4RIISE.com on 2/6/12. Part IV of our ongoing Word Challenge series proves that great speeches can inspire and entertain.

Great speeches use deliberate language and strong vocabulary to sway the audience to a point of view, address injustice, or simply to inspire. We’ve looked a at few figures in US history who have done all those things and more. Not all great speeches happen in Congress or on Inauguration Day, however, or are even given by real-life people. Some speeches take place on Independence Day, or more specifically in “Independence Day” the movie.

Don’t Be “That (flashcard) Guy”

Greetings and welcome to another installment of Akil on the GMAT. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and advice on how to study for the test. It seems more and more I encounter people who are studying wrong (oops I mean ‘incorrectly,’ since an adverb is needed to modify ‘studying’).

First, to understand how to study properly you have to understand the nature of the GMAT. The GMAT is an adaptive test that assesses quantitative and verbal REASONING. As such, the GMAT is not a test that you get a great score by simply memorizing facts, since a reasoning test requires logic supported by facts, rather than simple fact regurgitation.

Regurgitating facts will most likely only allow you to get a score in the low to mid 500s (in the best case scenario). If you are satisfied with a score in the 500s, you should just get a list of formulas and rules tested and memorize them. [My marketing department requires that I insert a shameless plug here for Bell Curves flashcards, which give you a succinct, comprehensive list of the rules and formulas tested on the GMAT - all in a nice, pretty package.]

If you want to have a realistic shot at the higher scores, you will need to memorize the facts necessary for success on the test and then, more importantly, develop your ability to use those facts in context.

Are you Flashcard Guy/Girl?

Vocab from context vs Vocab in Context

We probably all remember being told “if you see a word you don’t know try to understand the meaning from context.” While this was pretty good strategy for early readers (let’s say through 6th grade), the older you get the less it works.  Trying to learn vocabulary from context as you get older is fraught with peril (is fraught a typo?). Let’s explore the difference between vocabulary in context and vocabulary from context. We also explore some strategies on how to use this to help us with the SSAT, ISEE, SAT, and GRE.

Learning vocabulary from context
Children’s books are often written with the intention of helping children acquire new words. To help children learn new words, these authors of children’s books will often use a word and then immediately define it in the context of the text. That text might look like this:

Word Challenge III: Two Words, One Speech – Sister Catt’s

Word Challenge: Two Words, One Speech – Sister Catt’s

In Part III of our Word Challenge series, Bell Curves co-founder Akil Bello examines the powerful words of one of our foremothers who spent her life fighting for women’s rights.  Originally posted by Riise on 1/30/12.

From the founding of the US to the early 20th century, the majority of women in the United States were by law not allowed to vote. It took a motivated group of people over 70 years, from the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 to ratification of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution in 1920, to change this law. We remember these women today for their hard work and persistence (and sometimes for that odd-shaped Susan B Anthony dollar coin you get as change in a subway kiosk or vending machine) .

Word Challenge I: Two Words One Speech – MLK

Word Challenge: Two Words, One Speech- MLK

This marks the first installment of an innovative series written by Bell Curves co-founder Akil Bello for Riise to College‘s blog in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr Day.  It was originally posted on 1/16/12. 

By examining famous speeches by great orators we can see how vocabulary words are used to inspire change, and also how these same words might appear on standardized tests like the SAT. 

Our first vocabulary challenge comes to you on MLK Day and inspired by his 1963 speech, “I   Have a Dream.” Not only is  this speech uplifting in its message but it also demonstrates the scope and beauty of the English language. As you celebrate MLK Day, Black History Month, and Presidents’ Day, take the opportunity to explore and appreciate the things that brought these various people to the public eye. As you complete assignments in school exploring MLK’s message of Civil Rights and equality, make sure you take time to appreciate the beauty of the words he chose and the importance of a well-developed vocabulary. As you read his words accept the challenge of improving your vocabulary so that one day you may deliver an equally rousing oration that could go on to inspire generations of children.

The Sound(s) of GMAT: Inspiration

image courtesy of h.koppdelaney @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/

Anyone who has prepped – or is prepping now – for the GMAT knows that every little edge counts. We’d recently been boning up on our Mozart (knowledge, not performance) and came across a little gilt-edged nugget called The Mozart Effect. Popularized in the nineties, the Mozart Effect spoke to the increases in spatial-temporal reasoning ability witnessed in research subjects immediately after listening to a Mozart sonata* (guess which one? answer at bottom). More importantly, the Mozart Effect is the reason so many “sophisticated” and/or New Age parents find themselves playing classical music for children still trapped in the womb and therefore unable to voice their own musical preferences.

Overlooking the fact the 8-9 point increase on the spatial reasoning portion of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale was completely temporary (the boost lasted about 10-15 minutes), and also overlooking the fact that all subsequent attempts at replication of the experiment (except one done by the original researchers) failed to reproduce the reported increases of the original, we thought, “Well, everyone loves music. It’s inspiring, it’s motivational, it’s calming, so let’s publish playlists of GMAT tunes that could help students get excited, get ahead, and get their prep groove on.” Besides, the GMAT does require some spatial-temporal reasoning  beyond simply navigating your way through the pat-down and to your seat.

To get the most of this list, or ones you create for yourself, here are a few tips to use them most effectively:

The Internets: Where Erroneous Lives

The internet is filled with interesting, informative, and helpful information. Lots of the time, that information is also factually accurate. Lots of times, it’s not. What makes the internet so fantastic a tool — its freedom of access and populist design — is also the thing that can often leave it riddled with factual potholes. The test preparation industry, like any other, struggles with this problem. Given all the companies, tutors, teachers, and individuals sharing information, anyone seeking info on the web should double check what they find.

Who Are You, Again? Oh Right, GRE Scores

Paging John Nash, paging John Nash...

This past week ETS finally got around to releasing the scores from the first three months of testing for the Revised GRE. For those of you who may remember, or may not, ETS released its new and improved version of the GRE on August 1st, 2011. A couple of us here at Bell Curves went in to take it to see just how “revised” the test was (naturally, we blogged about it, which you can read here and here). The objective was to find out anything about the test we could that was not in the press releases. We played with the algorithm in a few ways to give us better insight into the test scoring and other features. After a long grueling wait we finally got our scores back. Now we just have to figure out what they mean. As does just about everyone else…

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