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) .

SAT Strategy: Don’t Look at the Elephant

On the SAT, Sentence Completions are one of the easiest places to get back some of the points that the College Board has tricked you out of. To get those points back you just have to remember the one phrase:

Don’t think of an elephant!

January 2012 SAT Vocabulary: The humbuggery of rapacious sophistry

As part of our continuing vocabulary series we present to you the most interesting and challenging words from the January 2012 SAT. The Jan SAT featured some of the old standby SAT words that have appeared on many SATs in the past (including fastidious, pessimism, and tenacious) but it also featured some that haven’t been seen as often such as rapacious, humbuggery, and quackery. As always the SAT attempts to test your grasp of a college-level vocabulary.

Word Challenge II: Two Words, One Speech, JFK’s

Word Challenge: Two Words, One Speech, JFK’s

Part II of our Word Challenge series examines JFK’s words.  Originally posted by Riise on 1/23/12.

One of the most beloved presidents in American history (as you can tell by the number of buildings, bridges, and NY fried chicken places named after him), John F. Kennedy was a powerful speaker, and often employed strong language to showcase his authority. In his inaugural address given in 1961, JFK uses an impressive array of common and uncommonly used words to not only describe America but to also underscore some of the bigger challenges the country had to face.

Excerpt from the JFK inaugural address:

The Truth About Next Generation GMAT

As we’ve discussed several times in this space over the past few months, the GMAT will be changing on June 5th. There’s been quite a bit of uncertainty about Next Generation GMAT (NGG), not to mention a fair bit of conjecture and a little too much fear-mongering (see our last post, “Locking in Your 700+ Before the Test Changes?“, for more on the fear-mongering angle).

We’re returning to the subject once more to present in the clearest terms what’s true for NGG and what’s not, so prospective test-takers have the best possible understanding of how it affects them and how it should affect their preparation. Here is what the new test will look like versus the old.

Section Old GMAT Next Generation GMAT
Analytical Writing Assessment 2 essay
60 minutes
1 essay
30 minutes
Integrated Reasoning 12 questions
30 minutes
Quantitative 37 questions
75 minutes
37 questions
75 minutes
Verbal 41 questions
75 minutes
41 questions
75 minutes
Total Testing Time 3 hours 30 minutes 3 hours 30 minutes

 

Let’s start with an unadulterated review of the facts…

SAT scores: When another 50 (or 100) points makes no difference

When you’ve been doing test preparation and college admissions advising as long as I have, one invariably has this conversation with bright, ambitious students or their parents.

“I scored a 2200 on my SAT.   If I take it again and get a 2300, will that ensure I get into (insert name of preferred college or university here)?”

The answer is there is no score that will ensure acceptance into a given school—

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.

Next Gen GMAT: “Locking in your 700+ before the Test Changes”?

Today I received an email from a test preparation company (no, I didn’t email myself…this time). The subject line of the email actually read “Locking in your 700+ before the test changes.” I won’t say which test prep company sent this email, but I will say that the subject line intrigued me…just not for the reasons you may think.

Let’s take a look, and along the way divulge what little information is available on the Next Generation GMAT (NGG) to help everyone reduce their stress a little bit regarding changes to the Big, Bad GMAT.

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