Study Tips: Don’t interfere!

We (we, the world, not we Bell Curves – which is singular anyway but that’s another story) know more now than ever before about the workings of the human mind and memory, thanks to the field of cognitive neuroscience. What does this mean for you, you ask? These advances have very practical applications, especially for students who wish to improve the efficiency of their studying.

Official GMAT iPhone/iPad APP: Better than the OG?

So GMAC’s new Official GMAT App has finally arrived. We were excited to check it out and provide a product review for people considering a purchase. Before we get into the review, let’s take a look at some information on the app:

GMAT Tip: Patterns

Many hard GMAT quantitative questions present problems because of the exceedingly time-consuming calculations needed to solve, or because the way to solve the problem isn’t easily apparent. One solution to these kinds of problems can often be found by identifying and using patterns. Here’s some helpful information to help you utilize the presence of patterns to improve your accuracy and efficiency (which is what you should seek rather than speed) on GMAT Quant:

Vocabulary for Internet Procrastinators

Vocabulary is one of the most essential tools for college students, prospective college students, and graduates. You’ll need vocabulary words for the SAT or GRE, for your reading assignments, and to make a good impression upon those you speak to. And, while you do need to increase your vocabulary, sometimes it’s just too much of a bother to walk away from the computer or couch and grab a dictionary. Well, if you want an easy way to increase your lexicon while you’re surfing the web, try this add-on:

Getting Ready for College: Helping your college counselor help you!

Students often complain that their college counselors didn’t help them- or at least not as much as they would have liked! However, students and parents must acknowledge how involved their counselors’ jobs are. Before cursing their counselor, families should read on and be reminded of these facts about counselors:

The SAT & the Tranquil Test-taker

The SAT is, to many students, the most stressful part of the college admissions process. An enigmatic behemoth of a test, spanning almost two hundred questions and nearly four hours, it’s no wonder that students are intimidated. And, while preparing for the test is essential, it’s just as important that students enter the test feeling relaxed and confident. Check out our tips and reminders for keeping your cool on the SAT:

How to Choose: GMAT versus GRE

With the GRE changing on August 1st, 2011, and an increasing number of business schools accepting the GRE for the application process, we thought it might be a good time to discuss the two to help people make a decision about which test to take.

There are a number of factors that should influence your decision about which test to take. Before we get into those, we’d recommend that your first order of business should always be to contact the admissions office(s) at the program(s) you’re interested in to gather information on how each test is weighted in the admissions process. At present, very little information is given about how the two tests stack up in the admissions process (for example, Columbia provides a link to the GRE Comparison Tool on their admissions website, while Darden at the University of Virginia simply says the GRE is accepted in lieu of the GMAT; neither school, it should be noted, gives any specific info on how the tests are weighted). Given this circumstance, any information you can gather from the programs you’re interested in would be beneficial in informing your decision on which test to take.

So, here are some considerations in deciding which test to take:

The Best SAT Prep Tip Ever: RTFQ!!

Today’s tip comes to you from a survey of the teaching staff here at Bell Curves. We asked our teachers one question:”What is the single most important tip you would give to a student taking the SAT?” Although the responses took a bunch of forms and was demonstrated in different ways, the across-the-board answer remained consistent: RTFQ(Read the Full Question). Just that one thing.  Just that.

RTFQ stands for “Read the Full Question” or, depending on whom you ask, the ‘F’ may stand for something more profane.

March 2011 SAT: You Be the Reality (Essay) Judge

Editor’s note: After hearing of the topic for the March 2011 SAT essay we at Bell Curves decided to have our intern, a recent SAT test taker, write his thoughts about it. We love you to share your thoughts in the comments!

The essay was introduced as part of the writing section of the SAT in March 2005. It was in response to the increasing demand of college admissions personnel for more proof of a student’s writing and critical thinking abilities. These essays usually ask about general themes (e.g. responsibility, dreams, heroism, or rationality), so that the average student could produce a relatively well-thought out response in 30 minutes.

Typical essay questions (and most of the ones in the preparation material released by the College Board) include:

  • “Is it better for people to learn from others than to learn on their own?”
  • “Is an idealistic approach less valuable than a practical approach?”
  • “Do people put too much importance on getting every detail right on a project or task?”
  • “Do we benefit from learning about the flaws of people we admire and respect?”

These questions are pretty predictable and require some intellectual contemplation on the part of the student. When I was preparing for the kinds of essay questions posed in the Writing section, I decided to always write 5 paragraphs (filling up both pages if possible) and to use three supporting examples that demonstrated that I paid attention in high school. I employed my knowledge of historical events; novels (The Great Gatsby, for example); memorable articles from The New York Times, The Economist, etc; personal anecdotes, which I made up to fit the prompt; and statistics from recognizable sources. Following this method requires the common knowledge, more or less, of a high school junior. Therefore, I would say that most test-takers approach the essay question in roughly this manner.

However students were definitely caught off guard by the essay questions from the exam this past weekend:

  • “Do people benefit from forms of entertainment that show so-called reality, or are such forms of entertainment harmful?”
  • “Is photography a representation of real life or a depiction of a photographer’s point of view?”

GMAT Strategy: Comb That Perm!

Statistics questions can be some of the most exasperating Quant questions on the GMAT. And among those, Combination and Permutation questions may just be some of the worst. The good news: statistics questions are some of the least frequently tested concepts on GMAT Quant. The bad news: you’re still likely to see at least 1 Comb-Perm question come test day. Because higher scorers will likely see a difficult Comb-Perm question, strategies to tackle them are needed. That being said, don’t let those tricky Comb-Perm questions make you want pull your hair out. Often times, there’s an easier way to smooth over those Comb-Perm cowlicks (sorry, I’ll try to reign in the hair jokes).

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