SSAT Reading: Grade (In)Appropriate?

If you’re preparing for the SSAT, one of the important things to learn early is how to roll with the punches. The SSAT is an inconsistent and fickle beast chock-full of trips, traps, bumps and hiccups. It’s designed for students in multiple grades and thus most of those taking the test will see concepts they have not yet learned, or be required to read at a level that is above (or below) what they’ve been doing in school. This creates lots of variability and can be confusing and daunting. Let’s check out what we mean by variability by exploring the grade levels of the reading passages in the reading section.

In order to analyze the reading level of the passages on the test, we took the passages that were in the “The Official Guide to the Middle Level SSAT” and ran them through the Flesch-Kincaid (F-K) analysis to see the grade level and readability score of each passage. This gives us one objective and consistent way to see how hard the passages were. Our findings are summarized in the chart below:

On the Record: Q&A with BC Alumnus Kibra Yemane

Bell Curves and Kelley School of Business Alum Kibra Yemane

Today we’re continuing our Q&A series with Bell Curves alumni who are currently pursuing or just recently finished their MBAs. Recent posts have included Q&As with Goreleigh Willis and Crystal Forde about their first year MBA experiences. This time around Kibra Yemane shares some of her insights and advice on her MBA experience. Kibra completed her MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

Why did you decide to apply to business school? 

I applied to business school in order to transition to a career in Human Resources. Prior to business school, I worked for a public accounting firm for about six years. While I enjoyed my time, I also realized that I was more passionate about talent management, recruiting, diversity – areas that typically fall under the HR umbrella. When I did some more research, I realized that more and more companies placed an emphasis on the HR function – and were interested in training the next crop of HR leaders through leadership development programs. When I realized one of the requirements for this program was an advanced degree, I knew the MBA was the next logical step for me.

SAT QOTD: When in doubt, write it out!

College Board Question of the Day June 15On June 15th the College Board QOTD apparently killed those not yet prepared for the SAT. Well today we’re going to help the 154,000 of you that got this question wrong (and all of you who’ve yet to try this question) by showing you great strategy that would make this question a piece of cake.

Today’s strategy is: When in doubt, write it out!

Review: ETS GRE PowerPrep II for Mac


Good news for all you mac-loving, liberal arts grads (and everyone else, of course): you can now prepare for your computer-based GRE without ever having to look at a Windows operating system.  Yes, that’s right.  ETS has finally put out a version of PowerPrep II for Mac.  Once you’ve downloaded and installed the program, open it up and you’ll find a program that looks like, feels like, and even smells like an actual GRE test.

On The Record: Q&A with BC Alum Crystal Forde

Today we’re continuing our Q&A series with Bell Curves alumni who are currently pursuing or just recently finished their MBAs. Our last On the Record post was a Q&A with Goreleigh Willis. This time around Crystal Forde shares some of her insights and advice on the 1st year MBA experience.

Bell Curves fav Crystal Forde is currently in wonderful San Fransisco while doing a summer internship.

Crystal is currently an MBA candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where she is focusing on Health Sector Management and Strategy. At Fuqua she is a cabinet member of the Healthcare Club and a daytime MBA blogger, and has led a Global Academic Travel Experience Trip to India and co-chaired the Admitted Students Weekend. Prior to business school she spent five and a half years in various sales roles at Pfizer and AstraZeneca, where she had a strong track record of transforming territories by increasing market share and exceeding sales goals. Crystal holds a BBA in Marketing with Honors distinction from Oakwood University.

 

What’s the most surprising aspect of your first year in an MBA Program?

Taking the GMAT: Not So Radical

As anyone who has taken or prepared for the GMAT realizes, there is a finite amount of general knowledge that we must do our best to master. There are however countless manifestations of questions that test this knowledge and therefore exposure to lots of questions from each general topic is highly beneficial to our preparedness for the as-of-yet-unseen manifestation we will surely encounter come test day.

In algebra, the more we practice with manipulating equations, simultaneous equations and quadratics, for example, the more likely we will be to recognize when the given information is sufficient to solve for x or not. In a geometry question, we are more apt to be able to solve for the area of a triangular region within a mixed shape if we’ve trained ourselves to spot vertical angles, similar

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triangles, the diagonals of squares or whatever the case may be for the particular scenario. And on the list goes. We also know that certain topics are tested more often that others and thus, though all topics matter, spending more time on the higher frequency areas gives the most payoff come test day. The two key words here are knowledge and recognition. Those two components allow us to execute most effectively.

When I took my most recent official exam in June 2013 (click here to read Amphibious Assault, a post about my water-logged testing experience), one question caught my attention. The question caught my attention not because I got it right or wrong, but because I knew I wasn’t answering it as effectively as possible. This problem is a classic example of how the GMAT is not only a challenge to your knowledge but also about how well you recognize when the knowledge you have is being tested. The lesson for you here is that even someone like me, who has been teaching GMAT non-stop for 4 years and scores in the high-700s, will get stumped on the occasional problem. The key is to not let one problem prevent you from getting your best score, and to always use your knowledge AND recognition in concert!

SAT QOTD: Modifiers and Ray Allen

Since of course you’re doing the College Board QOTD every day, you should focus on learning as much as you can from doing those questions. Prepping for the SAT is not just about learning rules and facts, but it’s also about learning what the SAT likes and what the SAT tests. Knowing what the SAT will test most frequently will give you an edge and make you more efficient on the test.

The Question of the Day from June 14th, 2013 was a great example of a common rule the SAT loves to test: modifiers! If you understand modifier rules, you’ll easily be able to pick up 4 – 8 questions every test, and that could translate to 80 more points for your Writing score.

Amphibious Assault: A GMAT Testing Experience

Image by Robert S. Donovan on Flickr

Editor’s Note: Bell Curves periodically enlists our teachers to take the official GMAT to keep themselves sharp, help them better inform their students about current testing trends and procedures, and provide additional insight for materials development and instruction. Recently, one of our teachers did just that. Today’s post comes from Hany ElDiwany, one of our NYC-based instructors. Below, he provides some insights on overcoming different hurdles to make your GMAT test day experience a success. Keep an eye out for his next post discussing some keen insights gleaned from a particularly challenging Quant question he saw.

Friday, June 7th, 2013, the date I had scheduled for my GMAT exam, was an incredibly rainy day in New York City. Despite breaking down and finally buying one of those high quality umbrellas that don’t buckle and break after the first gust of wind (this after almost five years of living a predominantly pedestrian lifestyle and being exposed to the elements on a daily basis) , my shoes, socks and bottom of my pants were nonetheless thoroughly soaked by the time I reached the exam center in mid-town Manhattan. I guess sometimes rain just comes at you sideways and, well, maybe the can of leather waterproofer I used to spray my shoes was a lemon.

Getting Past Your GMAT Score

So you took the GMAT and are not happy with your score.

First and foremost, you should not be feeling depressed by your score, even if that score is not what you wanted or what you expected. The GMAT is often difficult to do well on. Take the next few days to assess what you did to prepare, whether you did as much as you could or should have, and how you could have done more to ensure you have the score you wanted. Assess whether the course you took or tutor you worked with was really in line with your learning style and whether you should have recognized that earlier and done something to make the course or tutoring more effective. Finally, stop beating yourself up if you did not get what you wanted or expected. It often takes a couple stabs at the test before you settle down enough to achieve your best score. To provide you some perspective, the arithmetic mean (a little GMAT speak for you) score is 544 and 78% of test takers score below 650, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.

On the Record: Q&A with BC Alumni Goreleigh Willis

Last year we posted several Q&As with former Bell Curves students (Lauren Sickles, Gabe Perez, Rhomaro Powell, Denitresse Burns, and Radina Russell) in which they shared their experiences in business school and how it benefited their careers. The insights were well-received, so we decided to conduct a few more with a slightly different focus. This time around we were interested in hearing from MBAs that recently completed their first year.

For our first offering in this installment, Goreleigh Willis shares his experiences and insights.

Prior to pursuing his MBA at Cornell University’s Johnson School, Goreleigh was an Associate with the Private Bank at J.P. Morgan in New York City. For five years, he worked with families to manage their wealth, as a Banker Analyst, and more recently as a Trust Officer. Previously, he spent four years in management consulting within the firm. At Johnson, Goreleigh is a Vice President of the Old Ezra Finance Club. He is also the Vice President of Alumni Affairs for the Black Graduate Business Association and a Vice President of the Johnson Soccer Club. Goreleigh will be an investment banking Associate at Lazard this summer.

Goreleigh holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science with Honors distinction from Swarthmore College.

What was the most surprising aspect of your first year in an MBA Program?
The most surprising thing for me was the pace of Johnson. Many of the core courses are 8 weeks long, so there is no time to fall behind.  Even though I heard from the second year students beforehand, it was still a challenge to balance academic work with recruiting. Efficient time management is crucial!

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