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.

Mind Bumps: Proceed With Caution

The human brain is a miraculous organ. Neurons and synapses firing  so quickly, processing so much in the tiniest fractions of a second that even the most powerful of computers still have not matched its complex computing capability (even if IBM’s Watson can kick the best human butt at chess and Jeopardy). Together with your experience, your brain can be a powerful tool to avoid traps and tricks on the GMAT. That is, if you let it.

I tutor and teach and counsel hundreds of GMAT test-takers every year. And I’m consistently amazed by how often students ignore “warning signs” their brains are frantically trying to flag. I call these warning signs “mind bumps.” A mind bump occurs whenever you read something that, at first or second glance, strikes you as strange, odd, or nonsensical. Given that they’re almost always rooted in reading (just reading, not Reading Comprehension per se), these mind bumps are ubiquitous on the GMAT, occurring with enough regularity on both the Quant and Verbal that they should be used as a valuable tool to improve your 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.



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.

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

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