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Summer Test Prep Tips!

Summer is the best time to start studying for college/career entrance exams. Since there is no school and homework, you will not feel overwhelmed when it is time to study. Studying for just an hour a day, 5 days a week, will increase your chances of getting a higher score and you will still have time to enjoy the summer. Alternate subjects weekly. Familiarize yourself with all the subjects on the test. Purchase a test preparation book to get question examples. By the end of the summer, you should have done every problem in the book, including the practice exams. If you need additional help, ask your tutor. Study with others. You will be more motivated to study this summer if you are involved in a study group. Find students that are taking the same exam. Ask your tutor to for a group study session. Knowing that there are other students with the same goal as you can help your study sessions be less stressful. Know your calculator. If a calculator is... read more

Working with a Tutor to Prepare for Your Standardized Test

Having worked with hundreds of test-takers on standardized exams over the years, I have tutored students of all abilities and levels of commitment to their studies. Most students want to know how many hours of tutoring are necessary to achieve the results they desire. While there is no single number of hours uniformly required for all students, for all exams, I do recommend as a rule of thumb that you spend as many hours working on your own as you have spent working with your tutor. To maximize the benefit of working with a tutor for a standardized test, it is necessary to implement, and then practice, the strategies you've learned on your own. Ideally, a student matches the time spent studying independently hour for hour with the time spent tutoring (similarly, university courses typically advise a minimum of one hour of study for every hour spent in class). It is to your advantage to meet with your tutor frequently, and early, enough that the tools you acquire to succeed... read more

Recommended Materials for GMAT Study

  With the wealth of GMAT prep materials out there, it can be tough to find the best resources for GMAT study. I've been tutoring for the GMAT for five years, and these are the materials I've found to be the most helpful.   GMAT General Study   The best source of practice problems is The Official Guide for GMAT Review, published by GMAC. Working through the questions in this book will prepare anybody for the questions on the test. GMAC also publishes practice tests that are just like what you'll see on test day, and they are a great way to gauge your current score and get used to the CAT format. The software, GMATPrep, is available for download from mba.com. For students who need more practice problems, I recommend The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review and The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review. These books offer additional practice, but the problems are not as difficult as the problems in the The Official Guide... read more

Why are the SAT, GRE, ACT, GMAT, etc., designed to trick students into picking the wrong answer and to make sure many students don't finish on time?

For anyone that is preparing or thinking about preparing for one of the standardized 'high stakes' tests (you know which ones) -- the SAT, GRE, GMAT, ISEE, SSAT, and so on -- there's something you really should know about test development.   But first consider this. Wouldn't it be sensible for tests to discover what your strengths are and what you do well in?  Of course! But who said these tests or the test developers are sensible?  In fact, why should they be?  Here are two things test developers don't want you to know   1) Test developers usually (meaning not EVERY test is created this way, although most are) try to trick students into providing the wrong answer. Huh?    2) Standardized tests are intentionally designed so that many or even most students will not complete them within the given time limit.   Now why would these nice testing companies engage in these practices?  Select the best... read more

Success is Always Welcomed

I'm so glad my GMAT student improved upon his score!! He's in for BIG things...   Now, I'm looking for college students to tutor! I want to see even more successes this year!!    There is is a reason the student-to-teacher ratio was small in ancient times. IT WORKS!!! :)

Why Test Prep Books Aren't Worth Your Money: The Case of Princeton Review

All the major test prep books for the SAT, ACT, and GRE -- published by companies like Kaplan, Princeton Review, Barron's, and Manhattan Test Prep -- are poorly written, conceptually deficient, and, worst of all, riddled with serious errors. Students can't be expected to learn from books that aren't even right! And I don't mean the books are riddled simply with typos, which unfortunately is also true, because they are so poorly edited; I mean they really are riddled with serious conceptual errors. Here's a simple example from the very beginning -- the diagnostic test, of all things! -- of Princeton Review's "1,014 GRE Practice Questions." The problem is on page 24, and the answer key and explanation is on page 38. Not only is their answer wrong; what's worse, their *explanation* is wrong, too! I'll set off the problem by dashes (----) and then add more commentary after. NOTE: The question is a classic GRE "quantitative comparison," so it's hard to... read more

Congratulations to CHRIS, for getting A's in some very challenging business courses.

Congratulations to CHRIS, for getting A's in some very challenging business courses. You are taking a heavy load of classes, plus you have other multiple responsibilities. You deserve a lot of credit for your good work in your Information Systems, Financial Accounting II, Management, and other classes. You're headed for success. Keep up the good work!

'Psyching Up' for a standardized test, i.e., the SAT SSAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, etc., ad naus....

Have you scheduled a time to take one of the standardized tests listed in the subject line? Are you thinking about signing up to take one of them? Have you taken one already, but have decided to take it again in the hopes of getting a higher score? Have you taken one of the tests, and found the experience so rewarding, you plan to sign up and take the same test simply for the enjoyment? (If you’re in the latter category, I’d seriously examine your core values ; < ). Regardless, if you must take one, and nearly everyone does that plans to enroll in a college, university, professional school, or private school, here is a suggestion that I haven’t read about in any of the testing prep manuals or on any of the websites devoted to improving one’s score on these tests. And that advice is to beware of the “positive I’m correct about this answer ‘rush’” This phenomenon may occur on the multiple-choice segments of these tests because, of course, you want to finish and get out... read more

Physical Exercise and Nutrition DO affect our brain performance and brain health.

As you may know, I am a big fan of the well-known author and brain specialist, Dr. Daniel Amen. He mentions in several of his books that Physical Exercise is good for the brain. I have read of research studies that showed a clear correlation between IMPROVEMENT in students' test scores in math and science, and their level of physical activity (for example, when math class followed PE class, the students had significantly higher scores). Maybe we should schedule PE before all math classes in our schools. What do you think about that idea? This morning I read an online article on the myhealthnewsdaily site, entitled "6 Foods That Are Good for Your Brain," and another article about how Physical Exercise helps maintain healthy brain in older adults too. The second article, "For a Healthy Brain, Physical Exercise Trumps Mental Workout" was found under Yahoo News. The remainder of this note is quoted from that article: Regular physical exercise appears... read more

Test Prep Students-2: “We don’t know what we don’t know” About Selecting Test Dates

I struck up a conversation with a home-schooling mom the other day. Parent of a middle-school student, she told me I should talk to middle school parents about this topic because, as she put it, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” In my blog post “Test Prep Students 1: Before Our First Session, Please,” I mentioned planning ahead to give yourself more time to prepare. Since then, I’ve come to believe that you can’t have too much time to prepare, regardless of what you are testing for * High school graduation (Minnesota GRAD) * College National Merit Scholarships (PSAT/NMSQ) * Advance college credit (AP, CLEP) * College admission (ACT, SAT, TOEFL, IELTS) * Professional licensure (such as the Minnesota Teacher Licensing Exam—MTLE) * Graduate school admission (GRE, GMAT, and again TOEFL or IELTS). Students as young as 12 or 13 can successfully answer many of the ACT Questions of the Day (QOTD) http://www.act.org/qotd/ and SAT QOTD http://sat.collegeboard... read more

Using current events to explain statistical ideas

It is often examples that make ideas understandable to students and current events can be a good source of examples. Case in point. Today in Wisconsin, the issue of the day is the outcome of the recall elections and problems with the exit polling. As a tutor, the outcome isn’t interesting, but exit polling like all surveys is key to the usefulness of statistics! In fact, it gives a great opportunity to illustrate some of the basic (and non-mathematical) ideas and concepts of statistics — usually the ideas presented at the beginning of most introduction-to-statistics courses. Statistical inferences are grounded in some basic definitions and assumptions (in bold). A population is a defined collection of individuals that we want to know some data about and a sample is a group taken from the population that we are going to actually collect data from (Sullivan, 2010, p. 5; Triola, 2010, p. 4). If we wanted to know the actual data about a population, which is called a parameter,... read more

Standardized Exams - Tip 4

This post is for most if not all standardized exams. The number one issue I see with the majority of students who are preparing for these major and critical exams is that they do not spend enough time prepping. For example, obtaining a tutor a week or even three weeks before the test date is probably not going to do much to increase your scores, especially if you are meeting up with a tutor for only an hour or two per session, given your current score (pre-test). Here's my take. If you know that you will take one of these major exams (All High School AP exams included), please start months if not at least three months ahead of time. This is when you should start thinking seriously about what you need to obtain a 5 on most AP exams. What you should do is get a pre-test of how you're doing, thus you would know your strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to the test you plan to take. From here, I would work with the student to create a schedule to fit their time/financial... read more

Success vs. Stress, including Fear of Failure and Memory Problems

A few keys to success in school (for people with or without A.D.D.): We need to concentrate on taking notes in classes, and possibly use a digital recorder to record some classes. (That makes a tremendous difference for many of my A.D.D. students, because they can "go back and listen" to things they missed when distractions occurred.) Examples of distractions include when other students are moving or making noises, worries or concerns**, being hungry, needing to go to the restroom, looking for a pen or pencil, or needing to sharpen a pencil, etc. There are many sources of distractions. Even **fear of failure** can be a distraction! What about memory problems? Actually all of us have trouble with remembering from time to time--it's part of being human, right? Heck, even computers have memory problems occasionally, so it seems that some degree of "forgetfulness" is basically a universal condition. Some good news for A.D.D. students: If we are... read more

Standardized Exam - Tip 2

Tip #2 for Standardized Exams Students who plan to sit for any standardized exams should do the following: 1. Take a diagnostic exam. It does not have to be a full-blown exam but a mini-version in order to get a idea as to your strengths and weaknesses. 2. Thoroughly evaluate and understand your diagnostic scores - every breakdown, not just how many wrong or right you got in each section but also understand the type of questions you are getting wrong. Also, if possible record those lucky hunches or guesses. The key is to maximize study time and effort. Why waste precious time reviewing topics in which you are comfortable in as opposed to spending your time on the tougher problems. Take Algebra - manipulation of equations. Yes, you might get the problem(s) correct but for each type of problems, there are different levels of difficulties, thus, check to see if you are truly comfortable with manipulation of equations. Most students get a few correct and think that... read more

Standardized Exam - Tip 1

This tip applies to all standardized exams. First, focus on eliminating careless mistakes. Most students who are taking this exam (SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.) for the first time will realized that majority of their errors (if not more than 50%) are due to careless mistakes. Thus, if they focus on fine-tuning this portion of their skill sets they would see their overall score rise. Given that most students wait till the last week or two to study for an extremely important exam, thus, focusing on the low-hanging fruits as they say in the process improvement arena is step 1. Second, once the low-hanging fruits of careless errors are eliminated or minimized, students should focus on working to learn the concepts that they did have trouble with or simply do not know. For example, at this stage of the studying preparation, students are working to fill in the gaps of their knowledge. This could be anywhere from 10-30% of the errors they are getting. This could be due to multiple... read more

Happy New Year!

Each year we turn a calendar over to January 1st and remarkably feel like it is a new beginning. For many it is just one more day in the count down to January final exams. For others it is decision time - do I stay in school another semester and take a break? Education is never a gamble. It will always be a benefit to those who put forth the effort. For those who are struggling in a formal program at a college or university, it is worth while to remember that self-education is also a proven route. There are many very successful people who developed knack for assimilating new information and putting it to work for themselves. If you are thinking about leaving school due to poor grades or perhaps inadequate financial resources, consider whether you have the ability to learn on your own. Make a "post formal education" plan that will keep you learning evening if you are not in the classroom. That might even involve an professional coach who can provide guided study... read more

The Matrix Analogy - What Neo and Morpheus have to do with acing tests?

If you have not seen the movie Matrix – Please stop reading, go watch the movie and then come back. Your life is incomplete. With that out of the way, let see what we can garner from treasure trove of wisdom that the movie Matrix is. I always tell my students that the student-tutor relationship is kind of like the relation between Morpheus and Neo. Like Morpheus, a tutor has to believe that his student (Neo) is the one (who can Ace the tests with proper guidance). He has to tell Neo about the ins and outs of the Matrix that modern day test taking is. He has to tell him what tricks it contains, how there are agents on every corner (you know the tough questions that every test taker is scared of…) and how Neo need not even dodge bullets once he achieves his full potential. But no matter how much Morpheus believes in Neo, how much Kung- Fu training (ahem….tutoring) he does with Neo – it is Neo who will have to beat the agent (take the test). Morpheus cannot do that for... read more

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