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Standardized test math doesn't behave like normal math. On a normal math test, your knowledge of the concepts and material is being tested, using (hopefully) fair test questions. On a standardized test, though, they're looking for you to think outside the box, to apply math concepts and algorithms to unusual situations, and to really understand what they're looking for and find the quickest way to go about it. Let's take a question from a recent GRE student's lesson: If 4x – 5y = 10 and 6y – 3x = 22, then what is x + y? Now, this is a set of two equations with two variables each, so it looks to me like a perfect candidate for solving as a system. If I were solving this one on a regular math test, I'd start off trying the substitution method, since I'm more comfortable with that one. So let's explore that one first: I'll start by solving the first equation for y: 4x – 5y = 10 - 5y = 10 – 4x y = (-10/5) – (4/-5)x y = -2 + (4/5)x Then... read more

Alas! You have to take the GRE in order to get into the program of your choice. Keep in mind that if you do not prepare well, you may have to take the test again, which will cost you probably around $200 or more. If you do not prepare well and it sets your studies back a year, that could cost you a year of earning potential in your lifetime. That's not a fun math problem. Maybe you need that extra year to prepare, but if you are ready, why go at the GRE in a less than 100% manner?   Let's say you already have your fall date set and you have two months or less to prepare for the exam. Here is what I recommend. Research the GRE stats of the university you are considering. Contact your POI (person of interest) and find out how well you need to perform on the GRE. If you need to score in the 90th percentile in the quantitative portion, that's something you need to know. Your POI may say that you need to score in the 60th, but if everyone who was admitted in the previous... read more

Normally, an equation has a single solution when it contains only one undefined variable.  For example, take the equation 3x + 7 = 19.   3x + 7 = 19     [original equation] 3x = 12     [subtracted 7 from both sides] x = 4     [divided both sides by 3]   This is one case of a larger trend in algebra.  As I've already said, you can solve an equation for one answer when it contains a single variable.  However, this is derived from the larger rule that you can solve a set of equations where there are as many distinct equations as there are variables.  These are called simultaneous equations, and occur any time that two equations are both true over a certain domain.  In the more practical sense, this is what you should do if an exam asks you to solve for a value and gives you two different equations to use.   To solve simultaneous equations, we can use three strategies. Addition... read more

The general form for a box-and-whisker plot is really easy. Let's take a simple data set.   8.2, 15.9, 12.8, 7.4, 24.7, 23.2, 9.6, 7.9, 8.3, 10.2   First, we need to take those data and put them in numerical order.  When we do that, this is what the data set looks like: 7.4, 7.9, 8.2, 8.3, 9.6, 10.2, 12.8, 15.9, 23.2, 24.7   [Note: Any computer program that runs spreadsheets or statistical analysis will probably accept the data in any sequence.  Ordering the data is only necessary when doing this process by hand.] Once ordered, we need to find the median of the set. The median means the "middle" value. In this case, the set has 10 values, so there's no singular "middle" value of the set when ordered least to greatest. To create one, we'll take the two middle values and average them. (9.6 + 10.2)/2 = 9.9 [The only reason we took an average is because there is not "middle"... read more

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 permitted... read more

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 on your... read more

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 choice... read more

ACT www.actstudent.org/testprep/ www.princetonreview.com/college/free-act-practice-test.aspx ; www.mhpracticeplus.com/act.php ; www.kaptest.com/College/Getting-into-College/free-practice-tests-workshops.html phone apps: ACTStudent, ACT Test Prep TestBank,  SAT http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-practice-test http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-practice-questions www.princetonreview.com/college/free-sat-practice-test.aspx http://www.kaptest.com/College/Getting-into-College/free-practice-tests-workshops.html phone apps: College Board The Official SAT Question of the Day, Ace the ACT, The Princeton Review SAT Lite, Mind Snacks SAT Vocab, SAT flashcard review, Intelli Power Vocab GRE www.princetonreview.com/grad/free-gre-practice-test.aspx www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/ www.kaptest.com/gre/study-resources/gre-free-practice-test ; http://www.greguide.com/gre-practice-tests.html ; phone... read more

Do the terms "preposition," "verb," "article," and "modal verb" sometimes stump you? Typically, students are taught the word "preposition" in 1st grade. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that if I had seen that long word at the top of a worksheet in 1st grade, I would have skipped right over it, coding "preposition" as a long word that simply did not fit in my schema of the world. Fast forward to middle, high school, and college, and I see that many native speakers often find one or more grammatical device or structure challenging. Grammar lessons learned in elementary school can easily slip from one's mind, leaving students to struggle when applying their skills to essay writing, earning them phrases such as "wrong modifier!" "run-on!" and "awkward!" splattered in red ink all over their graded assignments.   It is one thing to not remember rules of grammar correctly,... read more

My name is Scott L. and I am one of the top graduate school entrance exam instructors in the nation. This is because I have a genuine understanding of the tests and how they are constructed. This blog will offer general guidance on how to proceed on a step-by-step basis. If you have any questions or would like to know more about how I can help you prepare for this challenge, please email me directly through WyzAnt. -- Signs that a GRE/GMAT student is heading down the right GRE/GMAT path (or the wrong GRE/GMAT path). You are moving in the right direction if: You have begun earnest preparation at least 6 weeks before your scheduled or proposed test date; you can accept the fact that you have to re-learn (not re-fresh!) math concepts you last thought about 5-10 years ago; and you can accept the fact that your reading level and vocabulary are probably nowhere near where they need to be for GRE/GMAT success (This is true in nearly all cases, no matter what your experience... read more

My name is Scott L. and I am one of the top graduate school entrance exam instructors in the nation. This is because I have a genuine understanding of the tests and how they are constructed. This blog will offer general guidance on how to proceed on a step-by-step basis. If you have any questions or would like to know more about how I can help you prepare for this challenge, please email me directly through WyzAnt. In this introductory entry, we will discuss the GRE and the GMAT. What are they and what is the purpose behind them. The GRE and GMAT are used by graduate schools to help sort through the hundreds of applications they receive each application cycle. Since most applicants are relatively equally qualified, the GRE and GMAT can serve as the great divide between applicants. Graduate programs use the score differently. Many programs use the GRE and GMAT score as part of a more holistic approach to application review. Other programs, particularly those which have a less... read more

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 of... read more

The equation below is used for Covalent Bonds, Molecular geometry, electron geometry, and structural formulas to figure the number of bonds in a molecule. N-A = S equation to figure the number of bonds in a molecule N = needed: the sum of the number of valence electrons needed by each atom (2 for hydrogen, 8 for all other atoms) A = available: the sum of the number of valence electrons available for each atom S = shared: the number of electrons shared in the molecule S/2 = the number of covalent bonds in the molecule If you need any help with these concepts, please contact me for tutoring. Thank you very much, John M.

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 to... read more

I gave the GRE exam back in the year 2009. I secured 720 on verbal and 790 on the quantitative part. I messed up the analytical writing, but I now feel that was due to the nature of my writing and the fact that writing can be subjective. I will try and emphasize on a few points that anybody who is giving the GRE has to focus on in order to give it their best shot. We shall start with the verbal part. The verbal part is supposed to be the more difficult part in the GRE. This is true even for so called native speakers of the English language. Although my verbal score was lower than quants, in percentile I scored 98 on the verbal and 93 on the quants which means a lot of people got clean scores on the quantitative section. Statistics from countries where English is the native language also tend to show that people score more on the quantitative part than the verbal. Mastering the verbal part will require a change in mindset. Its not just about knowing and using English in daily life,... read more

The new school year beckons - be it middle or high school, college or post graduate study. Fall college visits, applications and essays are also just around the corner. Get a jump on what you or your child may need in terms of support for specific academic subjects, computer skills, standardized tests (SSAT, ISEE, PSAT, SAT, ACT, ASVAB, GRE, etc.). I look forward to continuing my track record of success with students to assist them in maximizing their potential and achievements. David

I was asked this question recently by several mothers about which book (singular, not plural) they should get for their sons for their upcoming tests. To both of them I replied: "Get the Princeton Review edition of the book." And while I believe this to be the CORRECT answer, this answer unfortunately is misleading because what I actually want to say is, "Get ALL editions of the book." For example if there is a Barron's version, a Kaplan version, a Princeton Review version, etc. etc. of AP Chemistry, then I would advise the moms to get ALL of these books for their sons (assuming of course that they'll read them). The reason is because one book doesn't have enough practice problems. From experience, after reading the first test preparation book or textbook, the student will have a rather hazy outline of the subject material. Books 2-5 make the outline clearer. Most students don't begin to really understand the subject until around Book 7. And that's the reason... read more

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

Sundays are days to be lazy, to hang out with friends, to read books or swim in pools or play outside. Today is an exceptionally hot Sunday in early June. Since I got up, I've been holed up in my home office, working on tutoring. Even though I've spent the past nine or so hours (with breaks for shrimp tacos, diet Coke, and ice cream) working, I haven't actually had any students today. I realized that not many people are aware of the "behind the scenes" of tutoring (well, at least of good tutoring), and it's gotten me to think a bit about the concept of having an "hourly rate." Realizing that mine is one of the higher rates on WyzAnt, I thought I'd share a bit of the "secret life of a (good) tutor," so you might have a better idea of what you're getting for your money. Although I work very hard during our tutoring sessions to make them as productive and educational as possible, it's everything I do when you aren't around that helps me do that. Before... read more

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