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February 15, 2011
Traditionally, Americaâ€™s most prestigious universities have required three SAT subject tests, but with the introduction of writing sections on the SAT and ACT in 2005, colleges have been gradually reducing the subject test requirement.
This admissions cycle, Harvard has jumped on the two-test bandwagon, and Georgetown is â€œstronglyâ€ recommending three instead of requiring them. The maximum subject tests that any American college now requires is two, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. For 18 institutions, just the ACT is good enough â€” no need to write any subject tests!
So why the change?
The writing tests have proven to be a solid indicator of future academic success. These tests are so good, that colleges no longer feel the need for as many different tests to show the same pattern. â€œMany colleges, including Harvard, [are now] confident that by reducing the number of required tests, they would not reduce their capacity to make good academic assessments,â€ Jeff A. Neal, a Harvard spokesman says.
Janet Rapelye, Dean of Admission at Princeton, which dropped the three-test requirement last year, cites an additional reason: accessibility. Studies have shown that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to take three subject tests, and by dropping the number of required subject tests the barriers to applying to colleges is lowered.
February 15, 2011
The of the GMAT contains 41 multiple choice questions that you must answer in 75 minutes. In order give yourself the best chance of success, aim to do each question in 60 seconds. This will automatically build in time for you to review your answers, and provide you with extra time to spend on the most difficult questions.
Not sure you can meet this goal? Here are some time saving tips:
- Identify the type of question being asked. Questions will take 3 forms; Reading Comprehension; Critical Reasoning, or Sentence Correction, but they appear in random order Make sure youâ€™re applying to proper reasoning to each question.
- Start with the hardest ones. Pick the types of questions you find most difficult and double your practice of those. This will help you focus your efforts and increase your confidence going into the test.
- Practice your short hand. Both Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension are solved faster if you break out the major points of the passage; but donâ€™t let yourself get bogged down. Practice taking points and rewriting them in as few words as possible (think 5 or less)
- Use your ear to eliminate first. This tip applies best to Sentence Correction. Read the sentence to yourself with the available answers. If it sounds awkward, it likely is not the answer you want.
- Love your stopwatch. Itâ€™s almost impossible to think critically and keep track of each minute, so make sure youâ€™re practicing against a timer. Using a timer will help you meet your goal of 60 seconds per question, and give you a better sense of how much time has passed while you write â€“ something youâ€™ll need for the exam.
Reading to start timing yourself? Try a to see how you measure up.
February 15, 2011
When youâ€™re preparing for a big exam like the TOEFL, you need to focus on studying efficiently – packing in the most amount of studying in the shortest amount of time. Using verbal summaries (that is, summarizing an article out loud) tests and improves your reading, comprehension, and speaking skills all at once. Talk about a time saver! Here is how you can work verbal summaries into your study routine.
- Read a short newspaper article, jotting down major points and any new vocabulary words.
- Put the article aside – if you have a study partner, even better; give it to them.
- Using the points youâ€™ve made, summarize the article, either to your study partner, outlod to yourself, or consider using a recording device.
- Go back to your original article; did you cover all the main points? Is there something you could have left out? If necessary, make an edit and try again.
February 15, 2011
In six months, aspiring graduate school and business school students will face a vastly different, potentially more difficult, and longer GRE. A change, that according to Liza Weale, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs at Kaplan Test Prep, should have students rushing to take the current exam while they still can – though not because the test could be harder.
ETS, the examâ€™s administrator, needs to collect a statistically significant sample size of test takers to ensure score accuracy of the new test, so test takers who take the exam in August, September and October wonâ€™t receive their official scores back until November â€“ meaning theyâ€™ll have to wait up to 3 months for their official scores, which may interfere with application deadlines.
â€œThis [wait] will force many to miss application deadlines, and create undue stress for scrambling to retest if theyâ€™re not happy with their scores. If you need your score before November, you must take the current GRE before July,â€ says Weale. â€œOur advice to students: if you can take the current GRE do so â€“ itâ€™s to your advantage.â€
Curious about what else the new GRE will bring? Here are some of the major changes to be featured on the GRE after August 1, 2011:
- The current 200 to 800 point scoring scale, in ten-point increments, will be replaced by a scoring scale of 130 to 170 points, in one-point increments.
- The Quantitative section will include more data analysis. It will also introduce Numeric Entry questions, where test takers must provide an answer without having a selection of choices from which to choose.
- An on-screen calculator will be available for test takers, which will likely mean more complex math problems.
- The new Verbal section wonâ€™t include antonym and analogy questions, but, in addition to vocabulary, will include in-context questions that test reasoning skills.
- The new GRE will also contain a new â€œstrengthen/weakenâ€ reading comprehension question type, similar to those on the GMAT â€“ the primary admissions exam for business schools.
- The new GRE will be adaptive at the section level: the better a test taker performs in one section, the more difficult the next section will be. This new format will also allow test takers to skip questions within a section and come back to them, a function not available on the current test.
December 14, 2010
The new year is almost upon us and so are round two MBA application deadlines. With this putting the pressure on applicants the admissions office at Yale School of Management came forward with an early holiday treat – 4 tips for B-school applicants.
- Work on your essays. Here is your chance to share your personal/professional narrative, so make sure your essays not only answer the questions, but tell a coherent and concise story. Consider asking a mentor or colleague to read over your essays and provide honest feedback on how well you achieve these goals.
- Polish your resume. The resume is a snapshot of your educational and professional life to-date. Make sure it is clean, clear, and concise; that it highlights your achievements as well as responsibilities; and that it is completely typo-free.
- Settle your recommendations. You want to give your recommenders as much time as possible to complete their recommendations. If you have not finalized your choice of recommenders yet and sent them the recommendation form, now is the time to do so.
- Consider retaking a standardized test. If youâ€™ve already taken the GMAT or GRE but not satisfied with the results and feel that you can do materially better, thereâ€™s still time to take it again. But, keep in mind that youâ€™re in crunch time now, so make sure you have all other elements of the application under control if youâ€™re considering retaking the test.
December 14, 2010
When studying for the Identifying Sentence Error questions of the SAT you are bound to come across these confusing little words. Idioms are grammatical constructions that signal a word of phrase is meant to be taken figuratively, and not literally. Since most people have used idioms since birth, we rarely think about the grammatical rules that apply to them – and that is what makes idioms so tricky!
While it would be fantastic to offer you a magical dealing with idioms tip, but that simply isnâ€™t possible. Idioms just have to be learnt through study and practice. Here are some suggestions to make your studying easier.
- Learn which other grammatical errors are tested on the SAT. This will help via process of elimination; if you can tell the underlined phrase is free from all other grammatical errors, youâ€™ll know this is an idiom problem.
- Memorize idioms that are frequently tested. Not sure what those are? Check out this list.
- Recognize and correct what you may have learnt wrong. If one of the idioms on the list sounds awkward, itâ€™s because youâ€™ve likely being saying in wrong your entire life. To correct your bad behaviour, write out the correct phrase and repeat it aloud 5 times. Next, try to use that idiom (correctly) once a day for the next week.
November 23, 2010
Many TOEFL students feel confident in their ability to speak English, but express much less confidence in their ability to write Essays. They arenâ€™t alone! Writing an essay can be a difficult experience in your native language, never mind your second or third. Below are some simple tips to help you score your best on the independent writing section of the TOEFL exam.
- Remember structure. Plan your writing before you start â€“ a 4 to 5 paragraph essay is the best length. Remember to keep the introduction and conclusion argument free, and only focus on 1 argument per body paragraph.
- Only argue one side. You arenâ€™t arguing your personal ethics, youâ€™re showing your ability to write in English. Pick the side that you can make the strongest, clearest argument for to highlight your writing abilities.
- Be clear, not creative. Now is not the time for poetry. Short, simple sentences that are grammatically perfect will score you more points than imaginative, yet error filled essays.
- Donâ€™t ask questions. The point of an essay is to firmly argue a position. At no point should you be asking the reader questions â€“ you must answer them all!
- Pay attention to format. Remember to properly space and indent your writing so that the markers will not have to strain or struggle to read it. Your writing technique may be flawless, but if itâ€™s difficult to read you will lose marks.
Think you know what it takes to ace the TOEFL writing task? Test yourself to find out!
November 23, 2010
- Never do more work than needed. The questions simply ask you to compare quantities; you do not need to know by how much one is bigger (or smaller).
- Visual estimates are not enough. Looks can be deceiving so ensure all of your conclusions are based on mathematical calculations and data from the question.
- When in doubt, manipulate the data. You may be able to combine numbers or other terms, do some factoring, or restate in equation in a slightly different form. Remember, if expressions contain the same term, you can remove that term by adding or subtracting it from both quantities.
- When manipulating data, only multiply or divide across columns when the quantity youâ€™re working with is positive. Multiplying or dividing two unequal terms by a negative value changes the inequality; and youâ€™ll have manipulated the data into the wrong answer.
- Check your answers with simple math â€“ if itâ€™s possible. There’s no sense in analyzing a problem entirely in the abstract if it only takes a few seconds to scratch some numbers down on paper. Plus, putting your though process to paper helps you see if you’re making a mistake along the way.
- Donâ€™t do too much math. None of these questions should require involved calculations â€“ that is not the point of this section. If you find yourself crunching complex equations, youâ€™ve likely missed something in the question. Put down the pencil and reread it!
- Never choose the relationship cannot be determined from the information given if a comparison does not involve variables or figures. If the comparison involves numbers only, you’ll always be able to calculate specific numerical values for both expressions, so the last (fourth) answer choice cannot possibly be the correct one!
- Consider all the possibilities for unknowns. Unless the centered information restricts their value, consider positive and negative values, as well as fractions and the numbers zero (0) and 1. Comparisons often depend on which sort of number is used so in these cases, you should strongly consider the relationship cannot be determined from the information given.
Time for you put these tips to the test.
November 09, 2010
Keeping your brain focused during the SAT is a difficult task, especially during the writing portion. Essay responses require you to focus on the same question for a significant portion of time. You might find yourself fighting panic, boredom, or just mental fatigue at various points of your writing time, but donâ€™t worry, that is normal. Below weâ€™re dishing out some tips to help you reign in your brain and stay focused on the prize.
Make an outline. Before you start, take a few minutes to make an outline for the prompts youâ€™ll be answering. Include your thesis, your arguments, and key points that will support those arguments (like dates, facts, books youâ€™d like to quote). Having a solid outline gives you something to refer to when you lose your train of thought.
Focus on the task at hand. Looking at the entire writing section of the SAT and comparing it to the amount of time you have on hand is grunted to make your heart beat a little faster. Donâ€™t set yourself up for a panic attack. Instead, create a plan, than execute each step. For example; Step One, create my outline; Step Two, write my introduction..... By breaking this large section into small, manageable tasks you can lower your overall stress levels and move through each step calmly.
Take a mini break. There is only so long your mind can concentrate before it starts to go a bit… well.. mushy, so donâ€™t try so hard to fight the inevitable. When you feel a wave of panic, listlessness, or exhaustion coming on take a moment to close your eyes, stretch, and count slowly to ten. Picture yourself handing in a completed exam and how good you feel. Now a few more deep breaths, then open your eyes and get back to it.
November 09, 2010
The GMAT Quantitative section includes between two and four data interpretation questions which will always include a graph, chart, or data table. If you aren’t keen on data, and numbers to start with, this section can be very intimidating, so this week weâ€™ve put together some â€˜cheatsâ€™ that can boost your performance in this section; no numbers required.
- Read all questions carefully, and take care not to mix percentages with raw numbers.
- Whenever the question speaks of an â€œapproximationâ€ you can round off the numbers for faster calculations.
- Read the data artifacts first, take a moment to consider what youâ€™re seeing and then read the problem. This can help you solve the problem faster.
- Do not rush. The majority of mistakes are not made from calculation mistakes, but from using the wrong data. Be sure of what the question is asking.
Ready to put those tips to the test? Log into JumboTests now and see how you prepared you are.
November 02, 2010
Ensuring that the TOEFL test is accessible to students around the world regardless of their location is an integral part of ETS’s mission of assuring equity in education,” says David Hunt, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of ETS’s Global Division. “Over the years, the TOEFL test has helped millions of English language learners pursue their educational aspirations. ETS will continue to work closely with students around the world to strengthen their English-language skills and advance their personal goals.
November 02, 2010
While the new GRE format is on itâ€™s way, complete with less focus on out-of-context vocabulary, and the complete removal of the antonym questions, you canâ€™t halt the vocab studying yet. Acing antonyms questions will require a strong ability to: establish relationships between words; set up general relationships in a sentence; and identify/use relationship types.
While youâ€™re focusing on building those skills, here are 5 more quick and dirty tips you can use to help out on the analogy section of the GRE.
- Colons easily identify this section. Colons in each word pairing as used as a substitute for the phrase a is to b as is to . Saying this phrase aloud can help trigger your memory.
- Pick the strongest relationship. If you can narrow your options down to two answers, pick the option that is always true, or at least, most often true.
- Relationships, not definitions are paramount. Unlike many of the other verbal sections, what the words mean is not as important as how they relate to each other. Always evaluate the answers on the proper criteria!
- Correct answers will never reverse the relationship. While EYES:SIGHT is the same type of relationship as HEARING:EARS, the order of the relationship has been reversed, so we know it is an incorrect answer.
- Memorize types of relationships. If you can memorize the types of relationships you can save a great deal of time by quickly identifying which answers will be most appropriate. Types of relationships include: synonym/antonym; part/whole; cause/effect; degree/intensity; purpose/function; type/kind.
October 26, 2010
Discussion around the value of an EMBA continued today amongst the recent release of the Financial Times’ 2010 EMBA Rankings.
While EMBA have been traditionally favoured by the Corporate world to retain star performers, corporate sponsorships are at an all time low, leaving coverage the cost these programs to individuals, and with some programs costing upwards of $150,000; it’s a large financial burden to take on. So, is the current decline in the EMBA’s popularity a trend; or a natural reaction to the current economic temperature?
Howard Kaufold, director of the EMBA program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, feels confident that what we’re seeing now is more of a cycle than a trend. “I still think the EMBA is good value, but it’s harder to see that when you are in a down cycle,” he says.
Another reason for hope for the EMBA: it’s gaining popularity worldwide. Steve DeKrey, associate dean of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School, says demand in Asia is on the rise as the EMBA has become the degree of choice in the east. “In Asia, the EMBA is taking over the mantle that the MBA has in the west,â€ says DeKrey. “Back in the west, [the EMBA] has always been the stepchild.”
This degree is so popular, tha almost one third of participants on the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA program are self-financing, says DeKrey. “It’s not just that the company won’t pay … half of my people who are self- financed are doing so through choice.”
October 26, 2010
If youâ€™ve signed up for the November 6 SAT write date, you donâ€™t have much time left to study, so letâ€™s get right into this!
The SAT math section is a total of 54 questions (44 multiple choice, 10 grid-in) and tests you on arithmetic, geometry, algebra, statistics, and probability. This section of the test should take you 70 minutes. The good news? You wonâ€™t have to memorize any trig formulas and you can use a calculator.
Here are some other tips to help you through this often stressful section.
- Stay calm. Panicking will only cause you to make reckless mistakes, costing you marks. If you feel panic rising, close your eyes for a moment, take 3 deep breaths, then resume your work.
- Recognize the different types of math problems. Donâ€™t try to use probability reasoning to answer a statistics questions. Read the entire problem first and be sure what the question is asking you to solve.
- Write it out. Use whatever scrap paper is available to help you work out the problem visually. Writing out your rough work can help you keep track of your thoughts and see possible solutions. Just make sure you write to correct answer in the question space!
- Don’t stay stuck. When you come across a question you can’t answer, move onto the next one. Completing the easier problems first will help improve your confidence on the math section and make you less likely to run out of time.
- Think logically; then guess. If you’re really stuck on a problem, use your reasoning skills, logical, and process of elimination first then simply take your best guess – you’ve got a 50% chance of being right.
Got those down? Now put those tips to good use with a practice test
October 19, 2010
Studying for any exam can be a frustrating process and the TOEFL is no exception, so why not sneak in a few study cheats? Below are 5 tips to help you build your vocabulary in fun ways, and make studying feel less like work!
- Study without thinking about it. Highlight or circle the words you have already learned in the dictionary you use. By doing this your mind will automatically review the word each time you see it while looking up new words.
- Write a letter. Practice your newly learned words as soon as possible by sending a letter or e-mail. This will help you solidify your knowledge of the word while keeping in touch with your friends and loved one.
- Stop wasting time. Make sure youâ€™re learning vocabulary that is used in an academic setting. This means that watching the latest Friends episode may not be the best place to learn new words â€“ try an online lecture instead.
- Eavesdrop. Whenever you hear an unknown word being spoken, record it so you can look it up yourself. Even better, ask the speaker what the word means! Usually people are happy to share their knowledge when asked by someone who genuinely wants to learn.
- Take advantage of Social Networking. Use the internet to connect with other TOEFL takers; you can share newly learned words, provide encouragement to each other, and practice your vocabulary via online chats and instant messaging.
October 19, 2010
The GRE contains between 2 and 4 Reading Comprehension passages about which you will be asked between 6 and 10 questions. Most people feel confident about this section, but can get tripped up by rushing or not following details closely. Here are so tips so you can avoid this happening to you.
- Read the entire passive thoroughly instead of skimming it. Skimming the passage can seem like a good time saving device, but if youâ€™ve missed the point of the passage, youâ€™re certain to get answers wrong.
- Use the scrap paper to jot down important points, often highlighted by structural or transitional words (such as likewise, therefore, however, moreover, or hence).
- Correct answers will never be overtly negative, irrational, or irresponsible. Rule out those options immediately.
- Check your answer by finding it in the text. Often the test will try to trick you by providing an answer that fits with the themes, but was not mentioned in the reading passage. Donâ€™t let a frazzled memory bring your score down—check your work.
Are you ready to test out these tips? Take this Reading Comprehension Test now.
October 06, 2010
Todayâ€™s GMAT preparation tips come from Soojin Kwon Koh, Direction of Admission at the Ross School of Business. Koh likens preparing for the the GMAT to competing in a marathon. â€œEveryoneâ€™s training;â€ she says â€œif you want to be competitive, you should too.â€ Here are her top GMAT Prep tips:
- Set a goal. To determine your target score, use the GMAT averages and ranges of the schools to which you are applying as a guide. Scoring in a schoolâ€™s middle 80-percent range puts you in the running.
- Set a schedule. If you choose to prepare on your own, carve out regular study time on your calendar. Mark down the day or days you plan to take an entire practice test to assess your progress. As in most situations, thorough and disciplined preparation is a key to success.
- Simulate the test day scenario. Around the same time of day that you will be taking the actual test, close your door, turn off your phone, set a timer, and take a practice test. Endurance often is the key, and itâ€™s important to remain focused throughout the duration of the exam. Continue these â€œtraining runsâ€ and your preparation regimen until you score in your target range and feel you can go into the actual test with confidence.
- Go for your personal best. You may hit your goal on your first try, or you may not. Itâ€™s okay if you donâ€™t. If you think you can do better, and can muster up the stamina to give it another shot, you should. Schools look favourably upon applicants who retake the GMAT rather than submitting only one low score.
Bonus tip: The GMAT wonâ€™t make or break you. Keep in mind that the GMAT is only one aspect of your application. Schools evaluate applications holistically; no single element of your application will guarantee admission or denial. So for those who ace the GMAT, donâ€™t rest on the laurels of your strong score – go for a personal best on every application component.
October 06, 2010
If youâ€™re writing the SAT this Saturday youâ€™re sure to be well aware that the clock is ticking! Hopefully youâ€™ve been preparing all along and are feeling confident (if not, click here!), so this week weâ€™re not focusing on studying, but instead bringing you some test day tips you may not have considered.
- Change your study style. Alright, technically, this is a few-days-before-test day tip, but itâ€™s important. Switch you review style to be broader, reading over study notes and practice essays instead of creating them – try to find any weak spots you still have and focus on them.
- Prepare your pencil case the night before. Make sure to include lots of no 2 pencils, erasers, and put fresh batteries into your calculator.
- Set a back up alarm. This is not the day you want to oversleep – nor is it the night you want to lay awake worrying about whether or not your alarm will wake you up in time. Set two alarms (bonus points if one is someone who will already be awake) and play it safe.
- Get up early to give your brain time to adjust. Weâ€™re not saying you need to be up for sunrise yoga, but be sure to rise early enough that your mind has at least and hour of â€˜waking upâ€™ time so that when you get to the test centre, youâ€™re fully alert.
- Breath deep. Now is not the time to psych yourself out. Stay as calm as possible, pace yourself, and donâ€™t lose points for little mistakes like filling in the bubble wrong.
September 28, 2010
Paraphrasing – that is, restate a passage in different wording without changing the meaning – is an important part of the TOEFL exam. In the reading section of the exam you will be asked to recognize paraphrases, and creating your own paraphrases in the speaking and writing sections will be sure to boost your overall score. How are your paraphrasing skills right now? If they arenâ€™t up to par, or you donâ€™t know how to paraphrase something, follow these steps:
- Select a passage and read it over and over until you are certain you understand main idea of the passage.
- Put away the passage – if you look at it while completing this exercise you may be tempted to copy the passage word for word – and thatâ€™s plagiarism, not paraphrasing!
- Write down the passage as if you were explaining the idea to someone who had never read this passage before.
- Compare what you have written to the original passage. Did you use your own words? Did you use different sentence structure? Most importantly, did you keep the original idea the same? If the answer to those questions is yes – congratulations, youâ€™ve paraphrased! If not, head back to Step one (with a new passage) and try again.
September 28, 2010
Antonyms, one of four basic formats covered in the GRE Verbal section, are worth a quarter of your mark in this section. As you know, your timing while writing the GRE is extremely important and in order to keep pace, you should aim to be answering these questions in 30 seconds – or less! Not that fast yet? These tips can help you reach that goal.
- Memorize as much as possible. The faster you can recall a word’s definition, the more time you have save for the harder questions.
- Work backwards. Look at the answer list and see you can recall the antonym of those words. [Bonus tip: If you cannot express the antonym in a single word (as opposed to a phrase), itâ€™s most likely the wrong answer.]
- Donâ€™t recognize the word? Brainstorm. If you come across vocabulary you donâ€™t know, take a moment to see if you can remember any words close to it. Do those words have the same root? If so, they likely have related meaning as well.
- Change the context. What would this word look like as a noun? As a verb? By substituting different forms of the word you may find you now recognize it.
- Pick the best fit. Test writers will try to trick you by provided multiple answers that look fine, or multiple answers that arenâ€™t quiet perfect. Be aware of this trap and donâ€™t waste time trying to find the exact fit.
Ready to put these tips to the test? Try to complete this practice test in under 3 minutes