ISEE – 5 Useful ISEE Tips

1. Don’t Study Above Your Level

There are three levels of tests that comprise the ISEE — lower, middle, and upper. Often, a test preparation company will advertise “ISEE Preparation” without specifying the level — this usually means upper-level only! Don’t study above your level! Students who should be preparing for the lower level ISEE should not be struggling to understand concepts that apply only to upper-level students! Instead of searching for ISEE preparation, search for your specific level, i.e. “ISEE Lower Level Preparation.” Which test your student needs to be take depends on the grade he or she is entering. Prospective fifth and sixth graders take the lower level; students entering seventh and eighth grade take the middle level; students seeking admission to high school (ninth through twelfth grades) take the upper level test. Parents might be tempted to help their students for a test above their level, in hopes that the content covered on the lower tests will be superseded by the more difficult material. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. According to the ERB, who administers the test, it’s best to prepare for your own test level.

2. Begin Studying Early

Like any other exam, the ISEE requires diligent and steady practice to master. The best way to prepare your child is to begin early. Studies have consistently shown that it’s important to begin studying well in advance and not to cram. To begin, you should read What to Expect on the ISEE, a free guide issued by the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) which administers the exam. After this, you should begin working with your student at home and research various professional ISEE lower/mid/upper-level preparation courses. Don’t leave preparation to the last moment!

3. Know What’s on the Test in Advance

Standardized tests like the ISEE, with all the pressure and constraints they place upon the test-taker, are challenging. Why not make it easier by knowing what’s going to be on the test in advance? There are five sections on the ISEE: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension, mathematics achievement, and an essay. Each section has a limited scope that is outlined in the ERB’s What to Expect on the ISEE. By knowing what material is covered on the exam, you can help your student focus their study to do their best on the ISEE. If your child needs help with specific topics, you should consider seeking professional test preparation, preferably a company which specializes in the correct level of the ISEE, to help make the most of your child’s educational opportunities.

4. Take Practice Tests

While studying the material on the test is an essential part of any preparation program, students must also be ready for the restrictions and time limits the ISEE imposes upon test-takers. Many test-takers face difficulty when timed or under pressure. The best way to mitigate anxiety and nervousness is to become comfortable with the structure of the test by taking many practice exams which reflect the structure of the real test-timed, without calculators, etc. Professional ISEE test preparation can be very helpful in this regard, but be conscious of whether companies use real ISEE exams or simulated ones. The makers of the ISEE limit access to good preparation materials; consequently, many third-party books available on the Internet and through some companies will attempt to simulate test questions — but in the end there is no substitute for the real thing. The best preparation materials will come from established test preparation companies like Testmasters, Kaplan, or Princeton Review, which have a history of helping people prepare for the ISEE.

5. Practice Writing Essays

Even though the ISEE essay is ungraded, your student’s ISEE essay plays a critical role in the admissions process and cannot be neglected. The essay is sent on to the schools the student is applying to, where it is read by admissions committees. These committees will primarily be looking at the levels of maturity and organization displayed by your student’s essay; admissions officers will be most impressed by how clearly and coherently a student can communicate with written English. Another tip: don’t be negative! Nobody will admit a candidate who talks about how much he hates school, no matter how well the essay is written. Use practice essays from the ERB to start off with; consider ISEE test preparation programs that can provide professional feedback and guidance on essays.

IELTS Exam: Quick and Easy Test Taking Tips

It’s no secret.

Passing the IELTS Exam results from good preparation. Preparation involves studying and studying takes time. In most cases, preparation means countless hours spent poring over long and often, boring IELTS study guides.

Going through the IELTS Test Study Guide is like being in a relationship. It involves both time and commitment. It means sitting down and dedicating a fixed number of hours each day to study and review.

With a laundry list of things to do, the idea of devoting a certain number of hours each day to studying seems preposterous. Who has the time? You barely have the time to read three pages, let alone 300!

But here’s what they don’t tell you: There are shortcuts to getting through the IELTS Study Guide.

Yes, you read that correctly.

There are shortcuts.

It’s true that the IELTS Study Guide provides a wealth of information. But you don’t need to go through the entire shebang to gather all the relevant IELTS preparation tips.

Why? Because I’m about to share with you the best IELTS exam tips you’ve ever come across.

The IELTS Study Guide Made Easy

It’s a shame how most IELTS Test Study Guides hide all the juicy information in a 30-pound book. It’s as if you first have to go through the entire book to get a shot at passing the exam.

A single book contains so many practice tests. And I kid you not when I say that I went through all of them! In preparation for my exam, I bought a half dozen study guides meant for the International English Language Testing System. I took practice test after practice test.

I took the long route and ended up passing the exam. However, a short cut would’ve gotten me the same result. If I only knew then what I know now…I would’ve saved myself

In any event, I am about to share with you what I found out.

Best and Shortest IELTS Exam Tips

Without further ado, here are some of the best and shortest IELTS study guide tips:

  • Writing – For the writing portion of the IELTS, use bullet points to pre-structure your essay. Let your bullet points serve as your framework. This way, you’ll be able to organize your thoughts, anchor your ideas, and create a flowing essay that reads well.
  • Listening – You might be surprised but the easiest thing you can do to improve your IELTS listening score is as simple as watching subtitled English movies. By watching subtitled English movies, you practice both your English reading and comprehension skills.
  • Reading – To improve your reading comprehension score, it’s important that you learn how to skim a page. Locate keywords from the IELTS questions and focus on those when you read the paragraph. You might not understand each and every word of the paragraph but by focusing on the keywords, you stand a better chance of answering the question correctly.

AP US History Multiple Choice Tricks and Tips – Unravel the Multiple Choice Questions

AP US history multiple choice questions can look strange, confusing, or downright impossible to answer based on what you know. Fortunately, the AP US history exam is a standardized test, which means that by understanding the system we can find strategies that make answering multiple choice questions easier. These strategies won’t help with the essay questions or DBQ, which require a little more preparation to conquer, but hey, you take what you can get.

The first rule of taking multiple choice questions is always use process of elimination and guess if you are down to 2 or three answer choices. Let’s consider the following example multiple choice question:

1. Which of the following is true defined the era of good feelings?

A. American businesses were uniquely successful during the period

B. Trade with France and England increased

C. Fierce competition among political parties led to an era of more responsible government

D. There was only one major political party

E. Major gains were made in the field of international relations

This question seems hard to answer unless you know exactly what the era of good feelings was. Actually, all you need to know is that the phrase referred to the political situation. With this knowledge, answer choices A, B and E are obviously false. You can guess between C and D, which gives you a 50% chance of getting the right answer. Not bad for only vaguely understanding the question!

Here’s another example. Assume that this question came just after the last example.

2. The ‘ironclad oath’ referred to

A. An agreement between the original settlers of Massachusetts Bay

B. A provision of the Townshend Acts

C. An anti-British book written during the Revolutionary War

D. One of George Washington’s policies

E. A declaration in which individuals pledged to have never supported the Confederacy

This question can also be answered using only a basic grasp of AP US history. On the AP exam, small groups of questions will refer to topics in chronological order. All of the above answer choices refer to a period that comes before the period covered by the previous question. The only answer is further in US history than the last question is answer choice E, which is the correct answer.

Here’s a final tip to remember when reviewing for the AP us history multiple choice questions. The multiple choice portion of the exam mostly tests your knowledge of key terms. Get a review guide with bold terms and definitions to make this portion of the review easier.

GMAT Essay Tips: 3 Keys to a High AWA Score

Most websites, books, and test prep courses offering GMAT essay tips do little more than state the obvious. Tips like “manage your time,” “structure your essay,” “use transitions,” etc. apply to any timed writing assignment and ignore the specificity of the GMAT AWA, which requires that test-takers analyze an argument. In order to receive a high score on the AWA, it is therefore vital that test-takers understand the elements of an argument and not just the elements of good writing. The three GMAT essay tips introduced below precede the elements of good writing: they are critical for determining which ideas in an argument require greater focus and for establishing a logical essay structure.

GMAT Essay Tip #1: Understand the Structure of an Argument

At the most basic level, an argument consists of two elements: premises (also referred to as reasons or grounds) and a conclusion (also referred to as a claim). The conclusion is the main point the argument is trying to convince the audience to accept (e.g., that a certain action should be taken, that the best way to accomplish “x” is by “y,” etc.). The premises, on the other hand, are the reasons or support used to justify the conclusion. Premises are statements believed to be true, but which have not been proven and may, in fact, be logically suspect. In a logically valid argument, the premises must be relevant to the conclusion and the conclusion must necessarily follow from the premises.

In order to help illustrate the distinction between an argument’s premises and conclusion, consider the following example:

The market for the luxury-goods industry is on the decline. Recent reports show that a higher unemployment rate, coupled with consumer fears, has decreased the amount of money the average household spends on both essential and nonessential items, but especially on nonessential items. Since luxury goods are, by nature, nonessential, this market will be the first to decrease in the present economic climate, and luxury retailers should refocus their attention to lower-priced markets.

In this argument, the conclusion is that “retailers should refocus their attention to lower-priced markets.” The conclusion is based on the following premises: 1) that the higher unemployment rate and consumer fears has led to a decrease in the purchase of essential and nonessential items; 2) that luxury goods are non-essential items, and; 3) that the decline in the purchase of non-essential items has been/will be greater than the decline in essential items.

Recognizing the distinction between an argument’s conclusions and premises is necessary in order to accurately summarize an argument, determine which points deserve emphasis, and effectively demonstrate an argument’s invalidity. According to the GMAT scoring criteria, to receive a score of 5 or 6 (the highest possible score) on the AWA, the essay must “clearly identify important features of the argument and analyze them insightfully.” It is impossible to insightfully analyze an argument if you are focusing on tangential points and are unable to explain the relationship between the various points presented.

To better understand the problems that can arise from not understanding the structure of an argument, consider this introduction from an essay on the above argument: “The argument that the luxury goods industry is on the decline due to higher unemployment rates and consumer fears is not logically convincing because it depends on three questionable assumptions.” In this case, the writer confuses a single premise with “the argument” and completely fails to address the conclusion of the argument – the most important point that accounts for why the other points are relevant in the first place. No matter how well-written this essay turns out to be, it will never earn a score above a 3.5 or 4: it is doomed from the beginning as a result of the writer’s inability to accurately summarize the argument and focus on its most important features.

GMAT Essay Tip #2: Critique the Premises Before the Conclusion

This is not to suggest, on the other hand, that a writer should not focus on challenging an argument’s premises or that premises are unimportant components of an argument. However, it is important to remember that the objective is not to challenge a premise simply for its own sake, but to sever the connection between the premise and the conclusion that the argument attempts to establish.

Because an argument’s conclusion is dependent on the premises, it is more logical to begin by first critiquing the premises before tackling the conclusion head on. After pointing out a problem with a premise, however, the writer needs to address the connection (or lack thereof) between the premise and the argument’s conclusion by explaining how the specific problem identified with the premise calls into question the argument’s conclusion.

To better understand the problems associated with addressing the conclusion before the premises, consider the following first two paragraphs from an essay:

The argument is made at a meeting of the directors of a company that manufactures parts for heavy machinery, during a discussion of the company’s declining revenues. Delays in manufacturing are believed to be the cause of the falling revenues as apparently both the delays in manufacturing and the decline in revenue happened at the same time. The manufacturing delays are attributed to the poor planning in purchasing metals by the purchasing manager, who has an excellent background in business, psychology, and sociology, but lacks a scientific understanding of metals. For this reason, it is advised that the company replace the current manager with a scientist from the research division. This argument makes many assumptions and fails to provide information about other factors that could be responsible for the failing revenues. Hence, this argument is flawed and unconvincing.

Firstly, it assumes that the scientist from the research department would have all the necessary prerequisite business related knowledge required to run the purchasing department. It assumes that there will not be any problems with regards to the inventory management and that scientific knowledge is sufficient to handle the inventory management. This is unconvincing as no information is provided about the training that the scientist would be provided on the inventory management or about the possible transition of knowledge from the manager to the scientist. The argument can be strengthened if information about training or transition is provided.

While the writer does an excellent job summarizing the argument (perhaps even in too much detail for an introduction) and clearly recognizes how the conclusion emerges from several problematic premises, the writer’s decision to challenge the conclusion in the second paragraph as opposed to later in the essay undercuts the writer’s otherwise strong reasoning. While the first several sentences of the second paragraph make valid points, the points being made are all tangential to the main issues: the cause(s) for the decline in revenue and the cause(s) for the delays in manufacturing. By beginning with the conclusion, the writer in the above example is implying the validity of the argument’s premises, for there is no logical basis for considering replacing the present manager unless both premises about the cause of the difficulties were true. As paragraphs three and four actually challenge both premises, the writer is undercutting his/her own critique by beginning from a position where both premises are implied to be valid.

As a general rule, it is best to critique ideas in an argument in the order that they are presented so that the connection between ideas can be critiqued as well (the exception being cases where the conclusion of an argument is presented before the premises). In the above example, the writer should have first challenged the idea that the decline in revenues is owing to the manufacturing delays, and then in the third paragraph challenged the premise that the manager’s lack of scientific background was responsible for the manufacturing delays. The points in the current second paragraph would be introduced in a fourth paragraph, that would begin with something like: “Even if we were to accept that the decline in revenues is due to the manufacturing delays, and that the present purchasing manager’s lack of scientific knowledge has been responsible for the manufacturing delays, there is still no reason to believe that replacing the present purchasing manager with a scientist is the best solution… “

By critiquing the premises before the conclusion, the writer would be building momentum and logical force. The writer’s critique of the premises would all be working to show how the conclusion is problematic, and the conclusion of the essay would be much stronger. The writer would have multiple grounds for challenging the argument’s conclusion, as opposed to the currently weak, tangential reasoning offered in paragraph two.

GMAT Writing Tip #3: Know the Different Logical Fallacies

As there are close to 150 official GMAT AWA topics, it is difficult if not impossible to prepare for the exam by writing a practice essay on each. Nor is this really necessary or advisable. A better approach would be to familiarize yourself with the common logical flaws, or logical fallacies, that appear in the official AWA topics, so that you can immediately identify the major errors in reasoning in the argument you are asked to critique on your official GMAT exam.

For instance, both premises in the argument above calling for the replacement of the purchasing manager are examples of the fallacy of false cause: both premises posit a cause and effect relationship between two separate events or conditions based simply on their coincidence in time or a correlation. Most of the official AWA arguments repeat a handful of logical fallacies that are far easier to memorize than the 100 plus arguments themselves.

Good GMAT prep courses and books will cover the most common fallacies (there is insufficient space to do an adequate job here). Once you memorize them, practice identifying the particular fallacy in an argument by working through the list of official topics. Most importantly, practice explaining why a specific idea is logically invalid and how the fallacy undermines the conclusion of the argument. Once again, the goal is not to simply point out that there is specific logical fallacy in an argument, but rather to explain how this particular logical fallacy calls into question the validity of the argument’s conclusion.

Hopefully the GMAT essay tips introduced in this article help clarify that what distinguishes a high-scoring from a low-scoring AWA is something far more substantial than a writer’s ability to structure their essay, use transitions, and avoid grammatical errors. To write an excellent critique of an argument, a writer must understand the structure of an argument and what constitutes a logically valid as opposed to an invalid conclusion. Only then can a writer accurately summarize and effectively analyze the relationship between the ideas presented.

6 Tips on Preparing for a Crucial Exam

Exams can be extremely stressful, particularly when they’re crucial to your college career. Fortunately, steps can be taken to prepare yourself in advance, so you can don’t have to stress so much during your exams. The following tips are designed to help you prepare for a crucial exam.

• Prepare ahead of time. Look over your notes frequently, so you don’t have to cram a whole semester’s worth of information into your head at the last minute. This will help familiarize you with the terms and boost your confidence by being prepared for the exam ahead of time.

• Take notes. Everybody has their own way of taking notes, so it’s advisable that you do this on your own, rather than borrow somebody else’s notes. Writing down your own notes helps you memorize the material being studied.

• Use tools to review for your test. Highlighters were invented for the purpose of being study aids; going through your notes or textbook and highlighting all the material relevant to the exam can not only help ingrain the material into your brain, but also makes it easier to find later when you go back to study. For things like numbers or mathematical equations, mnemonics may be used.

• Join a study group. This is an excellent way to exchange ideas with fellow students. Joining a study group can help improve your memory, as well as lighten your burden since you have other people there to help.

• Relax. A few days before your crucial exam, try to relax. Take a break from all the studying and go out with your friends, or play a video game in order to relieve some of your stress. This will clear your mind, so it’s not a jumbled mess when the morning of your exams arrive.

• Eat and Sleep Properly. A responsible student never goes out and parties all night right before a big exam. Eating well helps nourish your brain, allowing you to really focus on your studies. Sleep helps your body relax, as well as clear your mind. Although it may seem tempting to pull an all-nighter the night before a big exam, you will be doing yourself a favor by getting a good night’s sleep. If you’re exhausted during the exam, you will have a harder time focusing on the questions, never mind composing accurate, legitimate answers.

When preparing for an exam, it’s important that you make an effort to do well. Don’t slack off or be lazy. Success requires a good amount of hard work, discipline and determination. If you really apply yourself and do your absolute best, then there is no need to worry about failure. Nobody enjoys taking exams, but they are designed for a purpose- to test your skill level. As long as your try your hardest, study, and take care of yourself so you’re in good physical and mental health, then you should have no trouble passing even the most difficult exam in your field of study.