EdTech and the GRE

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


What is EdTech?

While you may have never heard the term, you have almost certainly used "EdTech." Short for Educational Technology, according to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, EdTech is "the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources." Everything from trendy quiz apps to educational software classics like The Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? falls under the EdTech umbrella. In fact, as a computer based test, the GRE itself could be considered a form of EdTech. 

If you're anything like me, your eyes are probably glazing over already. The very name EdTech conjures up a second-rate Ted Talk given by a C-list entrepreneur trying to hawk his latest startup to jet-setting angel investors. Indeed, EdTech has been a source of controversy in many forms of education. Are MOOCs all they’re cracked up to be? Are iPads in classrooms anything more than an excuse for kids to spend hours more staring at screens instead of engaging with each other in class?

Putting aside all the hype and debates, let’s consider some of the EdTech resources available to help you prepare for the GRE and how you can make the best use of them.

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Topics: Verbal, Grad School Admissions, GRE prep

Vocab Journaling: Let's Do It!

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


In my last post I discussed the importance of vocabulary, not as an exercise to be done in isolation but instead as a habitual tool for learning and reinforcing unknown or unfamiliar words you come across. As I noted, this skill translates not only into improvements on Sentence Completion and Equivalence problems but also on Reading Comprehension, Short Passages, and your writing skill on the essays. 

One tried-and-true vocabulary-building tool is an old fashioned journal, either in the form of a spiral notebook or (if you want to be fancy) as a note-taking app on your smartphone or tablet. Personally, I am a big fan of legal pads, but probably more because of nostalgia than utility.

For this post, I thought I would recap a couple vocab entries I wrote for our PowerScore GRE Facebook Page as examples of the kind of entries you can write for yourself, if you are feeling enterprising about your journaling. I would like to emphasize the importance of both learning the exact dictionary definition of each word as well as producing a sentence in which you use the word in an appropriate context. Since your work with difficult vocabulary on the GRE is heavily context dependent, your practice with these words should also reflect the kinds of scenarios you will encounter on the test.

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Topics: Verbal, GRE prep, Reading Comprehension

GRE Vocabulary: The Saga Continues

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


THE NEVERENDING STORY:

There were some pretty strange children's movies when I was a kid. Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, the so-bad-it's-good Ron Howard movie Willow  (featuring Real Genius and Top Gun star Val Kilmer), and the still-disturbing leporine epic Watership DownBut insofar as capturing the imagination of the archetypical misunderstood eight-year-old (imagine the eighties version of Harry Potter), nothing surpassed The Neverending Story, a child's acid trip literary fantasy Mi'raj  on the back of a Cocker Spaniel dragon, featuring a theme song by Kajagoogoo lead singer Limahl

Buried amidst this B-movie esoterica there is a point germane to your GRE preparation. In my previous blog post, I discussed how to prepare to prepare for the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section. I emphasized the importance of a seamless grasp of math definitions and fundamentals as stepping-stones for success with more sophisticated test-taking strategies. With this blog post, let's shift our attention to GRE Verbal, specifically the importance of a strong vocabulary. 

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Topics: Verbal, Grad School Admissions, GRE prep, Analytical Writing

No Vocab No Cry

Posted by Jonathan Evans on


Let's be honest: No one can memorize all the vocabulary you might encounter on the GRE. There are lists of words everywhere, so much so that it's become a cliché, "SAT words." Most of the lists of "GRE words" are just "SAT words" on steroids, and prep books frequently instruct students to keep a vocabulary diary, make flash cards, or do a lot of reading to expand your working vocabulary and familiarity with the scholarly or academic jargon and style of the GRE. All that is great advice! By all means, read more and keep track of words you learn. It will serve you well on the GRE, in grad school, and in life in general. 

Fortunately for those of us who struggle with difficult vocabulary, the GRE has become less vocabulary intensive than it used to be. When I first started teaching GRE preparation, the test included Antonyms and Analogies problems, both of which were pretty much make-or-break vocab questions. If you didn't know the definition of the words, you could employ some ingenious strategies and logical deduction to improve your odds of getting the answers right, but you could never really be sure.

While the test now includes fewer problems that are outright vocabulary questions, Sentence Completion and Sentence Equivalence problems still require a strong working vocabulary. So does Reading Comprehension but in more of a passive sense. A great knowledge of the definitions of difficult words still helps a lot, but let's discuss what to do when you're stuck on unfamiliar language.

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Topics: Verbal, GRE prep, SAT Prep, GRE Challenge

GRE Verbal Scores for Top Education Programs

Posted by Ryan Born on

Education is a popular field of graduate study in the US. It's the number one discipline for doctoral degrees (MD and JD excluded) and a close second to Business for master's degrees. Hoping to get into a top program? A strong GRE Verbal score may help. Take a look at the Verbal scores for Education programs ranked in the top 25 from the latest U.S. News Best Grad Schools.

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Topics: Verbal, Grad School Admissions

Using GRE Argument Topics to Prepare for Reading Comprehension

Posted by Ryan Born on

GRE Reading Comprehension passages often present arguments. By argument, I don’t mean a messy quarrel. I mean an attempt to give reasons called premises in support of a (usually) novel or debatable claim called a conclusion. Analyzing arguments is a crucial skill for Reading Comp, and ETS, maker of the GRE, offers tons of free practice passages in the official pool of Argument topics for the Analytical Writing section.

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Topics: Verbal, GRE prep, Reading Comprehension, Analytical Writing

Free Official GRE Practice Besides Powerprep?

Posted by Ryan Born on

You probably know about Powerprep, the two free computer-based practice tests from ETS, maker of the GRE. You may not know about the Practice Book, the free paper-based practice test from ETS that comes in two editions. The two Practice Books have mostly the same questions as Powerprep, so they're not really distinct practice tests. But you can still use many of the Practice Book questions as practice exercises.

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Topics: Verbal, GRE prep, Quantitative

Powerprep II Verbal Answers and Explanations

Posted by Ryan Born on

Taking practice tests is a must when preparing for the GRE. Conveniently, ETS, maker of the exam, offers three free practice tests with answer keys. Unfortunately, none of them comes with explanations. We’ve stepped in to pick up some of the slack. The new PowerScore GRE Forum has explanations for every Verbal (and every Quantitative) question on every version of the two practice tests in Powerprep II, the official GRE practice software!

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Topics: Verbal, GRE prep

GRE Text Completion Challenge: Follow the Clues

Posted by Ryan Born on

GRE Text Completion gives you a sizable chunk of text to parse when you have multiple blanks to fill. Putting all the context clues together can be tricky, and any hard vocabulary that pops up, whether in the text or the answer choices, won't make your work any easier. Get some practice with this challenging three-blank question.

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Topics: Verbal, GRE prep, GRE Challenge

Real-World Prep for GRE Reading Comp & The Argument Essay

Posted by Ryan Born on

A sizable chunk of the GRE requires you to think about arguments. Half of Analytical Writing is the Analyze an Argument task, and about half of Verbal Reasoning is Reading Comprehension, a question type that often uses argument-based passages.

Conveniently, you can prepare for Reading Comp and the Argument Task simultaneously using free (and modestly priced) practice material from ETS, maker of the exam. Other free, high-quality resources can sharpen your critical thinking skills, too. You just need to be open to supplementing your GRE prep materials with some real-world reading.

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Topics: Verbal, GRE prep, Reading Comprehension, Analytical Writing