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Should You Earn a Graduate Degree?

April 30, 2015 by

U.S. workers with a graduate degree earn on average 35–50% more than those with just a bachelor’s degree. Money is not the only reason to pursue a graduate degree, though.

In deciding whether to attend graduate school, think about what factors hold the most weight for you. Here are some common motivations to consider.

Looking for a career change?

Many people make the decision to return to graduate school after working in “the real world.” Some feel that their career options are limited. Others find that their interests and abilities have developed over the years and have perhaps outgrown the focus of their undergraduate education. A graduate degree can therefore be the key to making a career change or advancing your career.

Could a graduate degree get you a promotion?

After working in the trenches for a while and developing a strong sense of how your organization is run, you … Read full post

How to Write a Graduate School Personal Statement

April 28, 2015 by

Statement of purpose, personal statement, candidate’s admission statement… these terms send a shiver down the spine of many a prospective graduate student who feel at a loss for how to write about themselves effectively.

A graduate school personal statement or similar type of application essay, however, is your opportunity to show the admissions committee what you’re made of. They want to know why you’re applying to their graduate program, and the application essay is your chance to communicate that to them as clearly and compellingly as you can.

How do graduate schools use your application essay?

The graduate school personal statement serves two basic purposes. First, they show whether you know how to write a clear, coherent essay that’s logically and grammatically correct. These days, students’ writing ability is often presumed deficient unless proven otherwise.

Second, the application essay gives you the opportunity to present the admissions committee with more … Read full post

Tame the GRE Verbal Beast before Test Day

April 23, 2015 by

Grab your net and binoculars. We’re going on safari to observe the behavior of GRE vocabulary in its natural habitat—words in the wild!

Sharpen your GRE verbal skills

What kind of new words might we observe on such an excursion? Difficult words—GRE words, if you will—the kind that casual readers would probably skip over, or that many listeners would likely ignore. When you’re preparing for Test Day, however, you are no longer a casual reader or listener. You’re on the hunt to expand your GRE vocabulary.

To earn a high score on the GRE verbal section, you must have a strong vocabulary. There’s no getting around that simple fact—but do you really need to know a whole lot of difficult words? Only if “know” means “have heard or read them somewhere before.” As long as you can remember how or where you encountered these new words, you’ll be able … Read full post

Probability Questions for Celebrating Jelly Bean Day

April 21, 2015 by

Though it’s not as widely celebrated as Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve, tomorrow marks an important date on our holiday calendars: National Jelly Bean Day. That’s right—tomorrow is the day we get to celebrate a candy that is, as Wikipedia puts it, “a bean-shaped confectionary […] primarily made of sugar.” If you can’t celebrate bean-shaped candies made almost entirely of sugar, what can you celebrate?

National Jelly Bean Day and GRE math

In addition to showing up in the bowls (and mouths) of households across the country, jelly beans have also been known to show up in the GRE math section. If you’ve been preparing for the test, you might already know which kind of question often includes descriptions of small, multi-colored objects. Can you think of it? That’s right: probability questions.

Unfortunately, you very rarely see easy probability questions such as: “What is the probability that … Read full post

When Should You Take the GRE?

April 16, 2015 by

If you are preparing to take the GRE, the first and most important thing to decide is when to take the test. Students often wonder if there’s an optimal month or college year prior for which to sign up. While there is no one answer that will perfectly fit each person’s specific situation in applying to graduate school, keep the following questions in mind as you make your decision.

When do you plan on attending graduate school?

Some people claim that the best time to take the GRE is during your first year of college. The argument goes something like this: since the GRE is so similar to the SAT, it’s better to sign up while those basic math and vocabulary skills are still sharp in your mind. While there is some validity to this argument, it fails to consider a significant factor: are you completely sure you want … Read full post

10 Awesome Things About Studying for the GRE

April 14, 2015 by

GRE prep can seem intimidating, overwhelming, and downright boring. It doesn’t have to be. To help get you excited about applying to graduate school, here are the ten best things you can look forward to while studying for the GRE.

10. Brain hacks: You’ll get to use GRE prep vocab flash cards to trick your brain into retaining new information.

9. Revisiting high school math: Because algebra, statistics, and geometry were SO much fun the first time around.

8. Improving your Scrabble score: You’ll have the fanciest vocabulary of all your friends.

7. Putting pi and the Pythagorean Theorem to use: You’ll finally get some mileage out of all those geometry details that you actually remember.

6. Your inbox will never be lonely: You get to look forward to the Kaplan GRE Free Question of the Day.

5. Nerdy GRE prep memes: Like this one and this one…. Read full post

Applying to Graduate School: Narrowing Your List

April 9, 2015 by

You’re applying to graduate school because you have a particular academic passion: It’s a subject you want to explore it, immerse yourself in, and get to know on a deeper level. However, you may also feel overwhelmed and confused in deciding on which graduate program is right for you—there are so many out there from which to choose.

Behind door number one, you discover an open-ended program that can be tailored to suit your research interests. Behind door number two is a highly competitive and specialized program that only accepts five to ten graduate candidates per year. Door number three reveals a university in a beautiful location with a large graduate student population. So, how do you narrow down these choices? What should you be looking for in applying to graduate school? What do you really want out of the next few years of higher education? What graduate programs are … Read full post

Learning From Your GRE Practice Test Results

April 7, 2015 by

The first and most important step in your test prep journey is to take a GRE diagnostic test, thereby setting your baseline score. This also happens to be the most challenging GRE practice test you’ll take, since you’ll go into it without any preparation. On the bright side, things will only get better from here (especially if you’re a student enrolled in a Kaplan course). You’ll learn new strategic skills and methods for handling the various types of test questions and achieving your target GRE score.

Put your GRE diagnostic test to work

The GRE diagnostic test is just what the name suggests. If you’re a psychology or nursing student, you’re very familiar with what it means to diagnose. This test is a diagnosis that will allow you to figure out the areas in which you are very strong and the areas in which you could use some … Read full post

What’s Your GRE Study Plan? Structuring Each Practice Session

April 2, 2015 by

In the past, I’ve written about getting out of the house, turning off the phone, and finding a good spot for GRE studying. So, let’s imagine you’ve taken my advice. You’ve found a quiet library, coffee shop, or classroom in which to practice the GRE in a test-like environment. Now what? Well, now it’s time to form a GRE study plan specific to your practice session.

Creating a GRE study plan

Regardless of how much time you schedule for your GRE practice, remember that the important thing is what you actually learned during your session, not just how many questions you completed. If you schedule an hour-long practice session, then roughly half of that time should be devoted to review, reflection, and note-taking.

As you work through problems, focus on understanding the concepts that are being tested and figuring out the patterns underlying the questions. The nature of standardized … Read full post

Improve Your Quantitative Reasoning with March Madness Math

March 31, 2015 by

We’re officially in the depth of March Madness, and we all know what that means: we are nervously watching our brackets for at least another week. Every year we think, “maybe this will be the year I really nail it,” and every year our brackets crumble in the first round as Small State Technical College upsets the balance with We Are Basically a Pro Team University. If your college basketball fervor is keeping you from practicing GRE math, just think of those busted brackets as a valuable lesson in quantitative reasoning.

Warren Buffett’s March Madness Challenge

Last year, the inevitability of brackets falling apart inspired Warren Buffett to issue an enticing challenge: correctly pick every game in the tournament, and win one billion dollars. Yep, that’s right—a billion, with a ‘b.’ Unfortunately, the Oracle of Omaha’s Billion Dollar Bracket is on hiatus this year thanks to some litigious sore Read full post

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