GRE Tutoring Success
Posted on
01
Mar 2021

Can GRE Tutoring Help You Succeed?

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Altea Sulollari
Date: March 1, 2021

As a seasoned professional hoping to gain admission to a respected graduate school program, you’ll probably opt to sit for the GRE exam.

The GRE exam has the power to determine your future. It’s important to focus on proper preparation if you want to get into a top graduate program. A GRE tutor can help. This article explains the benefits of GRE tutoring and helps you decide if private tutoring is right for you.

The GRE: Overview

To begin with, the GRE includes 3 main sections: Quantitative Reasoning (40 questions), Verbal (40 questions), and Analytical Writing (30 minutes per 2 sections).

It’s good to keep in mind that the GRE Verbal and Quantitative sections of the exam are section-adaptive, meaning that the difficulty level changes after test-takers complete specific groups of questions.

How Can GRE Tutoring Help You Succeed?

Let’s discuss the 3 main reasons to consider GRE tutoring:

Find the Study Methods that Work for You

An adept instructor will teach you the best strategies to get the score you’re aiming for. Years of experience, both with students and in the field, provide elite instructors with the expertise necessary to customize a preparation approach that maximizes your natural strengths and meets your needs.

Get the Most out of Your Time

Above all, hiring a private GRE tutor can save you time. Your tutor will keep you focused on mastering what’s most important. They’ll tackle your weaknesses head-on with personalized strategies, rather than relying on a “one-size-fits-all” approach to learning. With the help of a high-quality private tutor, you can make significant progress without wasting significant time.

A Private GRE Tutor Can Help You Land a Spot in a Top Graduate Program

An excellent GRE performance can score you a spot in many top graduate programs out there, opening countless doors along the way. The right instructor will get you there with training that sets you up to achieve your personal best, assuring that your time and effort pay off. Top GRE tutors know what these programs are looking for when it comes to scores, skills, and qualifications. Use their expertise to polish your application and resume!

Still deciding? Schedule a free consultation with one of Apex’s GRE instructors to discuss your options and career goals today.

Visit our GRE tutoring page for more information.

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GRE Private Tutoring
Posted on
27
Feb 2021

One on one GRE Tutoring: Your Way to GRE Success

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Ilia Dobrev
Date: February 27, 2021
When it comes to GRE tutoring, we at Apex have learned that there are a set of core characteristics that all successful GRE test takers embody; no matter their industry, degree, personal traits, or prior levels of knowledge. In this article, we’ll:
  • explore each of these eight core characteristics
  • deconstruct a few of the faulty assumptions that test-takers bring to the process
  • distinguish one-on-one GRE tutoring as an efficient way for most people to achieve a competitive GRE score and build a solid foundation for a graduate program.

Many people preparing for the GRE believe that it’s the instructor’s responsibility to implement their own expertise and style to improve one’s current skill level and address one’s weaknesses. The reality, however, is more of a two-way street, where the important element is the compatibility between a tutor’s teaching style and a student’s learning style. A qualified instructor is one that first examines the way a client processes new information and perceives problems, and the techniques he or she uses to address those problems. Only after a tutor has understood one’s learning style can he/she match professional guidance with the needs of the client.

8 Ways One-On-One GRE Tutoring Gets You To A 328+ Score On The GRE

1. Creating a productive & efficient learning structure

Oftentimes, test takers seek GRE tutoring because they have stumbled upon enough types of challenging problems that they can’t tackle alone, or they’ve reached the peak of their self-preparation but still seek higher results. One-on-one GRE tutoring differs from self-prep and group work with a tutor in terms of the learning environment and having the benefit of external perception of your performance. With private GRE tutoring, communication dynamics are on a much more personal, and personalized, level – yielding stronger results much more quickly than alternative solutions.

The privacy and trust inherent in a One-on-one GRE tutoring setup permit test-takers to feel comfortable sharing their weaknesses in a safe environment and tackle those things that are challenging to them without worrying about how it will be interpreted by peers. The comfort afforded by this situation should not be underestimated. A private GRE tutor not only helps with improving one’s technique and self-knowledge but also strives to create a healthy and secure learning environment that is vital for:

  • reducing test anxiety
  • building GRE confidence
  • improving studying habits
  • avoiding distractions and disruptions of the learning process
  • encouraging freedom to ask questions
  • nurturing motivation
2. Constant two-way feedback

A fundamental rule of management states, “No feedback is bad feedback”. Another is “What gets measured gets managed.” When preparing alone or within a group, a future test taker will not have a clear indication about how effective they are performing until they take a practice exam, and even then the exam only focuses on specific metrics. A good private GRE tutor will know what to look for, what to measure, and what feedback to give to provide rapid and lasting results. They will guide you through questions that are matched to your current level of skill, meaning that you will be consistently receiving feedback on your methodology, time allocation, implementation of knowledge, and solution paths as you progress through your GRE preparation. This ongoing back and forth communication will allow you to identify your weak spots in self-prep as well, and revisit appropriate material to deepen your understanding of less comfortable concepts.

3. Learning at your own pace, and then speeding it up

Timing is the most crucial aspect of the GRE that you need to master to achieve a great score. Naturally, everyone excels at tackling some problems and needs more time to solve others. Tutoring can hone your timing decisions and your tutor can create a customized plan for timing allocation across a range of problems depending upon your relative strengths and weaknesses.

Studying with a private GRE tutor will also allow you to spend the right amount of time on each aspect of the exam according to your scoring needs. This lets you avoid inefficiencies and master only those techniques that will be most useful to you in order to fulfill your potential.

4. Developing specific skill sets to tackle each section of the GRE

The GRE test is a complex exam designed not to test high school knowledge, but rather core character traits like adaptability, time management, critical thinking, logical reasoning, and multitasking. You cannot achieve a high GRE score if there is a significant difference between your performance in each section of the exam. A private GRE tutor can give you the best insights on how to build, manage, and combine the different skills needed to get a great end result and achieve parity between your verbal and quantitative scores.

5. Realizing better use of your time

Flexibility and accessibility of learning are key to maximizing your potential. One-on-one GRE tutoring is:

  • Usually offered online. This means that you can schedule sessions at the most convenient time depending only on your flexibility. You can have lessons in your breaks from work, gaps between classes, during daily commutes, during holidays, in the park, etc.
  • Available at any time. This is not the case with group GRE tutoring as classes are scheduled depending on the instructor. Apex works globally and has tutoring available in every time zone around the globe. Private GRE tutoring should be designed to meet your lifestyle requirements and you should aim to schedule sessions when you are most productive. A technique that the best GRE instructors adopt is to schedule sessions at a time of the day when you are supposed to sit your actual exam. This can help you simulate conditions similar to those on test day and give you important insights on how to maximize your productivity at that specific time frame.
  • Offered with different options depending on duration and material covered in the program. Whether you are a beginner or someone who already has a strong understanding of the GRE, you can choose a specifically designed GRE curriculum depending on what you strive to achieve. This is reflected in the amount of hours you are going to spend with an instructor and in the price of the service. At Apex we offer a complimentary first call to help you determine what course of action will be the most suitable for you depending on your current level of preparation and your GRE aspirations.
6. Understanding where you excel and what you struggle with most

If you are aiming for an elite GRE score, you’ll need to leverage your strengths and recognize your weaknesses. Understanding the meaning behind each question, its structure and underlying testing purpose, and the methodologies the test writers use to construct the problems are essential for success. The best one-on-one GRE tutors are aware of the subtleties of the exam and can not only guide you around them but teach you how to leverage these subtleties for high-level insights into the hardest 330+ problems. This will predispose you to uncover features of the test that most preppers have never even considered.

7. Utilizing learning aids

Finding and gaining access to challenging GRE problems, authentic and reliable practice tests / mock exams, and appropriate study tools can take ages to hunt down (and cost a fortune). One-on-one GRE tutoring allows you to refocus your valuable time as experienced instructors will already have compiled a solid database of resources and questions and show you the ones that are most relevant to your success at your current level. That way, your instructor, and not you, will spend the time filtering them according to your needs and present the ones that will have the greatest positive impact on your GRE preparation.

8. The expertise and professional mentorship of a private GRE tutor

Working with an expert GRE tutor who has scored well into the top 1%, and who knows the exam inside and out will help you accelerate your learning and move the needle of your progress in ways you only read about on GRE blogs. Experienced instructors are trained to teach you how to overcome the different GRE scoring plateaus and meet your personal target. The goal of great tutors is not only to show you how to answer a question correctly, but also to help you extract a methodology that can be continuously applied to other questions across the GRE, and to problems beyond.

Apex’s tutors focus on teaching the higher-order strategies that are necessary for the achievement of a 328+ score and bringing out your optimal performance. Enlisting the help of a one-on-one GRE instructor is recommended for those who are short on time or those who already have a solid understanding of the exam and are scoring well (mid-200’s), but are looking to gain those extra points that will make them get into their dream graduate program and lay the groundwork for a challenging, engaging, and lucrative career.

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GRE test strategies
Posted on
25
Feb 2021

8 GRE Test Strategies To Help Boost Your Score

By: ApexGMAT
Contributor: Ivan Minchev
Date: February 25, 2021

More than 500,000 students take the GRE every year as a requirement to get into the thousands of different graduate and PhD programs worldwide. However, due to the complexity of the exam as well as its adaptive difficulty, only the top 10% of test-takers manage to score 328 or above. Here are 8 GRE test strategies you can utilize to achieve a higher score on the exam, no matter where you currently are on your GRE preparation journey.

1. Adopting the proper mindset

Perspective is everything. It is very important to understand that even though getting in the top 10% of test-takers might seem like a spectacular achievement (and don’t get me wrong, it certainly is) setting your goals on a certain score tends to be counterproductive. Instead, focus on attaining specific skills, knowledge, and command, and the score will follow. Goals lead to expectations and fear of failure, and fear of failure, in turn, results in stress, which can greatly hinder performance.

2. Overcoming stress!

Stress and fear can greatly influence your results, but there are ways to manage these very normal responses to a high-stakes situation. One of the ways to reduce stress and boost your confidence is by beginning your preparation process as early as possible – ideally 90-120 days before the exam. This provides enough time to fully grasp the complexities of the exam, and more importantly internalize a new set of skills to handle that complexity.

A test taker’s greatest enemy is test anxiety. Understand that anxiety happens to everyone. What sets top performers apart is how they handle that anxiety, and how they direct it back into their performance. Many people use a variety of relaxation techniques for dealing with test anxiety. The most common and easy to use method is to practice deep and controlled breathing in combination with visualization techniques.

3. For exam day…

Are you a coffee drinker? Surprisingly, caffeine can really help your performance on test day. Caffeine is a powerful nootropic that will help keep your senses sharp and will also boost the oxygenated blood flow to your brain, subsequently enhancing your performance. For more info on how coffee affects your performance click here.

Remember how we said that it’s important to begin your exam prep early? This “early bird” attitude can be applied in more ways than one. What this implies is that you must (not might, not should) prepare your GRE Test Day Survival Kit on the previous day and not leave this for the last moment. Everyone has waited for the last minute to do something, and chances are everyone has left something crucial behind. With the GRE being such an important exam such situations should be avoided as much as possible. Try having a mock exam day. Map out the whole test day and practice it as if it were real, including your trip to the testing center. This will help you normalize the process and alleviate anxiety on test day.

4. Value your time and manage it efficiently!

Since the GRE is a timed exam one’s planning and strategic skills are put to the test as they have to come up with an efficient time management strategy.

Use mental math tools whenever possible and also try getting used to reading and analyzing charts, graphs and tables efficiently for the data interpretation section.

Once you’re further along in your preparation and have mastered seeing multiple solution paths before engaging any of them, familiarize yourself with common problems, and built up test reading and perspective skills, then you can begin dedicating yourself to timed sets: working on a cluster of 10 consecutive questions for each section of the exam when on the clock. This helps you calibrate your timing decisions and more readily notice when they require adjustment.

Remember, just because the GRE is a timed exam, this doesn’t mean we must learn under a time constraint. Like good cooking, good learning takes time. Give yourself sufficient time to learn, while also making sure the learning time is spent as productively as possible.

5. The Data Interpretation section

A good way to rapidly identify information needed to solve a problem is knowing what to look for. Read the problems carefully (and this applies to all sections) and proactively determine what you want out of the information or solution path. This way, you will sift out most unnecessary information in advance, saving plenty of time along the way. However, this does NOT mean ignoring the text written around the tables/graphs/charts.

6. The Analytical Writing section 

Failing to plan is planning to fail! Always plan your essay! Set aside 4-5 minutes to plan what you are going to write and how you are going to structure your essay.

Create an essay template in advance! There are many ways you can go about making one but usually, the more you practice your essay writing skills the more used to a specific writing style you are going to get ultimately resulting in your own template.

7. Ask for help

There is nothing embarrassing about asking for help, especially when it comes to an exam that is so vital to one’s future. There are numerous GRE forums and courses on the web, where you can ask and get help from people who have already taken it.

However, if you would prefer a more personal and individualized approach you could consider hiring a private tutor. The benefit of not preparing alone but hiring a tutor is that it allows for direct feedback on what are an individual’s strengths and what needs improvement, while also receiving advice on how to achieve those improvements. As a result, when the exam day comes you will not only be well prepared but will also know it, having built up confidence in your abilities.

8. Practice, practice, practice!

No doubt you’re familiar with the phrase “practice makes perfect.” There is a reason why this is such a popular saying: it’s true! Not all practice is equal, though. Varied practice that aims at building on existing skills and knowledge is much more high yielding than repetition. No matter how clever you are, no matter how good of a student you’ve been or how proficient you are in math, if you do not put enough time and effort into your prep you are not likely to be happy with the end result. Even the top tutors and courses out there won’t be able to help you out if you don’t give your best. So remember, don’t just go through the motions, but practice by constantly looking at the same problems and concepts in new ways, and trying to use them in novel situations, and you’ll find your GRE prep vastly accelerated.

That was the list of 8 GRE Test strategies to help you score high on the exam. Keep in mind that what works for one person will not necessarily work for another as everybody learns differently. It is only through practice and proactive learning that you will be able to find what are the best methods for your success

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The Best GRE Prep
Posted on
23
Feb 2021

The Four Ps of the best GRE Prep – Find out which of these three types of GRE preparation suits you best

By: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Ilia Dobrev
Date: February 23, 2021

If you are already preparing for the GRE or researching how to do it in the most efficient way, then you will want to know about: The Four Ps for having the best GRE Prep experience. Over the course of more than a decade coaching GRE and GMAT test-takers to elite performance, we have created The Four Ps of GRE prep – Practice Prevents Poor Performance. These words have proven to be essential to achieving GRE success. It all might sound obvious at first, but we bet it is easier said than done.

All practice, however, isn’t the same. It’s vital to engage in high yielding, iterative practice that engages the brain in the ways that are most efficient to learn. This is different from memorizing material or even being able to recognize particular problems; strong GGRE practices entails internalizing how the GRE operates, recognizing underlying structural patterns, and mastering flexibility in the face of highly familiar concepts.

While these are beyond the scope of this article, today we’ll take you through the most significant stepping stones of your journey to accomplish your graduate school goals and help you select the best GRE preparation plan for you, depending on your aspirations, timeline, budget, and current level of skill.

KNOW YOUR GRE NEEDS

The cornerstone of the GRE is having a clear idea of what you want to achieve and the proper roadmap to follow to attain the desired results. The most common motivation for many of our clients is the positive correlation between a high GRE score, prestigious graduate school admission, and long-term career goals.

Also worth mentioning is that a good GRE score is relative. Even if you achieve a score that is competitive, there is always someone out there with a stronger score… until you get to 340. What this means is that there’s always room to grow, and that learning – in life and in the GRE – is never finished, but also that the tools to learn never go out of style.

Universities view your full portfolio; resume, essays, recommendations, interview (read as personality), and much, much more. A strong academic record at college/university both does not guarantee admission, nor does it equal success on the GRE. In fact, a high GPA can be a liability if your GRE score comes in significantly below where one would expect it to, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while. Our advice is to research the programs that you are interested in by speaking to admission counselors, school alumni, and current students and look at both the range and the average GRE scores of admitted students. This way you will have an idea and make an informed prediction about how competitive you need to be.

A great GRE score is one that complements your portfoliohighlights your strengths, and covers for your shortcomings. From our experience and those of our clients, extensive focused GRE preparation is central to getting those extra points under your belt.

THREE TYPES OF GRE PREP

In your search for the best GRE prep plan for you, we wanted to lay out the connection between your current ambitions and future career goals. Therefore, we’ve divided this concept into three key distinguishable subcategories based on factors that have a significant effect on productivity: personalized approach, group vs solo work, and time spent preparing.

Self-prep

Self-prep refers to preparing for the GRE by yourself, without the help of a tutor or an instructor using published resources, message boards, and the help of friends or family.

PROS
  • Working at your own pace – Often, many test takers to-be are engaged with a heavy workload during their GRE preparation. Self-prepping allows them to devote time as they can without having to coordinate with any external schedules.
  • It is cost efficient – As this approach does not involve tutoring services, it is likely that you will be spending money only for learning aids. Moreover, there is an abundance of free resources online that you can take advantage of if you have the time to distinguish which ones will serve you well. That said, there are a lot of very poor resources out there, so proceed with caution.
CONS
  • Over-Reliance on Practice exams – When you are prepping alone, it is natural to refer to practice exams as your main baseline for your performance. However, the main purpose of GRE practice tests is not to “learn” new knowledge about a topic or a specific problem, but to improve your timing or identify weak points in your conceptual understanding. This makes practice tests by themselves fairly insufficient for thorough and effective GRE prep.
  • Ineffective prep time – Spending too much of your valuable prep time on searching for the right questions, learning aids, study guides, etc. is a very low-yielding strategy. A bit of expert direction can save a ton of time that can be used to focus on amplifying your skills.
  • Lack of professional guidance – if you opt for self-prep you must be aware that you will miss out on working with GRE tutors who understand the exam backwards and forwards and have years of experience helping others achieve their goals. They can be a sounding board, coach and disciplinarian, recommend (or better provide) the highest quality resources, and make the learning more personal.
  • Lack of self-discipline – Depending on the person, one may find it hard to be self-disciplined enough to maintain a schedule and commit to studying regularly so that they’re as prepared as possible by test day.

A GRE prep course or GRE bootcamp with a tutor (either online or in-person)

This concept involves future test takers gathering in a study group, class, or a bootcamp and working collectively with a professional GRE tutor who will guide them through their GRE preparation.

PROS
  • You can ask others for help – As you will be working not only with an instructor but with a group of other prospective test-takers, you’ll be exposed to an environment that brings together various skill sets, learning backgrounds, and experience. You can capitalize on this opportunity to network and build relationships that will not only help you with your prepping, but also potentially with your career beyond.
  • There is competition – Despite the negative connotations of competition, it can boost your motivation and even make you want to work harder in order to become better or the best in the group. The best teams have healthy competition where each individual is driven to excellence by their teammates, so having a good study companion or three is a great way to have a successful experience.
  • Learning aids and supplementary materials are usually included in the price – this saves you money because you do not have to purchase materials outside of the class or to supplement your prep. When considering more than one course be sure to consider what each course includes as this can be a key deciding factor.
CONS
  • Lack of personal attention and individual feedback – Having one tutor for all means that the instructor cannot concentrate on individuals and their unique needs,  which becomes especially important past the 156 level scoring plateau. The instructor must instead concentrate on helping the wider group by going over topics generally, and at a level that speaks to the majority. Inevitably, you will be forced to cope with teaching practices that might not be perfectly aligned with the way you learn best, simply because they are more universally teachable. This can prevent you from focusing on the areas you need to improve in the most, and can certainly drive down the efficiency of your GRE preparation.
  • Not everyone works well in a team – Peer pressure, social distractions, and low group chemistry are factors that might negatively affect not only your individual performance, but also that of the whole group and can ultimately result in a waste of valuable time.
  • Having to cope with the group’s pace – Timing is one of the most vital aspects of the GRE that you must master if you want to even give yourself a chance to achieve a good score. Studying with a group where people differ in terms of availability, previous knowledge, skill sets, educational backgrounds, and, most importantly, learning styles creates many time-constraints. Even when it comes down to GRE fundamentals, you ought to focus on mastering them in an un-timed environment before you proceed with bringing them in under the exam’s time constraint. When in a group, you will be improving as a unit rather than as an individual. This does not ensure that you will outperform your peers.
  • Finding your own unique solution paths – Everyone has a preference when it comes down to using a solution path. To be efficient on the GRE, you will not only need to refine the ones that you’re used to applying, but to also master other approaches that will be more effective when it comes down to tackling different types of problems. When studying in a group, it will be hard to gain such new skills as all of you will be progressing as a unit and employing universal tactics rather than learning as individuals.

Private, one-on-one GRE prep with a tutor (either online or in-person)

Individualized GRE involves a single test taker spending time with a single instructor in a private environment.

PROS
  • Customized lessons tailored to match your specific learning needs – This is a mixture of the Pros of both self and group prep. You get to move at your own pace, but accelerated by the personalization element. You  can also concentrate on concepts and question types that are most challenging for you, and solution paths that most naturally fit the way your brain likes to solve problems. A strong private GRE tutor should adapt his or her teaching style to your specific learning style to help you gain the most of your preparation.
  • Convenience – Sessions, especially if held online, can take place anytime, day or night, whenever most convenient to you.
  • Flexibility – as private prep is personalized, tutoring firms offer different options for the length of the program and the content covered. You can customize your GRE preparation in such a way so that you save time and concentrate on the aspects you choose. Having a mentor to guide you also allows you to gain insights about yourself that you were not aware of before that will help you excel in the areas you need.
  • Instructors can provide specific content related to your progress – tutors will quickly understand your GRE needs and provide only the materials that will be most beneficial to your process. In this way you will get the most suitable problems, views, and exercises without spending additional efforts on research. Moreover, you will save a lot of time reviewing things that you already know (happens in classes), or strategies that aren’t efficient for your learning style.
  • The best GRE tutors will teach to your skills, not simply tell you about theirs – as mentioned, moving up your learning curve happens when an equivalence between an instructor’s teaching style and a student’s learning style is in place. Individual work allows the best tutors to create an efficient and realistic action plan for your GRE preparation and to tailor their skills to match your needs.
CONS
  • Expense – one-on-one GRE preparation is the most valuable option, but also runs at a premium price point compared with classes. The most highly qualified instructors are worth it, however, if you are aiming for a 328+ admission to a top-tier graduate program.
  • Some private tutors do not have their own materials and curricula – This means that some extra costs might be necessary. Having access to high quality material is vital, especially if you are aiming to score above 328 in the test as real value begins where the books end. Commercially available materials are designed for the heart of the market, and designed to be consumable by everyone.

THE BEST GRE PREP FOR ME

We can distinguish these three approaches based on the score goals one has. If you are looking to get from a 304 to a 314 or even a bit more depending on how good your  knowledge is, then the self or group approaches might be more beneficial if cost is a factor in your decision. They can give you a solid base, while saving the frustration of self prepping or the cost of personalized attention that you might not require.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking at the premiere Graduate programs, you’ll need to be included among the GRE’s top performers. Aiming for a 328+ on the GRE, will require you to leverage your own strengths and combat your cognitive liabilities in an optimal manner. You’ll need to closely examine how you approach math and the written language, as well as your overall problem solving techniques, heuristics and mental models to reach top marks. Further, the best GRE performances come not just from ruthlessly solving problems, but from understanding the real structural aspects of the GRE that drive complexity and make it so challenging. Recognizing the meaning behind each question, its underlying purpose, and the subtleties that GRE test writers embed are just as important, if not more so, than the fundamentals.

To achieve this private, one-on-one tutoring is the best overall GRE preparation option. Naturally, it is more expensive, but the most highly qualified tutors, like the ones here at Apex, usually focus teaching the higher order strategies that are necessary for the achievement of a 328+ score and bringing out your optimal performance. Enlisting the help of a one on one instructor is recommended for those who already have a solid understanding of the exam and are scoring well (low-300’s), but are looking to gain those extra points that will make them get into their dream graduate program and lay the groundwork for a challenging, engaging, and lucrative career.

THE TYPE OF GRE PREP TOP PERFORMING STUDENTS IDENTIFIED AS THE BEST

The concept of private, one-on-one GRE prep is exactly the type of service our tutors at Apex offer. We have built our own GRE curriculum and created guides, learning aids, and other resources that help the highest achieving test takers understand what they excel at and identify where they must focus. The goal is not only to tackle a question by answering it correctly, but also to extract a methodology that can be continuously applied with other questions, in a time efficient manner.

This approach permits students to move up their learning curve and to get to the 328+ score that they desire. The feedback they provide helps us understand the needs of each future test taker better and to accelerate even more at providing the best value for clients.

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