October 4 - 2013

My intent is to provide some brief notes about techniques covered during our ISEE preparation.  I don't think this will be an exact accounting of each session, but it will provide a sense of what we discuss. 

Vocabulary Development:  While time is limited before the exam, there is always a new word that can be learned.  Keep a vocabulary journal.  Record new/unfamiliar words.  Look them up and write out their definition.  Creatively use them in a sentence in your journal.  Use them in your school work.  Use them in conversation with family, friends, peers and teachers. 

Sentence Completion questions: Use paraphrasing to provide clues that help you decode the meaning of the blanks.  Paraphrase the answers and then match the meaning of the blank to the meaning of the answers. 

BEST: Standardized tests are more about selecting the BEST answer than about selecting the RIGHT answer.  The BEST answer is the strongest answer of the answers provided.  Thinking this way helps you avoid thoughts like "stupid question", or "that is not the way I learned it".  Think of the questions and answers as "horrible" if you need to, but recognize that your job is to select the "best" even if you don't like any of them. 

ATTACK : As you read bookmark or parse questions into small parts.  This is extremely effective on math questions.  It is effective because extraneous information is rarely given on the exam.  Take the information in bite size chunks as it is given to you and "do the next indicated step".  You will find that this aggressive problem solving style results in answers prior to the actual reading of the question.  Or you will have taken a 10 step problem and narrowed it down to the last 2 or 3 steps by the time you finish reading the question.  This dramatically reduces cognitive overload, confusion and stress.

WRITE, WRITE, WRITE:  On math problems, make pictures, label existing images, use words, rewrite numbers and show work.  This both reduces error and encourages creative thinking.

QUANTITATIVE COMPARISON questions: These are strange little questions that require "proving D".  D is the answer if you can prove both A&B or A&C or B&C.  A common mistake is to answer D because you can't solve it.  You usually have to plug in various numbers to prove that multiple answers are possible.  You have to ask yourself, "Is anything else possible?"  If you only see numbers and no words or variables, the answer will only be A, B or C.