Cutts Graduate Reviews ,
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Take out a piece of paper and pencil.
We're going to get serious and do some planning. Here's what we'll
Ready? On your paper write "1. Preliminary Target Score:".
Look at what scores your school says they need .
Adjust the score for competitiveness and figure out a target score for
you to shoot for.
Calculate how much improvement you will need on the test based on your
What scores does the school say they want. Enter this
figure next to Preliminary Target Score. Why "Preliminary?
It is difficult to tell if the number they quote you is a minimum
score below which they will not look at you, a score that pretty much guarantees
your acceptance, or something in the middle, such as an average score.
It can be hard to get this info out of them. If they don't give you
a straight answer, ask them what the average score was of students they
accepted last year. Also, ask them how many people applied and
how many were accepted. This will tell you how competitive
the program is.
For a very competitive program (9 out of 10 or more rejected), add 10 percent
to the score they say and even more if you feel you need to maximize your
Under Preliminary Target write "2. Adjusted Target
Score" and enter what you calculated, as a total or by section.
On your scratch paper under " adjusted target score" write
"3. Diagnostic score:".
haven't taken a diagnostic test, I will give you directions for one at
the end of the tour. After you take it, you
can calculate your "Improvement Needed".
Diagnostic Test. If you have taken a practice
test, enter your score, as a total or by section, next to "Diagnostic Score:"
Subtract this from the target and label it "Improvement Needed". If you did better on your diagnostic than you need to, this number will be negative.
On your scratch paper below "Improvement Needed" write "Minimum Study
-30+ - You are scoring more than 50 points above where you need to be.
Practice on your own for a month or two to solidify your score. Make
sure you stay at this level or improve.
How much will you need to practice? If your Improvement Needed for any section is:
-30 to 10 points - You are scoring right around where you need to be,
plus or minus. A couple months of studying on your own might work,
or a small amount of help from an expert.
10 to 30 points - This could take 3 to 6 months or prep and may require
the help of an expert.
More than 30 points - Plan on up to 6 months of work with some kind
of expert help.
Absolute best score - This usually takes up to 6 to 8 months of practice,
working with expert instruction and with 4 to 6 hours of individual expert
Fill in an amount next to "Minimum Study Time".
You've got a plan now. How realistic is it?
There are many factors that determine how long you need to study and what
resources you should use:
Do you have a history of not being a great standardized test taker?
Do you have math or test anxiety?
Do you have concerns about timing or the computer test?
Do you have any Learning Disabilities or physical disabilities?
Are other aspects of your application less impressive than what you
Have you been out of school for a long time?
Is English your second language?
Are you the first generation of your family to go to grad school or
I'm going to give you some additional suggestions on these in just a minute.
Also, I'll be happy to consult with you free of charge on these issues
and make (relatively) impartial suggestions. If you continue to the
end of the Tour, you'll get a password worth a free phone consultation.
Almost done! Click to , then get some other freebies
including your free password.