GED Prep and Staying Motivated: A How-To Guide

November 18, 2013 by

It’s almost inevitable that at a certain point, you’ll get discouraged or lose motivation for your GED prep for any number of reasons:  Maybe you’ve seen the word “perspicacious” pop up five times in passages and you still can’t remember what it means, maybe you’re not improving as quickly as you want to despite the work that you’ve been putting in, or maybe you’re just struggling to balance your prep with family, work, and life in general. If this sounds familiar, or if you’re in a GED rut for any other reason, don’t despair! Here are several things that you can do to get yourself back on track:

1)  Take a break.

Take a breather from all things GED-related, to clear your head. Give yourself at least 48 hours completely free of GED practice problems, flashcards, and essay prompts, and do something that you enjoy – go to the beach, … Read full post

The First Step to GED Success: Make a Study Plan

November 15, 2013 by

One of the biggest contributors to procrastination, especially with a large and seemingly difficult project like preparing for the GED, is feeling overwhelmed by the sense of lack of control over the process. Make a study plan, break the project into manageable pieces, and you’ll be on your way to finding confidence and control.

Although most of us keep our calendars on computers and smart phones, I find that making an effective study plan is best accomplished with pencil and some blank paper. Make a grid, seven days across, for as many weeks as you have between now and your Test Day. First, block out all the times you don’t have available (work, classes, weddings, sleep) so that you’re left with an idea of how much time you actually have available.

Then find at least an hour a day, every day, to study. Two hours is even better! But an … Read full post

GED Study Trick—Chew Gum!

November 14, 2013 by

Are you having a particularly difficult time with a GED problem? Is it especially tough for you to focus on your studies after work? Try popping a piece of minty fresh gum for a quick mental boost. It works even better than caffeine!

Sound strange? Maybe, but this Wired.com blog post details a recent study at New York’s St. Lawrence University that shows that gum chewing may provide short-term cognitive benefits. A group of students were randomly given gum or forced to work sans gum on a number of challenging cognitive tasks. The results were noteworthy – the gum chewers outperformed others in five out of six of the tasks. A number of other studies mentioned in the blog post describe similar results.

Research has shown that the increase in performance may only last 15-20 minutes, but isn’t that enough to power you through a set of demanding RLA questions … Read full post

Circles Are Your Friend

November 13, 2013 by

Among people who can admit they liked math, there are usually two camps: those who preferred algebra, and those who preferred geometry. I am 100% in the former category. I still have my high school geometry notebook, in which two of my pals and I wrote our own theorems about how Pythagoras was in alliance with the devil. However, teaching for Kaplan has taught me something very important about geometry:

Circles are your friends.

Triangles and quadrilaterals are OK, too, but circles are your friends because EVERYTHING you need to know will be given to you. A GED problem may give you a triangle or a square inside a circle, which makes many test-takers cringe, but the only reason the circle is there is to help you!

All circles have a golden ratio, and you only need to know one piece of information to find out everything you need to … Read full post

Don’t Fear Reading Passages

November 11, 2013 by

One of the biggest bogeymen of the GED is something I like to call “That Passage.” Students often tell us that they feel fine with reading passages generally, but they’re afraid that when they take the GED, they’ll get That Passage — you know, one of those murky, dense, and just all-around too-difficult ones.

Our experience with countless students suggests that the fear of reading passages arises from a misunderstanding of what the GED is actually measuring by including passages in the RLA test. Many seem to believe that comprehending passages means understanding things. Then, when GED preppers read a passage full of things they don’t understand, they believe they don’t have a shot at understanding the passage.

Let’s do a quick test. What do you think of this sentence, which opens a famously difficult passage:

“Ronald Dworkin argues that judges are in danger of uncritically embracing an erroneous theory … Read full post

How to Study More Productively

November 9, 2013 by

My colleague recently told me about a friend of his, who works as a product leader at a medical software company. He gets to design software and make strategic decisions about its development — which features to include, which not to, that kind of stuff. That seems like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, because he’s a high-level dude, he has to deal with some unpleasant stuff as well, such as disciplining (and sometimes firing) bad employees.

One of the things he learned in his role is that people are surprisingly bad at articulating solutions to problem behaviors. For example, one of his employees missed a lot of deadlines because he kept getting distracted, and the reason for his persistent distraction was email: whenever a “new message” notification popped up in Outlook, the employee would drop whatever he was doing to read the email.

The product leader asked him, “What are … Read full post

Taking Control of GED Prep

November 8, 2013 by

Anyone studying for the GED is probably already pretty busy – between work and families, building prep into the calendar is nothing short of a miracle for some people. So, our advice this week may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s been proven to be effective: Sleep. And take regularly-scheduled days off from studying. Really. This Kaplan instructor has just sanctioned it.

I’m of course not saying to take off two out of the three free nights that someone may have in a week, or clock a solid eight hours of sleep every night instead of spending an hour studying. But working when you’re exhausted is only marginally more effective than sleeping with your prep books under your pillow and attempting to learn through osmosis. Many preppers are so beat after a long workday that they don’t even try to study, and that’s fine. But here are questions to which most preppers … Read full post

Football and Your GED Studies

November 7, 2013 by

“How does anything on the GED relate to relate to my life?  None of this applies to what I want to do in my career!”

I hear some variant on these words from at least one of you in every class that I teach, and I know that for every one who asks, there are many more who are silently feeling the same way.  Putting aside the negative effects that such a mindset will surely have on your motivation and GED study habits, the idea that the skills tested on the GED are not relevant to what you’ll do in grad school is simply not true.  To prove my point, take a look at the following question:

In printing an article of 48,000 words, a printer decides to use two sizes of type.  Using the larger type, a printed page contains 1,800 words.  Using smaller type, a page contains 2,400 … Read full post

GED Math Mnemonics

November 6, 2013 by

Most American children who sat through piano lessons will recognize the mnemonic device I used as the title for this post: Every Good Boy Does Fine is how we learned the notes on the treble staff (EGBDF). This little phrase is an example of a mnemonic device, which is a type of memory aid that can be very useful in GED prep.

Another widely known mnemonic we’ve discussed here recently represents the order of operations used to evaluate algebraic expressions: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. This stands for parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction (PEMDAS); processing these operations in the correct order is essential to getting the correct answer.  For example:

30 – 5 x 4 + (7 – 3)2 ÷ 8

Begin with the parentheses: 7 minus 3 equals 4. Then process the exponent:  4 squared equals 16.

30 – 5 x 4 + 16 ÷ 8

Next, … Read full post