### Latest Posts

#### Managing Standardized Test Stress: An Expert Opinion

Every autumn, as students of all ages prepare to take the admission tests for college and grad school that get administered at year’s end, a whole slew of newspapers, websites and even television reporters turn their attention to how freaked out everyone is. Here’s a link to a typical example: http://www.kswo.com/story/23909436/special-report-test-stress

KSWO is certainly well intentioned, and I suppose there’s some value – some reassurance or fellow-feeling, maybe – in hearing the first-hand testimonials of those currently shaking in their boots at the prospect of playing little David to the test’s Goliath.

#### Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Your GRE Score

Practicing free GRE test questions on ETS’s official GRE website or on Grockitis a great way to familiarize yourself with the content, but you’ll also need a comfort-level with the revised format to take a bad GRE score to a good GRE score. Here are the top ten things you’ll need to know about the new GRE scoring to add a great GRE score to your graduate school application.

1. The AWA scoring is between 0-6. This remains unchanged from the old GRE. You’ll still writing two essays, which will be scored in .5 increments by two graders. You will receive “NS” or no score, if you do not type any text. You will receive 0 if you write in a foreign language, or completely off-task.
2. Verbal and Quantitative are on a 130-170 scale. The scaled score on the GRE is the most noticeable difference between the older GRE and the revised GRE (as of August 2011). The scaled score is in increments of 1 point. (Previously, the GRE scaled score was between 200-800).
3. Official scores will be received 10-15 days after the test. On Test Day, you will be an “unofficial” score, but you can view your official scores a couple weeks later for free online by creating a “My GRE Account” here.
4. It costs $12 to get your score by phone. If for some reason you cannot create an account online, you can call 1-609-771-7290 or 1-888-473-7267 toll free and pay the$12 by debit or credit card. It’s much easier to create the “My GRE Account” if you can!
5. Scores are valid for five years. The Revised GRE test scores are cumulative and reportable for five years after the testing year in which you tested (July 1 – June 30). So, for example, if you took the test in May of 2012, your score would be valid until June 30th, 2017.
6. A cancelled score does not appear on record. Remember that if you view your “unofficial” score at the GRE testing center, you cannot then choose to cancel it. You must cancel before seeing your score, and if you cancel your score will not be reported to any score recipients and you will not receive a refund.
7. Be familiar with the percentiles. The GRE offers tables showing the percentile equivalents for all scaled scores here. This will help you understand where your scaled score falls percentage-wise.
8. There are two Verbal sections and two Quantitative sections that are scored.There is also an additional unscored section, which may be Verbal, Quantitative, or AWA. Don’t try to guess which section is the experimental unscored section – it can appear in any order. Treat all sections as if they are scored.
9. The “research” section, if you do see it, is not scored. This is separate from the “unscored” section, and may or may not appear on your GRE. If it does appear, it will always come last in the test and unlike the unscored section, will obviously not be similar to the scored sections.
10. You must answer every question. The Revised GRE allows you to mark questions and return to them later, skipping around within a section. Make sure that you still answer all 20 questions within each section. Don’t forget about ones that you skipped or your score will be negatively impacted!

Check out more great tips at our GRE Blog or at grockit.com/gre/info!

#### By: farbood nivi

In my years as a teacher I’ve learned a lot about how to get ready the week before your GRE. I’ve learned from my own experience in preparing for the test but also from the many students I’ve had. Eventually I put together what I think is a good routine for the week before the test and I’ve found that it works for me and a lot of my students have agreed. I would always share this advice with my students at the end of my time with them.

These suggestions are all about creating a routine for yourself. The more routine you have the less likely you are to get nervous and excited. A calm and cool state is the best thing you can do to actually hit your maximum potential score on the test. Having the week and day before the test planned out will help this a lot.

One week before your GRE

I generally recommend taking no more than one or two full length CATs during the week leading up to the GRE. If you do take any full length practice tests, try and replicate the routine you will have for the day of your real GRE. For this week, try to have some un-worked practice questions that you can practice with. Timed practice is really important at this point because you want your mind and body to be used to the pace of the test. Try working some drills in which you give yourself two minutes to answer each question or ten minutes to answer five. It’s really important to make sure you’re putting the same effort into reviewing your work and not just doing more and more questions.

• DO Stay healthy. Make sure you exercise, eat well, and get lots and lots of sleep.
• DO Get a massage. If you can, try and get one two or three days before the test, but not the day before.
• DO Clean your living space. A clean and organized living space helps promote a focused and confident mind. A lot of people don’t think this makes a difference until they try it.
• DO Visit your test center. If at all possible make a visit to the test center you’ll be taking your test at. The less you have to think about in terms of traffic and road conditions on test day, the fewer excuses your nerves will have to get wired.
• DO Check the GRE Center’s website for what items you can and can’t bring to the test including any ID requirements. You don’t want to be surprised the day of the test.

Day before your GRE

The theme of this day is rest, relaxation and recreation. Give your brain a break from GREwork. This will accomplish a couple things. One, you’re less likely to get last minute nerves about the test and two, you’ll give your brain some time to get out of practice mode and into a cool state before the test. DON’T do GRE work the day before the test. The one thing you can do is do a replica of your warm-up that you will do the day of the test.

• DO Have fun with friends
• DO Eat your favorite dinner
• DO Watch a funny movie before bed
• DO Sleep at least 8 hours

Day of your GRE

I think it’s important to do a short warm-up before your test. The idea isn’t to get practice or to learn something new. The idea is to not have the very first GRE questions you work that day counting for your real GRE score. Working just a few questions without checking the answer choices will help prime your brain for the questions and timing of the test. Working a few questions without checking the answers also preps you for what the test will feel like as you can’t find out how you’re doing as the test goes.

• DO Wake up at least 2 hours before your test if you have a morning test.
• DO Eat your favorite breakfast, but don’t eat too much.
• DO Drink coffee if you usually do.
• DON’T Drink coffee if you usually don’t.
• DO Warm Up. Work 3 of each question type from each section of the test. (3 Analogy, 3 Reading Comprehension, 3 Sentence Completion, 3 Antonym, 3 Math Problem Solving and 3 Quantitative Comparison)
• DO Arrive 30 min before the test starts.

At your GRE

• DO Bring a pocket snack like an energy bar – you can’t eat during the test but having a snack is good if you step out to the bathroom.
• DO Have a totem for support – something small that belongs to someone you care about that you can have in your pocket or on you.
• DO Bring everything your GRE instructions tell you to bring.

If you’ve been doing good timed practice, you should have a good sense of the pacing of the test and how it should feel. Rely on this and the techniques you’ve learned for working the different types and styles of questions. The ideal state is basically being a robot. This means you’re just doing the work in an unemotional state. Remember, build a routine for the week before the test and you’ll be in your best mental state for the big day. Good luck!

#### Test Prep Leader Kaplan has Acquired Grockit’s Test Prep Assets

Today, Kaplan and Grockit announced that Kaplan has acquired Grockit’s learning platform and services, including the Grockit name. This is good news all around. Test prep students will now benefit from the resources of an industry leader with 75 years of proven experience in high-stakes test success, in addition to a rich social learning platform. And the Grockit team, now part of the rebranded Learnist, will be able to focus on its Learnist business. Click on the following to learn more.  http://press.kaptest.com/press-releases/kaplan-acquires-grockit-social-learning-platform-and-test-prep-assets
The Kaplan and Learnist teams are committed to supporting Grockit students and teachers to ensure a seamless transition.

#### Grockit Nominated for 2013 AlwaysOn Global 250!

Grockit is really excited to announce that we’ve been nominated for the 2013 AlwaysOn Global 250 Award, as one of the most promising private companies of the year.

The AlwaysOn Global 250 represents the hottest emerging startups that are creating new opportunities in Silicon Valley. Winners are selected from thousands of domestic and international technology companies.

Join Grockit as we’re honored at AlwaysOn’s 11th annual Silicon Valley Innovation Summit 2013 on July 23. Past winners include notable tech disrupters such as Twitter and Tesla to name a few. Click here for a complete list of winners and nominees. We’re thrilled to be included in this lineup!

#### Top Ten Unconventional Study Guides To Help You Ace That Exam

There’s a reason why that guy’s top of the class.

And it’s probably not because he was born a genius, or even that he studied as much as you
assume he did. Yes, he spends a fair amount of his time in the trenches, but no more than most
of his classmates (some of whom spends upwards of 12 hours a day studying 4 weeks before
the exam).

Nope. What the top guy did differently is the way he studied. The difference in the way he
studied are so subtle, he probably didn’t know he was doing it until someone points it out to him.

are the top 10 most common things they told me they did:

1. Teach

This is THE most common habit all ‘A’ students have. They teach. Sometimes it’s because they
like it, but most times it’s because their friends ask them for their help.

What they didn’t know is that teaching actually reinforces what they’ve learned, creating this
virtuous cycle: the more they teach, the more they learn, the more people asks them for their
help.

In the past, there’s not much you can do if you are an average student and you want to teach.
Your friends simply won’t want to listen to you. Today, however, there are literally millions of
students online looking for help in communities like Grockit.

Join the community and contribute. No matter how bad you think you are, there’s a 99%
chance you know something someone out there doesn’t understand. Help the people who asks
questions in areas you just learned.

Trust me, it will pay off.

2. Keep It Real

Math, geography, science and many other subjects involve abstract concepts like “pi” or
“differentiation”. The human brain learns by forming associations with what’s already in there -
and abstract concepts like these have none.

an engineer use “pi” in his job, for example? How can you use differentiation in life?

In pedagogy, this is called project-based learning, and it has been shown to increase grades
across the board.

3. Use Metaphors

If you just want to learn a small concept you don’t get (like the behaviour of an atom), one of
the best ways to help your brain forge an association is by using metaphors. Most of us do
this subconsciously anyway, but if you sit down and come up with one, that strengthens your
understanding.

4. Find The Roots

This is one of the most useful methods I’ve used during my studies because it helps me

To understand, you need to know the origins of that particular concept. For example, how did
Newton found out that the visible spectrum consists of 7 colours? I won’t tell you how (just

5. Obsessively Rewrite

I know this is going to sound boring, but rewriting is the single most effective way I know of to
learn basic concepts. Let me repeat that in case you missed it: re-WRITING, not re-reading re-
listening, re-watching or even re-typing.

It’s a classic technique used by ‘A’ students to learn everything from languages to math for
decades, but it’s only quite recently that neuroscience caught up. I won’t bore you with the
details, but for those who are interested, here’s a page in MIT’s website and a Wall Street
Journal article that go more into this subject.

6. Pay Attention

This sounds obvious, but I’m not referring to the students who are busy texting while the teacher
is teaching. I’m referring to hardworking students who are taking copious notes while their
teachers are teaching. You are not making the best use of that lecture!

Pay attention while you’re in class and take notes when you to re-watch the recording. Most
classes record their lectures, but if yours doesn’t, you might be able to find one on the same
topic online.

And if all else fail, ask your teacher for permission to record his/her lecture. In this case, tools
like Livescribe or Evernote can help.

7. Contain Distractions

This is one of those things that are so obvious, yet everyone seems to ignore it. Distractions
come in many forms – physical, functional and psychological – and they unequivocally affects
your learning ability. That’s fact, not theory or conjecture.

my colleague wrote for Hack College.

8. Engage In Mastery-Based Learning

Unlike in traditional classrooms, “mastery learning” helps all students to master each learning
unit before proceeding to more advanced concepts. That is if you don’t master chapter 1, you
don’t progress to chapter 2.

Mastery learning has been shown to increase student achievement compared to traditional
forms of education in various studies because a gap in knowledge snowballs as the year
progresses.

The problem with master learning is that it’s time intensive. Teachers just don’t have the
resources to help 30 odd students in her class in the current education system.

help or join a community like Grockit. No matter what you do, don’t progress to the next chapter
until you mastered this one.

I know that sounds like a lot of work, but studies have found that some students may struggle
with an early concept (and thus appear to be slow learners) but once they master that concept,
they will have no problem catching up (some even appear as if they are geniuses).

We’ve talked a lot of online communities and lectures that can help you with your studies, but
technology is more than just the internet.

the textbook, thus helping you keep your momentum when you are studying. Speaking of

And certain virtual worlds can help illustrate abstract concepts into 3D models. For most people,
it’s a lot easier to watch a video about how atoms work rather than read a bunch of words and
imagining it.

10. Move and Breaks

This has nothing to do with studying, per se, but it’s so important, I have to include it in this list.
If you want to learn most effectively, it is absolutely critical that you move your body – that is
exercise – and that you take frequent breaks.

Exercise releases a gamut of hormones that are beneficial for your neurological functioning
and it raises your heart beat, allowing your brain to receive more oxygen-rich blood. So it’s no
wonder that, according to various studies, exercises have been shown to increase memory
retention and better learning functions.

Breaks are crucial because all of us have a limited pool of cognitive ability (despite what some
self-help guru may preach). Discipline (self-control), paying attention, memorizing, and various
other cognitive functions all draw from that same pool, and when that pool runs dry, you simply

To illustrate this, a study found that hungry subjects who are tempted with delicious cookies give
up faster than the control group (not hungry at all) and group B, who was tempted with radishes
when they are asked to solve a challenging puzzle.

Breaks also include sleep. Sleep is more than just physical rest. It’s also when your brain
transfers what you learned into long term memory and integrates them into your current
database.

This is why it is not uncommon for people to wake up with a solution to the problems they were
hard-pressed to solve the previous day.

So there. That’s what people meant by “studying smart”. Do you have more tips that I’ve
missed? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Patrick Del Rosario is a Filipino business and career ninja. He is part of Open Colleges Blog. Aside from blogging and being a business ninja, Patrick is an aspiring photographer. If you want to feature his writings on your site, connect with him at Google+ or drop a line at patrick (at) oc.edu.au.

#### Kaggle Results

The Kaggle competition we hosted ended recently.  Congratulations to all the competitors, and especially to the top three finishers!

1. Steffen Rendle, who identified useful features for users and questions, then used factorization machines to automatically develop a factorization model from those features.
2. Alexander d’Yakonov, who used traditional machine learning approaches to solve the challenge as a classification problem.
3. Pankaj Mishra, who blended an ensemble of results from collaborative filtering and a variety of IRT models, based on models used in the Netflix prize and the 2010 KDD cup.

We learned a number of interesting things by hosting this competition:

1. A sense of how good our existing approach was.  We posted benchmark results from the IRT algorithm at the heart of our internal prediction model.  While it didn’t win the competition (and we’d have been disappointed if it had), it was a difficult benchmark to beat — improving on it was a serious challenge for the competitors.  Before the competition, though, we didn’t really know whether we could feel confident in the strength of our model, or is there was something much better we could be doing.  Knowing that the problem has been looked at by hundreds of world-class data scientists gives us a lot of confidence that there isn’t a lot of room for improvement on the results.
2. Collaborative filtering/factorization methods for organizing and clustering our questions.  While we’ve relied on manual categorization, this is a promising way of identifying the actual knowledge areas used by each questions, so that we can get a sense for what questions actually use a common set of skills.  This should help us give students a more accurate picture of the areas they really understand and which questions they’ll actually get right.
3. Stefan’s libFM tool.  This proved to be a very powerful way of developing those factorization models.

We’re glad to have some new tools in our search for better ways to understand what people are learning and to help them learn better.  All the data (training and test) from the competition is now publicly available in the data section of the kaggle page.  We hope that it will continue to be useful for understanding student knowledge and predicting performance.

#### More Grockit news

Grockit has been busy lately. How busy?

Grockit’s CEO explains how startup life is like navigating an attack submarine in Fast Company’s Fast Talk and talks about tackling big economic issues in USNews & World Report.

Catch up on all of the Grockit news right now:

San Francisco Chronicle: Hires and promotions notes that Grockit has hired Chris Henley.
Wired: The 6 Facebook Timeline Apps to Check Out First
Fast Company: Poke! You Need To Study More. What Facebook’s Open Graph Means For Online Study Groups
Onlineschools.com: The future of online social learning with Grockit

#### Grockit Launches New App for Facebook Timeline

The New Year brings with it some pretty exciting news for Grockit. You’ve probably heard that Facebook just announced that you can now enhance your Facebook Timeline with Entertainment, News, Music, and other apps, letting you share more of your interests with friends. I’m pumped to say that Grockit is one of those applications. This means that if a user adds the Grockit app to their Facebook Timeline, they can now share their Grockit experiences within Timeline.

For today, the full list of Grockit activities that can be shared on your Timeline include:
● Total Questions Answered: To show off how much work you’ve done.
● Creating and joining a Study Room: So your friends can join and you can study together.
● Earning an Achievement: Showing off your accomplishments.
● Playing a Game: To show off how often you study.

We think it’s cool that Facebook is bringing various corners of the web into one place where people can share, interact, and discover a variety of content they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. Grockit’s app for Facebook Timeline makes it easier for you to study with your friends, and show the world the hard work you’ve put into learning.

#### Grockit CEO On The Education Gap, Technology, and the Economy

Grockit CEO, Roy Gilbert, connects the dots between the unemployment rate and education in America.   In his US News & World Report article, Roy discusses how STEM initiatives and engaging learning tools, like Grockit, will lead to  a generation of degree earning students and decrease unemployment in the United States.  Read the entire Article.

Here’s an excerpt:

“While the unemployment rate in the U.S. is at 9 percent, it is far lower for educated workers. Have a college degree? The rate is 4 percent. Have a professional degree like a JD, MBA, or STEM degree? Two percent unemployment, a rate so low economists say it is theoretically impossible.”