Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cross Post! How to Increase Your GRE Verbal Score (for Non-Native English Speakers)

Hi readers!

Here's another cross post from my website about higher education, WE'RE GOING TO COLLEGE!:




1. Are you taking the GRE?

2. Do you need to increase your GRE Verbal score?

3. Is English your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th language?


If you answered Yes to these questions, then we need to talk.

The GRE is a typical standardized test made by Americans for Americans. All of the sections of the GRE—Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning—are written in standard American English, with idioms, phrases, sentence structures, syntax, and vocabulary familiar to individuals who have lived or studied in the United States. Without strategic practice, students who have not grown up with English as their first language, particularly American English, will likely stumble on the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE.

But don’t worry! You can improve your GRE Verbal score, even if English is your second language. There are lots of tips and tricks out there to help students with their performance on the exam. To get you started with the fundamentals, here are three basic steps for non-native English speakers to increase your Verbal score on the GRE.




1. Take a full practice GRE exam.

Go the ETS website, download the software, and sit for a full, official practice test, not just the Verbal section. Complete the two essays along with each of the Verbal and Quantitative section, and take the practice breaks as well. You need to see how you perform during that 3 ½-hour time constraint. This will be your baseline so that you know where you currently stand on the GRE.


2. Examine your test results.

For now, look at your performance in the Verbal sections, and determine what you need to work on. Organize your results by type of question: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence. Did you answer most of the Text Completion questions correctly but get stumped by the Sentence Equivalence? Were you better at certain types of Reading Comprehension questions than others? Did historical passages keep your attention more than scientific ones? Were there questions you answered correctly, even if you didn’t know what all of the words in the question meant? Identify your strengths and your weaknesses so that you know what areas you should spend more time studying.


3. Build your Vocabulary.

Start at the beginning of your practice exam, including the instructions, and write down EVERY word in the test you are unfamiliar with. This includes the Writing sections, the Verbal sections, and the Quantitative sections. Make a list of these words, and add to it as you continue preparing for the GRE.

Use The Official Guide to the GRE as your main study material. As you work through the chapters in the book, keep writing down EVERY word you don’t know, and add it to the list. Each day, take ten words from the list, create a definitive sentence with each word, and read your sentences to a friend or family member. For example, one vocabulary word than commonly appears on the GRE is ENERVATE: Although outdoor exercise gives Julia energy, a jog through the countryside enervates Mary Jo, leaving her weakened and burnt down.

Additionally, outside of GRE material, consume media in English. Watch American movies. Listen to American podcasts. Read American newspapers and magazines that are popular among academics, like The New York Times, The New Yorker, and other publications from New York or that have New York in the title. This will help familiarize you with new vocabulary in context. And, add any new words you encounter to your list.


The GRE is tough. 3 ½ hours plus breaks make for a long day, especially when you’re taking an exam in your second or third language. Studying strategically for the GRE will make the experience much easier. For non-native English speakers, knowing where you stand on the GRE, examining your strengths and weakness, and improving your vocabulary will help you increase your score not only on the GRE Verbal section, but also on the GRE Writing section and the GRE Quantitative section as well!

What are you struggling with on the GRE?

Are you a non-native English speaker? Do you have a question about How to Increase Your GRE Verbal Score? Please write us a comment down below!

If you need personalized help with the GRE Verbal section, you can email us at WereGoingToCollege@gmail.com for more advice. And, keep reading our website at WereGoingToCollege.com for additional insights into the graduate school application process.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Cross Post! How to Get Your Daughter into College (for Smart Moms)

Hi readers!

Here's a cross post from my website about higher education, WE'RE GOING TO COLLEGE!:



1. Are you a Mom?

2. Do you have a daughter?

3. Do you want her to go to college?


Then we need to talk.

If you’re a mother or an auntie or a grandma or a tia or an abuelita raising a young lady who wants to go to college, you are in the right place.

If you’re wondering, “What’s the secret to getting into college?”, you’re in the right place.

I’m going to tell you the Secret to Getting into College.

Are you ready?




Here it is:

Find a college that you want to go to and that wants you to go there.


It’s that simple.

Well, the concept is simple; the execution takes some work.

The pressure and competition to get into the right college increases every year, right along with the cost to go to college.

On average, girls are more prepared for the application process and to live on their own at school that their male counterparts. But, ironically, since a higher percentage of women than men are going to and graduating from college, some schools are actively recruiting men—not women—because they know they’ll have more than enough female applicants.

This means your daughter needs to stand out.

That said, there are over 3000 4-year colleges and universities in the United States alone. Most of them accept the majority of students who apply to their school. So rest easy. Your daughter will get in somewhere.


Now let’s look at how to get your daughter accepted to the right college for her. Here are the basics.


1. Talk with your daughter.

Ask her where she wants to go and why. What does she want to study? What would she like to do after graduating from college? Everyone involved needs to be on the same page. For instance, you might have in-state doctor or lawyer dreams for your child, but if she wants to work in paleontology or astrophysics out of state, you two are not headed in the same direction. Also, discuss the monetary prospects of attending college, including any college funds, financial aid, loans, grants, and who will be paying for her expenses over the next four years. Both of you should understand what college expectations you have on both sides.


2. Get the receipts.

Ask your daughter for her high school transcript; any other course transcripts from summer programs or community college classes; her SAT, ACT, and PSAT test scores; a list of her activities, achievement, awards, and leadership; and her list of schools. Discuss why she chose the colleges and universities she is interested in and how they will help her achieve her future goals.

Also, gain an understanding of who your daughter is on paper so you can see how admissions committees will view her. Even though your daughter is your special snowflake and the best girl in your world, she will be seen by some schools—especially large institutions—as her name, rank, and serial number. This is the time to identify your daughter’s strengths and weaknesses, and think about the type of application package you like to present to colleges for their consideration. Meet with your daughter’s college counselor so that you can all work as a team to create a game plan for the application process.


3. Research together, one by one.

Look at each school one at a time. Start by comparing her GPA and test scores to each school’s profile. Then look at the area she wants to study at the school. Note ways to connect with the admissions office, either through college fairs or campus visits. If possible, VISIT THE SCHOOL. This is the best way for your daughter to figure out whether she would actually like to spend four years at each college. It’s also a great way to let the admissions officers know that you are interested by interacting with them in person. It’s much harder to reject an application from someone you’ve met face to face rather than a piece of paper from a stranger you’ve never seen before.


4. Make your list: 3-3-3-1.

3 Likelies, 3 Matches, 3 Reaches, 1 Bonus. Likelies are schools that you are “likely” to get accepted to. Their average GPA and test scores are lower than their daughters, and they have a high acceptance rate. Matches are schools that have average GPAs and average standardized test scores that are approximately the same as your daughter’s. Reaches are schools that have average GPAs and test scores higher than your daughter’s and/or have low acceptance rates. The bonus is the one extra school that your daughter can apply to for fun. You can also use Naviance to help place schools in accurate categories for your situation.

Additionally, assess and access your connections to schools. Look through your network—and your daughter’s network—of family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, and associates to find current students, alumni, professors, staff members, anyone linked to the colleges and universities that you are interested so that you can talk with them and learn about their experiences with the schools. This insider knowledge can help inform your daughter as she prepares her applications, writes school-specific essays, and eventually receives her acceptance letters and decides which school she would ultimately like to attend.


5. Apply to college.

All of the work you have done in advance will make this part easier. Let your daughter know that she will be the one completing her applications, but you will be there every step of the way providing support. Have your daughter start writing essays and securing recommendations (including backups) ahead of time. Dot your Is and cross your Ts. Fill out your FAFSA and CSS forms for financial aid as well. (Most families in the United States WILL QUALIFY for some sort of financial aid, whether it be scholarships, grants, loans, or work study.) Check, double-check, and triple-check your daughter’s application with your daughter before she hits submit. Then press that button—before the deadline(!)—and take a breath.

Relax.

You did it.


Whew! There is so much for moms to think about and talk about and organize and fill out before they actually send their daughters away to get that higher education.

Are you a Smart Mom? Do you have a question about How to Get Your Daughter into College? Please write us a comment down below!

If you need help with this overwhelming process, you can email us at WereGoingToCollege@gmail.com for more advice. And, keep reading our website at WereGoingToCollege.com for additional insights into the college application process.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My Review of Independence Day 2



I can't even...

I cannot even...

To all the actors from the original film who did not participate in this disaster movie: Good call.

To all the actors who did appear in the most anticipated alien project of 2016 based on a 90s property: I understand. We all got bills to pay.

To you readers who have not yet view this latest Hemsworth vehicle: Instead of going to see Independence Day: Resurgence, please watch the movies that this sequel blatantly rips off, including taking actors from those very projects. Here is a short list:

Alien
Aliens
Armageddon
Avatar
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 
Cloverfield
The Core
The Day After Tomorrow
Deep Impact
District 9 
Ender's Game
Get on the Bus
Ghostbusters 2
Godzilla (1998)
The Hunger Games franchise
Independence Day
Jurassic Park
The Lost World: Jurassic Park 
Predator
Sharknado 2: The Second One 
Speed 2: Cruise Control
Star Wars
Top Gun 
Unstoppable
White House Down 


Saturday, April 9, 2016

#SniffSniffHooray




How fun! It's my favorite use of "Whoomp! (There It Is)" since D2: The Mighty Ducks:


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I like my nose, but my hair is a challenge.




Any black woman who has tried to comb my hair will agree with me.

I also dream it and work hard.

And I do enjoy Red Lobster. "Cheddar Bey Biscuits," indeed.



Sunday, January 17, 2016

Have you checked out Talented Tuesdays?



Each week, on Talented Tuesday, my website For Nerdy Girls features a digital innovator who inspires colorful women around the world. These are individuals who should be celebrated on a global level, so we're starting by talking about these changemakers right here.

Come join us!

And, if you would like to nominate a digital innovator for Talented Tuesdays, please let us know in the comments, or email us at ForNerdyGirls [at] gmail [dot] com.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday Morning Quarterback: The Mockingjay Part 2 edition


Problem: The fourth installment of The Hunger Games film franchise opened lower than expected.

(Retroactive) solution: Target the underserved markets that were represented in the film.


How could the Power of Diversity translate into a bigger box office for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2?

Here is a SWOT analysis of the film, followed by four concrete ways to get more butts in seats:


Strengths
  • Mockingjay Part 2's opening weekend box office was $101 million domestic and $247 million worldwide
  • Jennifer Lawrence stars in the franchise that made her a household name, along with a passel of other famous actors
  • Three prior success blockbusters, based on the beloved series of books

Weaknesses
  • Lower opening weekend than the previous three films, not accounting for either inflation or increase in ticket prices since the first film opened in 2012 
  • 17% decline in box office from Part 1's opening weekend
  • Not enough new elements to justify splitting the third book into two movies
  • Not enough story, too many characters with nothing to do  
    • For reals, y'all. Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks are doing what they can with what they have, and Jena Malone is throwing shade and chewing up scenery. But they could contribute so much more with their own arcs, regardless of the source material in the book. Stanley Tucci deserves more than a propo intro. See Gosford Park for how to manage an engaging, yet large, cast of characters.

Opportunities
  • The Hunger Games has been marketed everywhere. But it doesn't look special, with no commemoration for the end of the series, like Twilight did. Remind audiences this is the last movie, so make it an event and go see it in the theater. Encouraging people to dress up like Katniss would have been nice.

Threats
  • Star Wars. The seventh film doesn't open till December of this year, but the big marketing push started before Mockingjay Part 2 debuted. With audiences being fed messaging about The Force Awakens in areas like ABC's TGIT and Wal-Mart commercials, the latest Hunger Games movie seems like old news.
  • The other films opening the same weekend as Mockingjay Part 2:
    • The Night Before, with promotions mirroring the ubiquity of Mockingjay, but with humor
    • Secret in Their Eyes, which is a more prestigious Taken
    • Legend, something about Tom Hardy?
    • Carol, a Cate Blanchett movie with minimal indie promotion


If I did it...

1. Announce that North America will have its first black woman President. And explain how she gets her perm done in post-apocalyptic Panem.

This is a female-driven franchise. But "white women" does not equal "all women." Not by a long shot.

If Lionsgate had asked Patina Miller to appear on daytime talk shows, late night talk shows, radio shows, podcasts, blogs, or a well-placed tweet promoting Mockingjay Part 2, mentioning that b-t-dubs, I'm going to be America's next President--tying the movie into the relevance of the current election season, then maybe "Mockingjay Part 2" would have been trending on its opening night.

And maybe more black women than solely me would have made seeing the movie a priority and shown up opening weekend.


2. Cast more than one person of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in a speaking role, preferably one who has a large fan base in China. The country, with a population of 1.4 billion people, is the world's second-largest box office market, as well the movie's second largest box office market.


3. Cast one identifiably Hispanic or Latin@ person anywhere in the film.

It's 2015. Hispanic and Latin@ audiences drive the domestic box office. How do you have no Hispanic or Latin@ representation in a movie set in North America and expect to have a robust domestic opening weekend?


4. Give Evan Ross a line. Or anything of significance to do, besides being another dead black man. Boggs already filled that quota, along with achieving Magical Negro status.