Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review (TPR) is a for-profit U.S. company that offers private instruction and tutoring for standardized achievement tests, in particular those offered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), such as the SAT, GRE, LSAT, GMAT, and MCAT. The company was founded in 1982 and is based in Princeton, New Jersey. It is not affiliated with either Princeton University or the ETS.
The company offers courses world-wide through company-owned and third-party franchises. A typical instructional course on beating the SAT lasts for six weeks and costs approximately 1000 USD. Classes mainly involve tutors leading students through workbooks that students could otherwise buy at a bookstore and providing practice tests. The company also offers private tutoring for a variable fee depending on the experience of the instructor and market demand. In some markets, such as New York City, the company also offers instruction on local standardized admission tests.
It uses its own diagnostic tests which are mock versions of the ETS exams which are rarely close to the real examinations for the mere fact that in order to seem as if it has raised student scores, Princeton Review must artificially deflate them first. In a typical SAT course, students are tested four separate times throughout the course to monitor their progress in learning the course techniques.
The course techniques in the instruction workbooks vary depending on the particular test. In general, the company philosophy is that ETS is quite predictable and uses the same types of questions repeatedly.
More recently, the company has suffered many financial setbacks reflected in its stock's (NASDAQ: REVU) performance over the past year. The company lost over $30 million last year on revenues of a little over $110 million. The company's new LSAT course has not been well accepted by students and its GMAT course has shown significant problems. Many major corporations no longer fund its GMAT course. Furthermore, its course for the new SAT has not taken off as expected and students have complained that the tutors are not well trained for the new SAT nor is the course a significant advance from the original SAT course for the old SAT which did not include a writing section.
Complicating Princeton Review's difficulty is its messy acquisition of Embark.com which has led it to lose millions in the college admissions business. Furthermore, Princeton Review has been dogged by allegations of unethical behavior in soliciting poor students to its SES sponsored courses in New York City.
In the case of the SAT, the company's largest market, the techniques are based on the idea that ETS prefers that all students score as closely as possible to 500 (the median) on both the math and verbal sections, each of which has a score range of 200 to 800. (As of March 2005, the SAT will include a third 200-800 point section on writing).
Because of this, TPR counsels students to identify the difficulty level of questions (easy, medium, or hard) based on the numbering patterns used by ETS. On easy questions, ETS attempts to make the correct answer obvious in order to push lower scoring students upwards towards the median. On difficult questions, ETS tends to include an obvious answer that is always incorrect in order to pull higher scoring students downwards towards the median.
TRP instruction invokes the idea of "Joe Bloggs",a typical median-scoring student who is fooled by the obvious answer choices. Part of the core instruction method of the company is to learn "what Joe Bloggs will pick" and to know when to choose the same answer and when to avoid it.
Other General techniques
- Many students score poorly because they rush through the exam. It almost always pays to slow down.
- Many students can raise their SAT scores by skipping the harder questions entirely and leaving them blank.
- Most questions should be solved through a process of elimination method.
- If you can eliminate at least one answer choice, it pays to guess. If not, leave the question blank.
- On many verbal questions, it is possible to find the correct answer even if you don't know the meaning of one or more of the answer choices.
- Algebra and geometry problems that contain variables in the answer choices are best solved without any algebraic manipulation. Rather, they are most efficiently solved by plugging in sample values for the variables.
- Many mathematics problems can be solved by "ballparking" (estimating the size of the correct answer) and then eliminating all the answers that are not near to it.
- Questions on the exam involving average, ratios, combinations and other common mathematical situations can be solved efficiently by certain shortcuts.
- Sentence completion problems should also be solved by avoiding looking at the answer choices but rather by jotting down a possible crude choice for the answer. Afterwards, the answers are compared to see which one best fits one's trial answer by process of elimination. Using this method, two-blank sentence completions are actually easier, since they give one two chances to eliminate the wrong answer through process of elimination.
- On reading comphrension problem, one should avoid reading the passage first, since they are purposely dry and unexciting. Instead one should scavange for the answers after reading the question and use process of elimination.
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