Why don’t GRE practice test scores match the score you get on the real GRE exam?

Tyler York
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Charles Bibilos has worked as a GRE and GMAT instructor since 2001, and he has earned perfect scores on both exams. He is the founder of GMAT Ninja, a tutoring company that focuses on the psychological aspects of test performance. In this podcast, Charles digs into one of the most common questions he gets – Why don’t GRE practice test scores match the score you get on the real GRE exam? – along with the conventional and unconventional tactics that he prescribes his students to overcome their test day difficulties.

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Full Why don’t GRE practice test scores match the score you get on the real GRE exam? video transcript:

Welcome to GRE snacks. Next episode for the GRE exam and graduate school admissions. I'm Tyler, founder of achievable are affordable $199. GRE course includes everything. You need the issue, gr8ful textbook, tons of Jerry questions that are backed by a memory enhancing outer them, full and crackers and then you can try it out for free or cheap without me and if you liked it because podcast, get you a person off a check out. As always, if you have a question topic, you'd like to discuss in a future episode, please contact, Tyler at Tyler. And achievable. Me with the subject line podcast topic. Let's get started. So today I have someone very special as a guest podcast. Host with me, Charles biblios, most recently did a 24-hour with the GRE or GMAT live stream.

The best way to kick this off and probably for you to introduce yourself. Yeah, I think it's a testament and I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit. I've been teaching Jerry since 2001, so I'm in your number 22 of it. Now I do it every once I do something crazy like a live 24-hour livestream on YouTube or podcast exactly started in into during undergrad at Stanford.

And I got to make her dance. Company was a trapeze Dance Company. In Tucson Arizona of all places and at the time I was working and you're part of my professional company and walking to work Monday and I managers like how did you get that role in that? Yes, I know what a pay is not having to pay my bills. I was like, what? What you mean to keep working? Here, I was like, no, that's such a cute.

Out of I was like, well that's why it's just a couple blocks away from here. Have to go talk to him cuz he can buy work schedule. And also going to put this job. Cool. Yeah, you seem like, you have to start again. Jerry, I barely sat at Kaplan, and I was like, you know, what are you guys doing? Jerry? And then GMAT and 22 years later, and all sorts of random side Adventures, you know, here I am still do in Gary Indiana.

Yeah, very cool. Yeah, I'm here at your tutoring business. Has been going really well. From what I understand you do you want to talk about that at all? Just like kind of like how it's going, or any sort of highlights for the gist of the beer is good sense? Sure. I need. So, I ate, you know, I was never really out to build a scalable business or anything like that. I think the thing that I'm really passionate about as a teacher is kind of getting inside people's heads and Sunday for this particular individual. What is it? Really? I do think when they're at now, especially for their, there's so much great content out there for, for free, or for very cheap. So we kind of became, I think the company that serves people who are little bit of the end of their ropes with these tests and I will wait until I can study my butt off at the do it, some sort of on-demand course rats. And said, there was a bug, write a Kaplan course in my store, still not moving, but why is that

Got your stuff like you got the the formulas memorized and you're pretty good reader and you're very pretty good. What's going on here? Your process where you get sloppy? Is it something about your mind set on test day? Is it something where you understand? Let's say the geometry formulas but then would you look in the actual question? You start over thinking of your good reader but when he gets the tasks you start answering those have doubts that information. I try to come to get inside people's heads and figure out sort of the deeper now and then. It's actually a great segue kind of into our topic for the day which is why don't people practice test scores match their actual GRE score is right. And I'm in generally speaking, it sounds like a lot of the people that you work with our people wear, like they should be able to get the score that they want. Just in terms of

Can you do this problem? Yes. Can you do the 90 s also? Yes. Can you do it in? 90 seconds back-to-back for 4 hours will that's maybe where it's getting a little hard. Right? So, yeah, I mean, just take it away like what, why don't practice test scores match the real test scores but sometimes it's just hard enough in a couple of years in the process of building these questions to reading the question. Testing it going back, revising it testing it again, I doing the staff or keeping some of them. It is a really long and expensive process. So question, costing you do three for $5,000 to develop

It is almost impossible for even the very best test prep companies for anything that's anywhere near as comfortable in terms of its validity I suppose but also its ability to do. So if you go take a test from someplace like a plan or Manhattan or where any of those companies in and no disrespect, by the way, I had a wonderful break ya, what we expect out of Kaplan, realistically to be totally turned. Even if they're yelling at doing a great job. The tests are perfect. And so, I think it happened to doctor practice tests in a baby gotten very good at Captain's. Questions when they get some real ones and not the same and a kind of go down the line, we get kind of sneaky or things that come in that. I think you're a little bit harder for a test, a credit to recognize are going on. One of the biggest ones is that

I pretty much concluded. So we ride around practice questions for a quantitative ruggeri students to get extra rap. Song particular topics

But we estimate, we met some of those if it's a practice tests, right? My mother thinks it's official questions. Jerry releases them. So then we go to practice and then you go to the aquarium and you're going to see a little bit of a different set of questions. So that's kind of a sneaky way that even if you haven't seen any really on those official Jerry power prep test and the actual exam covers the same domain of math and verbal reasoning. But it might be just different enough. That maybe there's a bit of a letdown underscore small sometimes too is that? Like, we we kind of teach by tactic, right, or teached by like for the problem type. And then what, what often happens is on

Like on the test, they will lay are different problems. Sort of almost like a, like, a nesting doll right in such a way that, like, you have to recognize like, okay, I got to do this and then I get them here and then I got to do this and I get some here, but that's like a different skill-set than just practicing, you know, each step of those individually exactly where we is at Ephrata Community. Let's say, if we bring a bunch of questions that have very similar steps to what you see in the official Jerry practice test approach.

And do not send the practice test, but if they haven't developed a sort of a breadth of understanding of what's going on in that particular area of us, a math, and the next Barry. And I think that's the biggest effect, but that's one reason why you might lose a couple points per section, but it can happen. Yeah, it's, it's, it's, it is just, I mean, it's frankly, like more power to the test makers ETS, right? Because it is kind of the point, is it supposed to be a problem solving test and not just a memorization one? But the leap from this is something I have memorized to. I have to figure this out and still is hard.

Yeah, I know who you are. Exactly like this one but I think the part about if it can be sneaky is that you take a look-see. Take your first, you take Jerry official power prep, test number one before you start studying you go steady and then three months later, let's say, you're going to retake test number one, needle. I didn't remember very much of it at all, so it wasn't that inflated but in reality probably seen 30 40, 50, 60, 70,

And you bring ones you don't remember consciously. It helps your timing a ton. So right and with no memory of it, you're racing through so much faster. If I give you some novel, you read 15 years ago and you have no memory of that, you're going to read it so much faster and understand so much more deeply than you did. The first time even if your memory of it is, is totally gone consciously. So all of a sudden and you're scrambling for time and then, there you go, you go down the hole for something that we do. That's this pretty cool. Is actually, we eat, we all of our like questions and in a good number of our verbal are randomized to counteract that exact problem. So, you know, you'll see It'll be like, you know, you've got a, you got a right triangle with, you know, the long side is, is a length of 5. What is the perimeter? And then the next time you see it, it'll be 7 in the next time you see it, it'll be like 14, right? So it just it helps shake up and we

You doing much more advanced stuff than that but that's just a good simple example. I think like that is a big shake-up thing that's really important. Just like giving people new questions to answer every time even if it's the same underlying concept questions at all. So when they miss a question would say with the hypotenuse of a right triangle you might give him a similar question, that concept you're not giving him the same question the second time.

Yeah. After we eat, we give we we reuse our our Concepts, but we randomize the numbers, but then the 700 actually, but we still, we have a lot of Concepts. So yeah, it's both breasts. The worst house, of course, we build it once and then it just kind of runs, right? Very cool. So then you mentioned the other part of of things which is really kind of desiigner performance on test. They do the fact that like yes, this is probably a little bit harder, but then there's also all the other aspects of Thunder performance which is really like psychology and anxiety, and even just like, you know, fitness and health. So, would love to hear more about your guys's approach that I thought was really interesting it. Why are they super high-performing students struggling on test day? Even after we can eliminate the other things. So let's say somebody comes to us and we worked from the very start and we're really careful about how they manage their materials. And this isn't an issue.

You're misinterpreting exam practice test scores or anything like that. Why do people still walk in and sometimes lose in a 5 or 10 points in their deposit?

I think the two most obvious answer is our test anxiety and kind of related thing the cyst inconsistency. In general, assistance aspect first, that what would everybody should be striving? For is a study for the GRE is that Freddy given question type a very consistent process, they can repeat and a groupie to consciously. So for example, of texting Faison the way they handle, that should be exactly the same every time. So you read the sentence. Meaning you think about the role that the blanket play? You think about exactly what it is that that blank needs to be doing and rice and something else in the sentence and then you start using Proclamation, maybe in a certain way. On those Stanford vs. Stoke a great question type, but I would argue that every test

Britney's have a way that they're doing to text completion. That is 100% systematic every single time reading, same thing, says anything, and what I think, I think we see a lot in. It are incoming students, who study the time, maybe taking some courses or had another tutor, they'll come in and say, well I do reading comprehension little bit different depending on the day but what does that mean? I'm running out of time. I read faster but yeah. Now you results going to be all over the place tens. Well that's not good either so far. Is it fair that process underlying how they how they do things isn't the same every single time. Those results were going to blow in the wind little bit of pressure on test day and it's like to go in the wrong direction for ceiling.

Right, exactly anxiety thing is, is I think when we first started really thinking about it deeply and maybe a decade ago, it sounded like a simple thing will haven't used to be less nervous. How do we call those butterflies in your stomach? And first of all, I think how you feel? Doesn't mess a mess with. It is actually anxiety going on.

so, for example,

I'm going to try to get out as soon as you would say. Oh, I thought you didn't feel fine me tomorrow and talk to you the next day like I completely blacked it out. Yeah. I was totally nervous or your people say why didn't feel nervous, but I'm just having a hard time reading. My brain was fussy. Yeah, that very likely is anxiety or I didn't sleep the night before but I felt fine during the test. That's really, you might not feel jittery in the moment when you're staring at the test, but your mind is so caught up and think about what's going to happen tonight before you go to sleep. And then where's your brains going to be applesauce the next day and you're going to do as well. So anxieties are really, really sneaky thing that doesn't feel doesn't always feel the way we think it should feel.

Anderson Heights can ascertain from there. It's about it. And there's a whole lot of one of the big things. We teach our students is, how do you reset Journeys am? So let's say that you start to feel like your brain is getting fuzzy, or you start to feel constantly nervous on your palms are sweaty and you're having a hard time. You're bubbling with a calculator and you can't quite get the numbers in there, cuz your hands are shaking. Okay, great. You pushed yourself away from the computer, close your eyes, take three deep breaths, and there's different variants of those reset routines. We were psychologists trained people, instead of fighting a research and it works for them. That's one way to combat it. One is mindfulness meditation and I am personally, not a big meditation guy at all, but there's a ton of research that says, the meditation pressure. Working memory. Certainly helps your anxiety and help Siri focus on the task at hand. So actually play meditation coach, now who can help soothe

How to be more present in the moment. Very cool.

I'm doing things to try to get into as well to what extent does your physical health impact, mental health, your performance on a cognitive tasks, as well as a coach on staff. Now, if folks are having a hard time just, you know, figure it had to be really regular about getting that 79 hours of sleep. What are the things they might need to do differently? Obviously 10 research on physical health, and mental performance? I think that's the part that I think it wasn't totally aware of is the link between when you're successful with an exercise program, a remote to find that for yourself. And I say that your bench pressing folks wagons, but they used to that feeling great. But if you get to the point where you going to say, wait a minute, I'm getting used to being out of breath. I'm getting used to working hard time. Getting used to achieving goals, even if they're small.

There's a really strong link between that and what psychologists call self-efficacy. And there's a strong link between self having to see and anxiety on something like like a test or any sort of performance that matters. So what I think we found in working with some we have to work in a personal trainer at degree in psychology.

Is it as our students, become more confident and and regular with whatever their exercise routine is, it might be something really simple. Like, just carving out, 20 minutes a day to go for a walk, which is really hard for is the highest even people to do that, we can measure their self-efficacy going up and then see their their test a performance improve.

Very cool. It's not. I feel like I'm four people at home. How would you recommend? They, I mean, like going for walks pretty straightforward meditating. These are things you can do on your own but the measurement is something that I personally haven't come across before. So like when you talking about like, seeing people self-efficacy rise, is that something that you like to measure with numbers and is there a way that you do that? Maybe going deeper down the rabbit hole than most? People want to do but yeah, they're they're our inventories at psychologist to develop apps where you can go and you can take a little bit of a 20-question inventory, little spit out. A number, that says, here's here's where you are on South advocacy process of putting up. A date, doesn't have some exactly at it, but a factor assessment quiz that that's up on a website for the next week or two here.

Where if you feel like there's performance issues, you can take this quiz and it'll say, okay, in terms of your mental skills, for mindfulness, your quality of sleep, duration of your sleep, quality of nutrition, but it affect your mental performance. It'll kind of spit out some of those outputs and second of all these five different dimensions, where is it that you might need some work. If it looks like you might benefit from better exercise, the quiz will spit out that result and say, yeah. If you have some work to do here for free that can let people say yeah, these are, I could use work in exercise or nutrition or sleep, or mindfulness or mental skills in general.

Very cool. Yeah, I love that. I love that you guys have that. So yeah, we'll definitely I will see if I can put it in the description or something like that, but otherwise, it's the gmatninja website. It'll be right there on your homepage. So calm great. Very cool will thanks so much has been a really lovely time and I really love having you on the call. Thank you, Charles for your time today. Thank you so much fun. Yeah, we just. Do you want to say any parting thoughts? Just about what you do and that your business before we block off shirt? So if you're looking for a kind of that. If you're really starting to figure out what's going on and why you're suddenly on the GRE, your T matter, all satyrs active assessment, where the guys are going to have a good time saying. Okay, let's let's see if we can do inside your head, and figure out exactly what's underneath there. So sure we enjoy teaching, the, you know, stats in geometry and vocab and reading all that stuff, otherwise would do it. But if you're worried about kind of that next level of thing,

Send anything you've heard the things but don't know why it's not coming together. Those are problems. We must all think. So if that's your thing, shoot us an email and we'll see if we can help.

Fantastic. Thank you so much. This is been Cherry snacks hosted by Tyler from achievable. Are you can try out a tubal Siri course for free at achievable.me and use the code podcast to get 10% off at checkout.
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