5 Reasons I Should Be Your GMAT Tutor!

Picking a GMAT tutor can be stressful. Will I get along with this person? Will they REALLY be able to bring my score up? What if I don’t even know what my weaknesses are? Here’s five areas in which any good GMAT tutor should excel, and why I think I’m pretty gosh darn good at my job!

  • Knowledge. I was a classroom teacher and private tutor for Kaplan for 4+ years, so I know how larger testprep companies “think.” I’ve taken what I found valuable from Kaplan, Grockit, and the many other smaller companies I’ve worked with, and I specialize in designing a personalized approach for each student.
  • Flexibility. I tutored for 5+ years virtually via Skype with Grockit, and 4+ years with GMATRockstar, so I know how to make online tutoring fun and effective. I’m available days, nights, and weekends, and I am always in steady contact with students via email to monitor progress, answer homework questions, and pass on relevant blogs. I’m your personal cheerleader!
  • Resources. I have written thousands of test prep questions as a freelance content creator for companies such as Grockit, Veritas Prep, and Magoosh. I am constantly mocking new questions from the GMAT Official Guide and GMATPrep software so I can provide students with accurate, challenging homework material that closely aligns with GMAC product. I have PDF files of the most reputable GMAT material, and provide all students with these materials for free.
  • Preparation. I track all of my students’ progress, and create a targeted “game plan” for each student.  I own over 40+ GMAT books and know exactly what chapters and materials to recommend to students. I am also a regular contributor to Beat the GMAT and keep up to date with the latest updates and changes from GMAC.
  • Affordability. I only charge $150/hr, as opposed to the ridiculously high rates test prep giants charge, and there is no minimum number of hours.
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10 Ways to Beat the GMAT This Year!

Preparing for tests, especially the GMAT, is no easy task! In between filling out MBA applications, applying for college scholarships, and researching the Best Business Schools, you have to carve out several months for GMAT test prep. These free GMAT tips will help you jumpstart your GMAT test prep!

Create an Error Log. An Error Log is a spreadsheet designed to help you track your incorrect questions for later review. Add to it on an ongoing basis. You will want to re-take GMAT practice questions multiple times to make sure you do not get them incorrect a second or third time. This will improve your GMAT score more than you think! Free GMAT Error Logs are available online at GMAT websites such as Beat the GMAT and GMAT Club.

Practice online. The GMAT is an online exam, so to ace the GMAT you will need to become an expert at negotiating between the screen and your scratch pad. GMAT test prep books such as the OG, or those made by Kaplan, Powerscore, and MGMAT are excellent sources of GMAT practice questions, but make sure you also do a significant amount of studying for the GMAT online. Mimic the test-taking environment as best you can as you study. Websites such as Grockit and MGMAT offer six free GMAT practice tests with their membership or purchase of one of their books. Ideal for adjusting to an online format!

Learn your grammar. Success on the SC portion of the GMAT entirely depends on your ability to recognize the most-tested grammatical errors. Use a good English-grammar book or a reputable GMAT online SC resource to review the basics of subject-verb agreement, independent/dependent clauses, and grammatical construction.

Take full-length tests. The GMAT requires a great deal of stamina. Even if you have limited resources, most test-prep companies such as Knewton, MGMAT, Kaplan, etc. offer one free GMAT practice test online.

Understand why you get questions wrong. Some students believe that more questions answered = better scores on the GMAT. Fundamentally, answered a ton of GMAT practice questions will only lead to faster pacing, but without solid strategies and disciplined reviewing, your overall score will not improve. Don’t be a lazy reviewer!

Study in shorter blocks. Don’t burn yourself out as you aim for better GMAT scores. It’s better to study in shorter 2-3 blocks, taking frequent breaks to eat, stretch, and exercise, rather than to park yourself in front of your computer and books for 10 hours at a time. The GMAT takes commitment, but you don’t want to become a GMAT zombie.

Don’t neglect AWA. Read through the free GMAT list of essay topics for each AWA essay provided for free on mba.com. You will want to practice writing at least 3 of each so that you are comfortable with the timing guidelines. Have a template in mind for each GMAT essay and get feedback from other GMAT students.

Take notes as you read RC passages. Keep it short and simple, but make sure to extract and write down the important information in each GMAT passage: topic, scope, author’s tone, function of each paragraph, and main idea. That way you already have predictions for most of the GMAT RC questions and you will save time by not having to constantly re-read the passage.

Use “12TEN” for Data Sufficiency. Instead of writing down ABCDE for the answer choices on your scratch pad. Use the acronym “12TEN” to represent each choice. T = together. E = either. N = neither. This will help you keep straight what each GMAT answer choice means, and allow you to cross off the options quickly and efficiently as you evaluate the statements.

Backsolve and Pick Numbers. Use these GMAT Quant strategies as much as possible on the more difficult GMAT Math practice questions. Remember that there is often more than one way to get the correct answer! Choose the method of least resistance.

How Much Should You Pay for a Good GMAT Score?

yelpCurrently, my rate is $150/hr for all of my GMAT tutoring, and the question I get the most often from students is, “how can you charge so much less?”

It’s important for GMAT students to consider WHAT they are paying for, exactly, when they hire a company or a tutor to help them with their GMAT prep.

If money is the most important thing to you, then you might as well pay $50/hour for a college freshman to give you algebra tips, but if you want someone who knows the GMAT inside and out (and loves the GMAT), you need to start looking at the $100+ range.

I spent almost a decade working for private test prep companies, as both a classroom teacher/in-person tutor (Kaplan) and a virtual tutor (Grockit), as well as consulting with firms such as Magoosh and Veritas Prep to help them write their curriculum.

Though I learned a great deal working for these companies, one thing many GMAT students don’t realize is that what they are paying and what kind of tutor they are getting is not necessarily directly proportional.

Larger companies often pay their tutors in the realm of $20/hr to start (Kaplan), while charging students somewhere between $150-$300/hr. Teachers and tutors receive minimal training (usually around just 20-30 hours) during which they simply memorize a set script with set strategies and problems, and teach the same course material and the same 50 questions or so over and over (and over and over) again.

These courses are rarely designed to benefit students, since we each learn material differently and have our different strengths and weaknesses. It’s a very “one size fits all” approach, and that is ultimately what jaded me the most about working for a test prep company.

As you embark on your GMAT studies, I encourage you to think about what you expect out of a GMAT classroom course or private GMAT tutor (it’s great when students say to me in a first session, “Here’s the score I want. What do I really need to do to get there?”).

GMAT tutoring is more expensive than ever! Here’s a round-up of current (as of 2016) pricing available online:

  • Kaplan offers three tutoring packages: $2649 for 15 hours, $3749 for 25 hours, or $4849 for 35 hours. That works out to $176/hr, $149/hr, or $138/hr.
  • Manhattan Prep offers a base price of $220/hr, and then a cheaper rate as you buy more hours. If you purchase 25 hours, the rate becomes $195/hr.
  • Veritas Prep also offers its tutoring in packages starting at $2940 for 14 hours. Rates go from $183/hr to $210/hr depending on the package.

The problem:

All of the tutors who work for these companies will teach you curriculum specific to their company and their company only.

If you only study with a Veritas Prep tutor, you might miss out on a specific chapter of a Manhattan Guide that has a superior way of explaining something. If you only study with Kaplan, you may never know how to effectively utilize online resources such as GMATClub or Beat the GMAT to supplement your homework.

You will be getting the exact same tutoring session as every other student.

So why do I charge only $150/hr?

  • I have no boss.
  • I “remix” the best GMAT strategies and materials I have absorbed in my 10+ years to make my own curriculum for each individual student (this is fun for me, I know I’m a nerd). 🙂
  • I believe a good GMAT score is (and should be) available to EVERYONE who can put in at least 10+ hours a week of studying.

So whether you decide to tutor with me or another tutor, make sure you get what you pay for. 

Happy studying! 🙂

GMAT Prep Analysis: Sentence Correction “Comparison” Question

It’s always valuable to take a good hard look at questions from the GMAC available in the two free GMATPrep CATs and the two supplemental GMAT Exam Pack 1 (for $39). These are all “official” retired GMAT question, so while the GMATPrep does NOT offer explanations for its questions, if we can come up with discerning explanations on our own, we’ll be one step closer to a strong Verbal score on Test Day!

Here’s one question students often get incorrect from the GMAT Prep:

So called green taxes, which exact a price for the use of polluting or nonrenewable fuels, are having a positive effect on the environment and natural resource base of countries as varied as China, the Netherlands, and Hungary.

(A) as varied as
(B) as varied as are
(C) as varied as those of
(D) that are as varied as
(E) that are varied as are

This question tests 2 concepts: Idiom, and Meaning. Idiomatically, when we make a comparison with “as” we need to use a “double as,” or “as…as.” Only (A), (B), and (C) contain the correct idiom. Now we must carefully examine the Meaning.

Here we are comparing the “positive effect” in various “countries.” Since “China,” “the Netherlands,” and “Hungary” are all countries, the comparison is clear in (A).

Why can’t it be (B) or (C)?

The word “are” in (B) is simply not necessary. It does not make the sentence (1) more grammatically correct, (2) cleaner stylistically, or (3) clearer in terms of meaning. (A) is a better choice because it has no grammar error, is shorter, and already has a crystal-clear meaning.

(C) contains a pronoun error – “those” would logically refer to the “environment and natural resource base” of the countries of China, the Netherlands, and Hungary, but we are comparing the countries to one another NOT their respective environment and natural resource bases. The COUNTRIES themselves are “varied,” not the “bases.” Notice how the inclusion of this pronoun changes the Meaning.

This questions serves to remind us that while Idioms are not heavily tested anymore on the GMAT, knowing some of the most common (such as “as…as”) can save you time on Test Day. It also reminds us to pay attention to both Style and Meaning when using process of elimination to remove wrong answer choices.

How Drawing a Picture Can Help you Get More GMAT CR Correct!

Take a look at this Critical Reasoning question from 1000 CR:

Archaeologists seeking the location of a legendary siege and destruction of a city are excavating in several possible places, including a middle and a lower layer of a large mound. The bottom of the middle layer contains some pieces of pottery of type 3, known to be from a later period than the time of the destruction of the city, but the lower layer does not.

The force of the evidence cited above is most seriously weakened if which of the following is true?

(A) Gerbils, small animals long native to the area, dig large burrows into which objects can fall when the burrows collapse.
(B) Pottery of types 1 and 2, found in the lower level, was used in the cities from which, according to the legend, the besieging forces came.
(C) Several pieces of stone from a lower-layer wall have been found incorporated into the remains of a building in the middle layer.
(D) Both the middle and the lower layer show evidence of large-scale destruction of habitations by fire.
(E) Bronze ax heads of a type used at the time of the siege were found in the lower level of excavation.

This one is interesting since we are not provided with a conclusion, so we have to draw one based on the evidence.

Evidence: Bottom of middle layer contains pottery 3. Pottery 3 is made AFTER the destruction.

I’m going to draw a picture, because drawing is fun, and totally under-rated when it comes to GMAT Critical Reasoning. 🙂

We can infer that usually the deeper the level = the older the time period. Since as we move forward in time, we generally build up on things.

So, the city was probably destroyed around the lower layer, or in the middle layer but beneath where the pottery was found.

Question: What casts doubt on the Type 3 pottery in the middle layer/destruction of city inference?

Prediction: If the pottery was moved around — if the location doesn’t represent the time period accurately.

A – decent choice, shows pottery could’ve been moved
B – doesn’t comment on Type 3 pottery
C – this implies at some point the middle-layer people used the wall below them to build up — but doesn’t show that the pottery could have moved down or up
D – Fire is totally irrelevant
E – “at the time of the siege” is vague — and this doesn’t relate at all to the pottery evidence

The correct answer is (A).

Learnist: GMAT Critical Reasoning Overview

The Verbal section of the GMAT consists of 41 questions that you must complete in 75 minutes. Critical Reasoning is one of three Verbal question types you’ll see on Test Day!

In this video, Abi from GMAXOnline reviews the basic format of CR questions, discusses what an argument is, and the parts of the argument: premises, conclusions, assumptions, inferences. She also covers some of the common keywords to look out for on this question type!

As you can see in this video, there are more than half a dozen question-types. Always determine what type of CR question it is by reading the question stem first. This 3-step method is a general guideline for all the CR question types.

This is a “weaken” questions as shown by the phrase “would most weaken.” Weakening questions are one of the most common CR question-types.

Check out more practice Critical Reasoning questions on Learnist!

Tough GMAT: Critical Reasoning Question of the Day!

From the evil geniuses at Manhattan GMAT, try this interesting CR question, the read the explanation below!

Scientists recently documented that influenza spreads around the world more efficiently in the modern era due to commercial air travel. Symptoms of a pandemic-level flu are severe enough that the ill would likely cancel or reschedule air travel, but an infected person can travel across the globe before the first signs appear. Further, if symptoms develop while someone is still on a plane, the infected person’s cough can spread the virus easily in the enclosed and closely packed environment.

Which of the following would best minimize the role air travel can play in the spread of influenza during a pandemic?

(A) installing air filtration systems in the planes to kill any flu virus particles flowing through the filters
(B) requiring air travelers to receive flu vaccinations far enough in advance of the trip to provide protection against the disease
(C) refusing to allow children, the elderly, or others who are especially vulnerable to flu to travel by air during a pandemic
(D) requiring all air travelers to wash their hands before boarding a plane
(E) conducting medical examinations during the boarding process to weed out passengers with flu symptoms

Explanation:

Conclusion: Influenza spreads more rapidly b/c of airplanes.

Evidence: Infected person can travel before symptoms appear & spread illness

Question Rephrase: How could air travel stop the spread of disease?

Prediction: If there was a way to make sure people who boarded were not ill, or if there was a way they couldn’t spread it once on the plane.

A – Yes, this stops the spread on the plane, but could still let the ill people fly
B – Yes, this stops the ill people from flying
C – No, this only stops certain ill people from flying
D – No, hand washing doesn’t prevent those already ill from flying
E – No, the passage states that people can travel before “first signs appear” so the examinations would likely be ineffective

Between A and B, my choice would be B since it prevents the ill from flying altogether and would therefore “best minimize.”

Remember that the correct answer is going to be the one based on the information from the passage. The passage only gave 2 pieces of evidence: (1) sick people travel before symptoms, and (2) sick people spread illness within the cabin.

Repeated vaccinations and whether a person would reschedule/cancel travel are two issues that are not mentioned and are entirely outside the scope of the passage. Be careful not to use outside information. Follow the logic of the passage.