We’d love to tell prospective students that we’ve found the magic bullet that will guarantee 200-point score improvements in just a few weeks. Our jobs as GMAT tutors would be easier if we could just lob some formulas and “tricks” at our students, collect a fat paycheck, and walk away.
Unfortunately, the GMAT doesn't work that way. The exam is a pain in the butt that covers a wide range of concepts, tested in all sorts of subtle and unexpected ways. That’s why GMAC data shows that repeat test-takers typically experience disturbingly small score improvements.
For most of our students, the problem isn’t their knowledge of basic math or grammar: the challenge is that they need to develop better habits of mind, stronger reasoning skills, and more disciplined approaches to test-taking. None of those things are easy or straightforward – and that’s exactly what makes our jobs challenging and interesting.
Honest messaging, challenging solutions
We’ve always gone out of our way to be 100% honest about the fact that it can be really, really hard to improve on the GMAT. We tell our students that hiring a GMAT tutor is like hiring a personal trainer: if you want your GMAT brain to become big and buff, you’ll have to pump some serious (quantitative and verbal) iron outside of our tutoring sessions.
Because we’ve always contradicted the test-prep industry’s rosy marketing messages, we tend to attract desperate, determined students facing unique struggles. Our recent students include a test-taker who worked with three pricey tutors before contacting us, a Canadian consultant who had completed every GMAT Official Guide question six or seven times, and a British fellow who had taken four different prep courses during his six previous attempts at the exam.
Our students typically “know enough stuff” to do well, but there’s generally something more subtle – often behavioral or psychological – that holds them back.
So we pride ourselves on our ability to figure out those subtle little things that have prevented our students from achieving their GMAT goals in the past, and we’re great at finding creative, customized ways to solve those problems.
We certainly don’t always succeed, but we always build close, collaborative relationships with our students. Nearly all of them walk away happy with the process, knowing that they’ve done everything humanly possible to achieve their goals. And of course, we frequently do succeed in raising students’ GMAT or GRE scores after multiple courses and tutors have failed.
A creative, collaborative culture
We tell our students that there are no shortcuts to becoming a great GMAT test-taker, and the same is true of becoming a great GMAT tutor. Plenty of teachers are skilled at explaining formulaic math or grammar concepts, but the real challenge is changing our students’ mindsets and habits in the subtle ways that are necessary for a breakthrough on the GMAT.
We’re a tiny company, but we have a strong culture of support, communication, and mentorship. We meet regularly to discuss our students, with the goal of brainstorming better ways to teach certain concepts and deepening our understanding of their struggles. Two of our most grizzled tutors have taught GRE and GMAT students for more than 15 years, and we’re still learning and improving after all of this time – and that’s exactly what keeps our work enjoyable and lively.
What about the GRE?
This is an oversimplification, but the GRE presents many of the same challenges as the GMAT – it’s just that it presents milder versions of those challenges. “Knowing stuff” will get a test-taker a little bit further on the GRE than on the GMAT, but if somebody struggles on the GMAT, odds are good that they’ll struggle in broadly similar ways on the GRE.