Most of us started our GMAT and GRE tutoring careers with face-to-face sessions, and we squirmed a bit when we started tutoring online. we’ve offered online GMAT and GRE tutoring in some form since 2009, and the vast majority of our tutoring has been conducted online since 2012.
That said, we do think that there are pros and cons to online GMAT tutoring, and we want to be completely honest about them.
We usually tutor via Skype or other video conferencing software, which offers a few really useful features. We point a webcam at a dry erase board, and you can watch us work through GMAT concepts and sample questions, just as you would if you were sitting next to us in an office in Denver.
If you don't feel like taking notes, you can take screenshots of the dry erase board, and then you'll have lovely little GMAT images that you can keep forever.
Most video conferencing software also allows us to share our screens, so if it’s more efficient for us to type some examples, that’s great – and you’ll be able to keep a transcript of those as well.
And of course, online tutoring allows you to meet your GMAT or GRE tutor anywhere in the world. If you want to sit on a beach in Cyprus or lounge in a Colorado ski resort while you enjoy your GMAT tutoring session, that’s no problem, as long as you have a strong internet connection.
Computers, video conferencing software, and internet connections sometimes get cranky. If Skype is completely uncooperative for some reason, we’re always ready to try other options: Google Hangouts, Zoom, WebEx, Softphone, Oovoo, PolyCom, FaceTime, or anything else that might work better. At the moment, Skype still has a few features that make it our top choice, but the software itself can be unstable, and we’re always prepared with alternatives.
And in case you're wondering: we never charge GMAT students for time spent trying to overcome technical difficulties. If we schedule a two-hour GMAT tutoring session and we spend the first twenty minutes trying different video software, then we’ll either run the session for an extra twenty minutes, or we’ll add the twenty minutes to a future tutoring session. So technology issues can be an inconvenience, but we won't let them hit you in the wallet.
The one thing we ask of you: please test out your internet connection and video conferencing software BEFORE your first session. If you aren’t sure if the internet is fast enough, you can run a test at www.speedtest.net. If both the upload and download speeds are consistently higher than 1.5 mbps, you should be fine.
The second drawback to online tutoring is that some of the "chemistry" of tutoring doesn't really translate online, and we don't want to pretend otherwise.
Unless you've spent plenty of time on Skype already, it can feel unnatural to work with a teacher who is just a face on a screen. We’ve worked with hundreds of students online over the years, and we don't think that the lack of in-person "chemistry" substantially limits our students' GMAT score improvements, but we want to be honest about it: for some students, it just feels strange to handle GMAT or GRE tutoring solely via the internet.
If you're not sure if online tutoring is for you, let us know, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions, or provide a video so that you can get a taste of what online GMAT lessons look like.
Other than occasional technical issues and the potential oddities of working from afar, we think that online GMAT tutoring works surprisingly well, and our long-distance GMAT students have been really happy with the results – just ask if you want to get in touch with any of them.