Studying for the GMAT or GRE shouldn’t be like “pulling teeth”

Smiling female student

In Part 1 of this series, we encouraged you to not accept a GMAT or GRE test waiver even if it’s offered, and we went through the importance of picking the right test prep strategy.

If you don’t want to go it alone, your next step is to select the right test prep tutor. Now let’s take a look at how you should approach this.

STEP TWO: Pick the right tutor.

Think how upset you would be if, after a long, painful appointment, your dentist sheepishly confessed that she’d been … drilling into the wrong tooth. The result is wasted money and time, not to mention unnecessary pain. And, you’d still need to have it done all over again on the correct tooth! Because dentists are highly trained and licensed, this sort of thing happens very rarely. Unfortunately, it happens a lot in the Wild Wild West of GMAT and GRE tutoring.

In addition to finding someone with whom you’re personally compatible and who has a track record of success (with client testimonials and references to back it up), the secret to finding a great test prep tutor is to discover someone who is first and foremost a great diagnostician. Because you have limited time and funds, you want to make sure that you are focusing, laser-like, on just the aspects of the test that you need to improve upon.

The right tutor will make a determination of your issues and potential by the second or third session with you, not the first. Each practice test you take must be carefully reviewed and analyzed, so that your tutor’s “prescription” can be tailored specifically for your needs. You’ll study smarter, not harder, and you’ll need fewer consultations in the long run (thus saving you money).

While there are many different possible assessments, and you’ll likely receive a combination of a few of them, there are three general buckets into which most diagnoses fall:

Content Knowledge
Some people were simply never exposed to certain types of math in high school or college or, if they were, it has long since slipped from their minds. For such individuals it’s a matter of bringing them up to speed through the use of various resources, from Khan Academy videos to SAT practice books, which are more straightforward than GMAT/GRE prep books.

Abstraction
These people are largely able to solve most kinds of math problems, provided they are put forth in a straightforward manner. “(22-16)/3” is easy and straightforward, whereas, “half a dozen students walked into the auditorium followed by a dozen and a half teachers wearing pink tunics; a third of the students joined one fourth of the teachers…” is not. Unfortunately, the GMAT/GRE loves the “pink tunic” type questions, and the more confusing layers, the better.

Test Anxiety
Does your heart palpitate at the very thought of walking into the GMAT test room, knowing that whatever happens over the next 3.5 hours will determine the course of the rest of your life? If so, you’re not alone. Irrational fear of testing is widespread and commonplace. (By the way, our tutors help reduce anxiety by instilling confidence.)

TWO ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

A Common Misconception
A lot of people have a misconception about what test tutoring is, possibly because there are more than a few unscrupulous tutors out there propagating this idea. If you encounter a tutor who, right off the bat, pressures you into studying with them all the time, this is like a dentist who proposes coming to your house daily to brush and floss with you – run for the nearest exit. These “professionals” are interested only in running up their billable hours. While there are certainly some cases in which more frequent tutoring sessions are genuinely warranted, these are exceptions to the rule.

The time you spend with your tutor should be devoted to receiving the expert’s diagnosis, reviewing your symptoms, and discussing your course of treatment. By far, the bulk of the actual test preparation is done on your own time.

Allocate Your Resources Wisely
There may come a point in preparing for the GMAT or GRE when you’ll need to sit down and face some facts. While nearly everyone can improve their score with the help of a top-notch tutor, and some people can even improve their scores dramatically, not everyone is destined to kill it on the GMAT or GRE. Part of being a smart businessperson — and a wise MBA applicant — is knowing when you’ve invested enough. There comes a point when your resources are better allocated toward other parts of your application, such as the essays, resume, etc. An ethical, honest tutor will help you find this point and will tell you when further investment in their services is unlikely to produce higher returns for you.

With the right prep strategy and the right tutor, you can improve your GMAT or GRE performance in less time, with less stress, and at a lower cost than you thought possible. Not convinced? Check out our test prep service then contact us and let us help you start down the path to a better score and positive outcome for your MBA admissions campaign.