Estee Katcoff, Professional GMAT-Crusher
Companies charge an arm and a leg for tutoring. When I was teaching at one national test prep company, the company charged $250 (and paid their tutors $60). But even Craigslisters charge upwards of $100/hour! So what is it about tutoring that makes it as expensive as a minor surgery?
Well, tutoring (like everything else) abides by the laws of supply and demand. There is a lot of demand for test prep, but qualified tutors are in short supply. There are several reasons why.
1. Limited hiring pool
By definition, only 1% of test-takers score in the 99th percentile. That means that of the 6,000 people who took the GRE in the state of Washington last year, only about 60 of them scored in the 99th percentile (assuming equal distribution nationally). It's difficult for companies to hire from such a narrow pool -- and thus they must offer compelling salaries.
2. Cost of training
Just because you did well on a test doesn't mean you know how to teach. PrepCorps actually turns away more than 50% of applicants -- because even though each applicant knows how to ace the test, he/she doesn't necessarily have the teaching skills or social prowess to adapt their explanations ON THE SPOT to their students' (sometimes subtle) reactions. Teaching is hard, man. And it's a skill that 99th percentile tutors don't always have.
3. Low capacity per tutor
Think about it. Tutoring services are in-demand mostly at night (read 5:30-10pm) and on weekends. Most tutors are only willing to give up 1-2 evenings per week, meaning that the capacity per tutor is only 2-3 students at a time.
4. Marketing costs MOOLAH!
When you pay a tutor, you're paying for his/her time -- but also for all the time spent on logistical tasks such as developing the curriculum, updating the website, reminding you to post a yelp review, etc. And all that stuff adds up! Especially the marketing. Google Ads for 'GMAT tutoring' are about $6 per click! And that comes out of your tutor's pocket.
So.. is there a way to cut costs?
PrepCorps is experimenting with different systems to see what happens. Many companies revert to online resources or pre-made videos to eliminate the short supply problem, but we know that there is still high demand for in-person tutoring.
Here are some questions that we'd like to ask:
1) Can an 85th percentile scorer be a more effective teacher than a 99th percentile scorer?
2) Can a test prep company hire one tutors who did well on math, but not verbal -- and pair him with a tutor who did well on verbal, but not math?
3) Is there a market for tutor-pools? ex. splitting costs by tutoring in groups of 2-3
4) Is there a way to recruit new students exclusively by word-of-mouth? Or is spending hundreds on Google ads the only answer?
So you've just finished your first GMAT diagnostic. Good for you! The next step that I recommend is to develop a target score based on the following percentile chart.
Let's say that you got a 620 on your practice exam -- a 90th percentile in Verbal and a 33rd percentile in Quant. Eek!
You might think that you need to focus on quant, and you'd be right. However, you'd be making a mistake if you focused on quant exclusively.
Let me explain.
You want to get a 700. Look for the 700 on the chart. You can get a 700 by exclusively working on quant, but you'd have to achieve a 66th percentile in order to do that. Depending on your ability to study hard, this may be feasible for you -- but there might be an easier way to get to that 700.
Following the chart to the right, you can see that there are other paths to a 700:
- you can get a 58th percentile in quant and 96th in verbal
- you can get a 43rd percentile in quant and a high-99th percentile in verbal
For many American test-takers who find verbal easier, this may be an easier way to reach that 700. Will your 99th percentile Verbal/ 43rd math look good to MBA programs? Short answer -- most schools value the final GMAT score above all else (because that's what affects their rankings). That being said, you should prepare an answer for your interview in case the school asks if you'll be able to handle heavy quantitative analysis in MBA classes. But your answer can touch on other quant experience that you've had at work -- it doesn't necessarily need to be based on your GMAT score.
Click here to see a more extended chart on how math/verbal combines.
Feel free to develop your own personal target score.
The short answer: a lot.
Students come to me all the time because they took the GMAT and didn't get the score that they wanted. And in 9 times out of 10, the problem is that the student hadn't studied enough.
I studied for about 80 hours and got a 770. However, data says that people who get above a 700 study 120+ hours ON AVERAGE. This means that many students study a great deal more than 120 hours to get their dream score.
One of our tutors told me that she studied for four hours per day for five months! All said and done, she studied for about 500 hours to receive a 50+ score on the math section.
Many people claim that aptitude tests like the GMAT don't test intelligence, but there's one thing that's for sure. The GMAT definitely tests your persistence and time management skills as you struggle to put in 120+ hours on top of a full-time job and whatever else you're doing. As you're studying, remember that the GMAT is simply testing your ability to achieve results, no matter what your starting point. As a manager, you'll be asked to do things that you've never done before. You'll need to learn skills outside of work to make sure that the job not only gets done, but gets done well. Would you be able to manage your time to ensure that the project achieves its desired results?
If so, you're going to kick ass on the GMAT!
For a free hour of tutoring, message us at email@example.com
This is a common question with a complicated answer: your score is important, but it’s also not important. That’s because your GRE score is only one factor of your application. If you score in the 97th percentile in Verbal Reasoning, but write an incoherent personal statement, your application is unlikely to be considered. And if the rest of your application is truly stellar but your GRE scores are only mediocre, you still have a really good shot at being accepted into a Master’s or PhD program.
This is all to say that the GRE shouldn’t be overlooked as you work on your applications. But how much time and effort (and money) should you invest?
Your chances of being accepted into a top program and of being given scholarships, teaching assistantships, or other awards are much higher with a higher score. Therefore, it’s important to consider your goals for graduate school as you develop a study plan for the GRE. Are you pursuing a Master’s or PhD solely to acquire new knowledge? If so, perhaps attending a top school is less crucial. But if you are also hoping for networking and career opportunities, a great score could be the key to achieving those goals. It’s a good idea to do your research first. Find out the average GRE scores of the programs you’re applying to. Read up on if the schools look at highest scores or focus on the first test you took. Learn if your target schools use GRE scores to choose teaching assistants. Once you have your own goals set and have a good understanding of the practices of each school when it comes to the GRE, you can focus your study plan to your particular goals. Let’s get you where you want to go!