GMAT Story #6: How A McKinsey Analyst Struggled with GMAT for 2 Yrs, But Then Discovered GMAT Pill, Hit 700, and Got His Dream MBAThis McKinsey Analyst and now Oxford MBA looks back to the days of the GMAT and thanks GMAT Pill for a life-changing and worldly experience that all started with the GMAT exam.
Before GMAT Pill, he had been struggling with GMAT for over 2 years, trying everything that ManhattanGMAT and other GMAT Prep companies could offer – including private tutoring sessions with world-renowned linguistic experts.
But it wasn’t until he discovered GMAT Pill and hit that GMAT 700 score mark– that his life changed.
Screenshot of email
Q: How did you prepare for GMAT on your way to Oxford’s Saïd Business School? How did you decide what program to use?
Great question! I had asked friends, and looked around various websites to look for great GMAT programs. I decided to fork out quite a bit for Manhattan GMAT’s two week intensive course, where they pound you for two weeks with GMAT material that’s normally reserved for a course taught over several months. I chose it because I had heard great things about Manhattan GMAT, and I didn’t want to go to those regular Princeton Review or Kaplan programs, and I wanted a programthat specifically focused on the GMAT that I could do in a couple weeks rather than months (little did I know how long it would take…). Interestingly enough I heard later that Manhattan GMAT was bought by one of these firms!
I took the course, thought it was good, and took the GMAT right after the course. I bombed the test, as probably the nerves just got to me, and I hadn’t really digested the material. I rescheduled to take the test again a couple months later, and scored an acceptable (650) but not a great score. I decided to take a break and try again next year. During the month in-between the two tests I had went through the material again, and had additional help, paying for private lessons from Manhattan GMAT.
I was still trying to figure out how to score higher, and the teacher had said that I could probably do better, but probably studying on and off hurt me more than it helped. I decided to try another (and more expensive) program at another local New York elite test prep firm, where they basically went overkill- more material, and even better teachers. I mean I thought Manhattan GMAT had great teachers, but this program at this new firm had two teachers for me—with one specifically focused on each part. Case in point– I had a PH.D in Linguistics teaching me the verbal- and she could basically tell me every root of every word, and what all those fancy terms like gerund were… really things I didn’t need to know. It was amazing what they did (they had a CD that you could listen to for motivation and studying, and also helped prep you on the other mental parts of the test as well).However, after spending a fortune on that program, and utilizing another test prep called Bell Curves, I actually did worse that what I previously scored.
Again it was probably the nerves, but after spending so much time studying on and off over two years, it was really getting very frustrating.Running out of money- (I could probably buy a cheap car with the money I had spent at this point) and not getting the results I wanted, I searched the internet for a cheaper solution that could actually get the results. I found gmatpill somewhere on a businessweek forum talking about it and decided to give it ago after visiting the website.
What Zeke was asking was substantially cheaper than all the programs I had been using (basically the same price as 1-2 private tutor sessions), and with the refund policy I decided to give it ago.Turns out the program for the verbal (which was only available at the time) was the best program I had purchased. Coming from a consulting firm I liked how everything was put into frameworks (Zeke worked at another consulting firm, so it worked very well), and Zeke made it very easy to study all the various concepts.
The so called past perfect, present perfect terms that Manhattan GMAT taught me were not really needed, and the rules were made simple. (To be fair the Manhattan GMAT sentence correction guide is amazing, but it adds a lot of unnecessary terms that you don’t really need to know) The best part about GMATpill is that you have a tutor anytime and anywhere, so while it was hard to get a tutor to come in on 9pm on a weekend, you could do a session going through the videos. If you are a morning person, you could get up early and spend an hour going through the videos before work. If there was anything that was not clear, you can email Zeke and he responds within 24 hours- I even sent him questions that were from the MBA website, where Zeke would quickly answer. I supplemented the GMAT pill with a phone app from Veritas, where I could do verbal questions while waiting in queues (or lines in the USA) or whenever I had a spare moment. Hoping to get that elusive 700 score, I took a week off and this time really focused by locking myself in a library for 12 hours each day.
My schedule went like this:
11AM: Wake up and go to grocery store and back home to pack dinner.
12PM: Eat at one of my favourite restaurants
1PM: Head to Library, find a place, put on earphones listening to soundwaves and study.
6PM: Eat dinner (they had a food section in the library), and catch up on emails/news
7PM- Continue studying on a new section, checking questions, etc.
1AM: Leave library, head home, spend an hour or two reviewing progress, catch up on emails/news and then off to bed.
I probably went through the entire Official Guide, and probably the Official supplementary verbal and math too. I pretty much had all the frameworks from Zeke and all the previous knowledge. I think the key for me was actually spending the time to study- before I was just relying on tutors to help me (they do help), but the biggest help is you struggling many times through the problems first, and not the tutors explaining how to do each problem after just trying it once). In the end you need to know how to solve all the problems, and without applying all the techniques I was taught on enough problems, it was difficult to do well. By doing the problems over and over, I began to see some unique patterns in the test questions, and dare I say it- they became a lot easier and even quite fun. Contrast to two years ago, where I thought the GMAT was absolutely terrifying.
With that, I was able to rapidly bring up my verbal score, and while I was writing my essays for business school (no easy feat) I was able to study and hit the 700 mark that I wanted. My math just needed brushing up, so I did quite well on that, but I don’t think I could have done it on the verbal without GMAT pill.“So as someone who used resources from 5 different programs, I can say that GMATpill is by far the most cost effective way to study GMAT.”
Because it’s online, you can study from anywhere at any time, which really helps if you have an odd schedule. It’s obviously not as good as a private tutor (and even then there are some good and great tutors), but with Zeke its always consistent and you can do it at your own pace. I know a lot of students feel silly stopping a teacher during a class, when really everyone has the same question in their head. Or perhaps with the classes there is always someone lagging behind, which is annoying because he/she is holding up the entire class. With GMAT pill, if you don’t get it, you can just rewind and replay a couple of times until you do without feeling annoyed or embarrassed by others- and if you still don’t you can email him. I think it combines the closest thing with a personal tutor without the high expense of a tutor.
Zeke’s GMAT Pill walks you through it in a way where he goes through it quickly like he’s doing the problem, then slowly breaks it down into its individual parts, where every detail is explained. The big yellow cursor he uses to show what he’s looking at also helps as you know what he’s exactly focusing on and it’s easy to follow along.It’s probably one of the most effective ways to learn how to tackle the GMAT, and I’d definitely recommend the GMAT Pill to anyone.
Obviously if you have bucket loads of cash and want the best, a great tutor is hard to beat, but if you’re looking for the most cost effective way to study (and are short on time) GMATpill is the way to go. I only wish he had the reading comprehension and math parts out when I took the test, but thankfully if you’re reading this now you can get the whole package!
As for studying in general, here are some of my tips:
1.) Study smarter, not harder. Spending endless hours on and off reviewing questions won’t really help unless you know how to do it better next time. Knowing what I know now, I could have probably used Zeke’s GMATpill, the Official Guides, the program on the MBA website and maybe just one of the other programs, study really hard for a month (with maybe 1 or 2 intense weeks), and easily score a lot higher than I did.
2.) I’d say it depends on the person, but 1 month, 3, or 6 months is probably what you should spend studying for the GMAT. Spending a year studying on and off is not only demoralizing (you have a limited social life) but also a big waste of time (not to mention you start forgetting material at this point). Putting in the time (but not wasting it like I did) to study for it is by far the most effective way to study.
3.) During the test, plan your time accordingly. I believe #1 reason people score poorly is because they run of time. Pacing yourself through the test is very important- when I did well I had plenty of time toward the end, and had 3-10 minutes (verbal and math) for my last question. Contrast to when I took it the first time I had 8 questions left and 2 minutes remaining-trying to get every question right can actually be a weakness. This means making the tough decisions in the beginning- during my last test the second question given looked impossible for me, and rather than trying to crack it I spent 8 seconds realizing it was hopeless, and 2 seconds guessing and move on. That gave me almost 2 extra minutes to solve problems that I knew how to solve.
2 responses to “GMAT Story #6: How A McKinsey Analyst Struggled with GMAT for 2 Yrs, But Then Discovered GMAT Pill, Hit 700, and Got His Dream MBA”
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Wow! That really is an incredible story.
Btw – a linguistics expert? whoa there…you got me there.
That just goes to show the GMAT is not easy and lots of people struggle with it. Good thing he found a great resource. Good for you, oxford MBA! Thanks for sharing
Thanks! Im now struggling with GMAT after a month of work, so this has been some moral support for me, thanks for posting