GMAT tutoring can be expensive. It takes time. You only engage in it if you expect a positive result, of course. But are there things you can do to improve the experience? To dig deeper into what students can do to get the most out of the private GMAT tutoring experience, we asked one of our most experienced private GMAT tutors to describe how a tutor can add value to the GMAT prep process.
The tutor we spoke with is actually our Director of Online Instruction, Stefan Maisnier. Stefan holds a B.A. in Communications (USC) and a M.A. in Journalism (Northwestern University). He has over 15 years of experience tutoring GMAT, LSAT, GRE, SAT, and the ACT. As a professional tutor who provides GMAT tutor as a full-time job, he has far more experience than almost any other GMAT tutor you’ll find. He previously worked for the Princeton Review, where we he was voted the best GMAT tutor in the Midwest. At Princeton Review, he was involved in both GMAT tutoring and GMAT content development efforts.
We asked Stefan four questions:
- What are some common issues or concepts that students struggle with when they come to you for GMAT tutoring?
The number one issue is that many students don't remember what it takes to be a successful student. Many GMAT students have not been in school for years and often believe that their intellect and simply "showing up for work" will result in high test scores. These students are quickly grounded when they discover there will be a lot of homework and a ton of repetition required to obtain a high score on the GMAT exam. As far as content issues go, the number one issue is being able to do arithmetic exercises without the use of a calculator.
- Many students seem to prefer test prep classes because they understand their will be a clear curriculum and plan to work through that will, theoretically, result in them knowing all they need to know to score well. They assume that tutoring is best when you are really struggling in specific areas or have specific questions. Is that true? What structure do you provide to GMAT students? How do you recommend they approach preparing for the GMAT?
Planning is incredibly important for all test preparation and instruction. I always create a customized syllabus that is tailored to the students particular needs, strengths, and weaknesses. I build this after having an initial diagnostic discussion, reviewing previous scores, and sometimes having the student take a pre-tutoring practice test. Students should expect to complete a practice exam after the 3rd, 5th, and 7th tutoring sessions, so as to utilize new strategies and witness their own improvement.
- To what extent does working with a tutor reduce the need to study on your own? How much more efficient does GMAT tutoring make the overall GMAT prep process?
It is important that students understand that the absolute minimum amount of time student should give themselves to prepare with a tutor is six weeks. Many students think that they can prepare on their own, only to discover with under a month before the test date that additional support would be ideal. Ultimately, students should expect that for every hour of tutoring they attend, they should spend 3-5x more on completing homework and drills.
Working with a tutor should ultimately reduce, sometimes substantially, the total number of hours it takes to study, because you should come to master concepts and test taking strategies much faster. But that doesn’t mean you still don’t need to study for dozens of hours.
- What are some final tips you would offer to students so they get the most value out of working with a tutor?
- Come to your first tutoring session with a draft study plan. Lay out in detail how much time you can realistically spend preparing for the GMAT every day or every week.
- Do some preemptive research regarding your specific score goals beyond just what you think is an ideal score.
- Take a diagnostic exam to discuss with your tutor.