If you want to improve your GRE score, you have many options at your disposal. You can self-study using free or extremely low-cost GRE prep materials from ETS, invest in a slightly more expensive self-paced GRE course, or enroll in a more expensive live in-person or online GRE course. Most people would agree though, that if you have the financial means, the most efficient and effective way to improve your GRE score is to enlist the help of a private GRE coach.
The GRE tutoring you receive could be done in person, or you might work with a virtual GRE tutor using Zoom and an online whiteboard. In any case, customized GRE prep with a private GRE instructor is often considered the “gold standard” if you desperately need to improve GRE score. In this article, we’ll explore five factors that explain how the best GRE tutors help you improve your GRE score:
- Customized GRE study plans
- Personalized instruction
- Expert real-time feedback
- Motivation and confidence building
Customized GRE study plans are critical.
You can find GRE help from many different sources. The issue with most sources of GRE prep, however, is that they are not truly customized. At the extreme, envision preparing for GRE simply by using a GRE prep book. The book is already written. It can’t be adjusted. If it spends two pages on GRE algebra, that’s how much time you’ll spend on GRE algebra. It certainly can’t tell you when to study, and for how long.
A self-paced GRE course can do a little better than a GRE prep book. It might be “adaptive,” meaning it can see that you are regularly missing GRE quant questions, it can flag that and give you more of them. It can even make the questions easier, to help you build foundational skills you might be missing.
But a self-paced GRE app can’t know your history with standardized testing, your availability, target test date, target score, your general personal situation. Etc. The best GRE tutors can take personalized GRE prep to the next level by helping you develop a highly customized GRE study plan that takes all of these factors into consideration. You’ll have a plan in place for when to study each concept, when to do practice problems, and when to take GRE practice tests.
The best GRE tutors provide accountability.
If you are studying on your own, you can easily make an excuse for why you can’t do your GRE practice during this week and can’t spend 2-3 hours studying for the GRE on Saturday. But what if you have invested $1,500 in a private GRE tutor, and you have a session scheduled for Saturday? You’ve been assigned GRE homework, and the plan is to review it on Saturday, after which you’ll move into the next section of the GRE exam and cover a new concept? Furthermore, this session is just one component of a broader GRE study plan that your tutor designed to help you improve your GRE score from the 50th to the 75th percentile so that you can get admitted to your target graduate school program?
This type of accountability keeps you on track, and it’s often a major reason why people choose to invest in a GRE coach.
Personalized GRE instruction can really help you boost your score.
There are many reasons why you might be missing certain types of GRE problems, and often, there are many differently ways to solve these types of problems. You might be missing a certain type of GRE quant problem not because you don’t understand the underlying geometry concept, but because you aren’t paying attention to what the question is asking. Or, perhaps you don’t truly understand the underlying geometry concept.
Or maybe you actually are able to answer this type of question correctly, but it takes you a long time. You are solving the problem all the way through, when you could be quickly eliminating obviously incorrect answers to save time.
The best GRE tutors watch you work, and listen to you describe your thought process. They help you unpack the problems and solve them as efficiently as possible, and in a way that makes the most sense to you. Some students learn best with lots of visuals, others are more comfortable with technical math, and others learn better during a dialog or discussion. An excellent GRE instructor will get to know you and your style and teach you accordingly.
Expert real-time feedback is critical to building GRE test-taking skills.
The best GRE tutors truly are GRE experts. They know what concepts are tested on the GRE. They understand the nuances of the question types and the most effective test-taking strategies to answer GRE questions correctly and efficiently.
You may or may not be aware of a concept called “deliberate practice.” The key to developing expertise and building skills is deliberate practice. It’s relevant for building singing, baseball, or GRE test-taking skills.
Hard work is important. And you’ll get better, to a point, by simply practicing and trying to answer practice questions correctly by applying the techniques and concepts you’ve read or heard about in your GRE prep book or online GRE course. But six steps define what it means to prepare for the GRE using deliberate practice:
- Get motivated to perform well.
- Set specific, stretching, but realistic GRE score goals.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
- Be consistent and persistent.
- Seek feedback.
- Take time to recover. Don’t engage in 5 hour long GRE study sessions every day.
The best GRE tutors help with most, if not all, of these steps. We’ve already talked about how a GRE coach can provide accountability, and in the next section we’ll address motivation. But perhaps the most important way in which a private coach helps you improve your GRE score is by providing expert feedback in real-time. Without feedback, you can’t figure out what went wrong, what to do right, or how close you are to having a concept mastered. A GRE tutor can unpack what you are missing about the concept, or what test-taking strategy you could have applied to save time or avoid getting the question wrong.
The best GRE tutors provide motivation and help you build confidence.
An expert GRE tutor can remind you of why you are taking the GRE and what a great score will do for your application. He or she will also have countless examples of previous students who dramatically improved their GRE scores and were admitted to their target grad school programs. And, the very fact that you have chosen to invest time, money, and energy with a GRE coach will build confidence. You’ll not only see your GRE scores improving, but you’ll know you have someone with deep expertise guiding you as you optimize your prep for the GRE.
What GRE Tutor Rates Are Reasonable?
Let’s acknowledge, though, that GRE tutor rates vary widely and can get quite high. Some private GRE tutors charge more than $200 per hour for their services. Could this possibly be worth it? Well, it can depend on why you are taking the GRE. If it’s for an MBA or Law program, even a $500 per hour GRE tutor could be worth it. 20 hours of GRE tutoring at $500 per hour would be $10,000. I know that might seem mind boggling expensive. I personally would have a very hard time investing that type of money in an in-person or virtual GRE tutor. However, the difference in your lifetime earnings as a result of attending a top 10 MBA program vs. a top 100 MBA program will very easily surpass $10,000. Your first year salary could be $20,000 higher.
We consider a GRE tutor rate in ~$100 range as reasonably affordable.
The best GRE tutors are more than tutors. They are mentors and coaches. They help you set GRE score goals, build customized study plans, and of course they deliver customized GRE coaching. Investing in a GRE tutor can be expensive, and you should be careful to identify a reasonably priced GRE tutor if you can. But the investment can often be well worth it.