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Is a GRE Tutor Worth It?

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) plays a critical role in the admissions process for many of the world’s top graduate schools. Considering that a difference of 15 points can make or break your chances of being accepted into the programs with the highest-earning job placements and determine whether or not you qualify for scholarships that could save you thousands of dollars in the long run, hiring a good GRE tutor is an investment worth considering. Of course, whether or not a GRE tutor is worth the cost depends on your needs and goals as a student. If your raw score is relatively close to your goal and you consider yourself to be a self-motivated student, a tutor may not be necessary. But if your score needs serious improvement and you thrive with the one-on-one attention that only a tutor can provide, hiring a GRE tutor may be for you. In this article, we’ll investigate a variety of factors and considerations to help you decide if a tutor is right for you.

How Much Does a GRE Tutor Cost?

Generally speaking, the hourly rate charged by tutors ranges from $30 all the way to $250—sometimes even more. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that you’re considering a tutor who charges the average rate of $140 per hour. Typically, students are encouraged to begin studying 2 to 4 months prior to their test dates for 10 to 15 hours per week. To guide the course of your study, tutors typically meet with students for an average of 1.5 hours per week. Obviously, the amount of time necessary will vary depending on individual students’ unique learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses. But generally speaking, if a student meets with a tutor for 1.5 hours per week starting at the average of 3 months before the test date, that amounts to 18 hours altogether. Multiplied by the average rate of $140 per hour, the total cost would be $2,520.

How Do GRE Tutors Compare to Alternative Test Prep Courses?

In order to assess how GRE tutors compare to your average prep course, let’s consider what exactly they are equipped to offer. In addition to the obvious benefit of one-on-one instruction, you can expect the following resources from a private GRE tutor:

  • A personalized lesson plan that caters to your specific needs and circumstances.
  • Real-time feedback that speeds up the process of mastering difficult concepts.
  • The accountability and structure that is often necessary to maintain motivation.
  • Test-taking strategies that cater specifically to your strengths and weaknesses.
  • A flexible schedule that supplements your self-study routine.

In contrast to the personalized and flexible lesson plan a tutor provides, most GRE prep courses adhere to a tight schedule that is significantly less responsive to individual needs. This proves to be especially challenging to students who move at a different pace than the average test-taker. Students who have trouble sticking to a schedule without sufficient personal support, for example, might struggle to keep on top of their assignments and quickly fall behind. This can be devastating if foundational concepts aren’t mastered before the teacher moves on. Even if you are able to keep up, moreover, the “one-size-fits-all” methodology of most prep courses will not equip you with strategies that reflect your particularities as a student. No two brains are the same, and your test-taking strategies ought to reflect that. With these considerations in mind, private GRE tutors are certainly the superior option, especially for students who require more direct assistance. Just because private tutors offer a greater degree of support, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that you need one to achieve your goals.

So, Is a GRE Tutor the Right Choice for You?

Needless to say, the only reason you wouldn’t hire a professional GRE tutor is to save money. There are a multitude of alternatives out there that will be kinder to your wallet—ranging from the totally free resources offered by Khan Academy to live prep courses that generally fall within the range of $500-1,000. Although these options are not as equipped to respond to your individual needs, this might not be a concern for self-motivated students who have already attained a score that is close to their goal. As someone who significantly improved my standardized test scores using Khan Academy, I can testify to the fact that it is possible to succeed without spending thousands of dollars. At the same time, however, I might have qualified for more scholarship money had I made a more significant investment in my studies. In conclusion, whether or not a GRE tutor is a worthy investment depends not only on your particular strengths and weaknesses as a student, but also on your unique goals. As a general rule, the greater the distance to your target score and the less time you have to study, the more you will benefit from a private GRE tutor.