Why it rocks?
1. 50 points Money back guarantee – therefore, if you do well in the diagnostic test (first attempt) or have a score of 650-700 in the first attempt and plan to retake gmat, then it may be a low risk proposition. The only thing you need to devote is your time.
2. Quick and quality feedback – the knewton help centre is quick to respond to any queries. Every night I asked them some or the other questions and next morning I would receive a detailed explanation or clarification.
3. Good study videos that comprehensively cover almost all topics
4. High quality live classes – excellent and well prepared faculty and active participation of other members during class (I am talking about office hours)
5. A lot of practice tests – both topic wise and section wise
6. Free Gmatclub tests + $100 discount on reference + regular cash discount/promotion = not very expensive gmat preparation course (it cost me $690 - $150 (March Madness) - $ 100 (reference) = $ 450 + cost saving of $ 80 (gmatclub tests) = $ 370 (net perceived course value))
7. Knewton CATs
a. English section explanations are excellent (similar to the way OG 12 offers explanation)
b. Most questions – both Maths and English are basically reworded or twisted version of the OG or officially released questions
c. Level of Maths is generally lower and easier than actual Gmat. However, this weakness is smartly covered up by providing access to the Gmatclub tests where you can practice harder questions.
8. English section – I was happy with the English section because it was very similar to the Gmat prep and actual questions in the exam. The explanations are also high quality.
Why it sucks?
1. Knewton CAT
a. Scoring is weird. After the first 2 tests, I felt that its algorithm went awry. In spite of doing considerably well compared to first two tests, I got terribly low score in all the subsequent tests.
b. There is no CAT analysis provided (compared to the Manhattan CATs that have a very useful and sophisticated analysis)
c. You cannot try the CAT questions again because Knewton does not provide option of hiding answers while reviewing unlike Manhattan. This was bad for me because I could not know my concept gaps. After every CAT, I attempt the wrong questions untimed to test my concept gap and correct answers under timed condition to test any guesses made.
d. All practice tests are untimed. This was again terrible because I could not practice questions under timed conditions. I had to repeatedly use Walker’s gmat timer.
2. Maths section
a. Question level is nearly same as that of OG – basically reworded questions with slight change. Therefore, it tests most of the concepts as per the officially released questions
b. I felt that maths questions were easier than actual gmat.
3. Concept queue
a. Although Knewton touts this as revolutionary, I found it very overly simple with not much value.
b. The biggest problem with concept queue is that although you may know which area or topic you are weak, you will not be offered specific questions or question drills to master those concepts. You will have to retake all the practice tests again and get those wrong questions right. I was disappointed with this because 1 or 2 weeks before my exam, I wanted to work only on questions that covered my weak areas. I simply did not have time to redo all the practice tests (by the way, there are a lot of practice tests).
Final verdict on Knewton
I did not intentionally give verdict on Knewton because I wanted to leave it open for readers to decide. This is because given different background and circumstances, what may be good or bad for me may not be so for others and therefore, my verdict, should not veil someone's decision to take the course.
However, as per the request, I still present my verdict below so that someone with similar requirements can take a more informed decision.
Knewton course may not be responsible for my results because
1. It did not help me improve my Maths score (as Knewton's Maths is not very strong). Gmatclub tests, gmatclub forums, Manhattan tests and forums and Gmat prep Maths exhaust explanations were far better guide.
2. In spite of taking a lot of tests, due to lack of CAT analysis and lack of focussed practice on weak areas, I could not boost my English score as well. For English, Manhattan books and forums are more than sufficient.
3. Knewton CATs were a big disappointment in terms of its scoring and lack of analysis, and hence, I had to take shelter with Manhattan tests when I needed help most.
In sum, in retrospect, I could have scored well without Knewton. Manhattan and official guides were my savior.
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