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Joined: Mar 16, 2013
700 Q47 V39
I posted a similar version of this message back in October, but I am excited to see Empower as an official GMAT Club partner so I am re-posting my review of the course in hopes to help others think of alternative study options to reach their score potential!
Summary of my background:
Undergrad: Top 50 school on East Coast
Major: Communications (i.e. non quant or STEM)
Career: A few years in financial services and currently working in education management
Final GMAT Score (September 2014)
I literally studied for the GMAT for over a year. I originally signed up for a big test prep company (Manhattan GMAT) late in the summer of 2013 and took the full live course. I went to every session and tried to follow all the homework, but didn't feel like their course was the most appropriate learning technique for me. It was very formulaic and the concepts weren't breaking through for me. Nothing against my Manhattan instructor (he was excellent), I just felt like the group classes weren't the best learning environment for me as everyone in the class was at very different stages/ability levels at the time. In January of 2014 I scored a 600 on my first attempt (Q35, V37). Although not bad for a first attempt, I knew that this score wasn't really good enough to get into any of my dream schools in the top-15. While my verbal was in the 80%, my quant was really weak only in the 30th percentile range.
I took a month or two off and then started studying again in March. This time I tried to self-study and then use a professional "tutor" for some one-on-one instruction via Skype. Quant was my major weak area, and I tried to spend most of my time studying this section, but it seemed like I couldn't break through even with the tutors help. My approach to word problems was shaky and I didn't feel confident at all on DS. I took the exam for the 2nd time in June and scored a 610 (Q35 V38). I was devastated and started to think that a top GMAT score just wasn't in the cards for me.
Around the same time, I heard about EmpowerGMAT through a good friend of mine. She raved about the course so I decided to take the plunge and give it a shot as a sort of a last resort (I had already spent a lot of $$$ on GMAT Prep so I was very skeptical). I signed up in July 2014 and used Empower for approximately 3 months until I took my exam at the end of September 2014.
The Empower Quant modules literally changed everything for me! I finally started to understand how to approach and ATTACK problems. I finally got the idea that I needed to write everything on the pad and stop trying to do Math in my head.
Empower teaches you tactics of how to approach all types of problems to maximize efficiency on test day. Furthermore, it really goes into a lot of detail about question types and which ones really matter (in terms of your score) and which ones likely count for very little. This was huge for me as I was able to focus on the Quant topics that accounted for the highest point proportion and prioritize my studying time. This also gave me a much better idea of which questions I should be strategically eliminating on test day to remain on time as I always had a pacing problem on Quant as well. For the first time on Test Day, I was able to fully complete the Quant section without rushing to pick random answers at the end. I know this was huge in terms of my overall score on the section. As you can see I jumped from Q35 to Q47 in one exam which is a massive improvement.
The Verbal sections were very solid also. I was already pretty strong in this area, but I thought their SC framework helped me get sharper on identifying splits and errors. And they have a good fundamental approach to CR questions which I think is really valuable to those who may be struggling in that area of the test.
I knew from my practice that my scores would trend up but still wasn't expecting a 700 to be honest. I think that besides the actual tactical approach to the exam, I realized how important the mental aspect was. I started looking at the test as a challenge to attack! One of the best things Empower taught me is how to be MENTALLY FIT during the exam, ready to attack the test. I sat up straight, kept good posture, took my breaks, and did a few breathing exercises during the exam to keep me calm. To use Empower's line, I starting to think like an "assassin". I realized that although these small tricks may seem trivial, everything counts when you are trying to maximize your performance on a high-stakes exam such as the GMAT! As they say, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I am a true believer of that after my GMAT journey.
I'm sharing my testimonial in hope that it convinces some of you to KEEP PUSHING and DON'T GIVE UP. I spent over a year studying for this exam and there were definite moments of serious self-doubt about whether I could do this (even though I have always done well in school). This exam for many is more about perseverance and dedication rather than luck and natural intelligence.
I hope you all continue to keep fighting on your journey and please consider using EMPOWER GMAT for your preparation (especially if you are someone like me who used other prep resources to no avail). EMPOWER was literally a GAME CHANGER for me and I know it can be for some others.
I applied to schools in the 2nd round this year and so far here are my results:
Yale (admitted with scholarship)
Michigan (admitted with scholarship)
Kellogg (still TBD)
All the best in your journey!
Reading this just inspired me to study more than ever before! I've been dragging this GMAT since January and I've just been feeling almost discouraged really. Did my CAT and I got 430, I really want to hit that 700+ mark. And then I'll be fit to do the real exam