November 16, 2016

Joined: Sep 07, 2016

Posts: 4

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
720 Q47 V42

A review of EMPOWERgmat and some other musings


Improvement 80 Points

Course EMPOWERgmat Online Course

Location Online

Before you proceed to read my review of EMPOWERgmat (EG), I think you should know that I am a bit of a perfectionist. For me to give anything a perfect rating, the product/service should be absolutely flawless, be able to tick every single item on my checklist AND probably have some additional noteworthy benefits (yes, I'm fun at parties). Therefore, kindly exercise discretion.
The good:
1. Tone
An informal tone of instruction is used throughout. It’s conversational and feels like you’re listening to a real person and not a robot with a gun to its head. It's important that the tone doesn't bore you as you're likely going to be viewing these videos for several hours at a stretch.
2. Test-oriented approach
The course is full of strategies such as taking the best guess, solving problems by plugging the answer choices in etc. It does not overly emphasize theoretical/conceptual learning. While this keeps the preparation process light, it is a double-edged sword as I'll explain later.
3. Podcasts / pep-talks
Anecdotal and motivational podcasts by Rich (one of the instructors) are scattered throughout the course. They address issues such as mindset during the journey, confidence on test-day etc. I found these to be quite helpful, and again, they make the whole experience a little more personal.
4. Pricing
I did more than my fair share of research before choosing EG and I can safely conclude that it is one of the most reasonably priced courses available. The price of the flagship 3-month course includes that of all 6 Official GMAC CATs. However, you could also choose to pay just for the course. This is not an option on many other online courses that are available.
5. Score guarantees/policies*
I'm glad that I didn't have to use it, but, they offer a 60-pt score improvement guarantee for non-first time test-takers with scores up to 650. This is among the best in the market. They even offer one hour of professional admissions counseling (worth 250$) for free, to those who improve their score by 60 pts or more. Overall, their policies are not only lucrative, but also fair.
The bad:
1. Not much emphasis on theoretical understanding
This is the other edge of the sword. There are no ‘concept-videos’ and the material does not delve into theory such as properties, special cases etc.
While this approach might be sufficient for some, others looking for better understanding at a conceptual level might find it lacking. This is especially true when it comes to DS, as at higher levels, it tests the thoroughness of your understanding of the most basic concepts. There’s no doubt that most of these questions can be answered by good ol’ methods such as plugging-in numerical values, trial and error etc., (methods emphasized by EG) but, these approaches are not foolproof and especially so if you don’t know what kind of values to use for testing. I found that my theoretical knowledge bailed me out in many such cases. But hey, that’s just me.
2. Not many options for customization
It’s been designed almost as a one-size-fits-all programme. You could probably ask for assistance in designing a schedule or something. However, it’s not something that I tried.
Other things to be noted:
-I would not advocate blindly following the course to achieve your target score. You might have to modify it according to your needs. For example: Although EG advocates taking tests at uniform time intervals, I took most of my practice tests after I was done with the course, as I felt the latter approach would be more effective.
-EG reflects teaching methodologies used in the U.S. You might have been taught some of these things differently.
-I found Rich’s explanations (Quant) to be more lucid than those of Max (Verbal). Hence, the discrepancy in the ratings.
Other things that really worked for me:
-I was consistent in my preparation. It is worth noting that the intensity of my preparation was augmented by the fact that at the time I was (and in fact, still am) jobless. Help.
-I took full-length mocks and I took them seriously. In total, I took about 7-full length mocks. I bombed on one of the tests because I was really nervous and didn’t manage my time well. The experience actually helped me avoid that scenario on test-day.
-I booked the test ONLY once I felt completely ready. This meant that since I hit my target score on my last mock, I booked the next available slot, which was in about 3 days. If your situation allows for something like this, I would totally recommend it.
-I supplemented EG with other study material. This not only allowed me to fill those ‘theory gaps’ that I was talking about, but also helped me lower my cost of preparation considerably. In addition to the course, I only bought one Official GMAC test pack. I was able to squeeze out 5 CATs from that and the free Test Prep software. For the other CATs, I used Manhattan and Veritas. GMATclub also has some amazing tests. I should also mention that some of E-GMAT’s free stuff is simply top notch.
-And finally, I maintained a detailed error-log throughout my prep. The postmortem of each of my practice CATs was as thorough as possibly could be. I don’t think I can stress on the importance of this enough. You can use the error log that comes with this course or one that you get off the internet, but DO IT. Record every question you get wrong and also the action that you need to take to avoid repeating it. You HAVE to identify your weak areas, consciously work on improving them and then take the next test. Unless you’re doing that, you’re wasting your practice tests.
Anyways, I’m done with my rant. Hope this helps and Godspeed!
*at the time of my purchase

June 21, 2017

Hi! Thanks for the great review! Could you please tell me what other study materials did you use for the theory? I really believe i need to fill those theory gaps before I start this course.


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