December 07, 2016

Joined: Jul 27, 2015

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
700 Q46 V40

A 700 for PhD Admission


Improvement 120 Points

Course EMPOWERgmat Online Course

Location Online


GMAT Score: 700, Q46, V40, AWA 5.0, IR 6
Nationality: American
Undergrad Degree: Business Admin, regional school 10,000+ students
Graduate Degree: MBA, regional school 15,000+ students
Profession: Auditor/CPA
Materials Used: 2017 Official Guide, 4 Official GMAT prep tests

My GMAT Experience

I have taken the GMAT twice. My first test experience was in 2012. I scored a 580 after studying for maybe 20 hours with a generic GMAT test prep book (I’m not sure what company produced it). I was aiming for anything over a 500 so I could gain admission to my local university’s MBA program. My goal was to get a graduate degree and become a CPA. I was not aiming to attend a top business school.

Fast forward to September 2016, I started studying for the GMAT so that I could apply to PhD programs for Fall 2017 admission. I took an official GMAT practice test before I started studying and scored a 610 (Q40, V34), I began studying on my own, thinking I could power through the GMAT using the same strategy I used for the CPA exam: complete thousands of practice questions. After two weeks of this I realized this strategy would not get me to a 700+ score.

Next, I signed up for the’s 60-day study guide. I worked through all of the Quant days, then I took another official practice test. I scored a 630 (Q43, V34) and saw my Quant score increase by 3 points. I knew I needed a better method of studying. Specifically, I wanted a GMAT prep course that would teach me the strategy needed to beat the GMAT.

I read hundreds of reviews, forum posts, and anything that I thought would help me find what I was looking for in a GMAT prep course. A major deterrent to the big name GMAT prep courses was the cost. I was not willing to hand over the kind of money these courses demanded because the results I saw from reviewers did not convince me the courses would take me to the 700+ level.

Then, I saw one review of the EMPOWERgmat course. It was the first review that I read that offered a glimpse of what I wanted in my GMAT prep course, test strategy. I read through more reviews and visited the website. I was sold on two major points: 1. The number of reviews with 700+ scores, and 2. The price.

I signed up for EMPOWERgmat’s course on October 7th and had already scheduled my GMAT exam for November 19th. I got to work immediately watching videos and working through the problems in the 2017 Official Guide, even though I had already worked through all of the Quant practice problems.

I devoted an hour before work and 3-4 hours after work on the weekdays and 4-8 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday. I completed all of the EMPOWERgmat required videos in the order contained in the 1-month study guide. My only deviation from the study guide was the practice exams. I took a total of 4 practice exams and did not work through the AWA essay or Integrated Reasoning on any of the exams. I did this because it was hard for me to devote 4 hours straight to a practice exam and I was more concerned with working through the practice problems and videos.

I took my third official practice exam and scored a 650 (Q45, V34). I took my fourth official practice exam and scored a 680 (Q43, V40) two weeks before my exam date. I did not take the 5th and 6th recommended exams because I wanted to devote more time to the practice problems and videos.

Test Day

I sat for my exam on Saturday, November 19th at 8:00am. I took all of Rich’s advice on test day except for winking at a test center employee, that’s only because I can’t pull off a convincing wink without looking creepy. I chewed cinnamon gum, took both of my breaks, did push-ups, ate a protein bar, and drank Gatorade. I even took a 5 second pause during the Verbal section when I felt I was losing focus.

Overall, I felt absolutely prepared for everything I saw on the exam. Even without practicing the AWA and IR sections, I felt prepared for these sections.

In the Quant and Verbal section, I used Test It, Test the Answers, and Triage. Honestly, I did not see a question that I had not prepared for. EMPOWERgmat gave me the edge I needed on test day.

The time between the end of the Verbal section and the reveal of my score was the most painful part of the test. Once I saw the 700 on the screen, I felt an immense wave of relief and elation. I walked out of the test center knowing that I could have not achieved my score without EMPOWERgmat.

Summary of the EMPOWERgmat Course

• Self-paced
• Cost – I only paid $188 for two months
• Quant Material – Teaches strategy first and math second, teaches the best way to answer questions, teaches you how to identify what is being asked, covers important and not so important questions, videos for every question in the official guides, Rich demonstrates enthusiasm in every video and he wants you to succeed, I looked forward to the Quant videos
• Verbal Material – Teaches you how to identify the question, teaches you how to identify wrong answers, teaches you how to read the RC and CR passages, teaches you how to spot sentence correction errors, videos for every question in the official guides

• One section of videos did not load correctly for me (this has since been fixed)
• The Verbal practice questions at the introduction of new sections used a timer. This caused me to focus on the clock and not on learning how to use what I had just learned in Max’s videos.
• The methods for tackling RC and CR questions slowed me down and did not work well for me (I mastered SC questions, though)


I would recommend EMPOWERgmat to anyone that is serious about achieving a high score on the GMAT. It helped me achieve the GMAT score I needed to be taken seriously by PhD admissions committees.

This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
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