September 10, 2018

Joined: Sep 10, 2018

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
760 Q49 V46

Great Success


I participated in David Mahler’s ten-week Manhattan Prep GMAT course in Spring/Summer 2018. Following an initial practice exam score of 590, I scored a 760 on my first and only GMAT sitting in July.

Having not been acquainted with the exam format or any official GMAT resources, I selected Manhattan Prep as a familiar service with a positive reputation in New York and among my undergraduate classmates. I completed my undergraduate degree in 2014 and am applying this fall to MBA programs for matriculation in Fall 2019. I considered the GMAT to be an unpredictable and time-consuming first step in the admissions process. I knew I needed to prepare strategically, given my time constraint, which justified the course investment.

For me, the robust course materials and carefully organized curriculum were critical for achieving a high score. The strategy guides necessarily walked me through a massive variety of content I hadn’t encountered since high school. Infamously, this content represents only half the battle. The GMAT also tests strategy and decision making, and, in my experience, emotional composure. Rather than separating the content from these components, the strategy guides themselves incorporate these challenges throughout. For example: I found the importance of strategy selection during the Quant section to be remarkable. Solving a problem with even the most refined “textbook” technique is frequently penalized by way of time. As the curriculum advances through Quant subjects, the books reiterate alternative (or “shortcut”) strategies in their different applications. Only purposeful practice with several strategies and, more importantly, review of that practice, can bolster one’s ability to select efficient strategies or cut bait when necessary. Not only do the Manhattan Prep strategy guides cover content with digestible pace and organization, they immerse that content in strategy and in the context of agile decision-making. While it is impossible to benchmark, I think the strategy guides alone enabled me to score in the 700-720 range (a far cry from where I began). The books are ordered, which helps organize studying and makes them less daunting to approach. For those on a budget and/or not local to New York, the materials are a rich resource on their own and well worth the investment.

In order to score those additional 40-60 points (it’s all relative), I believe the in-person class to be worth the incremental investment. Research the instructors and consult the online reviews. I had an exceptional and memorable experience with David Mahler, whose instruction was as effective as any college professor I can remember. While I chose Dave because we shared an Alma Mater and he recorded a 790 GMAT, I believe online reviews such as this one testify to his talent and led many of my classmates to choose his course. I’ll begin there: my section was fully booked with ~12 students as opposed to a section with four or five students that I addended as a make-up. All things equal, the smaller section was surprisingly less productive than the larger. The smaller headcount did not come closer to resembling a tutored course—if there is even one other student the curriculum cannot be tailored to you. The increased individual attention only caused the instructor to check in with each student before proceeding to the next practice question or topic. Class is not about solving individual problems—there are too many to address. Rather, as Dave emphasized, a class succeeds if it can polish your study and review process. You must prepare mostly on your own. As a person that struggles with self-regimen, I needed Dave’s guidance to “work smarter” and accomplish as much as possible with the little time I had. Dave held us accountable in our coursework. There was no passing his class, as his objective was to nudge us as close to our potential as was possible in ten weeks… you are not evaluated by your instructor. I performed well on the problems in class, but this was not a barometer of my ability relative to my classmates. It was an opportunity, each time, to recognize areas of improvement and consider better strategies. I got careless and made silly mistakes. Dave did not hesitate to knock me down a peg and I never once felt like I “passed the test”. There was always a critique to be made and a weakness to recognize in future problems, when exams don’t break for discussion, when there are 20 problems ahead, when review is no longer a luxury. Dave was able to challenge every person in the room at once, facilitating discussion and holding attention. It was masterful instruction and it was a blast.

The GMAT is a terrific test. I don’t believe it can be conquered, but I know that it can be whittled down to a more manageable feat. Believe it or not, that process can be fun. No exam, including the GMAT, can print an objective assessment of your intelligence. The GMAT doesn’t try to do this. It anchors itself in 30-60-90 right triangles and comma splices and proceeds to test your decision-making and composure. But it doesn’t do this mysteriously—there’s tape on its schemes that you mustn’t break down yourself. Manhattan Prep has done it for you. I can’t imagine approaching the GMAT without being coached on its tricks. It is my enthusiastic recommendation that any prospective MBA student prepare for the GMAT with David Mahler and Manhattan Prep. The cost was a large investment for me, and provided an overwhelming return, which feels pretty good.

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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