GMAT Club
April 06, 2018
Tadilliner

Joined: Oct 28, 2014

Posts: 6

Kudos: 7

Melissa Blakeslee - Best Decision Ever

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I worked with Melissa Blakeslee on a 4-school package and it was a phenomenal experience overall. I started the process extremely early, signing up with Melissa months before essays were even released. Beginning with the free consultation, I could immediately tell that she was focused on giving me as much value as she could. I felt that we immediately clicked because of her passion, knowledge about the programs, and sincerity.

Melissa coached me through the GMAT process (I scored a 710, and one month later a 740) and was very honest about how my score would play a role in my overall application profile. Once I hit a 740 she candidly told me the time investment to score higher would not be justified for the returns it would get me and we focused our efforts elsewhere.

Throughout the school selection process we spoke at least twice a week via email (frequently more), and Melissa was always extremely responsive to phone call requests. We weighed each school's pros and cons as they related to me and my personality. She even set up phone calls to go over each school after I visited them and learn what my impressions were. That was truly the best thing about Melissa - she took the time to learn who I was and what I wanted. And to be perfectly frank, I didn't even know what I wanted. We figured it out together.

As we worked through essays Melissa was a fantastic resource. Her edits were concise and thoughtful. We probably went through 4-6 iterations of the first essay, and then really flew through the next ones as I learned the process. We had an hour long brainstorming session for each one (did I mention how available she was?) that really focused on crafting a compelling story for each school. Melissa has a deep understanding of what each school is looking for.

As I received interview invites Melissa also scheduled mock interview phone calls that were very helpful. I've always been great at interviews but she gave me tips and tricks to really hit the points interviewers are looking for. Despite those tips being a huge help, I would say the best thing Melissa did was talk me off the ledge as I got nervous beforehand. Her calming reassurances showed that she truly cared about me and my success.

I could go on and on about how great Melissa is, but just sign up with her already. The results speak for themselves. I was accepted into every school I applied to (Kellogg, Ross, Darden, and Tuck) with significant scholarship offers at all but Tuck. I'll be attending Kellogg in the fall and could not be happier about my decision to hire Melissa. As great as she is at her job, she's also a fantastic person that I am still in frequent contact with and consider a great friend. If you want more than just an essay editor or someone who reiterates advice you can freely find online, choose Melissa!

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November 14, 2016
Tadilliner

Joined: Oct 28, 2014

Posts: 6

Kudos: 7

EMPOWERgmat has cracked the code

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Improvement 110 Points

Course EMPOWERgmat Online Course

Location Online

So I bought EMPOWERgmat's On Demand course after a google search led me to their site. I really did not do a lot of research into various options beforehand but I knew I had seen prices for prep courses that were WAY above theirs and they seemed to have good stats so I jumped right in.

Before the course I had done no GMAT preparation. I have a finance degree but am honestly not any sort of quantitative whiz. In fact, as you'll see, it is a weak point of mine. I followed the course exactly as they suggested, except for taking my first official GMAT after 9 weeks of study time. My first "cold" practice test score was a 630 (38Q, 38V). My first official GMAT score was a 710 (47Q, 40V, 8 IR, 6 AWA) and three weeks later my second official score was a 740 (48Q, 45V, 7IR, 6 AWA).

The course is set up to work with the Official Guide, and I truly feel like that is the best way to do it. While other sources of questions can be very helpful, they are, by definition, not official. By becoming flawless at the official questions I think you can get a very high score because you get a sense of how the test writers think. That said, I would like to point on my only real CONS of the course: The lower number of practice questions, and the lack of "hard" (700+) questions. As many people are aware I'm sure, the first half of the OG questions are pretty much softballs. There are some harder questions towards the end but to really see a wide breadth of questions and be prepared for everything you may need more practice questions.

See, in my opinion, there is a good case for both sides of the argument regarding practice questions. On one side, a person could argue that by really breaking down each OG question and understanding the core concept frontwards and backwards then you don't NEED hundreds more practice questions. This is the approach EMPOWER takes, and I agree somewhat. However, personally I needed a bit more to feel truly prepared, especially on the Quant side. The other side of this argument is that by seeing many questions you will be prepared for the various ways the GMAC can phrase questions. I mean, it's a standardized test. There are only so many concepts. BUT they can get VERY crafty in the ways they test these concepts (Ridiculous geometry DS questions anyone?) In the end, I can only say that where you fall in this debate is going to be particular to your specific situation and personality. While it may be a small con, it should not inherently be a reason you choose not to take the course.

The way Max and Rich (the video commentators) break down questions is great. They take a very common-sense approach that I think is helpful for a large number of people. The quant videos really teach you to not get bogged down in the technicality and theory of some of the questions and to instead think of them in a simple, approachable way. I believe there is merit to understanding the underlying theory TO A POINT, but on test day if something isn't clicking it is SO nice to be able to approach problems from various sides. Also, the verbal videos are interesting to watch as well. They break down all the types of questions and give some great insight on how to narrow down choices. Honestly realizing that in most cases all 4 of the wrong answers are GLARINGLY wrong on the verbal side is why I was able to score 99th percentile. Max helped me to approach it this way.

Also of note is the attention paid to strategy, timing, triage, and mistake evaluation within the course. This is truly what sets apart the good test takers from the elite ones. The course's approach is to NAIL all of the easy questions, that way when you are presented with a crazy 700+ level question that you know is either A) going to take a long time to finish, or B) something you know you will probably get wrong you can DUMP IT. This is a huge weight lifted off your shoulders and a tremendous help to time management as well.

Lastly, my advisor (Brian) was a tremendous help to my success. He talked me off the ledge a few times, kept me focused, and was a calm voice of reason in the crazy tempest that is test prepping. If the course's other advisors are half as good as him then they are in a great place.

In conclusion, I give EMPOWER a resounding "yes" recommendation and urge everyone to give them a try. Their approach is a bit different than the Manhattan and Veritas type companies out there and I truly believe they are onto something. My score and many others like me is a testament to that.

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