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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!
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)
I stumbled upon empowergmat via their 5 days for 5$ event that they had back in June 2015 and wanted to try the course out as I was looking for study tips and tricks to improve from my 690 in my 2nd GMAT attempt. I wanted to reach 730+ but had already exhausted all the available resources. I enrolled myself for the 5$ event and I was surprised to see the the depth and clarity in their verbal video tutorials by Max and the follow up questions not only cemented what you learned in theory but also taught you about the common traps. After the first day itself I enrolled myself for 1 month and as they provide a month to month billing (highly transparent and helpful for short term commitment that I was looking for!), it proved to the boost that I needed to push my score from 690 to 750 in 1 month.
Max's appraoch to CR completely changed my thought process and it made me more confident of dealing with 700+ level questions. The SC approach was straightforward without the use of unnecessary grammatical jargons. RC was taught with an eye out for achieving maximum accuracy while not going abvoe the average time per question.
Rich's test it and triage approaches in quant not only helped me in undertsanding the various time saving strategies, these also helped me in understanding the mind of the test maker at GMAC.
All these strategies worked wonders for me in the actual GMAT and I was able to clearly see why the incorrect answers were incorrect. Once i had this undertsanding, i was more confident with my answers.
I would definitely recommend EMPOWERGMAT to retakers who are looking at a highly compressed preparation schedule that will give them amazing results.
GMAT Score: 700, Q46, V40, AWA 5.0, IR 6
Undergrad Degree: Business Admin, regional school 10,000+ students
Graduate Degree: MBA, regional school 15,000+ students
Materials Used: 2017 Official Guide, 4 Official GMAT prep tests
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 beatthegmat.com’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.
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.
• 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.
EMPOWERgmat is the best GMAT prep service I have used. Prior to using EMPOWER's services I have scored a 710 on the GMAT. After receiving admission to INSEAD and having some extra time on my hands I decided to give the GMAT another shot to boost my resume.
Overall, I spent two weeks with the program and focused on both the quant and verbal portions of the course. The main advantage that EMPOWER offers that other providers such as Magoosh and egmat (I have used them both prior) do not are the test taking strategies. While the test taking strategies seem very intuitive and obvious, it provides the test taker with a framework and guideline to follow during the last 10 questions on Quant or last 15 on Verbal when the test taker's brain becomes mush and can no longer function. The GMAT is not only a skill best test ( it is to a point) but also a logic and organization test. At the 700+ level, the test taker who can maintain confidence and poise during the exam will reach his or her dream score (of course, accounting for the +/- 30 point variability).
Overall, this course is great and I am glad I found it.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Before I started the EMPOWERgmat course, I thought I'd hit my ceiling with my 660 score. I'd studied for my first attempt for six months using another self-paced program that was math-intensive and explained every little math concept that could possible show up on the exam. While I believe that program was a great math refresher and helped me build a solid quant foundation, it didn't necessarily help me attain all of the skills I needed to solve GMAT quant questions quickly and efficiently. That's where EMPOWERgmat came in! After my first attempt, I took a couple of months off from studying then signed up for EMPOWERgmat and scheduled my second attempt at the exam for exactly one month later. I knew immediately that Rich's videos were exactly what I needed to improve my quant score. I learned so many math shortcuts throughout the course and learned to recognize GMAT quant and verbal patterns because the course uses OFFICIAL GMAT MATERIAL every step of the way. This is absolutely crucial and is missing from most other prep courses.
While I was already strong in verbal, using Max's methods I was able to increase my verbal score by a few points, which had a huge impact on my overall score. Again, using official content is critical to pattern recognition throughout the exam.
After one month with EMPOWERgmat, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw 720 (47Q, 42V) come up on the screen of my official exam. I highly recommend this course for anyone who tried studying either on her/his own or through another course and didn't achieve the results she/he wanted (I can't comment on the course's efficacy without any prior attempts at preparation). Rich and Max are surprisingly motivating and definitely know what they're talking about.
After reading through several 700+ debriefs, I noticed the use of online platforms as a common trend. I isolated three companies as contenders: EMPOWER, e-GMAT, and Magoosh. EMPOWER caught my eye because during practice I had often noticed Rich’s solutions as unique. Many of the experts on GMAT Club tend to provide solutions that are crisp, precise, and efficient. However, most rely on relatively arcane mathematical principles that, in my opinion, are dangerous to rely on in the test day environment. Rich’s solutions, in contrast, focused on identifying the underlying patterns upon which individual questions were structured. Quite frankly, I chose EMPOWER because it seemed to offer an approach that significantly contrasted with my approach at the time.
As I progressed through Rich’s lessons I was surprised by the comparative lack of specific content: “But if I don’t know both formulas for three-overlapping-sets problems how can I make sure I get it right??” However, I took the leap of faith and obediently incorporated every single strategy into my prep. Boom. Q47. In about three weeks using EMPOWER I had roughly doubled my incremental progress. Unfortunately my test day came slightly too soon. I am convinced that if I had another week or two using EMPOWER, I could have hit Q50. EMPOWER is powerful because it first teaches you that the GMAT is not a math test. Then it teaches you how to ruthlessly exploit that fact.
Furthermore, EMPOWER’s support team is almost as valuable as the content itself (you’re my boy Brian). My basic questions were answered in hours with paragraphs of specific, relevant information that I could tell were personally written. The same goes for Rich Cohen, the founder, who took the time to personally answer several of my questions. As I continued with my studies it became apparent that the EMPOWER team was genuinely interested in my personal success. If you are studying alone like I was, and you are tired about venting to your friends and family about GMAT stuff, then this support structure will become very valuable.
After taking a three year hiatus from my Manhattan GMAT course, i did not want to spend a lot of money on another course and signed up with Magoosh, while Magoosh was good, when I finally took the GMAT, I got a 640. Determined to do better, I signed up with EMPOWERgmat, and I made the right decision.
EMPOWERgmat do a fantastic job teaching GMAT test-taking STRATEGY in addition to the concepts. I only used the score booster program as I had a limited time to study (2 months) and had already done some previous test prep. I saw my score quickly improve practice test, after practice test, and ultimately finished with a 710! If you are worried about not having someone to ask further questions to, Stacy was particularly helpful and responded quickly to any concerns or questions I had. I could not recommend this program more!
I really think that if I had signed up with EMPOWERgmat earlier, I would've been able to hit 740. Their videos and recommended study schedule works perfectly!
I am a female with an Engineering background. Sometime around September last year, I stumbled upon the GMATClub website and signed up for some free trials. Then in March, I decided to take the test 'seriously'. I purchased some well known gmat books and tried to self-study.
After 1 month, I took my first diagnostic test using the GMAT Prep software and scored 580 (Q39,V30). I honestly felt defeated because I knew I needed at least a 700+ for the top B-schools.
I read good reviews on empowerGMAT so I purchased it. I used a combination of empowerGMAT and another platform to attain my 700+ dream!
Test it and Test the Answers method of solving questions are amazing and I believe empowerGMAT is the only platform that really emphasis on these methods. It helped re-wire my engineering brain that loves solving the questions by writing all the equations out and going through EACH step. Granted that may work in engineering, there was simply no time for that when I have 75mins to solve 37 Quant questions. I could not connect with the Triage method of solving questions so I decided to forgo that section.
In terms of verbal, empowerGMAT is the only platform I found that had solutions to all the OG Guide verbal questions. This was really helpful in understanding what I was missing in regards to CR. Also, I found the RC method of reading slowly incredibility useful. I believe there is room for improvement in way the SC is explained especially for non-native speakers.