a Failed GMAT Preparation and a GMAT Tutor Resigns
During my first stint as his GMAT tutor, Morris was not the best GMAT student. He finished about half of the homework that I assigned. He lacked focus in our sessions. But, he was improving. A little. Sometimes he would get a mountain of work done and I’d be hopeful that he was getting on track but just as suddenly as he had started working consistently he would get distracted by some other aspect of his life and revert to doing almost nothing (sticking to a GMAT Schedule can really help with this). It was a tough situation and I really wasn’t happy being his GMAT tutor as I felt that it was a waste of time for both of us and a waste of his money. I let him know my feelings on several occasions, in part to motivate him to get on track, but nothing changed so finally we decided that it would be better for him to find another GMAT tutor.
I sent Morris an email a couple of months later to check in to see how his preparation had gone with his new GMAT tutor. He explained a similar scenario of him doing very little work and unfortunately the new GMAT tutor hadn’t really tried to motivate him. He wasn’t happy with his GMAT score and even worse felt that it was too low to apply to his top choice: NYU.
a GMAT Tutor Re-hired and a New Deal Struck
I thought about the situation for a couple of days and decided to sign on again as his GMAT tutor with the caveat that he would promise to keep up with all of the assigned work and follow these essential GMAT study skills. I knew that he wouldn’t succeed with a “normal” GMAT program so when we discussed his prep I suggested a special “GMAT light” schedule for him. The basic idea was to meet often (three times per week) but for short 1 hour sessions and to keep the homework limited to 20 minutes per day (not including the review). He didn’t do 100% of the work but he did 90% of it. I knew that 20 minutes a day wasn’t going to be enough down the stretch but it was enough to build his GMAT fundamentals (if you are having a tough time with basic GMAT math take a look at this article on basic GMAT prep using the Khan Academy: Free and Awesome!) and to set up the good habits that would allow him to tackle a tougher schedule later on. Notice in his schedule below that Morris would have assignments with as few as 5 questions. Also notice all of the "yes" action in the complete column!
a Few Stumbles to the Finish Line
Gradually I increased the homework load and mixed in some timed sections. One day in the third month of his GMAT preparation came Morris’s first practice test: 550. A disappointment. He had improved his Quant considerably but the verbal had taken a nose dive. I was perplexed and asked him for details. Apparently he had finished the verbal section with 15 minutes left. Argh!!!! I was annoyed at his rushing the section especially considering all the work that we were both putting into this. The following week he took another practice exam and: 610. Much better but still far below where I thought he should be scoring. Morris admitted to taking a bathroom break in the middle of the Quant section and so losing a bunch of time on that section. Needless to say that this GMAT tutor was unimpressed. If you are having having issues with time then this article on GMAT timing could be helpful.
Finding a Niche and a GMAT conclusion
LSAT Logical Reasoning helped save Morris’s GMAT preparation. He really enjoyed those questions. There was finally something that he actually wanted to study! I made sure to load him up with LSAT work hoping that we could make him a Critical Reasoning wizard. Success. Because of his dominating the Critical Reasoning he did extremely well on the GMAT paper tests (you can get these at here at mba.com), scoring in the 40’s on the verbal section. With the Quant in a modest but stable place and the verbal surging Morris was ready for test day. I felt that he had done enough work to reach a 650 (his GMAT goal), though I really didn’t have a lot of hard facts to back that up because every single practice test had been compromised to the point that the scores were inaccurate. So really my judgements were based on a bunch of disparate data points and plain old GMAT tutor intuition. The phone call came. 670! I was very happy that all of Morris’s work had finally paid off. In our second preparation he really committed himself and put a lot of trust in me as his GMAT tutor. He deserved the win. Congrats Morris!