Need a 700+ GMAT Score? Big Test Prep Won’t Tell You These Secrets. But we will.

First came Big Oil. Then came Big Tech.

Now, there’s Big Test Prep. 

You know those big corporations, and their high-profile global brands. If you graduated from college in the past 40 years, you had seen their flyers plastered all over your campus. 

But if you need a GMAT score above a 700, are those industry behemoths right for you? 

Cornering The GMAT Prep Course Market

Test prep grew into a big business the same way the oil and tech industries did—by appealing to mass markets. But Big Test Prep didn’t corner the GMAT market by targeting folks with high aspirations like you. 

Instead, the industry got rich from a mass market with 50 times the buying power—the torrent of MBA applicants satisfied with decent, mid-600 scores. 

Back in the day, a couple of decades ago, those scores might win entry at some top 25 MBA programs. Those were the quaint, grand old days of Big Test Prep. 

But today? No way. Times have changed. With a fiercely competitive candidate pool from around the world, in 2021 elite MBA admissions don’t work that way. 

Today, you need that 700. Or better.

At Menlo Coaching, that’s why we added our new GMAT Prep Courses and tutoring. We want to help folks like you—ambitious folks whose big career plans require scores north of 700.  

And just so we’re clear, we’re not Big Test Prep. We don’t appeal to their mass market. But understanding more about Big Test Prep’s closely-guarded secrets will help you understand why we’re your best choice for the special kind of GMAT prep you need.

Can You Score a 700 on the GMAT? 

Yes, you can. Many people do. In fact, every year on average, about 32,500 people around the world score a 700 or better. 

And believe it or not, roughly a third of them—10,400 people—score at least a 730 on the GMAT. 

You could join that elite 700-plus club, too. 

But understand that the vast majority of those 32,500 folks beat a 700 in spite of their GMAT prep courses and tutoring—not because of them. 

If learning that fact surprises you, learning why will surprise you even more. 

To understand why, you need to understand some dirty little secrets that the Big Test Prep behemoths don’t want you to know. 

Let’s start with, for example. . .

Dirty Little Secret #1:

Big Test Prep has a nasty habit of relying on inauthentic exercises and practice tests that don’t prepare students for the real GMAT. 

The issue here is not so much about the difficulty of Big Test Prep’s “simulated” exercises and exams per se, but instead about the inauthentic nature of their exercises and exams. 

In other words, some of these firms employ difficult exercises and practice tests, but rather they are not difficult in the same ways that the GMAT’s real test items and practice tests are difficult. 

In many cases, the reason for this inauthenticity is typically because the simulated questions don’t assess the skills that GMAC, the Graduate Management Admissions Council, intends its actual GMAT test items to measure. 

Frequently, Big Test Prep firms write purported Quant questions that assess math skills, or purported Verbal questions that assess English skills. But the GMAT isn’t a math test, and it isn’t an English test. Strictly speaking, the test doesn’t measure those underlying skills—which is why the application of those skills doesn’t make the GMAT difficult. 

Instead, the GMAT measures analytical abstract reasoning in both the Verbal as well as the Quant sections. It only uses quantitative expressions and English sentences and passages as vehicles to test analytical inferences and abstract reasoning—not to test math and English content knowledge.

This regrettable two-step shell game results in what some have called the “Big Test Prep scam.” In brief:

  • The Big Test Prep firms first write their own in-house, “simulated” test questions that aren’t the same as GMAC’s authentic questions. . . 
  • . . .then those firms repackage and sell those questions within GMAT prep courses, tutoring, book sets sold by weight, and online platforms linked to question banks containing thousands of “proprietary” test items. All these products teach these firms’ own in-house strategies to solve their own in-house test item simulations—which are never the same as the GMAT’s authentic test items! 

Think of what the Big Test Prep firms are doing as monetizing inauthenticity. Yet this is big business. Unsophisticated examinees spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on Big Test Prep’s offerings, even though those customers pay premium prices for products that to one degree or another amount to inauthentic knock-offs of genuine GMAT test items. 

Big Test Prep mostly does this for financial reasons because this practice drastically lowers their costs. This way, they write simulated practice questions for a tiny fraction of the $2,500 average cost that GMAC pays expert subcontractors like the American College Testing Program to develop each question on the GMAT. 

Believe it or not, you read that right. The 79-item GMAT that GMAC’s software serves to a typical examinee contains questions that cost about $200,000 to develop. Each Executive Assessment, with half the GMAT’s questions, costs about $100,000. And at $2,500 per item, the entire test bank from which the software selects and serves test items must have cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build during the 18 years since GMAC fired Educational Testing Service in 2003. 

The part-time, junior GMAT teachers Big Test Prep hires presumably know the difference between the simulated and authentic questions. They can tell. But because they lack the decades of teaching experience found among the best-paid full-time professionals in the business, it’s not in the best interest of these ambitious young employees to openly call attention to the ways the industry monetizes inauthenticity. Especially during a pandemic when times are tough, many need their jobs too much. 

These “pseudo-GMAT” exercises also help enhance customer satisfaction—at least temporarily, that is. Because so many of their answers are correct, Big Test Prep’s students believe they’re performing superbly in the GMAT prep classes and on the practice homework. They also feel that putting in a lot of effort was the correct path to get a high score, and they feel virtuous about all their difficult study.  

But then these students show up for the real GMAT, only to experience a surprise on test day. They find that the actual test differs from their exercises and practice exams in unexpected, perplexing ways, and end up with scores well below 700s. 

Is it any wonder? Not at all. This is the result that Big Test Prep was designed to produce. That’s because the industry’s economics inherently incentivize median-seeking outcomes—not scores over 700.

Dirty Little Secret #2:

The value propositions of many Big Test Prep companies tend to pitch volume over quality and service.

Firms like these subtly imply that their highest-scoring students worked through the largest number of their voluminous practice questions. And that all of their students should do that, too.

But a lot of fallacies exist with that grueling, workaholic value proposition. 

For one thing, it’s blatantly using fear as a motivator, despite 50 years of research in social and educational psychology demonstrating that fear motivates students poorly. It’s manipulative, arguably dysfunctional, and doing that is just plain wrong. 

But second, have you ever noticed that the GMAT test takers who aspire to attend the best business schools—those who most need 700+ scores—usually have the least time available for GMAT prep?

Think about it: What junior management consultant or investment banker or Silicon Valley technical lead do you know who has plenty of free time during months of evenings and weekends to devote to working through many hundreds of GMAT exercises?  

In 2021, does anybody like this even exist? 

Do you have free time like that? 

This is where GMAT efficiency becomes critical in an industry rarely known for efficiency. Spoiler alert: As much as 75 percent of the scattershot, time-wasting curricula and methods of several Big Test Prep firms are useless on the actual test—and may even be so destructive that they later require “deprogramming” by experienced GMAT tutors like ours at Menlo Coaching. And the opportunity cost of not instead studying the 25 percent of concepts most useful in solving 700-level test items has damaged many scores. 

Besides, working through huge volumes of content exercises won’t help with an exam that—as we just pointed out—doesn’t primarily test math and English content. But instead, what will help is learning to select and apply a targeted assortment of critical reasoning strategies—carefully selected methods that efficiently solve the broadest spectrum of genuine GMAT questions. 

Rapidly and effectively teaching efficient strategies like these to groups of graduate school applicants isn’t a job for novice educators. If you need at least a 700, you can’t afford to trust your score to a Big Test Prep instructor who might only be teaching their second or third GMAT prep course, or tutoring their fourth or fifth student. 

Somebody like that won’t do. 

Instead, you need a seasoned, full-time professional with decades of GMAT prep teaching experience—one who views graduate education as a calling, and has made this discipline their life’s work. 

You need a professional like Menlo Coaching’s test prep vice president, Chris Kane. 

Meet Chris Kane

A funny thing happened when Chris Kane moved to New York City a decade after graduating from Stanford University. 

Chris Kane, Vice President of Test Prep at Menlo Coaching

Learn more about Chris

Get a Taste of the Classroom

A possible career switch into management consulting had drawn Chris to New York. But instead of conducting informational interviews on Wall Street, he thought it first seemed like a good idea to see if he was right for a management consulting career in another way—by taking the GMAT.

He maxed out the test with a 99th percentile score. 

Then Chris switched careers in an entirely different way. He decided that instead of crunching numbers on Wall Street, he would much rather help people succeed on this brilliantly-devised exam. 

That was almost 20 years ago. And since then, the 20,000 hours Chris logged teaching GMAT prep courses and tutorials has surpassed the hours most airline pilots have logged flying jetliners. 

More than 5,000 GMAT students have studied with Chris. He’s taught private GMAT prep courses on location at every major management consulting firm and investment bank up and down Wall Street. Chris has also taught public seminars in New York, Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. And through his online GMAT courses and tutorials, he’s taught thousands of students from all over the world. 

Truth be told, Chris might very well be one of GMAC’s worst nightmares. But for close to two decades, his uncompromising approach to maximizing the GMAT performance of 700-plus aspirants has earned the respect of students and alumni from the highest-ranked MBA programs around the world.

Hear from GMAT Prep Course Students

Frequently Asked Questions About Menlo Coaching’s GMAT Prep Course

What’s the difference between your GMAT prep course and those your competitors offer?

In general, we don’t talk about individual competitors.

But there’s one firm in particular about which you should know. We’ll make an exception in their case, so let’s talk about them.

That’s ACTP, Inc.

You know ACTP, don’t you?

Amalgamated Consolidated Test Prep?

If you don’t know them, you should. Because they embody everything that’s wrong with Big Test Prep, and everything about the test prep industry we seek to disrupt by introducing our new GMAT prep services.

Our business model and unique value proposition are radically different from Amalgamated’s. Briefly, here’s a summary of those differences.

For one thing, ACTP writes their own “simulated” GMAT questions. The firm cranks out a torrent of thousands of these practice problems every year. ACTP aggressively promotes them, and argues that its massive online databases of practice exercises afford them an overwhelming advantage over competitors who don’t offer similar products.

But ACTP has a problem, and it’s a big one.

In short, the firm’s simulated problems differ in their character from genuine GMAT test items in subtle yet unmistakable ways. This is why the problem-solving strategies ACTP sells in their courses, books, and online platforms work for the test items they create, but break down on official GMAT test questions. Essentially, practicing on an endless stream of these phony problems risks wasting time and effort because all that hard work won’t necessarily boost performance on the real GMAT. The reason is that real GMAT questions don’t test math and English, they assess analytical abstract reasoning with quantities and verbal language.

To write test items indistinguishable in character and sophistication from genuine GMAT questions, ACTP would suffer a huge profit plunge. They can’t afford to hire all the Ph.D. talent an initiative like that would demand. Official GMAT questions typically require meticulous attention to details, assumptions, and logical reasoning in order to avoid subtle traps and pitfalls. By contrast, Amalgamated’s less sophisticated, simulated Quant questions might instead require extensive rote calculations; simulated Verbal questions might test grammar and syntax rules, but not deceptively test logical reasoning through the examinee’s analysis of expressions and passages like the real GMAT does.

Keep in mind that potentially destructive opportunity costs exist in working through all these simulated problems, and they often result in additional MBA application-damaging consequences besides just noncompetitive GMAT scores. For example, the typical applicant needs at least one solid career promotion to win admission to a top 25 MBA program. However, investing all this time and effort in potentially useless GMAT drill problems can’t be invested into solving problems at work that could earn that promotion, or additional promotions that build upon it.

That said, our approach at Menlo Coaching differs from ACTP’s in two principal ways, because we believe the best GMAT prep course is the one that prepares you effectively for the live GMAT exam:

Proprietary Strategies Plus Authentic GMAT Assignments

We teach proprietary strategies in our GMAT Refresh Modules (see FAQ below) and lessons covering every major section of the test. Students then apply these strategies to homework assignments based on problem sets carefully curated from GMAC’s official resources.

Graduate Education Professionals with Demonstrated Track Records

Our instructors are more astute and possess stronger track records and more experience in graduate education. At ACTP, simulated test items can be taught adequately by junior, non-specialist instructors who earn lower pay. But efficiently teaching strategies that solve a broad spectrum of genuine GMAT test items requires experienced instructors and tutors who are not only accomplished GMAT experts, but also graduate education professionals with demonstrated track records. These are the professionals you’ll find in our GMAT prep program.

Who would benefit most from your GMAT prep course?

Students in Menlo Coaching’s GMAT courses appreciate the group classroom learning experiences that our sections afford online participants.

All our live class sessions use the Adobe Connect video courseware platform. Our live video/audio stream is combined with a customized and highly interactive chat that allows students to not only communicate seamlessly with the instructor but also learn valuable lessons from one another. In other words, Adobe Connect’s courseware promotes rapid learning because it enables conversations among the instructor and classmates in real time, much like an in-person classroom.

The platform also provides for live timed polls in response to instructor questions. In these polls, students “vote” on the correct responses to questions and exercises, then offer to explain their reasoning or show their work through live chat. For study, all students receive access to recordings of the class videos, complete with copies of the instructor’s slides and the chat transcripts.

The mood in our live courses is cooperative and supportive—never competitive or confrontational. Experience shows that students learn test-prep strategies most rapidly within relaxed, comfortable environments. And for students seeking 700-plus GMAT scores, there are no stupid questions—especially not while students learn model solutions to difficult problems where the correct answer typically appears unlikely or counterintuitive at first.

As we note below, our online GMAT prep course delivers exceptional value for a competitive per-hour price. In general, we recommend most students start with our live class instruction.

Additionally, students who need more intensive instructor guidance—including those who need to address challenges they experience with critical GMAT subject areas—might also consider our GMAT tutoring program. Even as few as five or six individual sessions with one of our GMAT tutors would amount to a worthwhile score-boosting investment, and we describe tutoring features and benefits in depth on our GMAT tutoring overview web page.

What are GMAT Refresh Modules? What topics do they cover?

Most students in our courses don’t need an expert’s help with reviewing basic skills required for the GMAT.

However, not all basic skill areas are equally important. During the 18 years of the modern, post-ETS GMAT, the examiners have tested some of these skills much more frequently than others.

The greatest value an experienced GMAT instructor delivers stems from their experience teaching the highest expected value strategies and concepts students need to master. To that end, we’ve prepared proprietary GMAT Refresh Modules for you that emphasize topics like these. They will save you time by focusing your study only on those skills that the examiners are most likely to require for correct solutions.

You’ll independently study these self paced materials at your convenience. That will save classroom time for what you most need an expert’s help with: the advanced application of this material to difficult test items likely to appear on your GMAT.

These self-study materials cover the GMAT fundamentals required in all the major skill areas required to improve your Quant score and Verbal score:

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Word problems
  • Statistics
  • Critical reasoning
  • Sentence correction
What sort of GMAT study plan would you recommend?

An effective GMAT study plan is critically important. We’ll provide you with a detailed study plan to guide you both throughout as well as after the course—during the crucial period just before your test date.

After you complete our proprietary GMAT Refresh Modules and lessons, you’ll then receive homework assignments based exclusively on curated problem sets from GMAC’s official resources. Our comprehensive course materials carefully map out every step toward a 700+ score.

What’s the price of your GMAT Prep Course?

The GMAT Prep Course requires a $2,000 investment in your future. And compared with the offerings of many Big Test Prep companies, our 35-hour GMAT Prep Course delivers exceptional value. Here’s why.

Our GMAT Prep Course is a great value because it’s a cost-effective solution. On a per-instructional-hour basis our course is very competitively priced, and we sell the course for a flat fee that makes budgeting straightforward.

Moreover, our course can save you time and money—and in some cases, lots of time and money. That’s because our GMAT Prep Course provides a conceptual framework in an organized, systematic way that prevents most students from needing extensive private tutoring afterward.

If you know that standardized testing is not your strong point, or just want the incremental efficiency that comes from 1:1 tutoring, we do offer a $400 discount on any tutoring package purchased up front in combination with our GMAT prep course.

Furthermore, many students find that when they have questions, they can rely on collaboration with classmates through our discussion forums and learning management software, to which we provide access for course participants at no additional charge.

What’s your guarantee?

The GMAT Prep Course features our no-questions-asked satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, tell us before the third class session, which covers GMAT algebra. You’ll receive a full credit or refund, less a $100 administrative fee.

GMAT Prep Course Schedules

Self-Guided Course: Start Any Time

Our on-demand service offers flexible GMAT prep built around your schedule. An excellent choice for highly motivated students who do not need the support of a live instructor, Menlo Coaching’s on-demand GMAT Prep Course gives you access to recordings of all live sessions, including the introductory lesson and homework reviews. That’s 35 hours of video content covering every major section of the test—available when you need it. Follow at your own pace as expert tutor Chris Kane teaches you the strategies required to break 700, with the freedom to rewind, rewatch, and skip ahead as needed. For the self-guided student, there’s no better option.   

What’s included?

  • A detailed study plan for use during and after your coursework—covers the period up to test day
  • Full access to video recordings of every lesson and homework session (35 hours of content)
  • GMAT Refresh Modules and other written materials from the curriculum

Fall 2021 Course Schedule: Starts September 30

Topic Date Time (Eastern Time Zone)
Introduction to the GMAT Thursday, September 30th 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Arithmetic Saturday, October 2nd 11am – 1:30pm
Critical Reasoning I Sunday, October 3rd 11am – 1:30pm
Homework Review Session Thursday, October 7th 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Algebra Saturday, October 9th 11am – 1:30pm
Reading Comprehension Sunday, October 10th 11am – 1:30pm
Homework Review Session Thursday, October 14th 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Word Problems Saturday, October 16th 11am – 1:30pm
Sentence Correction 1 Sunday, October 17th 11am – 1:30pm
Homework Review Session Thursday, October 21st 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Geometry and Statistics Saturday, October 23rd 11am – 1:30pm
Sentence Correction II Sunday, October 24th 11am – 1:30pm
Homework Review Session Thursday, October 28th 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Data Sufficiency Saturday, October 30th 11am – 1:30pm
Critical Reasoning II + Final Preparations Sunday, October 31st 11am – 1:30pm

To hear more about how our GMAT Prep Course could help you, contact us at [email protected]

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