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My Knewton, pt 1: Online Class

Confused about which GMAT prep service to sign up with? I just signed up for another new service (no, I’m not exactly thrilled about it) with Knewton.  I just had my first class today and explore the entire site.  Post some comments if you have any specific questions about Knewton and I’ll answer them.

When it comes to GMAT prep, there are tons of resources and companies out there.  And with the correlation of $3,000 increase in post-MBA annual salary for every 10 pts higher you scored no wonder ppl don’t mind shelling out a little cash to try to get into a better score.  Here’s just a brief list of companies you could easily enlist, along w/ your big boys Princeton Review, Kaplan:

I have studied on my own, signed up for a couple of sessions of private tutoring, and my best score so far is still only 670 (that’s high or low depending on which side of the fence you are on).

Knewton is new.  I didn’t sign up with them first because it does seem like they don’t have a proven track record just yet.  There’s a lot of unknowns.  Their courses are unconventional.  Everything is online. But now after god knows how long I’ve been prepping for the GMAT, what do I have to lose?  Nothing, b/c there is a money back guarantee if you don’t improve your scores by 50-pts.

Of course, you can go through the tour on the site yourself, but here are some features and notes I’ll share with you:

Online class
It’s kind of like a conference call you might have experienced from work.  3 hours long.  One half Verbal, one half Quant.  You have one window w/ the instructor on camera, one window for the student responses, one window for the actual slide info w/ John Madden features on it, and then another slide for polls to input your answer on the practice questions.

Although not recommended, I’m jumping around sections.  I figure it was ok since I’ve already done a lot of prep work on my own and if I was missing something it will show up when I do the practice problems and review later.  I’m on a more aggressive schedule to re-take the GMAT sooner instead of month and a half or two months (no class around Thanksgiving, which I was actually hoping to study around this extra free time).  So I’m getting in as many live sessions as I can and the ones I can’t I’ll rely on the On Demand videos.

Pros:
Convenient – My class was at 10am on a Saturday, I literally woke up about half an hour before the class and was literally brushing my teeth as the class was happening.  You don’t have to fight traffic and drive anywhere.  You can do it from the comfort of your own home.

Schedule – You can easily find a schedule that works for you.  They’re mostly Mon-Wed, Tue-Thur, or weekends pair.  If you miss a class they have “On-Demand” videos taped from previous sessions.  If you struggle w/ a particular concept you can watch these over and over again, unless traditional class, unless you recorded it, once it’s done, it’s done.

Cons:
Distraction – It’s essentially like having a laptop open in a lecture.  You can easily be distracted if you have other windows open.  I have two monitors and I had to closed the second one and shut down all other applications.  No facebook, no twitter, no email.

Response lag – The instructor will ask questions or illicit response from the students and the only way to input is through a chat window (that is moderated by a TA I think).  When it’s online it is a little passive, sometimes you forget to respond.  If you have a question it’s possible that the instructor has already moved on by the time you’re finished typing, esp if the question is long winded or complicated.  I also find it a little more difficult to respond when it’s on a Quant section and you have to type square root or exponents.  I think they do taken this into account though and it takes a little initial adjustment but that’s it.

stay tuned for other aspects of Knewton’s GMAT course as I progress like how the office hour and adaptive learning work.

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