Economist GMAT Prep Review - Financial Analyst Insider
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Economist GMAT Prep Review

The Economist may be best known for its news magazine, so you might be surprised to find out the Economist also created a comprehensive GMAT prep course. In this article, we’ll check out what The Economist has to offer, and I’ll share my personal reactions after spending a week testing the GMAT prep course product.

Course Design

The Economist offers GMAT prep in the “hybrid” format: that is, the program combines self-directed study with live instruction from GMAT experts.

Each of The Economist’s three program options include access to its library of over 5,000 practice questions. Somewhat distinctively, The Economist pairs this question bank with an adaptive algorithm, which recommends lessons based on your strengths and skill level.

In its own words, The Economist does not intend to be a “virtual version of a textbook,” but rather wants its platform to offer the closest thing to personal tutoring you can get.

Live Instruction

All of The Economist’s GMAT prep options include some amount of live instruction. This comes in three forms. Most interactively, each program comes with a certain number of 30-minute video tutoring sessions, in which GMAT prep experts can help you build a study plan and review any tough material.

Then, in addition, you can also send a set number of “Ask-a-Tutor” questions when you need help on a concept or test strategy. The same experts will write you back promptly. Finally, The Economist will also grade your Analytic Writing essays—another way that The Economist makes its GMAT prep more individualized.

Prep Course Options

The main difference between each course option is how much access The Economist gives you to its material and expertise.

Complete

The Complete Prep course represents the basic level course which gives students all the core features necessary to prepare for the GMAT.  This course includes the following features:

  • 3 months of access.
  • Access to all online course material which includes over 5,000 practice questions.
  • 3 full length practice exams.
  • 50 Ask a Tutor questions.
  • 2 live 1 on 1 tutoring sessions.
  • 4 Essay evaluations.
  • Mobile app.
  • 50 point improvement guarantee.
  • $799 Course cost.

Premium

The premium course option offers a nice balance between extra personalized tutoring and the core Economist course features.  This course offers all the same features as the Complete course with the following additions:

  • All course features of the Complete course.
  • 5 Practice Exams.
  • 100 Ask a Tutor questions.
  • 3 live 1 on 1 sessions.
  • 5 Essay evaluations.
  • 70 point improvement guarantee.
  • 3 month access for $899.

Ultimate

The Ultimate course represents the premium level course for the GMAT.  This course offers enhanced tutoring as well as an extra 3 months of access.  Notable course features include:

  • All features included in the Premium course.
  • 6 Practice Exams.
  • Unlimited Ask a Tutor questions.
  • 4 live 1 on 1 sessions.
  • 6 Essay evaluations.
  • 70 point improvement guarantee.
  • 6 months of access for $1,099.

Notable Course Features

The Economist offers a number of unique elements that stand out from other GMAT prep options.  The most notable features include a score guarantee, algorithmic course design, graded essays, and mobile app access.

Score Improvement Guarantee

The Economist offers a unique score improvement guarantee as part of its course offerings.  In order to qualify, the improvement is calculated from either your highest score in the past two years, or based on a practice exam you take during your first week with the Economist.

You must start your program 10 weeks before a GMAT date, use all of your instructor lessons, take every practice exam, and complete 90% of the course content. Finally, you must file your claim within 30 days of the end of your subscription.

Algorithmic Course Design

One of the hardest parts about GMAT prep is deciding what to spend your time on, given that there are umpteen different question types, and each may cover anything from a year’s worth of topics. It’s a hard truth to face, but most of the questions you get correct during practice don’t help you that much. After all, you would have gotten them right on the test! Alternatively, there’s no use fixating on questions that really are too hard.

The middle ground—those questions that were just out of reach—is the area where you can improve your score the most, and The Economist’s algorithm uses machine-learning techniques to help you optimize the time you spend preparing.

Graded Essays

The ability to receive a graded essay is another notable feature offered by the Economist’s GMAT course.  Once you have completed and submitted your essay, an Economist tutor will grade it within 3 to 5 business days and provide you with detailed feedback.

Other Features

You can access your GMAT prep program through a mobile app that is available for both Apple and Android phones.  The mobile app is an ideal feature that allows you to easily practice a few extra questions while taking a break at work.

If you purchase any one of The Economist’s plans, you also get digital access to the Economist magazine, as well as a free copy of the Official GMAT Guide.

Which GMAT prep option is right for me?

While each option offers different levels of access, the biggest practical difference is whether you can use The Economist’s platform for three or six months.

For students who begin preparing early, or intend to take the GMAT multiple times, it seems worthwhile to spend the extra few hundred dollars on The Economist’s Ultimate Prep program. This will give you six months’ worth of access, and the additional personal attention that comes with the package will help you use that time productively.

Students who prefer one of the three-month options may be best served by sticking with the Complete Prep plan, which is the lowest in price and offers a reasonable level of tutoring access.

My Experience Using the Course

The Economist’s GMAT prep portal makes a great first impression. It has a sleek, interactive feel, and the introductory material is friendly and easy to read. In this case, first impressions will not let you down.

Quality of Instruction

When you initially enter The Economist’s GMAT prep program, you will be asked to set the date of your exam and choose a target score. Even from this early point, The Economist’s adaptive algorithms are at work, determining how much you’ll need to study each day in order to attain your goal.

The introductory material is presented well. As a first step, you complete several warm-up questions. The portal introduces a time constraint partway through, to give you a sense of the test’s timing without subjecting you to an entire exam.

Interactive Format

After you’ve tried your hand at some GMAT questions, The Economist will introduce the exam format. Early on, you notice how interactive the platform’s material is. The explanations are well-written—funny even!—with useful comparisons and metaphors, and you’ll be asked to “respond” to instructional prompts by choosing one of several plausible answers.

This engaging format continues in the content-based lessons. After each concept is presented, you’ll be asked to do a practice question. A slider over each answer option allows you express your level of confidence—guessing, 100% confident, or somewhere in-between—which is used to calibrate the difficulty of subsequent questions. When you get an answer wrong, you can read an explanation about why that option doesn’t work, and then you can try again.

Lesson Details

Most lessons include a “discussion” of the practice questions, in which you’ll be prompted with questions about your thought process. Again, the superb writing makes many of these interactions a lot of fun. The type of reflective, engaged learning that The Economist encourages really stood out to me.

However, some lessons are less thorough than others. The vocabulary and grammar lessons, in particular, could be expanded.

Other shortcomings include the lack of video lessons, which may make The Economist suboptimal for auditory learners, and the lack of “review units” after covering related concepts. Also, it does not appear that students can skip around the curriculum very much. Within each section of the test, lessons must be taken in order.

Ease of Use

The Economist’s interface is sleek and easy to use. The dashboard illustrates your daily goals and past progress, and includes a quick-start link to begin the next recommended lesson. If you want to skip around between lessons, or take a practice test, you can access a full listing of The Economist’s content via the right sidebar.

In the practice portal itself, The Economist makes it very easy to get extra help. A link for the Ask-a-Tutor feature is provided alongside each answer explanation. Using it opens a pop-up box with which you can ask for clarification or feedback from one of The Economist’s in-house GMAT experts.

Ask a Tutor Questions

While The Economist’s Ask-a-Tutor feature makes personal attention easy and accessible, the availability of live instruction is more limited. When I tried to find open times, I was only able to find time slots during business hours on weekdays.  Keep in mind the availability changes based on demand, so this probably changes weekly. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, The Economist’s GMAT prep program is a strong product. The platform’s adaptive learning technology has the potential to optimize the time you spend preparing for the GMAT. Moreover, its lessons are clever and engaging, and its user interface is easy to navigate.

The best way to see if The Economist makes sense for you is to test out the platform with a free trial.

Pros

  • The Economist’s adaptive curriculum can really improve the efficiency of your GMAT prep regimen.
  • The user interface is stellar, and its accessible Ask-a-Tutor function makes getting personal help easy.
  • The content explanations are engaging and well-written—fantastic for visual learners!

Cons

  • Unfortunately The Economist doesn’t currently offer recorded video based lessons, which may be a negative for auditory learners.
  • Getting the best tutoring appointment times can be a little challenging.
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