Manhattan Prep GMAT Review: Your Ideal Solution? - Financial Analyst Insider
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Manhattan Prep GMAT Review: Your Ideal Solution?

Many students prefer a traditional classroom setting with personalized instruction.  Manhattan Prep created an entire company based around the idea that students learn best when they are paired with outstanding teachers. 

This philosophy led Manhattan Prep to recruit teachers with 99 percentile standardized test scores that also had significant teaching experience.

This article provides an in depth review of the Manhattan Prep GMAT prep course program. 

We also take a first hand look at Manhattan Prep’s Interact GMAT online course and answer the question of whether best in class teachers can help you prepare for the GMAT more effectively.

Manhattan Prep Program Philosophy

Manhattan Prep is an upscale, mid-sized firm that distinguishes itself with its high quality of instruction.  This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as the recruiting process includes very strict criteria.

Last year, just 205 instructors met Manhattan Prep’s minimum teaching criteria. These teachers were selected from a pool of 43,749 test takers with a 1% percentile score.  Of those 205 teachers that passed the initial selection criteria, just 11 went on to be hired by Manhattan Prep.

GMAT Course Offerings

Manhattan Prep groups its program offerings into two main categories: On Demand and Instructor Led. 

Students that are comfortable structuring their own study schedule will find a lot to like about Manhattan Prep’s self guided on demand course options.

On Demand Course Options

Students interested in a self guided study program benefit from a choice of two options: the Interact Full Course and the Interact Course with coaching. 

Students can also get access to a single section of the Interact Course for either verbal or quant at a lower price point.  This is a nice option for students looking for supplemental content and additional practice questions.

GMAT Interact Course

The GMAT Interact course represents the premium option for students following a self study program.  The GMAT Interact course features all the core curriculum as well as full access to Manhattan Prep’s on demand interactive courses.

The full course program includes access to 35 video based lessons, as well as a set of the company’s proprietary course books, and access to its online question bank and six adaptive practice sets.   

Notable Features include:

  • 6 full length computer adaptive exams.
  • Comprehensive online analytics.
  • Access to over 35 video based lessons.
  • Viewable on a computer, tablet, or cell phone.
  • Print editions of Manhattan Prep’s GMAT Strategy guides.
  • Print edition of the Official Guide for GMAT.
  • Print editions of Foundations of GMAT Math, Verbal, and advanced Quant.
  • Full course available for $999.

GMAT Interact: Quant or Verbal

Students have the ability to select a single GMAT interact course focused on either the Quant or Verbal section of the GMAT for a lower price point.

  • Single course access for just $549.
  • 16 video based quant lessons or 21 verbal video based lessons.
  • 6 quant based strategy guides or 4 verbal strategy guides.
  • Each option includes 6 full practice tests and access to all online features.
GMAT Interact Full Course & Coaching

Students that prefer a self study course but value targeted tutoring for more challenging subjects will find the coaching option very appealing. 

This option includes 3 full 1 on 1 sessions with a GMAT instructor. This course offers all the material included in the GMAT Interact course along with the personalized tutoring.

The full program with the additional tutoring is available for $1,399.

Instructor Led Course Offerings

Manhattan Prep also offers three options for live instruction, each of which comes with complimentary access to the Interact course.

GMAT Complete Course

Manhattan Prep’s Complete Courses offer live instruction from instructors.  The program includes 27 hours of live classroom instruction organized over 9 classes.

Each course includes customized 1 on 1 prep and post exam instructor feedback.  Students have the ability to ask an unlimited number of questions to the instructors and will receive written feedback to their questions.

Additional Course features include:

  • 27 hours of classroom instruction.
  • Full access to the GMAT Interact online course.
  • All features included in the GMAT Interact course including printed GMAT books and strategy guides.
  • Complete course available for $1,399 or $1,799 with 3 additional tutoring sessions.

GMAT Prep Bootcamp

The most distinctive offering is the GMAT Prep Bootcamp, a full-time course that lasts either two or three weeks. For $2699, students participate in 35 hours of live instruction, attend online office hours, and take GMAT practice tests.

At $5199, students can add ten hours of tutoring, a pre-course “game plan,” and a six-hour math basics course for those who need extra review. Bootcamps begin every few weeks in London and New York City, and once every month or two online.

Manhattan Prep also offers more traditional forms of GMAT prep: tutoring or weekly courses.

Tutoring runs from $225 to $255 per hour, depending on how many hours you purchase at once.

The company’s nine-week courses cost between $1,600 and $1,700 in person, and $1,400 online, and meet weekly for three hours. Students can also purchases three one-on-one coaching sessions as a $400 add-on.

Prep & Admissions

The Prep & Admissions program may be the most comprehensive graduate school prep program available.  This course offers 8 hours of personalized graduate school admissions consulting from a senior consultant plus full access to Manhattan Prep’s Live GMAT prep course.

This is a great option for students looking to maximize their chances for admission to the most elite graduate schools.  This type of program is designed to give highly competitive students an extra edge in the admissions and GMAT exam.

Notable features include:

  • 8 hours of admissions consulting from senior consultants.
  • Enrollment in a Manhattan Prep Bootcamp or Live GMAT prep course.
  • Bundled option includes savings of up to $600.

Unique Features

Although the company’s primary focus is on instruction, Manhattan Prep has kept up with the technological times, and boasts a few advanced features.

Its online practice tests use adaptive question difficulty and scoring, just like the real GMAT, and the Navigator portal lets you practice on official GMAT questions, providing analytics on your progress and performance.

Which Course to Choose?

As always, the best option depends on your needs as a student. Self-directed courses require a lot of independence, but tend to be more affordable.

Live instruction can provide structure for your GMAT prep regimen, while tutoring is often best for students who want personalized attention.

From a strategic perspective, however, it’s worth noting the 27-hour Live GMAT course includes access to the self-directed GMAT Interact course for only $400 more.

Therefore, unless you are especially sensitive to the difference between $1,000 and $1,400, it makes sense to consider a live course (and take advantage of both courses). 

Live Class Considerations

Because of its distinctiveness, students should also consider whether they would be a fit for Manhattan Prep’s GMAT Bootcamp. Not every student can study full-time for two weeks, and if you want to attend classes in-person, you’ll need to be in New York or London.

But for students taking time off before their MBA, or whose employers want to work MBA prep into their work responsibilities, the intensive nature of the GMAT Bootcamp may be attractive.

Using Manhattan Prep’s Online Platform

As part of my exploration into Manhattan Prep’s GMAT program options, I signed up for the free trial of the Interact course, which covers the first week of lessons.

In line with the company’s mission, the Interact course provides some of the best video instruction I’ve seen in the test prep industry. 

However, keep in mind, you will be expected to complete a fair amount of offline homework as part of the video based lessons.

Quality of Instruction

The Interact course is so named because of the efforts that Manhattan Prep teachers put in to making this self-directed course engaging for the viewer. Running themes emerge throughout the course to make you feel comfortable.

Before each question you’re reminded to “take a breath,” to replenish your brain’s oxygen, and reinforce that every GMAT question is its own event—that the test is more marathon than sprint.

Instructors will ask you questions to keep your attention, which range from relevant to silly, and each response cues a different video “reaction” from your teacher.

Engaging your Students

Silliness, a delightful teaching tool, is used strategically to show how the GMAT works. In a lesson about sentence corrections, you are brought to the (very evil) Grammar Lab, which is staffed by mad scientist sock puppets who add errors to simple sentences, and elongate them to increase the evilness further.

The course content as a whole (silly and otherwise) is very robust. Teachers provide clear roadmaps for each lesson and make key strategies the central focus.

I especially liked how students are presented with a challenging question at the beginning of each lesson—to provide context—but are not given the answer.

Instead, the lesson proceeds into its main content points, before asking you to tackle the question anew with the strategies you learned. This format really held my attention, as it required active thinking during the lesson about how the strategies would be applied.

Ease of Use

It’s worth noting that the Interact course is highly self-driven. Manhattan Prep does not offer a score guarantee, simply stating that your success is your own, and that completion of the course is all but certain to increase your score.

In that spirit, navigating the Interact course is not difficult, per se, but will require some organizational skills on the part of the student. Lessons are easily accessible on the company’s platform, but homework is done manually—on paper—following a course syllabus.

Content Structuring

Weekly assignments are comprised of several chapters of reading from one of Manhattan Prep’s 10 proprietary GMAT books. Tailoring the course is left somewhat up to the individual.

The syllabus provides the ability to adjust question difficulty levels.  You can choose easy, standard, and hard tracks for each unit.  But at the topic level, it’s up to you to distinguish between what you need extra review on, and what you might be able to skip.

Final Thoughts

After spending time working through the Interact lessons, I can say that Manhattan Prep lives up to its reputation for teaching excellence. 

The course curriculum is engaging and unique.  The instructors also go to great lengths to explain important concepts and strategies.

For most students, your main choice will be whether to follow a self guided program or to utilize a live classroom program. 

This decision is really an individual preference, but rest assured that either option offers high quality content that will help you on test day.

Pros

  • Top-notch instruction from some of the best teachers in the industry.
  • Access course features from anywhere, including by computer, tablet, mobile phone, and a dedicated app.
  • Comprehensive practice question test bank with detailed diagnostics to track your progress.
  • In depth course curriculum that includes 10 strategy guides, 2 essential books focused on core concepts, and a detailed general guidebook with over 900 practice questions.
  • Variety of in person course options located in major cities around the country.

Cons

  • Manhattan Prep’s course options are available at premium price points.  However the quality of the instruction, available features, and ease of use justify a higher price point.
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