Applying to business school is a big step, and admission is competitive. The best schools are extremely stringent and only the exceptional candidates get through.
To stand above the rest, taking an exam that is purpose-built for business school is a very wise choice. That’s where the GMAT exam comes in. Designed by business schools for business schools, it is purpose-built to help able students make the grade. Essentially, the GMAT exam measures the skills business schools value most.
So how do you make sure your GMAT score is in the highest percentile? The best way is simply being prepared. And for that, more and more students are taking GMAT Prep courses, Target Test Prep, being one of the most well know.
But is it any good? Will it give you an advantage going into the final GMAT test?
Let’s take a look…
A Brief Overview of Target Test Prep’s Services
Target Test Prep (TTP) is a California-based company that provides private tutoring, online study platforms, and online self-study and preparatory (prep) courses to students and candidates preparing for GRE, MCAT, and GMAT examinations.
This review focuses on the on-demand online GMAT prep course. This is a comprehensive, personalized, transparent, and effective prep course that allows the candidate to learn the concepts that are tested in GMAT, as well as strategies and techniques for acing the GMAT exam.
GMAT is a computer adaptive test that was developed as a way to objectively predict the academic performance of the student during the first year in the graduate business administration program, and the test is designed to assess problem solving, data analysis, and analytical writing capabilities of the examinee, as well as his/her critical reasoning and logic skills.
The current updated GMAT has 4 sections:
- Analytic Writing Assessment
- Integrated Reasoning
- Quantitative Section
- Verbal Section
Target Test Prep prioritizes the Quantitative Section (QS) which is traditionally the hardest section in GMAT, and one which gives most students the greatest challenge. As expected, this QS is frequently the determinant of whether one aces GMAT or not.
TTP prides itself on preparing clear and easy-to-understand lessons and organizing these lessons well in its GMAT study plans, with the online lessons being delivered through Cisco WebEx and Skype video conferencing platforms.
Its study plans use the structured study approach that helps the candidate identify weak subject areas and gain relevant knowledge, as well as develop logic and reasoning skills to help him/her consistently score high marks in these subject areas.
Relatedly, one can customize the study plan so as to achieve a self-study course that is designed to optimize study efficiency.
Nonetheless, the default study plans provided by TTP are designed to help the candidate prepare confidently for GMAT by gaining the requisite knowledge and understanding of how to approach and answer GMAT questions.
TTP also provides an online question bank that has over 2500 GMAT QS questions, while a corresponding proprietary test engine allows one to customize practice tests so as to prioritize on weak subject areas.
These practice questions allow the candidate to build confidence in taking the test. Likewise, there are instructor-led video solutions that help the student better understand how to answer challenging questions. These efforts contribute to the score improvement guarantee provided by TTP.
TTP offers 3 GMAT course plans to cater to the needs of all potential types of candidates. These 3-course plans are the per-monthly-billed Flexible Preparation plan, the 4-month long Dedicated Study plan, and the 6-month long Maximum Learning plan.
There is also an option for the candidate to purchase a private tutoring plan called the GMAT Tutoring plan, though this is the most expensive option as compared to any of the aforementioned course plans.
Who is Target Test Prep?
It was founded as a for-profit company in June 2013 by Scott Woodbury Stewart, career-high school math and science teacher who has taught chemistry, physics, and biology.
In TTP, Stewart has served as the curriculum architect and lead content developer for the GMAT Quant Course. The head of GMAT instruction is Jeffrey Miller, a GMAT tutor who has provided 10,000+ hours of GMAT tutoring to students across the world.
TTP also has a content architect, software engineer, and systems engineer. Its current headquarters is located in Los Angeles in California, USA.
What Target Test Prep Offer
TTP aims to provide a comprehensive, personalized, transparent, and effective GMAT prep course that allows the candidate to learn the concepts that are tested in GMAT, as well as strategies and techniques for acing the GMAT exam.
As a company founded by a teacher who taught subjects that were tested in the GMAT Quantitative section, the initial focus of TTP was on the quantitative section, and later on, the verbal section was added to the course in the latter half of 2020.
Currently, TTP prides itself of preparing clear and easy-to-understand lessons and organizing these lessons well in its GMAT study plans. It also allows the student to set the pace of the prep course so that it fits his/her schedule.
Because the GMAT lessons are provided through an online education platform at any time that the student/candidate needs them, then it can be said that TTP provides an online on-demand GMAT prep course.
The online classes of this course are delivered through one of two video conferencing platforms: Cisco WebEx or Skype.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s in the course.
The Target Test Prep On-demand GMAT Prep Course
This course is designed to provide direction, guidance, and regularity during the study for GMAT. Equally, TTP has developed a comprehensive web-based GMAT Quant Course on a self-study platform so as to allow its candidates to prepare for the Quantitative Section of the exam by studying at their own pace.
The Quantitative Section of GMAT basically assesses the mathematical skills and logical reasoning of the candidate, as well as his/her understanding of core mathematical concepts.
Understanding the meaning of the questions
Apart from teaching the student/candidate the mathematical concepts, TestPrep also trains the candidate to understand the language (and by extension, the meaning) of the question, as well as trains him/her on both conventional and modern approaches to answering these questions.
Among the conventional approaches include the use of equations, formulae, and variables to solve questions; while the modern approaches include the use of substitution, back-solving, and elimination to solves equations, as well as the use of approximation and visualization to solve questions.
Other modern approaches taught are how to follow the trend and interpretation of diagrammatic representation of statistical data.
As mentioned, TTP recently debuted the verbal section prep course, which is designed to help candidates ace the VS of GMAT.
The Approach used by Target Test Prep
The approach used by Target Test Prep to prepare the candidate for GMAT is a sequential 3 step process that can be summarized as follows:
- Teaching concepts and building knowledge. This is the bulk of the prep course.
- Section tests: The candidate is given section tests to complete. This section tests are marched to the lessons the candidate has completed. For instance, if the candidate has completed lessons on grammar rules and their applications in sentence and speech, then (s)he is given an SC test. This shows that section tests are administered based on the lessons completed, and they are administered individually as a PS, SC, RC, DS, or CR test.
- Sectional testing: The candidate is introduced to 2 GMAT sections – QS and VS – and is given a test to complete on each section, i.e the student is given a separate QS or VS test depending on the lessons completed and sections tests that have been aced successfully.
The online study platform of TTP comes with a test engine that can allow the candidate to compose and take a full-length GMAT test.
Here, the test engine gives the candidate a mock GMAT Online exam to complete. The number of full-length examinations taken during the prep course can be as high as 15 before the candidate takes the real GMAC-administered GMAT exam.
The use of tests in the prep course is designed to test the following abilities in the student/candidate:
- Test of endurance – Can (s)he maintain/sustain concentration for over 3 hours.
- Test of smartness – Has (s)he acquired sufficient logic and reasoning skills to ace the GMAT exam.
- Test of maturity – Can (s)he maintain calmness and composure, without panicking due to fear of time running out during a test.
As mentioned, this on-demand course allows the student/candidate to complete it at his/her own pace, which makes it a self-study course. The self-study course can be accessed on any internet-enabled smartphone or personal computer.
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This prep course also comes with:
Smart intelligent analytics with error trackers that allow the student to identify his/her weak areas and work on gaining knowledge and skills on how to ace these areas.
Error tracker logs the mistake the candidate has made in tests and when answering questions and provides analysis that allows him/her to identify most common mistakes and understand behavioral tendencies that can contribute to making these mistakes, as well as offer advice on how to correct these behavioral tendencies and improve accuracy in answering questions.
This ultimately helps the candidate to become a strong test taker.
Expert Live support
The candidate can reach out to the TTP team with questions, concerns, and requests advice; as well as receive advice and opinion from the TTP Experts on matters concerning his/her chosen study plan.
Normally, the preparation for GMAT can last anywhere from 6 months if one is employed or studying in college, to 2 months if one is an above-average candidate who is free and committed to completing the prep-course and taking the GMAT.
Goal orientated Structure
Essentially, the Target TestPrep prep course strives to build (or develop) the following qualities in the GMAT candidate:
- Inbuilt aptitude for GMAT: This is developed by the study plan.
- Upgradation: This is achieved by taking GMAT training using an organized study plan and right study materials, as well as taking a mock GMAT exam, along with past authentic GMAT exam.
In order to better prepare for GMAT, the candidate can study GMAT materials. Authentic GMAT study materials include GMAT Official Guide (along with its online question bank), NOVA GMAT, Kaplan GMAT math, Kaplan 800, Princeton Review GMAT, GMAT Math Bible, and the Manhattan Series of GMAT books.
TTP offers 3 course plans to cater to the needs of all potential types of candidates. Each plan contains the course content described above, and they differ in the time taken to complete the course.
There is also an option for the candidate to purchase a private tutoring plan, but this is the most expensive option as compared to any of the aforementioned course plans.
Even so, private tutoring provides the most detailed prep course that takes into account the precise knowledge and skill level of the candidate, as well as his/her expectations regarding the GMAT score that (s)he desires to obtain.
This tutoring plan is called GMAT Tutoring. This plan covers QS, IR, and VS of the GMAT.
It is recommended that one prioritizes his/her GMAT preparation as half-hearted preparations usually results in poor GMAT scores, which translates to a loss of money and poor use of time.
Pros & Cons of Target Test Prep
What is the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)
GMAT is a standardized test written in standard English that is used to assess the mathematical, language, and analytical skills of a prospective student who wants to enroll into a graduate management program offered by an ENL or ESL college or university.
The graduate management program can be a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Finance, or Master of Professional Accountancy among other related graduate business administration courses.
GMAT is developed and owned by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a non-profit organization.
GMAC developed GMAT as a way to objectively predict the academic performance of the student during the first year in the graduate business administration program, and the test is designed to assess problem solving, data analysis, and analytical writing capabilities of the examinee, as well as his/her critical reasoning and logic skills. These capabilities and skills are important for real-world professional business management needs.
Evidently, acing the GMAT exam is one of the conditions for gaining acceptance to colleges that offer MBA in the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), Australia, Canada, and Singapore. GMAT is a type of a computer-based standardized test called a computer adaptive test (CAT).
CAT is basically an exam based on tailored testing, where the questions in the exam are selected based on the ability of the examinee to answer the initial standardized questions.
Operationally, CAT is a computer-administered test where the examination software has a large pool of questions, and it uses an iterative algorithm to present questions to the examinee, and if the examinee answers these questions correctly or wrongly, then the software uses these answers to estimate the abilities of the examinee and then uses this estimation to select the subsequent set of questions for the examinee to answer.
This estimation of the examinee’s abilities can be done repeatedly, for example (e.g), after a question is answered, or after a set of questions are answered.
This way, the exam adapts to the education level of the examinee, and the difficulty of the exam is more precisely attuned to the capability of the examinee to take the exam.
Naturally, the CAT presents one question at a time and then uses the answer provided to select the next question to be answered.
This applies to GMAT. Currently, GMAT is allocated 3 hours and 37 minutes, inclusive of breaks and test instructions. Relatedly, in one year, one can make a maximum of 5 attempts at acing the GMAT exam, as long as the periods between 2 consecutive exams is not less than 31 days.
GMAT measures verbal, writing, and mathematical skills. It does not measure motivation nor creativity, nor does it require the student (or candidate) to have any advanced business knowledge.
The essence of GMAT is to assess the logic skills and reasoning abilities of the student, as well as his/her understanding of concepts.
This means that it does not test Mathematics or English per se, but it tests the mathematical and verbal reasoning of the student.
As expected, to ace GMAT, the candidate needs to think quickly, even if this requires thinking outside the box.
Regarding practical life skills, GMAT assesses for the following qualities in the candidate: time management, ability to work with limited availed resources, stress management, and ability to think outside the box.
As a test delivered by adaptive software, GMAT calculates the total score based on the number of questions completed, the difficulty of questions answered, and the questions answered correctly, as well as a number of questions left unanswered.
This also means that the questions presented to the examinee are weighted differently. As an adaptive test, the initial questions impact the score more than the later questions.
A rule of thumb is that one loses more points for an unanswered question than a wrongly-answered question.
Therefore, the examinee needs to try to answer all the questions presented to him/her, which happens if (s)he prepares well for the GMAT.
It is for this reason that Target TestPrep exists – to help prospective candidates to score the highest points possible by answering as many questions as possible correctly, besides attempting all questions by providing an answer to each question.
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An Overview of the GMAT Testing Process
How is the GMAT exam organized, formatted, and scored so as to warrant the candidate to take a dedicated course just to prepare for it?
To begin with, GMAT is divided into sections, and TTP dedicates its course to the Quant section (described below), as well as provides a prep course on the verbal section. So, why the need for these sections?
Before June 4, 2012, GMAT had 3 sections that needed to be completed within 4 hours. These sections were:
Analytic Writing Assessment (AWA)
This was made up of 2 essay questions, one question being the analysis of an argument, and the other being the analysis of an issue. Each question was allocated 30 minutes, which means AWA needed to be completed within an hour.
Quantitative (Quant) Section (QS)
This was made up of 37 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) that needed to be completed within 75 minutes. These MCQs covered problem-solving (22 questions) and data sufficiency (15 questions) topics.
Verbal Section (VS)
This was made up of 41 MCQs that needed to be completed within 75 minutes. These MCQs covered reading comprehension (15 questions), critical reasoning (13 questions), and sentence correction (13 questions).
As is evident, the 3 aforementioned sections require 210 minutes, or 3 hours 30 minutes to complete.
Nonetheless, this GMAT test was allocated 4 hours to complete, which means that the student had 30 minutes break that could be spread out to provide breaks during the transition from one section to the next. The scores obtained in this test remained valid until 2017.
After June 5, 2012, GMAT was revised to exclude the analysis of an issue essay, and substitute it with an Integrated
Reasoning (IR) questions
The integrated reasoning question is a 12-part question that needs to be completed within 30 minutes and it covers 4 question types: multi-source reasoning, table analysis, two-part analysis, and graphics interpretation.
This IR question is scored separately, that is (i.e), it is scored as a distinct GMAT section. In April 2018, the GMAT was updated and the unscored items removed, and this created the current updated GMAT.
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The sections in the current GMAT are:
This is made up of one essay question, the analysis of an argument question, which is allocated 30 minutes. It assesses the critical thinking and communication skills of the candidate.
Integrated Reasoning (IR)
This is a 12-part question that needs to be completed within 30 minutes, and it covers the 4 question types mentioned above.
It assesses the ability of the candidate to evaluate data and information presented in different formats and derived from different sources. This ability is important in the modern data-driven, technology-dependent world.
This is made up of 31 MCQs that need to be completed within 62 minutes. This means that each MCQ is allocated 2 minutes.
These MCQs cover 2 question types – problem-solving (PS) and data sufficiency (DS). This section assesses the ability of the candidate to conduct data analysis, and draw inferences and conclusions using mathematical reasoning. It is also the focus of the TTP course.
This is made up of 36 MCQs that need to be completed within 65 minutes. These MCQs cover 2 question types – reading comprehension (RC), critical reasoning (CR), and sentence correction (SC).
It evaluates the ability of the candidate to read and comprehend written texts, correct miswritten texts, and evaluate arguments.
GMAT Online excludes the AWA section, hence it has only 3 sections. This means that the GMAT Online exam needs to be completed within 2 hours and 37 minutes, unlike the in-center GMAT exam that is allocated 3 hours and 7 minutes. There is also time allocated for breaks between the sections.
To take the test, one needs to submit an identification document (ID) that has his/her photograph e.g a passport or driver’s license.
This is then followed by a verification process that mandates the student to submit himself/herself to have his/her thumbprint and photograph took, which is thereafter followed with audio/videotaping. Then, one signs the rules agreement and confidentiality statement.
Regarding scoring, each of the 3 sections and the IR question are scored separately, hence yielding 4 different types of scores: the quantitative score, verbal score, AWA (writing) score, and the IR score.
These 4 scores are then added together to yield the total score. Usually, the unofficial total score, along with the quantitative and verbal scores, can be available the same day that GMAT was taken.
Even so, the official total score, along with the 4 scores, is available about 20 days after the test date.
GMAT scores are valid for 5 years after they were officially released. The maximum score is 800, with 600 points being considered a decent score, while a score of 700 points is considered an exceptional score. Target TestPrep aims to equip its students with the knowledge, as well as logic and reasoning skills, which will enable them to score 720 points or more.