Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of questions that we are often asked and which may be useful to you in planning your study or determining if we are a good fit for your needs.  Alternatively, you might consider checking out some questions which we are rarely asked and are unlikely to be of any use to you here, on our Infrequently Asked Questions page.

+ Why should I sign up for a course with TestCrackers instead of a class with one of the big test prep companies?

Without speaking with you, we don't know whether one of our courses is right for you, but here are some things that make the TestCrackers experience different:

  1. Teachers: All of our classes are taught by our top-notch instructors with 99th percentile scores, countless hours of test-specific teaching experience, and more 5-star Yelp reviews than you’ll find with any other option. Sure, you might get a great teacher with one of those other companies, but you could also get a mediocre teacher who just took the test, has limited teaching experience, and no incentive to better his or her craft since he or she is likely to change jobs soon. Don’t take a gamble: learn the GMAT or the GRE from an instructor who knows the tests inside and out, will talk with you before you start your course, and offers reviews and testimonials.
  2. Small Group Classes with personal attention are the best way to learn a systematic approach: We have developed a top-notch, interactive curriculum based on decades of teaching experience. In our classes and in private tutoring, we focus on helping you understand the underlying material and how to approach the test. Unlike other companies that offer large classes with limited interaction, we strictly limit our class size to 12, at which point we know we can offer individualized attention. Rather than simply running through practice problems, we offer a systematic approach to each problem type that you will face. Our experience and small class size allow us to combine the best strategies with the most thorough coverage of the content.
  3. Investment in your Success: Your instructors choose to focus on teaching because we love the satisfaction that comes from helping hard-working, motivated students achieve their goals. For us, that means that your success is crucial to meeting our own goals. We want to make our courses the best that they can possibly be, and we’re constantly in conversation with each other and our students about what we can do to improve. It is for this reason that so many people send their family and friends to us after taking a course. It sounds cliche, but we actually do care about our students!

+ How long do I need to study for the GMAT or GRE?

This is an easy one: we have no idea, but probably longer than you would expect. The answer depends on 3 things:

  1. Your starting score, based on a full-length, timed, practice exam. Please do not put off taking a practice test. It is step 1. E-mail us if you'd like a link to a good, free, accurate practice exam.
  2. Your goal score. A decent rule of thumb is that your goal score should be at or above the median score of the most competitive school to which you're applying, but there are many other factors. If some characteristics of your application are truly exceptional, such as your undergraduate GPA and/or experience, you might have a decent chance of admission with a slightly lower score. The converse is true as well--if your undergraduate GPA is below the program's median, or if your experience is lacking, then you'll likely need a higher-than-average GMAT or GRE score.
  3. How much time outside of classes you will devote to studying. If you do not have five hours/week outside of classes at minimum to study without distractions, then perhaps this is not the time to take the exam. But, if you have 5-10 hours/week of time, then you can do it!

After you've completed steps 1) and 2) above, give us a call at 415-323-5728 and we'll talk about how much time you'll need.

+ When can I schedule my test?

If you plan to take the test only once, the best time to take it is after you have consistently scored at or above your target score on accurate practice exams. Again, see above for how long that may take, and please contact us with any questions about more details.

+ I haven't taken math in 10 + years. What can I do to prepare for one of your quant courses?

  1. For the GMAT, we highly recommend Manhattan GMAT's Foundations of GMAT Math. Complete all of the drills at the end of each chapter.
  2. For the GRE, we also highly recommend doing all the problems in Manhattan Prep's Foundations of GMAT Math--it says GMAT in the title, but everything in the book is completely relevant to the GRE. It’s a foundational book, and both exams test the same fundamentals. Make sure to complete all the drills at the end of each chapter. If you don't have time to properly prepare by doing this book, complete all the worksheets on the following page: [][1] but note that this is not a good substitute for doing the foundations book.

+ My first language is not English. Would I benefit from taking a GMAT or GRE verbal course?

This depends on your fluency in English. Many ESL students have had good experiences with TestCrackers, but language can be an added challenge for what is already a difficult subject. If you struggle to read and understand the material on the test, and have a TOEFL score of below 90, you may find that you benefit more from time spent studying English before beginning our course. Call us to talk more about your specific situation.

+ Do you offer make-up classes? I have to miss a few of the classes.

Yes! We're a very small business-- so we do have to limit make-up classes to one class per session (so if you took a complete course you could make up one quant class and one verbal class). If you need to miss more than one class, we offer online videos of all materials for the GMAT quant and GRE quant courses. The videos are of the instructor explaining all quant class material, so it is a bit different from the highly interactive class. For all courses, we offer the opportunity to set up a private tutoring session with your instructor to review all class material. See our tutoring page for rates.

+ I plan to apply to Business School - should I take the GMAT or GRE?

Most schools now state that they will accept both the GMAT and the GRE, and do not have a specific preference for one or the other. When business schools first began to accept the GRE, some people viewed it as a "backdoor" into business school. This was because so few students applied using the GRE and GRE scores were not factored into business schools rankings, so schools could admit students with low GRE scores and otherwise strong applications without concern for the impact that this would have on rankings.

As applying to business school with GRE scores has become more common, this has begun to change. For several years now, many programs have released data on the GMAT and GRE scores of their student bodies (see here), and many rankings now reflect that information (see here).

The Case for the GMAT
Though the differences are shrinking, it is our opinion that the GMAT remains the primary standard by which business schools measure students, and by which rankings measure schools. If you can take the GMAT and score above the median score for your target schools, there is not a lot of downside. Schools have a longer history measuring GMAT scores and are more familiar with their predictive ability for success in school and post-graduation. On the other hand, admitting a student with a GMAT score significantly below median remains a tough decision for most business schools to accept. In short, if you have strong evidence that you will be able to reasonably achieve a GMAT score above the median at your target programs, we do still find the GMAT to be your best option. This is particularly true for students applying to jobs in finance or consulting, which recruit heavily based upon GMAT scores.

The case for the GRE
If you meet any of the following criteria, you should consider the GRE instead:

  1. Your initial score on the quantitative section of a timed GMAT practice exam is at or below the 25th percentile. Raising a GMAT quant score from the 25th percentile to above the 70th can take multiple years of study - the path on the GRE can be considerably shorter. In our experience, this is a smart strategic move that will increase your chances of acceptance.
  2. You are planning to apply or considering applying to programs that require the GRE. Given that there is no longer any significant penalty for applying to business school with the GRE, it doesn't hurt to keep your options open if you are considering other degrees.
  3. You find the computer adaptive format of the GMAT extremely stressful and it causes a significant disparity between your performance on practice questions and on the actual exam.Though the GRE is also computer-based and adaptive and also stressful, many students do find that the ability to come back to questions you've skipped allows them to feel somewhat less pressure than during the GMAT and ultimately achieve a score more reflective of their abilities.
  4. You will have an extremely hard time mastering Sentence Correction, the means by which the GMAT tests grammar. The verbal section of either exam has a significant impact on the competitiveness of your overall score, and only the GMAT tests grammar (about 1/3 of the verbal section). On the GRE, vocabulary makes on 1/2 of the verbal section. Most students find that, although time consuming, vocabulary acquisition comes easier than improvements in grammar understanding and thus offers an easier path towards improving your verbal score.

    If you're still not sure, feel free to give us a call at 415-323-5728 or email us at and discuss this further. It is possible to change exams later in your studies, and there are significant areas of overlap between the two exams, but we find that most people are happiest if they make the right choice from the beginning and are able to focus their studies on the skills needed to master a single exam.

+ Do you offer payment plans or scholarships?

A: Yes, we do! We will work with any student to come up with an acceptable payment plan--just call us 415-323-5728! Please note, however, that for all plans, full payment must be made at least 7 days before the course begins.

We also offer a limited number of need-based scholarships covering part of the cost of our courses. If you are interested, please click here to apply.

+ How much work is required outside of class time for your courses?

A: For each class period, we assign roughly 5 hours of homework, in addition to approximately one practice exam every 2 weeks. Please note that the homework may take more or less time depending on your pace. Our homework is carefully chosen to reinforce what we learn in class. Setting aside this time outside of class for focused homework is required to make significant improvements in your score.

+ Should I take the quant and verbal courses at the same time?

A: This depends on how much time you have to devote to study in between classes. As noted, above, there are about 5 hours of homework per class period, so if you’re taking both courses at the same time, you’ll need approximately 10 hours per week outside of class to study. Also factor in about one practice exam every two weeks. Most people who work demanding, full-time jobs find it difficult to take quant and verbal courses at the same time.

+ I have test anxiety--what will TestCrackers do to help me?

A: Many people experience some degree of test anxiety, and for some students it can significantly impact their scores. Many students find that information from the following sites can be useful in addressing minor test taking anxiety:

Note that anxiety can be a serious medical condition. Unfortunately, we do not have the qualifications nor expertise to advise you on how to treat anxiety. If you find that anxiety is significantly impacting your ability to perform, we advise seeking outside assistance from a specialist. This may be an important step in achieving your goal score and we encourage you not to avoid or delay it.

Whatever anxiety you may face, we’re happy to help with the part that we can provide: a solid basis in fundamental material covered on your test and a structured approach to preparation. We are excited to have you study with us and will make every effort to make our class time work as well as possible for you--please just let us know what we can do to make your time in the course most comfortable and effective!

+ Do you offer SAT, ACT, ISEE, ASVAB, Reiki, Modern Dance, or other tutoring/courses?

A: No, sorry. We only teach courses covering the GRE and the GMAT. By specializing in these two exams, we have developed great expertise in them.

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