Wednesday, August 02, 2006

To Prep Course or Not to Prep Course - GMAT Agony

Phew! After much back and forth on the GMAT study plan: figuring out why my items would take a month to arrive from Amazon (a precious month of studying!), buying and then returning Cracking the GMAT from the local bookstore and then reordering it on Amazon after originally cancelling it there, cancelling the offending items in my Amazon order so that it would actually ship out within the next week or so, giving serious serious contemplation to the Manhatten GMAT prep course, feeling ashamed of abandoning self-study as I read the inspiring BeattheGMAT posts, ordering $200 more books on Amazon, waiting to hear back from the Manhattan recruiter, taking Princeton's free online exam (530! ouch!) ... I have finally decided that I will refrain from taking a prep course and resume my self-study plans.

Since I'm frugal (a point that will be stressed over and over I'm sure) and generally a hardcore DIYer (studied for the SAT with a library book, got all the series licenses with free books from my firm, worked through the CFA with the recommended textbooks, spent two summers scraping 80 years of lead paint off my house bc I didn't trust anyone else to do it), the prep course was not immediately appealing. But because I have limited time, really want to ace the GMAT to make up for some other weaknesses in my app (which we will cover later), the Manhattan course grew more and more appealing, especially after their very excellent virtual introductory session. I don't have much time and absolutely don't want to screw this up and reapply next fall and because I can't get myself together in time for round 1 (my preferred deadline), I felt willing to pony up for a full on course. But even though the virtual classroom idea is all about flexibility, I couldn't even committ myself to picking 2.5 hours per week for something. I love being able to study when I want. And $1,000 for prep alone is a lot, especially considering it's only the tip of the total cost of applying this fall (plane fare to New York from West Coast anyone?). I figured it was worth keeping my one grand and went whole hog with the book ordering.

In addition to the books listed in my introductory post I have also ordered the entire Manhattan GMAT series as well as the OG Verbal and Math Review and ARCO's Answers to the Real GMAT Essay Questions. All are in stock and I even picked 3-5 day shipping instead of Super Saver so I might actually get them in time to take the test in October! Actually what was holding up my order was the How to Get into the Top MBA Programs and the MBA Admission Edge book. The former I grabbed at the local bookstore (looks great so far) and the latter I cancelled from my original order and reordered separately. Will have more in depth reviews on those later. I will also say that Amazon has totally won my loyalty with amazing customer service. I was puzzled about my order status, keyed in my phone number and one second later my phone rings and 10 seconds later I'm on the line with a very helpful fellow who helps me figure out how to get my stuff more quickly. Go Amazon - you'll have my love forever. Plus, all of the items I've ordered are way cheaper than anywhere else. More points.

Ok, I have to figure out how to actually make progress studying while I wait for all my materials to arrive. Time's awasting! Every day counts.

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