If the award for “Miss Congeniality” could be granted to mainstream standardized test prep companies, I assure you that Manhattan Prep would win. When it comes to teaching style, books, practice exams, and GRE prep courses, Manhattan Prep is above par. Everything they put out shimmers with top-notch content that will help any Graduate or MBA hopeful preparing for the GRE (or GMAT, for that matter).
Although all big-name test prep companies might seem similar, they have worked hard to perfect a particular element of their program in order to stand out. Kaplan offers numerous study options for students to customize their prep, The Princeton Review has tech-savvy tools and adaptive algorithms, and Manhattan Prep provides their students with resources that focus on quality over quantity.
Manhattan Prep is not a “gimmicky” company. They get back to basics by ensuring their teachers are fun, relatable, and helpful. I believe their programs are structured in order to optimize the future GRE success of a working adult. Manhattan Prep truly understands how students learn, and know what a student might need in order to commit to preparing for the GRE.
The primary resources Manhattan Prep offers are their excellent instructors, GRE books that are superior to any others on the market, and programs that provide convenience for the busy adult.
Many companies will advertise that their teachers have scored in the “top 1 percentile.” Manhattan Prep is no different. However, instructors at these test prep companies are following a recipe that has been written by higher-ups. Even if the instructors wanted to branch out and share their own test-taking strategies, it probably would not be received well. So believe me when I say, the GRE scores of the teachers are not all that important. The most important qualities are that the tutor can clearly communicate the company’s strategies while keeping students engaged.
Manhattan Prep goes above and beyond to hire likeable and funny instructors who can break down Manhattan Prep’s strategies in a relatable way. Whether you are in a self-paced course and watching filmed lessons, or you are enrolled in an in-person class, the Manhattan Prep teachers will be engaging, compassionate, and easy to listen to.
Manhattan Prep has two books that will be included in their GRE Complete courses (or can be purchased on Amazon): the Manhattan Prep 5 lb. Book of Practice Problems and the Manhattan Prep Strategy Guides. When combined, they will adequately prepare you for the entire GRE.
As someone who is constantly carrying around the 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems, I am confident it does in fact weigh 5 lbs. There are so many practice questions that even if you are simply focusing on Math or Verbal (but not both), I would still recommend this book. The Verbal Reasoning (VR) chapters are explicitly broken up by types of VR questions and the Quantitative Reasoning chapters are divided into math concepts (ie. Functions, Number Properties, Word Problems, etc).
It is important to know that although this book is filled with practice problems and test-prep strategies scattered throughout the explanations, teaching students an overall approach is not emphasized. Also, there are no chapters designated to help students brush up on their mathematical skills. If you know you need help with algebra 1, geometry, and data analysis content, this book will not necessarily teach you. What this book provides is practice, and you know what they say, “practice makes perfect.”
For those who need to learn GRE approach before practicing said approach, the Manhattan Prep Strategy Guides are brilliant. They are easy to follow, with a slight blog-like feel and humor to the text. Even though an abundance of information is relayed throughout the books, they do not feel overwhelming.
Also, the books don’t simply focus on what you should do on test day, they emphasize what you should not do. Often, telling a student what they should be doing will not trump the bad habits they have already internalized, whereas pointing out the bad habits and explaining why it is not beneficial will better prepare them to focus on the things they should do on test day.
Manhattan Prep will not simply include their own textbooks, but The GRE Official Guides by ETS as well. This is one of many reasons I feel Manhattan Prep is a company that has the best interest of the students at heart. No one should be preparing for their GRE without working through the ETS books, and Manhattan Prep is honest about this.
I feel Manhattan Prep has created GRE programs that fit the needs of a busy adult. Although enrolling in a Manhattan Prep class is not cheap–at least in my opinion–they do offer monthly payment plans. For an aspiring Graduate or MBA student who might not have anywhere from $400-$1,400 to spend at once, entering in a monthly payment plan might be the difference between enrolling in the course and not enrolling.
As a test-prep instructor, I have come to notice that students tend to miss classes. Even if you were not planning on it, things come up: stomach flus, last-minute projects demanded by your boss, car accidents on the freeway that left you sitting in traffic for two extra hours. Manhattan Prep makes it easy for students to sit in on make-up classes and also offer filmed versions of the classes for students to review.
Students are able to retain access to the online course material for three months after the class ends and the ebook for one year. For someone who might intend to take the GRE at a specific time but ends up pushing back their test date, access to these resources will be important in order to ensure nothing is forgotten.
Manhattan Prep has written a total of six full-length GRE exams for students to utilize. The GRE questions Manhattan Prep has written are without a doubt better than any other company.
The Quantitative Reasoning questions, written by ETS, are tricky to mimic due to their puzzle-like nature. Many of the questions are not challenging on account of “knowing the hard math.” They simply require a clever thought process. Manhattan Prep’s questions reflect this level of intricacy. Also, the explanations they provide are in-depth and there is a heavy focus on the strategy behind answering the questions. The tests are section-adaptive as well.
I don’t know if any other company has went through such lengths to truly come up with test-taking strategies for students. What I appreciate about Manhattan Prep is they do not rush this process. They are not afraid to take the time to dive deep in helping students effectively navigate the GRE Verbal and Math sections.
Manhattan Prep teaches their strategies in modern and engaging ways. Many companies will give students very general “strategies,” such as reading passages to get the gist. However, Manhattan prep will provide an in-depth explanation on how to actually execute that on test day.
An example of this is when Manhattan Prep discusses how to critically read without focusing on all of the irrelevant details of the passage. They tell students to read a passage and anticipate how they would go about texting a summary of it to a friend. This analogy can help a student comprehend the concept a lot better than simply saying “get the gist.” Furthermore, Manhattan Prep is known for teaching content in a humorous way. If you struggle with critical reading, the last thing you want is an arrogant teacher or boring text.
The only con to Manhattan Prep focusing so much on strategies is it might be frustrating for a student to sit through if they already know them. If you are a student who has mastered the GRE approach and simply wants to work through practice problems, you might feel ancy in Manhattan Prep’s courses or reading through their Strategy Guides. If this is you, I would recommend signing up for Kaplan’s QBank.
The self-paced online course that Manhattan Prep has created is highly interactive and adapts to a student’s strengths and weaknesses. The program is composed of three levels that cover Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning and will increase in difficulty as a student progresses through the course. Each level ends with students taking a full-length GRE, written by Manhattan prep.
There are three components to each level: the Learn It, Drill It, and Prove It sections. The Learn It section is where students will watch videos of instructors taking them through GRE strategies and content. Students are able to actually see the enthusiastic teachers, which definitely trumps simply listening to a voiceover. The Drill It section provides students with the opportunity to practice the underlying strategies they just learned before moving on to more difficult GRE-type questions in the Prove It section.
Internalizing a given strategy can be like riding a bike with two wheels for the first time–it might take a moment to get your balance. I appreciate that Manhattan Prep provides students with the opportunity to practice the strategies on questions that are a bit more straightforward before the Prove It section.
Both options include…
Although this course covers all sections of the GRE, there is a heavy emphasis on advanced math.
I would recommend Manhattan Prep to anyone who is willing to dedicate the time to fully utilize their resources. They are not a company that cuts corners, so be prepared to embrace the GRE and dedicate yourself to learning the test-taking strategies Manhattan Prep has mastered. Trust me, it will be money and time well spent.