Why Sherpa is Special

If you’re like most people preparing to take the GMAT, you’re probably aiming for a score of 700 or higher. And for good reason: every top-10 business school reports an average GMAT score of at least 700, putting students with lesser scores at a competitive disadvantage.

You may be unaware, however, of just how hard it is to attain such scores. If you got good grades in college, have a good job, and are generally smarter and more successful than most people you know, it’s natural to assume that you already have a leg up on the competition and that a 700 will be pretty easy to achieve.

The truth, though, is that just about everybody who takes the GMAT is organized, successful, and academically gifted. You’re pretty much like every other person preparing to take the GMAT. Success won’t come easily.

The GMAT is not like the SAT or ACT, which are taken by every person aiming for college. The GMAT is a selection tool for high-achievers. It’s designed to see who's truly elite among a group of people who are smart, responsible, and professional.

Unless you’re amazingly gifted at standardized tests, you will struggle with this exam. For the first time in your life, you will feel academically threatened. By its very nature, the GMAT is a challenge that few people can win. It’s graded on a curve: only 10 percent of the people who take the test can receive a 700 score. This means you have to outperform 90 percent of the people taking the exam, no matter how talented they may be.


In our experience, the vast majority of test-takers grossly underestimate the difficulty of this exam and simultaneously overestimate their understanding of the concepts being tested. The GMAT is a skill-based test, not a regurgitation of facts. It’s unlike any test that you’ve ever taken. It tests your ability to apply facts and concepts that you’ve studied in order to solve problems in innovative and non-conventional ways. It’s an exam that requires more than memorization. The intellectual skills that you need for success take time, practice, and guidance to develop.

We’re aware that most GMAT companies offer weekend “boot camps”, “math in a day” seminars, or preparation courses fewer than 30 hours long. The truth, though, is that such offerings are truly insufficient for most students: the assistance they provide is far too limited for an exam so difficult. Most students need more time to prepare for this exam, not less.

It is not uncommon for incredibly successful students — students who score above 700 and matriculate to top-10 programs— to take several months or more to attain such proficiencies. And understandably so: for most MBA programs, this exam matters more than your college GPA and work experience, combined. How many years of studying did it take you to achieve that GPA and that experience? If the GMAT only required a few weeks of studying, would business programs value it so highly?

As you can see from the chart below, we are different. We offer a level of help and expertise that, frankly, is unmatched by other GMAT companies.

KaplanSherpa PrepManhattan PrepPrinceton Review
Course6 weeks
18 hours
9 weeks
40 hours
9 weeks
27 hours
9 weeks
27 hours
Free office hours0Unlimited00
Max studentsNo max12No maxNo max
Instructor qualifications700 (90%)99% (760)
MA or higher,
2 years exp
760 (99%)640 (71%)
Additional
one-on-one hours
$2,799 for 15 hours$50 per hour$2,450 for 10 hours$1,800 for 10 hours
Free-repeat optionNoYesNoNo
Price$1,449$1,099$1,699$1,399
Price per course hour$155.50$27.48$62.93$51.81

The length of our course, the free office hours, the heavily-discounted one-on-one help, and the option to enroll in a second course at no cost go well beyond industry standards.

We offer all this help because our course is demanding.And not because we want it to be. What we teach is a reflection of what the test truly examines. It’s also a reflection of our personal philosophy towards education. Honestly, our lives would be a lot easier if we pretended that we could show you everything you needed to know in just a few hours. Our classes would be simpler to teach, we would field fewer questions, and there would be far less student anxiety to manage.

However, the truth is that most students have not received sufficient training from their colleges to do well on the GMAT. The U.S. is ranked 27th out of 34 OECD countries in math. And, yes, this is relevant: almost 50 percent of test-takers — your competition! — are not based in the U.S. If our course were less demanding, our students (and our company) would be a lot less successful. For many reasons, we cannot teach on such terms.Unlike most curricula and programs out there, we take the time to renovate the house, not just paint over imperfections.

Over the duration of our course, we provide our students with a litany of strategies, shortcuts, and gambits. Many of these strategies are not published anywhere or known by other professionals in this industry. We also make ourselves accessible, answering queries outside of class and investing our time and efforts in the success of our students. However, do not mistake shortcuts to problems with shortcuts to GMAT success. To be clear, success on the GMAT requires dogged determination, access to expertise, laughter in the face of failure, and, just as importantly, time.

If you’re still reading this page, you belong in our course. We know that the truth can be daunting. Most people would prefer to hear that a great GMAT score is just a few online videos or secret guess strategies away. If you’ve considered everything that we’ve said, however, and haven’t turned away, you are exactly the sort of student who will thrive with us and achieve success on the GMAT.