(Update July 2012: The GMATPill now has an Integrated Reasoning section – see my updated review here. The review below still applies to the original five sections of the GMATPill.)
For the past year, I’ve seen the GMAT Pill mentioned on various online forums like Beat The GMAT and GMAT Club. The founder, Zeke Lee, has been active on the forums, and I’ve been impressed with the sample videos he has posted around the web. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to review the whole video series. Here’s my review in bullet point format.
- What Is the GMAT Pill? The GMAT Pill is essentially a complete online video course for the exam; it consists of five individual “pills”, one for each question type. The pills can be purchased individually, or the whole 27-hour package can be purchased at once. Since there’s currently a large discount for buying the whole thing, that’s the recommended option.
The videos are written and narrated by Zeke Lee, a Stanford grad who scored 760 on the exam. From the content of the videos, I can tell he clearly has an extensive background teaching the GMAT. He spends more time on important topics, and less time on unimportant topics.
The quality of the audio and visuals is fine. They’re not as polished as the videos from Kaplan or Manhattan GMAT, but this can be explained by the fact that GMATPill is a one-man show. Zeke appears to have created all the content himself, and I think there’s a benefit to this since he consistently refers to his core frameworks.
The whole GMAT Pill course is intended to be completed in about one month. When you purchase the course, you receive a syllabus that details exactly where you should be on days 1-30. That being said, you obviously don’t have to follow the syllabus to the letter; in fact, you get lifetime access to the videos once you purchase. Personally I feel you could watch the videos over the course of 2 months while working on Official Guide problems and you would be fine.
Surprisingly, the GMAT Pill actually has a 50-point score increase guarantee (conditions are described below). That’s pretty unique for a startup company – you usually only see score guarantees from the big players (Kaplan et al).
- How Good Is The Content? Over the past couple weeks I’ve spent a good deal of time watching the GMAT Pill videos, and my verdict is that the content is very good. It’s similar to the lessons you would get if you hired your own private GMAT tutor, and the overall cost is much less. The quant videos are comprehensive; as you work your way through the videos, all the various GMAT quant topics are introduced and discussed. The two quant sections (Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency) each have a series of “Core frameworks” videos, which are content lessons that describe how to approach particular question types. Additionally, each section has timed quizzes that you can do right within your web browser. The quiz questions tend to be challenging, and are actually labeled “600-level” or “700-level” questions. After completing a quiz, you see the results, and can watch an individual video explaining any questions you missed.
The verbal sections follow the same pattern, with one difference. For each verbal question, Zeke first answers it quickly through elimination. Then, he reviews the problem slowly and thoroughly, and explains the logic that helped him eliminate the wrong answer choices. This is the same method that I’d use if I was explaining a problem in-person to a student.
Zeke devotes more time to topics that appear frequently, and less time to topics that appear infrequently. For example, in the Sentence Correction pill, he spends 30 minutes discussing Subject-Verb Agreement, while he spends only 6 minutes discussing Active Voice vs. Passive Voice. That’s about the right balance – both topics appear on the exam, but you’re far more likely to be tested on Agreement.
- How Much Does It Cost? The price of the whole set is currently $337 if you purchase through this link.
- Who Should Buy The GMAT Pill? I recommend the GMAT Pill for:
1) Students who don’t have the time to physically travel to a GMAT class twice a week
2) Any new GMAT test-takers that want a full-length course that will walk you through the content of the whole exam
3) Students with a limited time frame of 1-2 months
4) Students who live in an area where there are no GMAT courses or GMAT tutors available
- Who Shouldn’t Buy The GMAT Pill? If you really like taking in-person classes, or you can only concentrate when you are physically in a classroom, then the GMAT pill is not for you. It’s a self-study course, so you will have to be disciplined about watching the videos while blocking out distractions like your phone, Facebook, etc.
One potential drawback when compared to the major test prep companies is that you don’t get access to their vast array of online resources. However, Zeke is clearly very active in responding to questions through email; in fact, in order to be eligible for the 50-point score increase guarantee, he requires that you contact him twice over a 30-day period.
50-Point Guaranteed Score Increase: The GMAT Pill actually has a 50-point score increase guarantee, which is unusual for a small company. It comes with certain conditions attached – but that’s true with any GMAT company guarantee. (For example, Kaplan has rather stringent requirements). The GMAT Pill’s requirements are in line with Zeke’s approach of ‘improve your score within one month’. To meet the guarantee you must:
1) Log in to the GMATPill site and watch the videos on 22 of the 30 days prior to your exam
2) Email Zeke with two questions at some point during the 30 days.
These seem like pretty reasonable conditions.
Does it have an Integrated Reasoning section: The GMAT Pill has an Integrated Reasoning section which was released in July. The IR Pill is included if you buy the full course.
Conclusion: I’d recommend the GMAT Pill as a viable alternative for students that want a complete self-study GMAT course. Like any product, the GMAT Pill has to be compared to the alternatives. On the expensive side, full-length courses from a major test prep companies like Kaplan or Manhattan GMAT cost $1200 and up. On the less expensive side, you can just buy the 3 Official Guides for about $50. The GMAT Pill is a viable middle option.
Zeke has posted a ton of free content around the forums and on his website, so if you’re interested in seeing some of his videos, you can visit the GMATPill website here.
Also, here’s my video review of the GMAT Pill – it’s a little long, but you can see the actual interface:
Author: Matthew Kirisits.