(Updated September 2013)
I originally reviewed the GMAT Pill in early 2012. Since that time, the company has made several updates and improvements to their product. Below is my updated review.
- What Is the GMAT Pill? The GMAT Pill is essentially a complete online video course for the exam; it consists of six 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 $40 discount for buying the whole thing (use promo code TUTORME40 at checkout), 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. Like any good tutor, he spends extra time emphasizing important topics that are likely to appear on the actual exam, while only briefly reviewing more esoteric topics.
The quality of the audio and visuals is good. 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 smaller company. Zeke appears to have created all the content himself, which is a good thing because the videos are consistently in the same “voice” and teaching style. The videos for each question type (Problem Solving, Data Sufficiency, etc) begin with “core frameworks”, which describe general strategies and tips for those questions. Zeke then moves on and solve dozens of individual problems. While solving the individual problems, he keeps referring back to the 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.
Recently, the company has added a full length computer adaptive exam. It can be taken directly through your web browser. I believe you don’t have to purchase the actual product in order to take this exam and get your score.
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? 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. There are also hundreds of additional question available through the Practice Pill platform.
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
- Is there a discount available? You can get a $40 discount if you purchase through this link and use promo code “TUTORME40″ at checkout.
- 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:
- Log in to the GMATPill site and watch the videos on 22 of the 30 days prior to your exam
- Email Zeke with two questions at some point during the 30 days.
- Correctly answer at least 30 questions in each question tab (6 tabs total) correctly on the GMAT Practice Pill Platform.
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.
GMAT Pill Practice Pill Platform: One of the best features of the updated website is the Practice Pill platform. These are basically practice GMAT problems that you can take online. If you’re logged in, your scores are recorded. The best feature is that the platform keeps a running total of the number of people that attempted a problem, as well as the percentage correct. In the screenshot below, you can see the Practice Pill platform is very popular – thousands of people have attempted the questions.
GMAT Pill iPad, iPhone, and Android Apps: Another feature is the GMAT Pill iPad app, which is available for free via the iTunes app store. The iPad app allows free access to a couple hours of the whole course; you still have to buy the GMAT Pill to get all 60+ hours of video. The app provides a good sample of what you can expect – there are lectures on topics like Combinations and Permutations, plus examples of Zeke solving individual problems. The videos can actually be downloaded to your device so they can be watched offline. I highly recommend getting the app and browsing through some of the videos. The only drawback of the iPad app is that you can’t answer questions on the Practice Pill platform directly from the app; however, you can login to your account through Safari and use the platform there.
The GMAT Pill iPhone and Android apps are also available for free. Both apps are interactive and allow you to answer questions on the Practice Pill platform. This is a great resource for new GMAT practice problems, and you can use the apps anywhere. You can also download the videos directly to your device.
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. Note: this review is from early 2012, so it doesn’t reflect some of the new features:
Author: Matthew Kirisits.