We have counselled, coached and worked with many students who had first tried the self-study method before coming to us. Without exception, we found an average increase of 10 points or more in their test scores after they started working with us; something in the regular rhythm of coaching just brought out their innate talent, and managed to get them the score they needed for a great grad school admit.
That got us thinking: coaching is definitely a superior option for the vast majority of candidates, but what exactly makes it so great? Is it a single thing that works, or is it a mix of factors? In our opinion, there are 5 big factors that set formal coaching apart from individual preparation. Here is Jamboree’s in-depth look at each of these:
Formal coaching helps you boost your area of strength, and turn it into a time-saving tool
Even though you will definitely be very highly motivated, initially, to prepare for the GRE, it is extremely difficult to sustain such a level of motivation throughout the prep period. Many factors contribute to this: other commitments and busy study / work schedules are the biggest reason, but lack of structured plans to conquer weak areas, absence of a large community to draw wisdom from, and low face time with mentors and experts also play their part in flagging self-motivation levels.
In contrast, formal coaching recognizes how important motivation levels are; for example, we at Jamboree have customized plans to keep every kind of student energized and excited. An important part of this is regularity: having scheduled touch points with an external guide helps make you complete prep targets with more diligence.
In addition, we are also able to share facts about the grad schools that you are looking at, by leveraging the power of our large and well-connected network. Finally, we are able to celebrate your achievements and work on your weak areas, and there is no greater motivator than knowing that someone always has your back.
Adherence to a study plan is much easier with a formal coaching partner
Almost everyone who prepares for the GRE has a study plan, but the depth and quality of the plan are usually better in the case of formal coaching, because of the wisdom of having done it before, many thousands of times. This quality is a result of knowing what a reasonable target is, and planning how to stretch, and understanding what reasonable stretch is. In addition, adherence to plan is a must, if you want to achieve your dream score. This is where the real advantage of a coaching partner lies.
In case you are going solo in your prep, you will find that your study plan is often disrupted by delays and missed study appointments; these make you fall behind in your overall plan, and it is very hard to pick up where you left off and seamlessly get back to a normal prep schedule. In addition, there is no external authority to enforce a return to the study plan, and this can have a snowball effect and make it very hard to complete your prep targets in time.
A formal coaching partner facilitates adherence to prep plans through three primary mechanisms: frequent tests, peer pressure and regular check-ins. The first is self-explanatory: we are conditioned to complete study plans close to a test, and practice tests scheduled every so often will help us finish some part of the portion, at the very least. Peer pressure is an implicit but important advantage: seeing a lot of bright, motivated people trying their hardest to crack the GRE is likely to make you go back to your prep plan and keep up with it. Finally, when you have to check in with a coach or mentor every so often and demonstrate completion of your plan, you will automatically become much more responsible.
Formal coaching helps you capitalize on a strength spike, and turn it into a time saving tool
When you self-prepare for the GRE, odds are that you will find many topics at which you are very good. The usual instinct is to prove that you are, indeed, strong at these topics (this is done by practising a certain number of questions from the chapter till you achieve a correctness rate above a threshold) and then moving on to the next topic, with confidence that the first chapter has been mastered. And this works well on test day because you are likely to get most of the questions from your ‘strong’ chapter correct. This seems like a great result, right?
But a coaching partner can help you unlock further value from your strong areas, and make them benefit the rest of your test. Here’s how: where most people stop with a certain topic once they are comfortable with it, a great coach will be able to show you how to get even better – to convert that strong point to something where you are actually able to save time on every question from that area. The precious seconds thus saved can be redistributed to other questions, and can actually give you checking time. Even if you improve accuracy in just two other questions as a result of the time saved on the strong areas, your overall score will definitely see an uptick. Leveraging strong points beyond the obvious is something that only a formal coaching partner can bring to you.
Formal coaching links you to a community that will spur you on to greater efforts
When you prepare on your own for the GRE, your grad school network is essentially a subset of your personal network, and is limited in size. You will probably have a couple of direct mentors, who have had recent success with the exam, and a few advisors that you can occasionally ask for help on specific points. You may know a few peers who are also preparing for the GRE at the same time, but your interactions with them is likely to be unstructured and sporadic.
However, formal coaching always puts you in touch with multiple communities which spur you on to greater efforts. The first such is a community of peers – other people who are preparing for the GRE in approximately the same window as you. These can fulfil many functions–help you in solving doubts, increasing your motivation levels or improve your scores, test by test. In addition, a great coach can put you in touch with many who have gone before – people who were like you a few months or years before and were able to perform excellently in their GRE. These are credible sources of both motivation and real tips: they become aspirational figures to whom you can ask the big questions that are on your mind.
At an overall level, a formal coaching partner has a proven track record of success
We have talked about a lot of input metrics above; it is now time to talk about the most important output metric: the one which sets formal coaching apart more than any other.
When you decide to self-study for the GRE, you go into the endeavour with a 0-0 record; you have never succeeded before. A coaching partner provides a powerful contrast: they have helped dozens (in the case of Jamboree, thousands) of aspirants successfully through different standardized tests. With this kind of track record, it is clear that formal coaching classes are doing something right; they have spent years on perfecting their role, and getting better and helping every kind of test aspirant maximize his / her potential score.
Even if you look at preparing for the GRE just as a simple process and ignore the details, it would always make sense to choose the option where more people have had success in the past; looking at success rates, that option is clearly formal coaching.
It should now be clear that studying for the GRE with a coach brings to you advantages that extend far beyond a simple mastery of syllabus, and it ensured holistic preparation and readiness. A coach can make sure that nothing goes wrong throughout your prep, and is like a form of insurance against unforeseen circumstances.
In case you want to gain access to the many advantages that a coach can bring to you – not only in GRE but in any other standardized test that you are looking at – we invite you to come and experience the Jamboree advantage for yourself. Whether this is for a full-time classroom program, a hybrid of classroom coaching and online content, or a completely online experience, we can help you add at least ten points to your score. Get in touch with your nearest Jamboree center today to schedule a free 1-on-1 session!