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The Personal GRE Tutorial is my personal vision of the ideal way to prepare for the GRE. I'd like to tell you, from my perspective, how the program came about.
The Personal Tutorial has grown out of my private graduate exam coaching and classroom instruction in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Since 1991, I have worked closely with limited numbers of students, often for 6 months with each student, to personally help each person score as high as he or she can.
When I first started working with students, I noticed that some had already taken classes with the big national companies or had studied commercial books for months. But they still weren't getting the kind of scores I knew they could get.
So, I created a better program. Here's how. First, I made sure each student had a chance to work with me personally as much as they needed.
Second, I made sure that I understood the test thoroughly. Why is each right answer right and why is each wrong answer wrong. There IS a reason behind each one and it is possible to learn to spot it. By analyzing the test so carefully, I have discovered a number of really important, fundamental agendas in the test and many patterns that help you see through the test. Many of my discoveries seem to be unique. They aren't being taught anywhere else.
Third, I paid careful attention to the kinds of errors that students made and the kinds of obstacles they ran into. Then, over time, I developed effective strategies to help students get through these. One amazing example is timing strategy. I've seen students cut their wrong errors in half just by developing a more effective timing strategy. (Easier said than done. It takes a lot of work, but most students can do it.) Oddly, other courses don't seem to work on timing in any depth.
Fourth, it's not enough just for me to understand the test thoroughly. I have to be able to teach that understanding to you. In a way that you learn best. Until you're satisfied that you've got it. Actually, that was the easy part for me. With degrees in Linguistics (BA, Honors with Distinction, U. of Michigan) and Special Education (MA with Distinction, Learning Disabilities and Giftedness, U. of New Mexico) and over 24 years of experience in individual and small group teaching, I've become somewhat of an expert on finding creative ways of helping each student.
Finally, if I wanted to develop a program that would help lots of students, I had to keep the cost affordable. It is.
All of this didn't happen over night. But here we are now with a more personalized, sophisticated and effective way to prepare for the GRE - that you can afford. Basically, the Personal GRE Tutorial gives you the best of my instruction through actual class sessions on video, plus the option to work with me individually by phone. As well, you can choose a classroom style program which lets you work with other students and myself in a live, interactive web video seminar from the comfort of your home.
I'll be happy to talk with you if you have some questions about your GRE plans. Send me a note or call me at (505) 281-0684, 7 days, 10 am - 10 pm, Mt. time. Good luck.
CLASSES ON VIDEOTAPEClass I - Orientation and Math: 8 hrsClass II - Verbal Section : 4 hrsNew Class III - (non-video) The booklet How to Ace the GRE Essays
Each class is a tape of an actual GRE class conducted by Jay Cutts. Classes include lecture information, strategies for timing and for solving problems, demonstration of strategies and question and answers from the class on actual GRE items.You get a study calendar, directions for using the materials and handouts for study and practice. You can call us for free help with getting started on the materials.
Your course fee includes two free hours of phone tutorial with Mr. Cutts.
You can buy as many or as few additional personal tutorial hours as you want. Most students use an additional 2 to 4 hours. It is rare to need more than that. You pay only for the tutoring time you need, in 1 hour modules.
When you want personal help, you register for 1 hour of tutoring. You can take several sessions to use your hour. You make an appointment at your convenience to work with Jay Cutts directly.
You can use your tutorial to review class material, ask questions about specific test items or get guidance on your timing strategy, math, your plan of study or your progress in general.Personal tutoring is available 7 days a week, day or evening.
You can call us free of charge any time for questions on how to use our materials, what kinds of programs you can choose from and other general questions.
For students who work best in a highly structured setting.
Three months or longer. The best way to get your top score.
Special arrangements for students outside the US, including e-mail tutorial and English language help.
Work with other students in our program live, by phone or e-mail.
We can conduct live review sessions for groups of approx. 10 or more with advance arrangements.
Students with special needs
For students with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, hearing or visual impairments or other special needs.
For students who need exceptionally high scores.
For students who are already enrolled in another prep program. Advanced strategies and personal coaching.
Personalized help and recommendations on your plan of attack for admissions, including your Personal Statement, letters of recommendation and aggressive strategies to make you stand out from the crowd.
See registration form for cost.
In most ways, the computer
test is harder than the old test. However,
there is a way to beat it at its own game.
We work with you on specific strategies for
the computer test.
Read the questions and answers below. Then please give me a quick call. It's the best way for me to make personal recommendations for you.
HOW DOES THE CUTTS GRE REVIEW WORK?
I work with you one on one. You study videos of my actual classroom sessions (11 hrs), work with handouts, a diagnostic test, an intensive study calendar and actual GRE questions. You and I work together by phone at your convenience. Many students talk with me once or twice a week with quick questions, for suggestions on practicing or to go into strategies in depth.
You pay a basic fee to register with me. It allows you to work with our videos, it gives you two free hours of phone tutorial with me and it allows you to buy additional phone hours at a discounted rate. (See our site for current costs or call me.) You pay only for the time you actually need.
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PREP PROGRAMS?
I am one of the few, and perhaps the only, full time, highly experienced (over 14 years full time) test prep specialists available nationally for you to work with directly. Many students come to me after taking a Kaplan or Princeton course or a course with one of the smaller companies. Once they've worked with me, they report that for the first time they are able to understand what the test is really looking for. The strategies I teach go to the heart of the test - exactly why the right answer is right and exactly why the wrong answers are wrong.
As a linguist and educator, I specialize in helping with individual learning styles, including test anxiety, learning disabilities, poor standardized test taking and special timing strategies for the computer exam.
A prep class is only as effective as its instructor. Instructors for most commercial programs have usually done extremely well on the test. Most are bright and often good in the classroom. However, the average instructor has probably taught the test only 3 or 4 times and may have only 5 or 10 hours of experience in working individually with students. Very few instructors have taught more than 8 or 10 times or have more than 30 or 40 hours individual tutoring experience.
Having done well on the test does not in itself qualify a person to teach. I personally got a near perfect score the first time I took the test but it has taken 14 years of teaching and research for me to thoroughly understand the hidden patterns of the exam, not to mention how to tailor special strategies to the needs of each individual.
I estimate that I have worked with over 1200 students and have 3000 hours of working one on one with a wide variety of students.
WHAT IF I NEED A LIVE CLASS?
Many of my students asked me this before they started working with me. Probably you are much more familiar with classroom teaching than with a guided coaching program. Also you may never have done tutorial work over the phone.
The main reason people think they may need a live class is so that they will have the structure and discipline to do the work. If your time is very limited and you don't have a lot of extra energy, it is not too likely that just being in a class will really make you work. It is too easy to hide at the back of the class.
However, if you are working with me, I can help you plan the best use of your time, give you specific exercises to focus on, make specific appointments to go over questions together and directly teach you strategies for improving. My students have found that I provide them a strong structure to work in that makes it easy to put in regular study time.
Maybe you have the energy but you are just discouraged about the test and need someone to "make" you do the work. Again, most classes don't have the personal attention to really make you work. You may end up just getting by with the minimum with no one calling you up to make sure you are working.
Often if someone is not getting around to the work, it's because they're getting frustrated or feeling intimidated. They need someone who can listen to them carefully and show them how to keep moving forward. Because of my years of individual teaching experience, I can often spot when someone is getting discouraged even before they are aware of it themselves! Usually a good heart to heart talk about how the prep is going, along with a specific plan for making step by step progress, gives you a way to dig in again and focus your efforts.
BUT ISN'T THERE AN ADVANTAGE TO A LIVE CLASS?
Yes, there are nice things about a live class. If I had a choice between two programs that were equal in quality and personal attention, I'd probably choose the live one.
However, programs are not equal. Usually you have a choice: a live classroom program with an inexperienced instructor, minimal personal help, and very general strategies VERSUS the Cutts program's expert tutorial with unlimited personal help and expertise in learning styles, test anxiety, timing strategy, testing strategies and the deep, hidden patterns of the test.
OUR TUTORIAL IS A LIVE PROGRAM - While you aren't attending classes at a fixed time, you are reviewing the classroom sessions on video and working live with me one on one. I provide the structure and discipline, get you through the rough times and give you help and strategies for your specific way of thinking and working.
AND MORE - FULL SERVICE ADMISSIONS HELP. Most commercial instructors do not have much experience with the rest of the admissions process. I work with you on your entire plan until you are accepted.
BUT I'M A VISUAL LEARNER. I LIKE TO SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING IN A CLASS AND BE ABLE TO LOOK AT SOMETHING WHILE THE TEACHER IS EXPLAINING. HOW CAN WE DO THAT ON THE PHONE?
Most people are visual learners. The program is designed for visual learning. In the videos you are watching me explain things and diagram on the board. When we work together, you and I are looking at the same materials. Most of the strategies I teach are visual strategies that I demonstrate on the videos and reinforce with you as we work together.
OK, I SEE THE BENEFIT OF WORKING INDIVIDUALLY WITH AN EXPERT. I STILL WANT TO COMPARE MY OPTIONS BUT THERE ARE SO MANY. HOW DO I COMPARE THEM?
Let's look at different categories of prep help. First, there are the large national companies, such as Princeton and Kaplan. (When I started, there were just Princeton, Kaplan and Cutts). These companies offer classes in many locations. They are usually very expensive. Their instructors have probably gotten near perfect scores but typically only work very part time for one or two seasons. Frequently your instructor was hired within the last few months.
When you talk to these companies, ask to speak with the instructor. If they can't allow this, they either don't have an instructor yet or that person is not accessible to you outside of class. If you do talk to them, find out how many students they've worked with and how many hours of individual tutoring experience they have.
Individual tutorial is essential and critical to help you master the test. You could never learn a tennis serve or golf swing from classroom lecture alone. Most students need individual guidance to learn the most important patterns and strategies of the test.
For some reason the Kaplan program usually does not include any personal help unless you buy a very expensive tutoring package. Other major companies offer more individual help. However, if you are not getting your questions answered in class, getting tutoring from the same person may not help.
The main complaint I hear about these big programs is that the student has asked the instructor to explain exactly why one answer is correct and the other one wrong and the instructor can't answer. Usually they say, "Just get it down to two and guess." or "This one is just better. You just have to get the feel of it." Neither of these comments is helpful or true. In fact there is a specific reason why one is right and the other wrong and you can learn to see it. Without that, you simply can't improve.
The other area that is usually completely missing in most courses is help with timing strategy. How you use your time makes a significant difference in your score. However, it is a very complex issue and inexperienced teachers will have no idea of how to approach it, especially on the computer test.
So be sure to ask an instructor how they work with timing and how they can help you figure out exactly why right answers are right and wrong ones wrong. Many former Kaplan or Princeton students have told me that without some expertise in these areas, the instructor is not really any more helpful than a book would be, other than having a place to go to do practice tests.
CAN YOU BE A LITTLE MORE SPECIFIC ABOUT THE BIG COMPANY CLASSES?
Most companies emphasize taking lots of practice tests and learning some general hints about the GRE through their lecture. The quality of the lecture depends on the experience of the instructor, but very few commercial instructors have more than a season or two of very part time experience. The main complaint that I hear from students who took a big commercial course is that when they asked the instructor to explain why one answer was right and the other wrong, the instructor was not able to do it.
Many teachers are not available outside of class for extra help. Even if you can get one to work with you, it is the same person who couldn't answer your questions in class.
The GRE is based on hidden agendas and thousands of patterns for confusing you. But there is always a reason exactly why one answer is right and the other one wrong. It can take many years of experience for an instructor to learn these patterns well and teach them to you. Most commercial instructors don't get anywhere near this kind of experience.
PERSONAL ATTENTION: Personal help is important in a review program in many ways but many programs, most noteably Kaplan, offer very limited personal help, other than through buying a very expensive additional package. You may need help with your study plan. You may need someone to interpret your diagnostic test scores. You may need help reviewing your timing and testing strategies. Without personal help, most students cannot get their money's worth out of a program.
ADVANCED STRATEGIES: The big commercial companies do not offer these. Their curriculum covers general strategies such as those covered in commercial books and then it stops there. The instructors typically don't have the experience or time to help with timing strategy, testing strategies, problem solving strategies, the hidden patterns of the test, strategies for organizing the Reading Comp passages, tools for working two close answers against each other to find the correct one, organizing strategies that the ordinary person can really use for the Quantitative section or insights into how to write an impressive essay.
FLEXIBLE PREP PROGRAMS: Most companies offer one set program. Under certain circumstances you can take their program again without paying. However, you simply get a repeat of your first course. You cannot get a program tailored to your particular needs or a program that let's you prepare over 6 to 10 months.
GETTING INTO GRAD SCHOOL: Typically, most programs do not offer any help on areas such as the Personal Statement and Letters of Rec.
COST: The big companies typically charge more than double what most of the successful Cutts students pay.
HOW DOES THE CUTTS PERSONAL GRE TUTORIAL HANDLE THESE AREAS?
The Cutts GRE Review emphasizes learning exactly why each correct answer is correct and why each wrong answer is wrong. This teaching is based on my over 14 years of experience with the test and goes into far more depth than a relatively inexperienced instructor, such as you would have in Kaplan, would be able to go. You learn to practice on actual GRE questions, analyzing the patterns of the question and sharpening your strategies.
PERSONAL ATTENTION: Our program is founded on personal attention. You have unlimited access to me. I'm available and experienced in helping with anything that can affect your chances of getting accepted to grad school.
ADVANCED STRATEGIES: This is our forte. There are thousands of patterns in the GRE which can throw you off, cause you to pick a wrong answer. I work with you closely to help you discover these patterns and learn strategies to get to the right answer. I help you refine the strategies so that you can use them flawlessly. I work with your particular learning style and create special strategies that work best for you. There are unique strategies for organizing the complex information in the Verbal section and in the Math. One of the most critical parts of the test is learning how to use your time as effectively as possible. Even one more difficult question right on each section can boost you from a 500 to a 540. Timing is very tricky and it has taken me many years of working closely with students to really perfect my instruction on timing. Instructors with only a few seasons part time experience do not yet have an understanding of the issues behind timing strategy on the computer test or of the various processing styles that students may have.
FLEXIBLE PROGRAMS: We encourage students to work with us for 6 to 10 months. You can start your program any time. I will help you develop a study schedule that is strict enough to keep you on your toes and yet flexible enough to meet your personal scheduling needs. Your course fee allows you to work with me as long as you need to. I can be available to work with you days, evenings or weekends, as is convenient for you.
GETTING INTO GRAD SCHOOL: I have over 14 years experience helping students with Personal Statements, Letters of Recommendation, advanced strategies for getting accepted, as well as career decision issues. Much of this info is available to you free of charge and I do work with my students in more depth when needed.
COST: You pay a small one-time registration fee and then pay only for as many or few additional phone hours as you need. Most students spend a third to a half of what you would pay in a big commercial program.
OK, BUT I HAVE FRIENDS WHO TOOK A COURSE WITH ONE OF THESE BIG COMPANIES AND SAID IT WAS OK. WHO DO I BELIEVE?
Lots of people come out of a Kaplan or Princeton course and get the score they needed. Lots of people feel that they got worthwhile info in a Kaplan program. However, lots of people also report that they could have done the same on their own, that what they learned wasn't worth the money and that they didn't learn enough to get the score they needed.
The question you personally have to answer is "Where can I get the maximum amount of help and improvement?" Most likely you can't afford to do more than one program nor will you have the time to do so. Compare what each program has to offer, consider the limitations on a large company like Kaplan, which cannot personalize its approach and which has to hire inexperienced instructors. Talk to the instructors who will actually be teaching you before you make a decision.
Going by what your friends experienced can be dangerous or tricky. Their situations may be very different from yours. They may have been able to get a good score even without the class. Even more tricky is taking a course because you have friends who will take it with you. Find the best class for yourself and then bring your friends along!
I SEE THE POINT. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER KINDS OF PREP COMPANIES YOU MENTIONED?
The second category of prep options includes local courses taught either at a college or by a local tutor or by a volunteer who wants to help students. Usually the teachers are well meaning but don't have a realistic understanding of what kind of preparation is needed. Almost invariably they focus on lots of practice with the hope that somehow you will understand the test better. These teachers may be good at English or math but do not understand the unique patterns of the GRE. They can help you get more comfortable with test taking but usually are not able to explain at all why one answer is correct and the others are wrong, or how to organize complicated math information in a way that you can deal with it. This kind of course may be worthwhile if it does not cost more than $50 but it should not be mistaken for in depth prep.
The next category of prep program consists of the traveling weekend seminars. I cannot recommend these. You pay as much as you would for more extensive help and yet have only a couple days instruction, often too close to your test date, with minimal if any chance for individual follow up help. If you do look into one, find out how much experience the owner has, as well as the instructors. Find out if you can get individual help, if it a different person each time and what their experience is. Try to schedule the program at least 4 months before your test.
The final category of prep program consists of the myriad companies that have sprung up in the last three or four years on the internet. They may offer online help or home study materials. Ask to speak with the owner of the company to find out what their qualifications are. Who developed their study materials and how much experience did they have in teaching and in one on one work? Unfortunately much of the materials used by these companies is not worth much more than a book. Fortunately some of them don't cost more than a book.
First, you will not be working on your own. You and I will be working together closely. I can also put you in touch with other students.
You start with a diagnostic test. I help you interpret what it means. Then you start watching my classroom lectures on video. It is just as though you were attending a professional class but you can watch it at your convenience, rewind the video, and review it later.
Then you call me when you've finished the first tape. I'll ask you some questions about how you are doing. You can ask me questions about things that might not have been clear to you on the tape. We talk about how you should practice over the next week.
You practice as we discussed together. When you have a question, you pick up the phone and call me. We can talk for as long or short as you need. I can help you understand questions you had trouble with. I give you new strategies and demonstrate them for you. I may give you an assignment and ask you to call me at a certain time to review it.
HOW MUCH PROGRESS WILL I MAKE IN YOUR PROGRAM?
Your progress really depends on how long you can work on the test - how many months, how many hours per week - and on how closely you work with me. It is helpful to work together frequently. If you can call me to review your situation, I can suggest a study plan for maximum improvement.
The only way to really make significant improvement is to understand the hidden patterns of the test and the strategies for working through them. It is also essential to learn how to use your time most effectively. Finally, you need to work with someone who can address your particular learning needs. Given all of these things, you can't help but make good improvement.
WHAT IF I DON'T GET THE SCORE I NEED? DOES IT MEAN I WON'T GET ACCEPTED?
My experience is that most people can get accepted if they go about it the right way.
If your GRE score does not go as high as you would have liked despite your best efforts, there are a number of other strategies that I will work with you on, including your Personal Statement, making certain contacts and taking on certain projects. With expert guidance you should get in. If not the first time, then the second.
STILL CONFUSED ABOUT THE BEST WAY TO PREP?
Please call me. I'd like to find out more about your situation and will refer you to the option that's best for you.
"I found that the skills learned ... have really implanted themselves somewhere in my brain so that I can call upon them when they are needed." - GRE student
"Well done ... I wouldn't have properly prepared otherwise ... Timing strategies ... were awesome." - GRE student
"[Jay Cutts was] motivated and motivating. Always helpful. [His] commitment to the class deserves much more than what we paid for the course." - GRE student
"Jay knew all the subjects ... and he knew them well. He knows what it takes to get a good score." - GRE student
"Your last minute suggestions helped me considerably." - GRE student
* * *
"I liked the way we went into detail on the different mechanics necessary to come up with a winning score. [Jay was] very understanding, willing to hear your questions." - GMAT student
"Overall you do instill confidence by knowing the subjects." - GMAT student
"Good working material ...Helpful in reviewing math." - GMAT student
"Jay works well one on one with people... He does have a genuine concern for how we do on the test." - GMAT student
* * *
"This course has helped me more in remembering, as well as motivation, just in [the first] 4 weeks, more than the Kaplan course did in 2 months. Thank you for the opportunity." - MCAT student
"Material was covered in depth ... Taught good methods for taking [Verbal Reasoning and the Writing Sample]. [The instructors were] outgoing and friendly, knowledgeable, flexible to differing needs ... helpful ... and interested in students' input." - MCAT student
"Love the specific outline and techniques given ... Very clear and prepared." - MCAT student
"[The science instructors] knew all subject material ... Timing strategy and essay format were very helpful." - MCAT student
"Until this course (and I have taken the Princeton Review) no one had ever told me how to approach the passages, and I am doing much better." - MCAT student