What is the best GRE study program?: introducing a revolutionary new approach to the test

Davis: Hey everybody, this is GRE Bites. My name is Davis, and I’m an educator with over ten years of experience.

Orion: And I’m Orion, the founder of StellarGRE.

Davis: We’re here to bring you your weekly bite-sized episode on GRE prep and grad school admissions. Check out our top-rated GRE self-study program at stellargre.com. And don’t forget, you can use the code “BITES” for 10% off any membership.

Alright, Orion, we’ve got a cool topic today. So, we’ve talked a lot about specific skills and specific problems and how to address them. If a person is looking for a more comprehensive study program where they can just say, “I’m going to pick one thing, one program, and go through it to help me improve and get my target score on the GRE,” what comprehensive GRE study programs are out there? And what’s the best one?

Orion: That’s a great question, Davis. There are a lot of GRE self-study programs out there. There are a few big players in the market: Magoosh, Kaplan, Princeton Review, and Manhattan GRE. I think those are the four top programs on the market. But I’m here to give you some really exciting news, which is that Stellar GRE is entering into that market. And I’m very happy to announce that we have just released our top-rated GRE self-study program online; it’s available for sale today. And I’m super stoked about this. I know I’m a little biased. I know you shouldn’t ask a barber if you need a haircut. But I’m really trying to be as objective as possible when I say I think it’s the best GRE self-study program available on the market. It does a lot of things well, it does some things that the major competitors don’t do. And I’m really excited to tell you about some of the features.

Davis: So let me just understand this. So these other players, like Princeton Review, these other players you talked about, they have published books and practice tests. And they’ve published now in this modern day apps, and like you said, self-study apps that you can get on your phone, and you can use to guide you through the GRE prep experience. And StellarGRE, up until now, has been private tutoring or group tutoring classes, small group classes. So, unless you were in the San Francisco Bay Area, you wouldn’t be able to present it. But now you’re taking your proven, award-winning methodology, and you’ve made it into an app available to everybody, internationally, I guess, anywhere in the world.

Orion: Yeah, anywhere in the world that you have an internet connection, you can access StellarGRE. And it’s super exciting, because I think that as far as I know, it’s the only empirically validated GRE test prep program in the world. And this came from examining pre and post-performance from hundreds of students in my classes over the years.

Davis: And that’s huge. I mean, so empirically validated meaning, as you just said, you took people’s scores before they entered your program. And you’ve taken people’s scores after they’ve exited your program and taken the GRE and hit their target score successfully within the timeframe of the course. And what’s your percentage? Well, I mean, like, what’s the what’s the and no other company does this, though?

Orion: Well, no, because, well, I don’t know why they don’t. I assume they don’t do it because they don’t have the numbers that bear it out, because it’s obviously a very powerful selling point.

Davis: Yeah.

Orion: And so basically, what I found is that after eight weeks of engaging with the program, overall improvements were statistically significant at a really small significance level. On average, students improved 19% on the verbal section, 43% on the quantitative section, and 31%, overall. And the average improvement in two months was 26 percentile points on each section of the test, verbal, quant, and writing – 26 percentile points per section in two months. That is an enormous improvement that is larger than the score guarantees of any of my competitors.

So, my line is like, “Why settle for promises?” It’s like these companies are saying, “We promise your score is going to go up by five points, by 10 points. And if it doesn’t, we’ll let you have the course for free.” In which case, why would you want to continue to engage with the course if it didn’t work in the first place?

But I’m saying my average improvement was three times higher than those score guarantees, not a promise, not theoretical. This is done data that you’ve made accessible and that you’ve analyzed.

Davis: I’m guessing this is all posted on StellarGRE.

Orion: Yeah, you can see I post all the data online, of course, you have to give my, you know, anonymity caveat. Like a stockbroker, you know, past performance does not dictate future performance, they still have to, any individual participating in the program has to actually follow the protocol.

Davis: So talk about the protocol? I mean, what is it about your protocol? What is it, what’s different there that these other main players don’t have?

Orion: So, the first thing that you’re going to get is my textbook that breaks down every single question type, and every single sub-question type, and tells you exactly the strategy or the technique appropriate to dismantling that type of problem. So the organization of the system is very different because it’s based around diagnosis. Diagnosis is a key component to top performance; it’s how you recognize the type of problem you’re dealing with. A lot of GRE success is recognition.

Once you recognize that you’re dealing with a certain type of problem, you can connect it to a solution that has worked for 10 previous types of that problem. And then you can execute with the, the slight variation with the new numbers. So it’s grouped in a very logical, but easy-to-understand system. It’s also based on a lot of empirical data, like, for example, most of my competitors present information, as if it’s all equally likely to be encountered on the test.

Davis: And that’s just as usual to know this just a list of things you need to know.

Orion: Yes, when the fact of the matter is, is that some question types are literally 100 times more likely to be encountered on the test than others.

Davis: So you give a weighted scale, a prioritization to the type of information, so those questions that are far more likely to be encountered get presented earlier on in the process, there are more questions associated with that. This allows you to leverage your time more appropriately. By paying attention to questions with higher base rates, you can make faster improvements in shorter amounts of time. And that’s kind of what this is all about. The way I’m thinking about Stellar GRE, it’s like executive test prep, we understand that you’re busy, we understand that you have better things to do with your time, no one takes GRE prep for the pleasure of taking GRE prep, it’s a goal or it’s a means to an end. And that end is to improve your score, we’re here to help you do that as fast as humanly possible so that you can move on with the rest of your life, which is where the good stuff is, in a reliable way.

Orion: Another thing that I’m really excited about is, in terms of practice problems, I’m adopting the protocol that’s based on the see-do-teach model, which is how we train medical doctors. The way that that works in medical school or residency is the intern watches a doctor perform a procedure, then does it with supervision, and then teaches that procedure to a lower-ranked intern, see, do, teach. And in just those three steps, is the fastest route to skill mastery that we’ve kind of developed in academia. So the point is, not to do something hundreds or thousands of times, it’s unnecessary. The key is to perform the action shortly after presentation in a more targeted fashion, so that you get more bang for your buck, you consolidate that mastery faster with less repetition.

Davis: How does the teach aspect work on your app?

Orion: You don’t really teach it to another person. You could, but that doesn’t show up on the app. What it’s more of is like an analogy, as opposed to a one-to-one correlation. But it does translate as, as soon as you’re taught a specific strategy, you’re immediately presented with several variations of the same question type, with different numbers and slightly different presentations. This will facilitate the generalization of the base skill to similar-looking problems, which is one of the big things that students encounter. They know how to do this specific sample problem. But when they encounter slightly different versions of that question, they’re thrown for a loop.

And so, the idea here is to practice the same strategy or techniques on a few very slightly different versions of the problem to consolidate that skill as quickly as possible. And you only have to do a few problems to do this. We don’t actually have to do thousands and thousands of problems. That’s one of the main selling points of my company. I understand that that’s sexy; we have plenty of questions, more than enough questions that you would likely want to do. We’re looking for quality over quantity, offering quality integration of the information over the quantity of just having plenty of problems. I just want to make that clear.

But yes, if after 1,000 repetitions, it’s not working, do you think another 5,000 is going to help? Like, it should work by then, right? If you’re not seeing results after 1,000 repetitions, 1,000 practice problems, you probably shouldn’t double down with another several thousand. With that approach, right? It’s like, work smarter, not harder. We’re not here to just grind you to dust. And we’re certainly not saying that this is a pastime for its own sake.

So the idea here is to match the most targeted approaches on a very granular level to very specific question types, to give you the least amount of repetition necessary for skill mastery, so that you can improve your score as quickly as possible, so that you can take the test and move on with your life. And this is also important because the longer prep goes on, the more likely something is going to disrupt it, and the more effort is going to be required just to maintain those gains.

So I kind of approach prep like a bootcamp. Let’s take two to three months, give it our all, artificially prioritize it above other things, so that we can strike when the iron is hot, and not spend unnecessary time maintaining performance, and then move on with our lives.

A couple of other things I’m really excited about is that we have an automated essay grader that will give students scaled scores. I mean, the major competitors don’t do that.

Davis: No, they don’t.

Orion: This algorithm that I built is based on the e-rater, which ETS uses to actually grade your essays. Remember, the essays are actually graded by a computer algorithm. And I’ve developed an algorithm that imitates that protocol, so students can practice writing for the machine before they actually get in front of the machine. And none of the major competitors do that as well. It’s really exciting news, it’s also affordable. The way that we’re structuring it is that there’s a few different memberships. You get full access to the complete textbook, the thousands of practice problems, as well as, oh, this is cool, there are five adaptive full-length mock tests. Nice, that really mimic the feel of the test, which, adaptive meaning, they’ll get harder if you’re doing well, exactly like it’s designed to mimic the actual experience of the test as closely as possible, specifically around the vibe, the feel of the test.

If you’ve taken the GRE before, you know that it’s kind of like in 2004, in terms of the software, and sometimes that can throw students off because the formatting and the presentation look unfamiliar. A lot of my competitors make their mock tests nicer and easier to use as a selling point. But you want to keep us in like, the “I want students to feel like when they sit down in front of the machine on test day, that it looks exactly like what they’ve been practicing with” zone. So the rest of the site and the app look top-notch, but the tests are designed to mimic the actual feel and design and functionality of the test as much as possible.

Davis: That’s awesome. Orion, you’ve mentioned so many wonderful advantages of the stellar GRE app that is now released. As you said, this is really exciting also. And you’ve also brought up a number of interesting topics that we could spend whole episodes talking about, such as generalization of problems or what the experience is like taking the test, maybe retaking it. So I’m looking forward to doing a few more future episodes with you on those as well.

Orion: Sure. Let me just give the one final plug about the memberships, just so people want to know that too. Right. So if you buy a membership, you get full access to the textbook, the mock tests, the practice problems, the only difference is in the length of time. We have one-month memberships, four-month memberships, and six-month memberships.

One-month memberships start at $99. This is a steal. This is significantly lower than any of the major competitors, I think, by at least 50%. You buy for longer periods of time, and there’s obviously a discount there as well, per month, but subscription plans start at $99 a month, and I don’t think that anyone can undersell that, that I’m aware of. And on top of that, to incentivize you to check this out, we’re offering a 10% discount on all memberships for all our loyal GRE Bites listeners. Just use the code BITES at checkout, and you’ll get 10% off of any of the three membership plans that we offer. Plus, we have hundreds of legitimate five-star reviews on Google and Yelp. From my years as a classroom instructor, and private tutor.

So I use this program, it’s the same that I teach in my class, the same that I used to get my perfect score. It’s the same I’ve used to help other people get perfect and top percentile scores. I’m really, really excited to finally bring this to market. And I hope that you’ll check it out for yourselves.

Davis: This is really exciting. Thank you so much, Orion.

Thanks, everybody, for tuning in. We’ll be back next week with another bite-sized episode of GRE Bites. If you have a topic you’d like discussed on a future episode, let us know at stellargre@gmail.com. And if you’re ready to take your prep to the next level, check out our top-rated GRE self-study program at stellargre.com. You can use the code “BITES” for 10% off all memberships there. Talk to you soon.

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