Manhattan Prep and Score Guarantees


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We occasionally get questions about why we don’t offer a score improvement guarantee.

There are a few little reasons, and one big reason. In our experience, a test prep score guarantee has a number of attendant issues:

1.  What’s the baseline? The majority of students who start a prep course have yet to take the real GMAT. Thus, the baseline that is generally used is a practice test, often before a student has become familiar with the GMAT’s format (e.g. Data Sufficiency questions) and timing (e.g. solving a problem every 2 minutes). Here at Manhattan Prep, we take initial practice test scores with a HUGE grain of salt, and would feel strange about measuring improvement off of a deeply flawed initial measure that we advise students to ignore much of the time.

2.  Not all improvements are created equal. Manhattan Prep caters to many very ambitious students who are seeking top-notch scores. In our experience, it’s a whole lot easier to take someone from a 520 to a 600 than a 710 to a 760. A score improvement metric or guarantee is useful only in context.

3.  The fine print. We get many students who have taken a prep course with another company and failed to get the score that they want who then come to us. We’re naturally very curious about their experience with the other company, and we’ve found that virtually none of these students received their money back from the initial test prep company. When we ask them why not, they say, Oh, the policy was that I had to do “x” practice tests/homework problems/proctored exams, and they said that I didn’t do that so I didn’t qualify. Other times, the guarantee is to re-take the same course that was unhelpful the first time, an option that isn’t too appealing to most people.

Beyond the above, fundamentally, we think that it’s incongruous for an educational institution (It might seem grandiose for us to use that term, but it’s truly how we think of ourselves!) to guarantee its students any kind of outcome. We guarantee that we do our utmost to recruit and hire the best Instructors anywhere, give them the best training we can, pay them the most ($100/hr. off the bat), and equip them with the best materials. But we honestly think a GMAT course is like most things in life: “you’ll get out what you put in,” and to represent otherwise seems disingenuous.

The substance of a guarantee though, is something we completely agree with. If a student of ours doesn’t achieve his or her score goals, we want to know about it, and we’ll work with him or her to see how best to move forward. Any course student of ours in this situation is entitled to meet with a senior Instructor to diagnose what happened on test day and plot next steps.  We have a strong track record of not letting students walk away unhappy or dissatisfied “it’s one of the keys to the Company’s growth and success.

For another perspective, Manhattan Prep currently serves Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, Bank of America, Google, Deloitte, and many other companies as corporate clients. None of these companies has ever asked Manhattan Prep to guarantee their employees’ performance “they would probably mistrust us if we did! They would rather depend upon the feedback and results they receive from their own employees.

We hope that the above helps give you a sense on why Manhattan Prep doesn’t offer a guarantee. To us, it’s much less about the policy and more about the Company behind it. Test prep consumers are at something of a disadvantage because there’s so much misinformation out there, and a guarantee can seem like a proxy for quality. Our advice is to gain confidence in your own judgment of different test prep offerings by consulting with friends or contacts to see what worked for them.  Seek out people whose opinions you trust who have been through the process. That’s better than any language on a website. 📝

Take a complete course with one of our master instructors. You can try out any first session for free! No strings attached. We promise.

  1. Zuhayr March 23, 2012 at 7:19 am


    I purchased all of the MGMAT books, and did all of the CATS twice and averaged from 680 – 720 on the cats.

    I did the gmat preps and they were slightly lower, 670 690. I took the gmat yesterday and scored a horrendous 630 (Q39 V37)

    MY first ever CAT I had a 610 (Q43 V _ _ ) From that day I never saw a quant score lower than 45. In the gmat preps I had a quant of 47-49.

    My question is, even though I have been through all the 8 books, is there value in taking the 9 session prep course?