COHESION OF READY4GMAT, GMAC DATA
Indeed, the number of Ready4GMAT users is robust, aligned “closely” with Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) reports, Shoushan says. According to the most recent GMAC report (published in November 2015), more than 247,000 candidates took the GMAT in testing year 2015 (July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015), some 56% of whom were men compared to the 62% of men who registered with Ready4GMAT over the past year. The main discrepancy in demographics is in where the users are coming from. For example, Shoushan says, the countries with the most registered users are the U.S., India, and China. According to the Ready4 report, during testing year 2015, 29,042 India residents took the GMAT, compared to 62,691 from China and 84,600 from the U.S.
On a country-by-country breakdown, both U.S. and Chinese registrants picked U.S.-based schools for all of their top five, while Indian registrants chose three Indian schools alongside Harvard and Stanford to make up their top five (see chart below). Within the U.S., Shoushan says, the majority of users came from California and New York. While he says the data is “statistically significant” and not biased toward a certain state, the higher numbers of users calling California and New York home could have influenced the performance of Haas, Columbia Business School, and NYU Stern, all of which gained at least two positions from last year. Then again, UCLA Anderson had one of the most significant declines.
One of the most interesting pieces of this year’s rankings, Shoushan says, was the addition of Michigan Ross and Dartmouth Tuck. As an international applicant himself, he says those schools were not on his radar until he really delved into the world of MBA admissions. “I knew about them (Michigan and Dartmouth) after I got into the process, but if you ask someone not yet in the process, they probably wouldn’t be very familiar with them,” he says.
‘FAILURE’ IS THE SPARK THAT LEADS TO A NEW COMPANY — AND CAREER
For Shoushan, founding a GMAT test-prep service was personal. A former professional basketball player in his native Israel and software engineer at General Electric Healthcare, Shoushan’s path to MIT Sloan was rocky. Applying from outside the U.S., he says he “failed” the GMAT the first four times he took it, scoring between 620 and 650. That’s bad, but not horrible — but then again, if the goal is MIT Sloan, which has had incoming class GMAT averages of 710 to 716 over the past five years, “failed” might be accurate.
So Shoushan changed studying tactics. On his first four attempts, he says he had a “mainstream” way of studying. He took a full course, bought books, practiced, signed up with a tutor, and practiced some more. The problem was that with a full-time job, Shoushan couldn’t devote large chunks of time to his studies. “I was trying to force a lot of information in a short period of time,” he says.
Instead of studying for huge amounts of time to work on his testing stamina, Shoushan focused on short bursts: studying in blocks. “I would do five or 10 minutes here and five or 10 minutes there for an extended amount of time,” he says. He pinpointed his GMAT weaknesses and focused on improving those. “That really changed the chances of me succeeding with the test,” he acknowledges. Shoushan points out that he hadn’t been able to overcome the psychology of the test. “My simulation scores were pretty high — consistently over 700,” he says. But he just couldn’t put it together on test day. “I didn’t doubt for a minute my ability to know the content, understand the test, and my ability to become a great MBA student,” Shoushan says. “But I did stress out at the test.”
‘THE DEMOCRATIZING OF TEST PREP’
Finally, more than a year after he took the GMAT for the first time, Shoushan nailed a 720. He had gained admittance to MIT Sloan — and he had also gained a startup idea. “That was a long process, but it really taught me about how my brain worked,” he says. “That was the basic foundation of the company.”
The app is set up in a quiz format that gives instant feedback on strengths and weaknesses — and it doesn’t require wifi. “I founded the company with a plan to lower the barriers for entry into these schools for people around the world,” Shoushan says of not requiring an Internet connection. “I call it the democratizing of test prep.”
Between the seven test prep apps, more than 1.2 million people have downloaded Ready4 materials. It has been featured in the Apple iTunes store in New and Notable Education. Shoushan has created a following of people who prep for the test the way he did: This year, the 250,000 applicants that used the GMAT-specific app used it for an average of 28 minutes at a time, two to three times a day, and five to six days a week.
Next, Shoushan says, his company will begin tracking “after-app” data to better understand the life cycle of when users register to when they are admitted to school and eventually matriculate. “That way,” he says, “we’ll start to understand the entire funnel from acceptance to matriculation.”