The Knewton Blog

Our monthly newsletter features edtech and product updates, with a healthy dose of fun Knerd news.

Student Spotlight — Tim Murphy: Auditor, Aspiring Entrepreneur, and 700+ Scorer

Posted in Student Resources on March 29, 2011 by

This Student Spotlight features Tim Murphy, a former Knewton GMAT student who saw his hard work rewarded with a sky-high GMAT score of 730. Read on to learn more about Tim’s study methods and future plans!


Tim Murphy


I grew up in Pine Plains, NY, but I now live in Harrisburg, PA.

Current job?

Group Leader, Internal Audit for The Hershey Company

Why do you want to get an MBA?

To position myself for a transition into the renewable energy industry and develop the expertise to succeed as a business owner / entrepreneur down the road.

What’s your dream job after b-school?

Owner / operator of a business that promotes and distributes renewable energy systems.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience prepping for the GMAT?

I started prepping with Knewton in late July 2010.  I took my diagnostic (scored 640) on 7/20 and scheduled my test for 8/30 (shooting for a 700+ score).  I used a mix of live and on-demand classes.  Personally, I found the on-demand sessions more helpful because I was able to rewind and review whenever I didn’t quite catch something.  When taking the practice tests, I soon found that my verbal skills were way ahead of my quant skills, so after session 6, I spent all of my time on quant review.  I wouldn’t suggest this for everyone, but I personally decided to focus my time to try to balance out my score.

I found Knewton’s materials really helpful and I really liked the course overall, especially the smooth online interface.  Additionally, I found the instructors and support team very helpful and responsive to my emails.  I even sent in two practice essays (1 issue and 1 argument) within a couple days of my test date and received timely and constructive feedback that helped me to achieve an AWA score of 6 both times I tested.

When my first test day was over on 8/30, I was happy with my overall score of 700, but my quant score (41/58%) was still off balance from my verbal score (44/97%).  It took me about a week until I resolved to retake the exam.  I knew I had rushed through some of the quant topics and felt I could improve on my score.  I took a few weeks in September to step away from it all and then returned to my studies.

In late September I began reviewing Knewton’s quant lessons and retaking many of the homework quizzes.  I also completed the Official Guide Quant Review book and two of MGMAT’s books on quant topics in areas where I felt I was weakest.  While Knewton was the foundation for my studies, I found having some diversity in the instruction to be helpful.  Different sources presented topics from different angles which eventually helped things that I previously hadn’t understood to just click.  Also, I was traveling a bit for work and needed something in hardcopy to take with me.

As my review progressed, I settled for a new test date of 11/22.  I set aside 4 days (Thu-Sun) to finalize my studies.  During these final days I reviewed formulas and spent a lot of time redoing problems that I had gotten wrong from all three of my study sources.  I only spent an hour or two studying the day prior to the exam and took the rest of the day to rest up.  On exam day I felt pretty confident my score would go up.

When I received a 730 and a much more balanced distribute between quant (46/75%) and verbal (45/98%), I knew my hard work and investment with Knewton had paid off.  Thanks Knewton!

Any Knewton teacher shout-outs?

I spent a lot of time with Chris Wu, I found him entertaining!  Really though, everyone was good.

Lightning Round: Data Sufficiency or Sentence Correction?

SC any day, but only because it was easier for me – I wish I could say the same for DS!

Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

Bill Gates hands down – what would I do without Excel!  Plus, he’s doing good things with his $$$.

Harry Potter or Twilight?

Harry Potter?