5 Female Tutors Who Empower MBA Applicants

When veteran Noodle Pros tutor Lisa Liberati heard that 60% more men than women took the GMAT in 2019, she had two words: “It’s insane.” In 2018, the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business made history by being the first major U.S. business school to reach gender parity. With 52% female and 48% male students enrolled in its incoming class, the school set a precedent for the 50-50 gender splits that MBA programs have long been seeking. This was an important moment representing a long overdue step forward for women in business. For tutors like Liberati, it also served as a reminder that fear of the GMAT can prevent capable students from accessing top MBA programs. 

While the gap between male and female test takers is noticeably narrowing, the difference is still pronounced. The good news is that an increasing number of women are not only tackling the GMAT every year, but earning high scores. If you’re considering joining the growing ranks of female MBA applicants, now is the time to maximize your competitiveness. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we surveyed five of Noodle Pros’ top female GMAT tutors to get their thoughts on the test, GMAT tutoring, and gender equality in MBA admissions.

Felicia Tam, PhD

City: South Lake Tahoe, California

Online Tutoring Available? Yes

“The more women we have in business, the better it will be for all of us. We shouldn’t let biased environments prevent us from doing the things we love to do.”

Shortly after earning her PhD from Rice University, Dr. Felicia Tam found herself more drawn to teaching math and physics than to researching either subject. Nearly two decades later, she is a top tutor in a number of areas, including the GMAT. Like many of her colleagues, Dr. Tam appreciates the intrinsic motivation present in aspiring MBAs. “I really like tutoring the GMAT,” says Tam, “because GMAT students are motivated and understand that they will have to follow certain steps to get the results they want.” 

While Dr. Tam’s experience as a math and physics professor makes her a natural fit for those quant-phobic test-takers, it’s her empathy, she says, that sets her apart as a GMAT tutor. “Of course you have the general content and the big picture planning to worry about with a test like the GMAT, but one of the things I try to be most conscientious of is a student’s state of mind as they approach the exam.” To illustrate one way mindset can influence performance, Tam tells of a recent student who was “down on herself about her skills” after choosing to cancel her first-round GMAT scores on the spot. “When I started working with her, I could tell that she was actually extremely capable, and I expected her scores to be high. Eventually we realized that it was a test anxiety issue. Ultimately, the best way for her to improve her performance was to pay attention and track how she was feeling through various sections of her practice exams. Then we worked on visualization and mindfulness exercises that she could implement when she felt her stress levels rising.” That kind of personal attention is a hallmark of good tutoring, says Tam, and a reason to invest in one-on-one sessions with an expert instead of taking a class; “a good tutor offers instruction personalized to students’ emotional well-being in addition to their academic needs.” 

Lisa Liberati

City: Los Angeles, California

Online Tutoring Available? Yes

“Don’t be scared of math! If you went to high school and college, you already know all the math you need to know. It’s not the math that’s important on the GMAT — it’s the logic.”=

In her 30+ years in the test prep field, Lisa Liberati has helped thousands of students reach their goal scores on the road to business school. What’s her favorite thing about tutoring the GMAT? “Prospective MBA candidates actually do their homework. If I give them an assignment, they get it done. They know that everyone applying to business school has a job and a life, and so they don’t make excuses. It’s much easier to get results when people actually take the advice they’re paying for!”

An entrepreneur in her own right — she co-owns the boutique vintner Sweetzer Cellars in Southern California — Liberati offers invaluable insight into both psychometrics and the inner workings of the business school application process. And she is particularly committed to helping her fellow businesswomen. “To any woman hesitant about the GMAT or business school, I would ask, ‘why?’ If you really want an MBA,” says Liberati, “there’s somebody out there who wants you at their school.” She advises those students who see the GMAT as a barrier to success to switch to the GRE; “Schools want to know that you’ll be employable after business school. When it comes to the tests, sometimes they just need a number. And in reality, whatever that number, it may be enough. You won’t know until you try.”

Pri Bhat

City: Austin, Texas

Online Tutoring Available? Yes

“If you’re intimidated by the GMAT and it’s holding you back from going for your MBA, try taking a practice test before you totally rule it out. You might do better than you expected.”

When Pri Bhat was studying chemical physics at Rice University, she was surprised to see large numbers of students dropping math, chemistry, and physics courses. Intimidated by the complex content and convinced that they couldn’t hack it, these undergrads changed their programs to avoid what they felt were impossibly difficult subjects. For Bhat, this sparked a passion for tutoring; her high-level expertise and skill for breaking down a problem makes the “impossible” accessible to anyone who has the drive to try. “As a tutor, I’m very logical and systematic. I can explain the reasoning behind a test and the individual steps behind specific problems, and that is particularly vital for the GMAT.”  

Bhat has been a GMAT specialist since 2014, with experience including writing GMAT quant questions, editing Official Guide questions for GMAC, and designing and teaching intensive courses. For her 1:1 students, she draws on her knowledge to devise a step-by-step plan with a personalized touch. “I’ve had clients tell me that they appreciated working with me most because I really listened to them and treated them like equals. That’s very important. No one wants to feel like their tutor is intimidating or condescending, and sadly that can sometimes be the case with the GMAT.”

One of Bhat’s favorite success stories came from a client who — unlike those undergrads who dropped classes to avoid hard math and science — persisted through disappointment to reach her dream school. “I had a client who was very capable, but she just wasn’t getting scores that reflected her abilities. She was determined, so she kept going. She ended up taking the GMAT five times, which was really not easy on her. But on the fifth time she got a 740, and she ended up getting into Wharton!” 

Marissa Samuel, JD/MBA

City: New York, New York

Online Tutoring Available? Yes

“A standardized test is not an insurmountable mountain or a barrier to your dreams: it is a game that you can play and even enjoy.”

Among Marissa Samuel’s many strengths as a GMAT tutor is her ability to connect with students as a former MBA applicant herself. After earning her undergraduate degree in Industrial & Labor Relations at Cornell, Samuel obtained a JD/MBA from Columbia and was hired by an international law firm as a mergers and acquisitions specialist. But, as Marissa puts it, she “kept finding herself drawn back to teaching.” She started working as a professor of business law, management and ethics at a local university, and from there her reputation as a top-tier GMAT and LSAT tutor was born.

Despite her impressive pedigree, Samuel’s test-taking philosophy might be a breath of fresh air to overworked aspiring MBAs: “Studying need not consume one’s life.” She works to help students understand why they answer test questions in a particular way, so that they can self-correct when practicing on their own. “This way, studying is transformative—not just rote memorization.” Samuel is particularly effective when working with students who are intimidated by the GMAT; once they see the test as a game, says Samuel, they will be able to earn high scores while achieving satisfaction in the process. 

Anna Gazumyan-Silverman

City: Teaneck, New Jersey

Online Tutoring Available? Yes

“Take your GMAT! And show the world that diversity is key to successful enterprise.”

When it comes to test prep, Anna Gazumyan-Silverman is a renaissance woman. In-demand across New York and New Jersey for her skill at coaching younger students on high school and college admissions tests, Gazumyan-Silverman is equally loved by adult students who face the GRE and GMAT. With a background in psychology, she helps nervous testers improve their skills and find their footing in the MBA admissions process. “I think one of the most important things I bring to the table is empathy and patience. I help my students see the path to their goal, and then I set them up with a workable plan to get there. This process can be overwhelming, so I like parsing it into manageable pieces. This helps my students be realistic and effective in getting to their target scores and programs.” 

Gazumyan-Silverman’s former students can attest to the influence she has had on their lives — even beyond the GMAT. “As a non-native English speaker,” said one former student, “scoring highly on the verbal section of the GMAT, and earning a high score overall, allowed me to enroll in my dream program and move more efficiently through my career. And it is still a great source of pride!” For Gazumyan-Silverman, equal access to MBA programs for men and women is personal. “The board room is still predominantly male, and so is the general professional services landscape. Pay parity is still not attainable, and women continue to endure the ‘motherhood’ stigma, whether or not they actually take time off in their careers.” Gazumyan-Silverman makes it her mission to prevent the GMAT from adding another layer to that glass ceiling. “The only way to even the playing field is to ensure that more educated, bright, ambitious women make it to the office, the golf course, and the boardroom.”


Are you feeling inspired to tackle the GMAT and increase your score? Visit Noodle Pros online to learn more about our (fabulous) tutors and request a consultation.