If you’re reading this, you’re probably online researching the GMAT, figuring out how you’re going to tackle this necessarily evil standing in the way of your MBA. It’s a bit daunting, but it's manageable, if you take the time to prepare and study. Anyway, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that you have options—several of them, actually. The bad news is that these options will likely cost you some money in the process.
If you're focused and disciplined in your studying, then this might be your best and most affordable option at that.
GMAT prep typically comes in four options: independent study, online classes, in-person classes, and private tutors. Independent studying puts the responsibly completely in the student’s hands and, essentially, only requires students to buy a few study guides and some practice test. This option is the cheapest and can run anywhere from free (hooray for borrowing used books!) to about $500 if buying the guides directly from companies like Kaplan or Princeton Review. It's up to the student to determine how much they want to invest in this option, but again, it's the cheapest route. Cheap is great, but this option is for students who have the discipline to study various strategies on their own, and keep a consistant study regimen. If you're focused and disciplined in your studying, then this might be your best and most affordable option at that.
For roughly $1,200 (based off Kaplan's and Princeton Review's current posted rates) there are online prep courses, which allow students to take online classes from most devices and, in most cases, have the ability to email an instructor for advice, tips, or any questions that might come up. Like all things done online, there's always the possibility falling down the rabbit hole that is the Internet. Everyone does it, it happens, but if you know you’re easily distracted, consider the In Person classes. It has its similarities to independent studying, but having a larger library of interactive studying tools and the ability to communicate with someone has its benefits and could be worth the extra investment.
The in person classes are sessions where a student can sit in a classroom (usually on weekends) and interact with an expert instructor and fellow students who are also preparing for the GMAT. The benefit of this option is that it adds a level of accountability and a distraction-free environment that enables students to give full attention to the material. “Because it was an actual class it encouraged you to want to keep up with other students and the class activities" states Cal State LA's Marketing Analyst for the College of Business & Economics. "You don't want to be the only person in class not improving on your scores, so you kind of find yourself really going the extra mile to make sure you keep up."
Fun fact: as part of these instructor's job, they also take these test regularly in order to stay up to date with the test and refine their own test-taking strategies that they eventually pass on to you.
In many cases, GMAT courses have improved students’ scores significantly by as much as 50 points or more.
And finally, there are the private tutors. This option varies on the tutor's hourly rate and the amount of hours needed, so exact cost fluctuates. However, it might be safe to assume that you could be spending around $3,000 based on comparing prices of larger prep companies. Many students who do use this option have taken the test before and need to improve on more specific areas of the test.
In many cases, GMAT courses have improved students’ scores significantly by as much as 50 points or more. That’s a bigger improvement compared to independent studying and private tutors. If a student can afford taking the courses, it’s not a bad move. Sadly, it's not always an option for a college student on a tight budget, so if money is an issue consider buying the prep books and studying on your own--just remember to concentrate and find a distrction free study area.