How should I prep my GMAT prep course?
March 11, 2013 11:19 AM   Subscribe

How should I prep my GMAT prep course?

I'm considering signing up for an expensive GMAT prep course. For this kind of investment, I want to be sure that I am in a position to get the most out of the class.

What are good standards to meet before I even register for the course? Should I have a certain math proficiency? Should I have already taken a test?

As a side question - will the GMAT teach me content I'm not comfortable with? I worry that I am not yet prepared for the math.
posted by jander03 to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Before signing up for an expensive course, see if you can do it yourself. Have you taken the practise test yet? I would advise you to go to the gmat web site, download the practise test there, and attempt it in test-taking conditions. That will give you a baseline score. You can then use a test prep book (something like Kaplan or Princeton Review) or online sources to improve your score in your weaker areas, and try the test again. The version on the web site will give you a very close approximation of your actual score.

I know several people who increased their score by a significant amount by using this method. Don't give the test prep companies more money unless you absolutely need to.
posted by sid at 11:47 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Its been awhile - but 10 years ago there was a fundamental difference between Kaplan and Princeton Review. Kaplan had more of a repetition model - you practiced test until you were comfortable with the kinds of questions and the format of the test. Princeton, on the other hand, focused more on the strategy of taking the test - how to allocate time, when and how to guess, etc. They were both very good at what they did.

Both sell books (see Amazon) and I think both have online courses. The cost/benefit of each has more to do with how you learn than anything else.
posted by rtimmel at 12:09 PM on March 11, 2013

I can only speak of my own experience.

I took a Kaplan course and I had a great experience for two prime reasons:

1. I hadn't been in school in a long time -- going to class got me readjusted to being in school.

2. The final practice test for mine was in the actual test center where my GMAT was and got me adjusted to that a week before my GMAT.

I was concerned about the math, but I don't recall too much about that -- mostly it was test techniques for some of the weird GMAT questions. Also, the Kaplan tests were MUCH harder than the actual GMAT, which made the GMAT seem easy, which was a little scary during the exam.

I scored in the 99th percentile for verbal, and 95th percentile for math, FWIW.
posted by hrj at 12:09 PM on March 11, 2013

Without knowing your aptitudes and level of comfort with computerized test-taking, it's hard to say whether you'd get the benefit you hope from the course.

I am probably not like you. My Bachelor's degree is over a decade old in a technical area. I have taken various computer-mediated certification exams in the time I've been in the work force, including some with adaptive difficulty. I was tested in my youth as having an exceptionally high IQ with strong verbal, logic, spatial, and math skills. It never crossed my mind that I might test out poorly based on ability, but I wanted to get some familiarity with the test format and content.

I took a couple of free "GMAT lite" tests, then used the sample tests I got access to by registering to take the GMAT the 3 weekends before I wrote the test, which I did about as well as hrj on.

What's been a real adjustment since starting a part-time MBA is the mandatory group work in my programme. Don't get me started on that, but it's a challenge for me particularly because my personality and reasons for taking the degree are both somewhat orthogonal to the majority of my cohort.
posted by thatdawnperson at 4:01 PM on March 11, 2013

Thanks for the advice.

I've formed the following tentative plan. Luckily I'm in no rush.

1. Take a sample CAT that provides question analysis at the end (ManhattanGMAT gives the first one free).
2. Use that data to begin a 3-6 month content self study (maybe I'll use Kahn academy)
3. Take a sample GMAT
3. If the self-study is not enough to bring up my score, take a relevant class in my weak area. (followed by a sample GMAT)
4. Take a prep course
posted by jander03 at 9:15 PM on March 22, 2013

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