It never fails: elementary teachers would always ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. The kids’ answers would vary widely, with many aspiring to be doctors, architects, lawyers, and whatnot. In their young, bright minds, those little kids express the desire to succeed in either a profession or a business, often like mom or dad.
If only those kids know just how rigorous the process is to obtain the right skills to succeed in a business-related profession or acquire real business acumen to run their own!
Today, students seeking advanced business knowledge usually take the graduate path. An undergraduate degree is good, but better opportunities await those who possess the specialized knowledge that graduate study offers.
And as an MBA or Business doctorate hopeful, you need to measure up to business schools’ standards, particularly the world-renowned academic institutions that produce the best and most skilled graduates. First on the list on how to do this is acing the GMAT.
Let’s dig a little deeper and find out what GMAT is all about! Use these quick links to navigate this topic easily!
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)
The Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT is a standardized exam to assess and evaluate those interested in applying to graduate business schools and programs. It is purely computer-based and officiated by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).
It is widely considered in 6,000 graduate business programs, around 1,700 schools and universities worldwide. If you’re wondering how important it is to take the GMAT, well, some test takers consider this as their tipping point.
Almost all business programs, especially the MBA courses, consider this test one of their main requirements in assessing a candidate’s application. Your score in GMAT will likely compromise the most significant chunk in the evaluation process.
Aside from the other school requirements such as your undergraduate transcripts, letter of recommendation, and entrance essay, the GMAT is also a great predictor of a candidate’s performance in his/her potential school. Moreover, employers and job recruiters also look at your GMAT scores to check how well you are doing qualitative work in a job setting.
You can take the GMAT on specific schedules within the whole year. Depending on the school’s application deadline, you can gauge and choose the best date for taking the exam.
Take note that there is variety in the times and days of the schedules. The test can sit anywhere from Monday to Saturday with time schedules ranging from morning to afternoon.
For the registration, you can start the process online. All you need to do is create an account on the GMAC website, and from there, you can begin exploring your resources.
Such resources include access to appointment and exam schedules, free examination reviewers, tools for preparation, and so much more. As for the fee, taking the GMAT exam costs $250. But there are also financial aid initiatives and programs by GMAC that can help an applicant cover the examination fee.
If you look closely at the big picture, there is an excellent reason applicants are rooting for this kind of test before applying for an MBA. According to the Graduate Management Association Council’s Corporate Recruiters Survey, the median annual starting salary offer for new MBA hires in 2019 is $115,000.
In terms of industries, consulting (US$135,000) and finance/accounting (US$125,000) have the highest median starting salary for MBA recruits among US companies. Such a massive projection of earnings among MBA graduates encourages them to pursue a graduate degree and ace the GMAT as well.
A Closer Look at the GMAT
Just like any other examination, the GMAT has different test sections. The exam administrators meticulously choose the exam questions to evaluate a candidate’s readiness to pursue a graduate business degree. In total, you can complete the test in 3 hours and 30 minutes, all done on a computer. Always remember that you can’t go back to the previous question once you have answered it.
There is also computerized adaptive testing to the verbal and quantitative test areas of the examination. Meaning, the more difficult the questions are getting, the greater the chances that you’re answering them correctly as you go.
All of the test sections have a standard time frame and a set number of questions. Here are the four main areas of the test:
- Analytical Writing Assessment – This is the first section of the exam with 30 minutes. It only has one question in the entire segment. Test officials carefully design this area to see how the candidate can practice his/her argument analysis skills and critical-thinking competence. For the problem, it is usually in the position to highlight an argument. The answer is required in a short essay form and evaluated based on the test-takers capacity to analyze it. It also depends on how he/she defends his/her point in the argument. Evaluators of the test would look for the examples’ appropriateness to support the examinee’s argument and its comprehensive explanation. They also check for grammar, thought organization, and substance of ideas.
- Integrated Reasoning – This part of the test is about the applicant’s skills in analyzing and interpreting data from different sources. From this, they have to solve challenging problems related to the data given. The data presented may be in graphs, tables, charts, or written pieces of information. This section is good for 30 minutes with 12 questions. As this segment is about data and numbers, a calculator is available on the computer. There are four types of problems including:
- Multi-source reasoning – This question type mainly focuses on measuring data from multiple sources. Your answer may be in a single form or numerous forms to get one point.
- Table analysis – There is a set of data in table form, and depending on what conditions are present, you need to analyze and sort them to come up with an answer.
- Graphics Interpretation – A graphical image or presentation will be the main highlight for this question type. The image may be a pie chart, bar chart, line chart, or x/y scale, and the examinee will have to identify connections and relationships between data.
- Two-part analysis – This type of question measures your capability to solve challenging and complicated situations. The questions can be verbal, quantitative, or a combination of the two.
- Quantitative Test – The segment is all about mathematical problems. The test-taker has to answer questions in algebra, arithmetic, and geometry. It has 31 questions, all in a multiple-choice setup. To complete this, you have 62 minutes to finish this section. It is good to remember that there is no calculator provided in this part of the exam as logical and analytical capabilities are the skills that need highlighting. There are two types of questions including:
- Problem-solving – There is a situation presented, and you have to choose the best answer among the five choices. This rates the examinee’s skills in quantitative and analytical reasoning
- Data sufficiency – A quantitative problem with two statements will be the main form of a question for this area. You have to analyze the data in the given information and decide if the data presented is sufficient to answer the question.
- Verbal Reasoning – This part of the test measures the applicant’s ability to understand and comprehend statements such as written materials and arguments. There are three types of questions in this area. They are the following:
- Reading comprehension – There will be passages presented, and you have to analyze the content and interpret the whole material. The content may deliberate business, human behavior, social sciences, or physical and biological sciences.
- Critical reasoning – This question type focuses on how you evaluate and analyze passages with arguments.
- Sentence correction – This type of question revolves more around the language proficiency of the examinee. You must be good with your grammar, sentence construction, and vocabulary to have an edge on this part of the test.
In terms of scoring, five years is the most extended validity date for a GMAT score. The Official GMAT Score Report’s inclusions are the following:
- Scores for each test section.
- A photograph of the examinee in the testing center.
- Ranking based on percentage.
- Other personal information such as phone details.
The perfect score in a GMAT exam is 800 points. The most number of scores sit in the 400 to 600 range.
Preparing for GMAT
There are many ways to properly prepare for the GMAT and any other exam you have to take. Preparation is one of the essential things to ensure a high score percentage in taking the test.
GMAC’s Prospective Student Survey revealed that in 2016, more than half, or specifically, 62% of 3,600 GMAT applicants preferred to start studying and preparing one month or more before their exam date. Scores of 500 or higher tend to be from examinees who dedicate 60 hours or more of studying before their examination date.
For the studying resources, examinees have explored different tools to prepare for the GMAT. You can find below the types of tools used by the test takers for studying and preparation:
- Online Practice Tests – This type of resource helps a test-taker expect similar questions and exam format same as the actual test. There are templates from previous GMAT exams given, and there are also practice tests that require professional simulation. These online practice tests can be free or paid, depending on the material. If you have anxiety in taking tests, familiarizing yourself with a practice exam is a great way to overcome it.
- Study Apps – These are test prep apps that are available on any mobile device. If you want to access the materials on your smartphone or iPad, this is a great resource. Some study apps are free, and some have payment plans.
- Textbooks – The more traditional preparation for examinees is to get a book and create a study structure. If you’re reading tangible materials, then getting a test prep book is the way to go. Most book reviewers are cheap in pricing, so this is best if you’re on a budget. The price range of test prep books is between $5 to $60.
- Tutors – If you want to have a face-to-face guide in preparing for the GMAT, getting a tutor is more convenient. Tutors can personalize their strategy on how to help the test-takers with the exam. They can pinpoint certain areas where the examinee would need more help and guidance. The cost can start from $75 per hour.
Online Prep Courses for GMAT
More comprehensive preparation and studying for the GMAT takes place in the form of a prep course. An online prep course is a course training that you can access over the internet.
The procedure can be a mixture of different study guides and sample test forms. Without going through a prep course, there are lesser chances for you to attain your goal score for the exam.
For GMAT, there are a lot of online prep courses available over the internet. If you want to know what are the best online prep courses to take for the GMAT, then have a read below:
- Magoosh – This is a prep course website intended to help GMAT takers. It has a pool of video lessons, hundreds of readable course materials, practice quizzes, and optional payment structures. Their website offers three price options depending on the needs of the applicants. You can see their options below:
- $219 – This includes materials and resources for Integrated Reasoning and Quantitative Test only. It is a one-time payment and has access to over 175 video reviewers and more than 720 simulation questions. Access the content for one year that includes a free ask-an-expert feature.
- $249 – The one-time payment cost covers resources for all of the GMAT test areas, including Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative and Verbal sections. It has more video resources totaling over 340 video guides. It also has 1,300 review and practice questions. Another great inclusion is the score predictor feature and an online whiteboard setup.
- $799 – This is the most expensive prep course on their website, including 6 hours of intensive tutoring and one-on-one video chat sessions with their course experts. It comes with outright access to all video resources and course materials.
- Princeton Review – This is a GMAT prep course that has a variety of programs with over 700 kinds of training and reviews to help you with acing the exam. They provide a more in-depth guide in their review, including personalized test simulations, live tutorials, and interactive video resources. They have four payment options:
- $699 – This is a self-paced training with one-on-one instructions and a guide. This payment option only makes the resources available online.
- $1,299 – Unlike the first payment option, this one is more on having live classroom sessions. You will get a total of 27 classroom hours when you take this training. This is perfect for those who want to study in a classroom setting.
- $1,599 – It consists of professional instructions from GMAT experts with a total of more than 47 hours of review. This payment option has the official GMAT guide textbook and has complete adaptive practice tests.
- $1,800 – This is their private tutoring feature wherein the study guide for you will be personalized and will be crafted by their GMAT experts. All 1:1 reviews are available both in-person and online to make it easier for you to access all resources.
- ExamPAL – They believe that efficiency is the key to get a high score on GMAT. Unlike any other traditional prep course, their course training promises you lesser hours to study but can still achieve a high score percentage. They also have a self-paced study structure that is good for six months. Here are their available payment options:
- $599 – This only has access to the Quantitative section and Integrated Reasoning segment of the exam. It has 4 GMAC-certified practice tests that can help you rehearse your answering skills.
- $899 – It has full access to all study materials for the four main test sections of the exam. Aside from the inclusion of GMAC-certified practice tests, this option also has three essay review guides and 1 hour of admission consultancy with their GMAT experts.
- $1,299 – This has all of the features and inclusions in your study resources. What makes this stand out from the other payment options is you will have three sets of 1:1 tutoring.
- Target Test Prep – Their online prep course offers a personalized study plan for each test-taker. They have more than 2,500 practice GMAT questions available on their online site. They also have a performance tracker where you can see which areas you need more guidance in. Their course is also available on mobile. However, keep in mind that their study guides are only limited to the exam’s Quantitative and Verbal sections. Here are their payment plans:
- $1 – This is their trial program where you can access all of their training resources within five days.
- $99 – It is suitable for a monthly payment plan to acquire all reviewers for the test’s Verbal and Quantitative segments. You can cancel your payment option anytime.
- $299 – This is good for a one-time fee and can give you four months of full access to all resources.
- $399 – Same with the third payment option; this covers a one-time payment structure and gives you access for a full six months.
- Kaplan GMAT – The main highlight in their prep course is the availability of their expert GMAT teachers. They have a team of experienced instructors that help each student’s accountability and efficiency in taking the exam. What makes them have the edge over other online prep courses is that they run a trial test the day before your actual exam day. The trial exam is situated in an official test center to make sure you can mentally and physically prepare for the real thing. They also have a free consultation option that you can try before applying for their training. Below are their payment plans:
- Practice Tests – these come in various payment options:
- $99 – You will get three months full access to their adaptive pool of more than 2,300 questions. It has an algorithm installed to adjust the type of questions that can improve your answering skills.
- $149 – This is the same as the first payment option for the practice tests but has detailed score reports to evaluate your competence.
- $299 – With access to the practice questions and detailed score reports, this option has an added teacher-led video library and book resources.
- $599 – The teachers will be helping you with the resources, including online and in-person classes. This interactive option lets you gain expert advice and mentoring from their top instructors.
- $2,499 – This is a private tutoring option to ensure your high success rate in getting a decent GMAT test score.
- Manhattan Prep – Their prep courses are divided into four payment options depending on each option’s kind of structure. Their course structures come in types of intensive, flexible, personalized, and popular. All of them are one-time fees. Get to know them below:
- $549 – This is their flexible payment option as it offers a self-paced study to the examinee. It has more than 35 video lessons and online resources available.
- $1,599 – It has a set of online classes accessible to students with 27 hours of live expert instructions. This offer is their most popular payment plan.
- $2,450 – It has one-on-one private tutoring to personalize your study plan.
- $2,699 – Their most expensive payment option comes in the form of an intensive boot camp, which includes a comprehensive study guide and 35 hours of review instructions.
- PrepScholar GMAT – What makes them a great prep course is that they focus on their students’ strengths and weaknesses to personalize study plans. All of their payment plans come with a 5-day risk-free trial so that you can assess which option is best for you. Here are the inclusions:
- $69 – This gives you two months’ access to their 500 practice drill questions. It is also complete with detailed explanations for each answer per question.
- $139 – This has a diagnostic assessment plan that measures the examinee’s skills. It includes three months of access to their 750 practice exam questions and GMAT strategy lessons.
- $259 – Aside from the four months’ access to more than 1,000 practice test questions, you will also get a diagnostic assessment, personalized study plan, and 60-point improvement guarantee on your exam.
- e-GMAT – They have a comprehensive set of courses on their online site. The courses include an artificial intelligence or AI utility that automatically personalizes your study plan and review guide. They also offer 24-hour support to all applicants with advice coming from their top-rated experts. They have two payment options available:
- $249 – This is limited to study questions for the Verbal section of the GMAT. This option covers six months of access with 24/7 support, including strategy sessions and doubt-clearing mindset guides.
- $349 – This offers training resources for both the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the test. It includes more than ten mock exams with a total of 160 hours of video lessons.
- Bloomberg Exam Prep – Their system-based application makes them one of the technologically advanced prep courses over the internet. They have an adaptive learning system wherein you can talk to their AI-powered chatbot right through your mobile or laptop. Their app also lets you have customized review templates that can help you with every test section. Their study plans are as follows:
- $599 – This includes access to 3 practice exams, two one-on-one sessions with a tutor, and a feature where you can ask 20 questions to their expert instructors. This plan is suitable for three months’ access.
- $799 – It has five practice exams, three one-on-one sessions, and 80 Ask-A-Tutor questions. Your access to the training resources has a validity of 4 months.
- $999 – This is their most costly plan with seven practice exams, 400 questions feature, and four sessions with their expert tutors. The whole program is accessible for six months.
- Veritas Prep – All of their prep courses have one-year validity access. Aside from the long term accessibility, the training also comes on a mobile device so that you can access it at any time. It has a performance predictor that can gauge how well you will do on the exam day. They also have seven days of expert instructor availability to ensure you have daily access to professional and competent advice. These are their training plans:
- $699 – It runs a diagnostic test analysis for their system to determine your strengths and weaknesses. They have 12 practice tests and more than 5,000 practice test questions available.
- $1,100 – It has all of the features from the first option but has several add-ons, including 3 hours of private tutoring from their top-skilled instructor and a personalized study plan.
- $2,500 – Aside from the all-out access to the training’s full features, this option plan incorporates your preparation for your MBA school. Such practice involves your degree game plan, interview and resumes prep, and a total of 7 hours of consultation.
- Udemy GMAT – This prep course highly focuses on the Verbal section of the GMAT. It highlights lessons about argument analysis, reading comprehension, sentence patterns, language proficiency, and many others. The course has a total of 37 lectures and is 8 hours and 45 minutes long. There is only one pricing option for their system, which costs $14.99.
- Empower GMAT – Their training and prep courses revolve around the Verbal and Quantitative parts of the exam. They have a full syllabus of training topics included in their course application. They have official practice exams and mistake trackers to fix your errors and apply your learning in the actual test. They have three options of access plans:
- Free trial – This is good for 24-hour full access to their study materials. You can view all of their 6 study plans, has more than 100 videos of coaching lessons, and offers support access to their experts via email.
- $99 – This is a monthly plan to fully acquire all resources with the add-on of score booster strategies and monthly personalized study plans.
- $349 – The option covers a fixed plan good for three months. Apart from your complete access to the full training and courses, you will also have bonuses, including six official GMAT practice exams and GMAT Quiz Banks. These have 1,773 questions, all designed to prepare you for the real test.
- The Economist GMAT – Their innovative adaptive learning system customizes your study plan depending on your study habits and behavioral review patterns. The method makes their prep courses very personalized as well. Their payment plans come with a free 3-month subscription to their digital publication – The Economist. Their study plans are below:
- $539 – This option only covers review materials for the Quantitative and Integrated Reasoning part of the exam. You will also get a 1:1 tutoring session.
- $789 – It has full access to all review sections of the four segments of the test. You can also ask 100 questions to their expert tutors.
- $989 – Apart from the over-all access to their complete library of resources, you will also get to ask unlimited questions to their top-notch tutors. Moreover, you will also get practice tests, essay reviews, and four sessions of live tutoring.
- 800 Score GMAT – This prep course is more of a compact kind of training wherein you can skim the learning materials of their website all for free. They have 400 pages of reviewers limited to Verbal and Analytical sections of the GMAT. They also have instructional videos, a GMAT test overview, and exam strategies to answer the actual test.
- MathRevolution – If you want to focus on the Analytical section of the exam, then the prep courses in MathRevolution is the best for you. They offer 3,000 practice questions, 100 hours of video tutorials, and a money-back guarantee system. Here are their pricing offers:
- $69 – You can get one month of access to all of their mock questions, a comprehensive math guide with 28 full topics, unlimited support, and advanced math theories and strategies
- $149 – Same with the first option, you can get all the inclusions suitable for three months of access. You will also have a GMAT Club test package
- $199 – All of their training materials are here in their most expensive pricing offer. They also have daily quizzes, official guides, and a score guarantee plan