Online Options for GMAT Prep
Overview of Online GMAT Prep
The internet can be a valuable tool for GMAT preparation. Test-takers can find a great deal of information on score requirements for business school, official policies and procedures for taking the GMAT, official practice materials, and prep courses, books, videos, and other preparation aids offered by private test prep firms. The advantages of online GMAT preparation include convenience, cost savings in a variety of areas, and ease of access. The main disadvantage of online preparation is a reduced level of personal interaction, which can leave the test-taker disconnected from some of the benefits of in-person collaboration with instructors and fellow students.
GMAC Online Prep
The GMAC website (www.mba.com) provides aspiring graduate business students with a number of free online resources. Test-takers can download free GMAT prep software that includes 90 practice questions (30 quantitative, 45 verbal, and 15 integrated reasoning) with answers and explanations, a progress and assessment tool, and two full GMAT practice tests. Users may purchase additional practice content in the form of question packs ($29.99 for 404 questions and answer explanations) and exam packs ($49.99 for two full-length exams), all of which can be downloaded instantly. GMAC also provides a free interactive tool that allows students to estimate their post-MBA salaries, using data drawn from 6,000 business school graduates. Other GMAC online resources of interest to business students are a searchable database of more than 6,500 business schools, a list of business school recruiting events, and an official GMAT blog.
Private Online GMAT Prep
Many private companies offer GMAT prep courses in online format. Online GMAT prep courses have many of the same benefits as traditional on-site GMAT classes, including interaction with instructors and fellow students, dedicated math and verbal teaching, and regular feedback and assessment. Online instruction also offers additional benefits, such as unlimited viewing of lectures and post-class review, 24-hour accessibility, and scheduling convenience. Online GMAT courses typically include course materials, email-based student support, and online practice tests.
Online GMAT Prep Offered by Universities
A number of public universities offer their own online GMAT prep courses. Some of these are given by the universities themselves, while others are contracted out to private firms. The Center for Continuing Studies at St. Cloud State University, as an example of the former, holds four-week online GMAT courses that include 12 hours of instructional time for a fee of $749. The University of Wisconsin La Crosse provides live online GMAT classes through a third-party vendor. Students in these courses receive 24 hours of instruction for $749.
Other Online Resources
Students preparing for the GMAT should take advantage of other online resources, including business school class profiles, business school rankings, blogs, and mass media. Class profiles of accepted students are usually displayed prominently on business school websites, and they list average GMAT scores and score ranges, average undergraduate GPA, typical levels of work experience, and demographic information (gender, country of origin, and undergraduate major). All of the major business school rankings (Bloomberg, the Economist, the Financial Times, Forbes magazine, and U.S. News & World Report) are published online, although only two of these (the Economist and U.S. News) consider admission selectivity. All rankings are valuable in order to provide a complete picture of a given business school. General internet resources such as blogs and chatrooms can give worthwhile (if usually anecdotal) information, and major newspapers and magazines publish a variety of articles on the GMAT and graduate business study. General internet resources should be scrutinized in terms of credibility and objectivity.
Choosing the Right Online GMAT Prep
Online GMAT instruction isn't right for everyone. Some students need the accountability that comes from in-person attendance at an on-site GMAT prep course. Students considering online GMAT preparation should also remember that online interaction is more detached than on-site study. It is much more difficult to read and benefit from the non-verbal aspects of teaching in an online environment. Teachers and students react to unspoken cues in a live classroom, such as collective student responses, moods, and facial expressions that cannot easily be reproduced online. For many students, the convenience of online instruction outweighs these disadvantages. Each test-taker should carefully consider his or her personality and learning style when making decisions about online GMAT instruction.