Should I Take a GMAT Prep Course Before I Take the Exam?

Aug 13, 2012
Tags: Admissions Requirements, GMAT Prep, School Selection

Carol Swanberg, Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Admissions, St. Johns University

Provided by Carol Swanberg, Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Admissions, Peter J. Tobin College of Business, St. John's University

It may not be necessary to take a course in preparation for the GMAT.  If you are very organized and approach preparing for the GMAT as carefully as you do for your applications, you are in a position to study on your own.  To start, you may want to take the free sample test on mba.com to get a sense of the test questions and to assess which section(s) you may need to spend more time reviewing. 

The average test-taker takes three to six months to prepare for the test.  You may need more or less time depending on how much time you can devote to preparing on a daily and/or weekly basis.  Schedule time on a regular basis to make sure that you have continuity in your study plan.

In the preparation process, make sure to understand the types of questions that are asked in each section of the test so that you can spend less time reading and understanding the directions and more time answering questions.  Get a timer to get to know the timing of the sections, learn how to pace yourself and to practice under timed conditions.

If you feel that a course is the only way for you to prepare—be an informed consumer.  Ask family, friends and colleagues if they took a course and if they did, what they thought about it.  Ask about the content of the course and whether they thought it was really beneficial to their preparation.  Ask the organization offering the course questions about how they conduct the classes and what is covered. 

Make sure that the kind of course you choose matches your learning style.  If you need help with timing, then you might want a course that focuses on taking timed tests.  If you need more help with understanding the test questions, find a course that provides that type of teaching method.   

If you have not studied or you having difficulty remembering how to solve the quantitative questions and are in need of instruction, it may be more helpful for you to take an introductory math course at a local college than to take a GMAT prep course.  This will be a personal preference depending on your comfort level with the material. 

Your best performance will require you to have a plan to prepare for the GMAT and carefully carrying out your plan.

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