Applicant Question: Should I Take a GMAT Class?

In some professions, such as banking and consulting, taking a GMAT prep course is a given for prospective M.B.A. students. For those students, the question is never “should I take the GMAT but instead, which one should I use. With so many companies and tutors competing for your attention, it can be difficult to choose which to use. But for others, the decision to take a GMAT class can be tough. Not only because the cost is high but also because you don’t know how much to actually study. Well, in a recent question on BeatTheGMAT I received a question about just that.

In a recent question on BeatTheGMAT I received a question about taking a GMAT class. Because the person had gotten bad feedback on an LSAT class, they were uncertain if they should consider taking a GMAT one.

See below for the question, and below that for an adaptation of my response.



Hi Jeremy,

In preparing for the GMAT, would you recommend prep class or private tutor? I heard one experience from an LSAT prep class that classmates slowed things down since everyone was from different levels/backgrounds. Wondering if it’s similar or different for the GMAT.




Hi (Name)

Thanks for your question. I think the answer is different for everyone. Some students have different priorities when applying to MBA programs so may decide to spend more or less time on the GMAT.  And others can sometimes thrive in different environments, where in some cases that environment is a tutor and self study, and other cases it is a formal GMAT class. That said, it is true that far more people take a GMAT class than use a private tutor.  And for those who use a private tutor, many of them have already taken the class and are using a tutor to sharpen up their skills in the weeks leading up to the exam date.

Because in general, the GMAT class should help you get through all the basics you need to do well. The curriculum for “good” classes is up to date, the instructors are top notch (though probably better at some places than others) and the pace of the class is appropriately spaced to get you through everything in the 10 week period (length may vary depending on class).  Further, the class will help give you a structured schedule with a consistent routine to help learn the information and will give you more resources than you would have on your own.

Of course there are always possible downsides to everything. If you are traveling to a classroom the time investment is more than it would be with a private tutor. Likewise, the cost is greater and you don’t always have a chance to choose your teacher.

Personally, I took a GMAT class and saw a lot of others do the same. I had no problem with pace and ended up with a great instructor and would recommend Manhattan GMAT to a lot of other applicants. While I can’t promise the same experience, and don’t have any knowledge about the makeup of the classes you might consider joining, I suspect many of them would not have problems with classmates and won’t end up going to slow. Especially if you have a strong instructor.

Good luck.

Saturday, January 14th, 2012 Business School

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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