The Best GMAT Prep Courses
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is used by graduate business schools to measure whether a student is ready for an MBA program. With topics ranging from geometry to analytical reasoning and a 3.5-hour testing period, training for the exam is easier said than done. We researched the 13 most popular companies and narrowed it down to the top four we think will help you best prepare for the exam.
How We Chose the Best GMAT Prep Courses
Interactive resources, engaging instructors and availability
We started by assembling a list of the 13 most popular GMAT prep course providers based on recommendations and consumer reviews from university websites and student forums like Beat the GMAT. Then, we separated all their courses into three categories: self-paced, live online and in-person. We evaluated each method individually for two reasons. First, not every company offers a course for all three methods — some specialize in a specific format. Second, a provider may have method-based strengths, for example, excelling at self-paced resources but offering simply average instructor-led courses. So we developed a few specific criteria to evaluate quality and find the best program for each category.
Three full-length practice exams
When it comes to exam prep there is one study tool that outranks all others: practice exams. Known as the testing effect, practice exams train the brain to recognize question types and formats. This allows your brain to quickly process the subject material and strategy you need to answer questions on the actual exam, meaning practice exams are the best way to improve your final score.
Many companies offer proprietary practice exams to simulate the GMAT. We required a minimum of three exams, since the most commonly recommended preparation period is 1-3 months and this guarantees at least one practice exam for each month. But not all practice exams are created equal — the closer exams are to the real deal the better, so we returned to the student reviews on Beat the GMAT and GMAT Club to compare practice exam quality.
Easy-to-follow explanations and quality resources
After trying out free trials and comparing sample materials, we settled on two key features: easy-to-follow explanations and well-designed or unique resources. It turns out, most prep courses don’t really offer strong advantages over others, the differences between them tend to be more nuanced.
For example, most providers offer video lessons to explain concepts. Some providers take this to the next level in different ways. During e-GMAT’s recorded lessons, the instructor’s voice explains the material in the slideshow slowly and clearly, reducing the chance of students becoming lost or confused.
We were particularly impressed by Kaplan, which offers a wide range of resources including a large question bank and access to the GMAT Channel (a platform with optional video lessons). Most notable is the Real Test Day Experience feature, where Kaplan allows you to take a practice exam at your actual testing center so that you can learn what to expect.
We gave preference to providers that offer thoughtful tools and features to improve your study experience and score. After hours of comparison we found four prep course providers (one took top spot for live online and self-paced) to help you ace your GMAT prep.
The 4 Best GMAT Prep Courses
Best Self-Paced and Live Online Prep Courses
Flexible courses for the busy student.
Why We Chose It
Veritas Prep’s self-paced course offers access to an impressive suite of resources, including 12 practice exams, a study calendar and quizzes. Its interactive video lessons guide you step-by-step through the subject material and strategies you’ll need for answering exam questions.
For example, the lesson on critical reasoning provides thorough explanations about how questions based on inference will differ from other question types found in the exam. We appreciate that Veritas videos spend time explaining the differences between question types and the appropriate strategies for answering them. Other providers, such as e-GMAT, leaned more toward content review. While content is important, we valued the addition of strategy-centered training from Veritas.
If you choose to go with the live online course, you can expect instructors who scored within the 99th percentile (the highest tier possible). That means your instructors know exactly what to expect from the GMAT and the best strategies for answering questions. Veritas Prep’s instructors earned a 4.8 out of 5 star rating on Beat the GMAT with over 1,250 students praising their instructors for ensuring great experiences. The reviews from GMAT Club are similar, and Veritas instructors make up 5 of the top 10 instructors on the site — including the top spot.
Live online office hours
Veritas Prep also offers a unique feature we couldn’t find anywhere else: live online office hours. Unlike most self-paced prep courses that lack instructor interaction, Veritas offers online sessions with instructors seven days a week. During these two-hour sessions, students are welcome to ask any questions and receive personalized feedback or guidance.
The closest competitor in this regard was Kaplan, which offers supplementary online lessons and live topic-specific sessions with an instructor. However, you have to pay an extra $200 for this service ($1,000 total), while Veritas includes office hours as part of its $699 standard package (the high end of average for the industry).
Points to Consider
Short live online courses
The live online option only comes as a three- or six-week course, shorter than the often recommended three months of prep time. This can be an issue if you envision a full three months of guided studying. That said, students report great experiences with expert instructors that led to better scores. Plus you still get access to the full suite of Veritas resources for a year, just like you do in the self-paced course.
Runner-Up Self-Paced and Live Online Prep Courses
Affordable courses for students on a budget.
Why We Chose It
Test prep courses can get expensive, which is a major drawback for the services — particularly if you’re still a student in undergrad with limited funds. The most appealing thing about e-GMAT is its price. The self-paced course is only $300 while the live online course is $500. The company offers interactive video lessons, customizable quizzes and expert instructors (for its live online course) that will help you obtain a higher score.
Good for verbal reasoning
e-GMAT excels at preparing students for the verbal portion of the test. In fact, much of its praise comes from non-native English speakers attributing e-GMAT to boosting their verbal scores. Since the GMAT is one of the world’s leading entrance exams for graduate business schools, we consider this a win. The course also has thorough quantitative lessons, but reviews from past students indicate e-GMAT is best for those looking for help with verbal reasoning in particular.
Four out of five top-rated instructors
Like Veritas Prep, e-GMAT has an impressive lineup of instructors. Its instructors claim four out of the top five instructors on GMAT Club and boast excellent reviews from Beat the GMAT. e-GMAT is serious when it comes to ensuring its instructors are prepared to teach ,with only a “handful” of those who apply invited to teach. It also has every instructor go through over 50 hours of training. With that level of thoroughness and dedication involved, you can rest assured you’re getting your money’s worth with e-GMAT’s live online courses.
Points to consider
One of e-GMAT’s drawbacks is that its offered services are more limited. Unlike Veritas Prep, e-GMAT doesn’t offer live online office hours and its videos don’t cover as much test-taking strategy. Though, while Veritas Prep offers a better balance of resources, it’s important to remember e-GMAT is less expensive. So if price is more of a factor in your choice of test prep courses, than e-GMAT is still worth considering.
Best In-Person Prep Course
Available in 41 states for students craving a traditional classroom.
Why We Chose It
Since 1938, Kaplan has been a giant in the exam prep industry. Its many years in the industry have not only allowed it to build one of the largest libraries of GMAT resources, but also an expansive network of instructors across the nation. With its expert instructors and helpful study tools, it’s our top pick for in-person GMAT prep.
Widely available in-person instruction
A major reason Kaplan took the top spot is because it’s simply the most available. With courses in 41 states, you’ll be able to find classes in at least three quarters of the nation. The difference is impressive considering the limited offerings of other providers, like TestMasters which is currently available in just two states (CA and NY).
Of course, availability alone isn’t enough. All Kaplan instructors scored in the 90th percentile or higher. That means your teacher has a thorough understanding of the subject material and strategies for answering questions effectively. Past students confirm this, with many on Beat the GMAT reporting helpful and knowledgeable instructors. The best part? You can contact the instructors outside of class for additional assistance as you study at home.
Students also have access to a large range of resources including nine practice tests, two course books, an online quiz bank and the GMAT Channel. We are particular fans of the GMAT Channel, which offers live online lessons with instructors who cover specific topics. During the sessions, you can get additional help, as well as ask questions for more personalized feedback and guidance.
While you can always ask your in-person instructor for additional help, we appreciate the extra degree of instructor interaction. After all, an in-person instructor must balance the needs of multiple students and may not have time to give you that personalized review session for quadratic inequalities. The extra lessons ensure that you receive the help you need to address any gaps in your knowledge or skill.
Points to Consider
Shorter course lengths
Like Veritas Prep, one of Kaplan’s major drawbacks is that the length of the course averages out around six weeks. This is fairly short when compared to other courses, like Manhattan Prep’s nine-week options. While the cost of the Kaplan course is average for the industry at $1,450, we can’t help but feel that official GMAT exams and more class periods should be included at the price.
However, Kaplan does offer a balanced range of resources and a unique Official Test Day Experience that allows you to take a company-made exam in your actual testing center. Doing so will allow you to become familiar with the testing software and exam room, which can help you feel more comfortable on the big day.
Runner-Up Best In-Person Prep Course
The Princeton Review
Affordable traditional classroom course for interactive learning.
Why We Chose It
Because it’s more interactive, in-person GMAT test prep programs are pricier than alternatives. And, if you’re on a budget, an in-person course might seem out of reach. The Princeton Review offers 27 hours of live lessons for a price that’s more affordable than Kaplan. It’s still more expensive than its self-paced course, but the benefit is a more guided experience. If you know you’re better at learning in a traditional classroom experience, The Princeton Review’s in-person course is a solid, affordable option.
Extensive test prep materials
The Princeton Review offers a robust collection of resources for both online and traditional classroom students. For example, if you opt for an in-person prep course, The Princeton Review includes 10 practice tests, an online portal with practice questions and drills, and over 700 Hard Math workshops. Even better is that The Princeton Review’s in-person prep course is 27 hours, making it longer than Kaplan’s 18 hour in-person prep course.
Princeton Review Guarantee
The Princeton Review includes a money-back guarantee with most of its GMAT prep courses. This means that if you’re not 100% happy with your course, you can retake it for free. It also guarantees you’ll get a higher test score or you get your money back. We love this guarantee since it shows The Princeton Review is confident in its courses. It also ensures you’ll likely have a good experience during your test prep. But, if you don’t, you can breathe a bit easier knowing you’ll get your money back.
Points to Consider
Fewer tutor hours
When it comes to private tutoring for the GMAT, The Princeton Review’s program doesn’t stack up to Kaplan’s. Though it’s about $1,000 cheaper than Kaplan’s program, Kaplan offers a lot of bang for your buck. Along with more dedicated tutoring, it gives students complete access to a live online or in-person course. That being said, tutoring can be expensive (costing up to $8,000) so it may not be on your radar. But, if you do opt for tutoring, Kaplan is a better choice.
Guide to GMAT Prep Courses
How to find the right GMAT prep course for you
Consider your learning style
Not everyone learns the same. Some people might need the flexibility of a self-paced course and have an easier time studying on their own. Others might need that extra engagement provided by a teacher and traditional classroom setting. When looking at course options, think about how you prefer learning and what’s easiest for you to retain information.
Compare deals and prices
GMAT test prep courses aren’t cheap, but fortunately most companies price their programs competitively and often offer a variety of deals. If you don’t have a particular learning style and are capable of studying under any circumstances, you can compare deals across all companies and select a program based on what works best for your budget.
Explore local options for in-person courses
Local or state-based prep courses can also offer quality resources and personalized attention from instructors. For example, TestMasters has in-person courses in two states and Veritas Prep offers one in New York. If you want in-person course options beyond our two picks, it’s worth researching those local to you.
GMAT Prep Course FAQs
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The Best GMAT Prep Courses: Summed Up
Runner-Up Best In-Person
Offers Private Tutoring
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