The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is required for admission to many of the top business schools in the country. A challenging, three-and-a-half-hour exam, the GMAT tests your skills in quantitative, verbal and integrated reasoning, as well as your analytical writing abilities.
The majority – about two-thirds – of GMAT test takers earn a score of 400-600 out of a possible 800 points. Because most of the top business schools look for applicants with higher scores (most of the top 10 business schools look for GMAT scores above 700) it’s worth taking the time to study and prepare for the exam.
The developers of the GMAT, the Graduate Management Admissions Council, or GMAC, recommend an eight-week study plan for success on the exam. By following this plan and using the best GMAT prep resources, it’s possible to get a great score and increase your chance of admission to your top choice school. As you get ready to study, check out these GMAT prep tools.
Free GMAT Study Guide & Practice Tests
The first GMAT study resource you need to turn to is the GMAT® Official Starter Kit + Practice Exams 1 & 2. When you register for an account on MBA.com, you will receive an access code for these online resources, which include some preparation tips as well as 90 practice test questions. The kit also includes two full-length practice exams that use questions from previous GMAT exams and uses the same adaptive technology that the real tests use, ensuring that the difficulty of the exam questions increases with every correct answer.
In addition to the Practice Exams 1 & 2, you have the option of purchasing additional practice exams from GMAC. There are two additional sets, Practice Exams 3 & 4 and Practice Exams 5 & 6, which are available for $49.99 per set.
Test prep company Kaplan also offers free resources on their website, including a free test prep starter pack, a free practice exam, pop quizzes and a question of the day.
GMAT Study Books
Taking practice tests can help you gauge your test-taking ability and see the types of questions to expect, but for more insight into how to tackle some of the toughest questions, you may wish to invest in a study guide. There are multiple guides to choose from, and most can be found in your favorite bookstore, online or in most libraries.
Among the best GMAT exam preparation guides include:
2019 GMAT Official Guide, eBook, and Online. The official guide from GMAC, this guide includes more than 1,500 questions taken from actual exams, as well as detailed guides on how to approach different types of questions, answer guides and sample essays. The online portion of the guide includes assessments to help you identify weaknesses, insights into your performance and the ability to build custom question sets to challenge yourself. The eBook and online set is $47.95. If you prefer printed books, you can purchase a set with the Official Guide and individual guides to Verbal Review and Quantitative Review for $71.95.
Manhattan Prep Resources. Considered by some to be the “Bible” of GMAT test prep, Manhattan Prep offers a series of 10 different test guides, each focused on a different aspect of the GMAT exam. Each book is about $20, but you only need the book for areas that you need to work on. These books provide top-notch advice on how to approach different questions while also reviewing some fundamental concepts found on the exam. Reviewers note that the practice exams in the Manhattan Prep guides aren’t useful as they could be, but for guidance on how to uncover the correct answers, the books are invaluable.
The Princeton Review. While they don’t administer the GMAT, the educational company does offer a GMAT test guide, “Cracking the GMAT Premium Edition with 6 Computer-Adaptive Practice Tests, 2019: The All-in-One Solution for Your Highest Possible Score.” The book covers all of the test subject areas, explaining basic concepts and test-taking strategies and includes hundreds of practice questions and several full-length sample practice tests. It also comes with access to online resources to support your exam prep. Keep in mind that this book went to press before GMAC made changes to the GMAT; the printed book does not reflect the new test format, but the online resources do. The printed book is about $40.
Kaplan. This company also publishes a guide for test prep, “GMAT Prep Plus 2019,” for $45. Updated for the latest versions of the exam, this guide includes concept review, test strategies, and practice questions and exams. It also offers online and mobile access to test prep tools, letting you do your GMAT prep while on the go.
Although many test takers are successful in studying on their own, if you want a little extra guidance, you can invest in GMAT prep courses.
Kaplan offers both self-guided and instructor-led test prep courses. Options range from an interactive, on-demand library of prep options starting at $599, to one-on-one, personalized tutoring starting at $2799.
Veritas Prep is a top-rated GMAT prep course provider, and also offers self-paced, in-person and private test prep options. The $699 self-paced course includes streaming lessons, access to more than 5,000 questions and live help. The in-person classes start at $1,450 and include 36 hours of live instruction plus access to all of the online resources. Private tutoring starts at $2,650 and includes live, one-on-one instruction. All of Veritas’ instructors scored within the 99th percentile on their own GMAT exams.
The Princeton Review also provides GMAT prep courses, all of which include copies of the GMAT Official Guide. The $499 self-paced course includes one hour with a GMAT expert, while the $1,299 “in-person” training includes 27 hours of “live online” test prep and access to ten practice exams. Private tutoring with the Princeton Review starts at $1,800. If your score doesn’t improve after you take the course, you may qualify for a refund of your tuition.
GMAT Exam Prep Mobile Apps
There’s an app for nearly everything these days, and the GMAT is no exception. If you want to practice for your test on the go, check out some of these mobile apps:
Manhattan Prep GMAT ($29.99 for premium after trial; basic is free). A comprehensive guide with practice questions and drills.
GMAT Math/ GMAT Idiom Flashcards (Free). These allow you to practice fundamental concepts you’ll find on the test, including estimation and simple calculations.
GMAT Prep & Practice (Free trial). Make a study plan, request help from a tutor, watch lessons and tutorials, and practice exam questions.
GMAT Practice for Dummies (Free trials; $6.99/ month for full access). Includes practice questions and tutorials for answering common questions.
These are just some of the options you have for preparing for the GMAT, there are also some great study apps – which we reviewed here. Regardless of how you study, getting your best score will require an investment of time and money, but it’s well worth the expense.