What does the GMAT Cost?
There’s an old german expression: buy cheap buy twice. I’ve seen that many times with GMAT tutoring students who have taken classes at so called “reputable” NYC GMAT companies only to need a whole bunch of help in order to achieve their GMAT goals. So choose based on quality and according to your needs. The cost of your GMAT preparation will depend on you.
In order to figure out what your GMAT costs will be you need to figure out what type of GMAT support you might need. What to do first? Complete your GMAT Registration, then download the GMAT prep software and take a diagnostic exam so you can see where you are starting from. A low score doesn’t mean that you need to book 100 hours of tutoring. But at least you’ll have some idea of how much work you need to do.
Next, I would take an honest assessment of what kind of test taker/learner you are. How did you do on the SAT? Have you done math in a while? Are you a good tester in general? Have you prepared yourself for other standardized exams? How did that go? Which one of these two archetypes best describes you?
1. You aced the SAT, had a Quant heavy major in college, and have continued to do quantitative things at work.
2. You squeaked by on the SAT with taking a class and/or having a tutor, studied Canadian poetry in college, and haven’t done any quantitative work in some time.
The first person can probably do 90% of the work on his/her own. The latter person might consider getting someone to help put structure around their GMAT studying. Don’t worry if you aren’t a “math” person. I’ve had plenty of non mathletes achieve great GMAT scores. If you are really lost on the GMAT Quant you might benefit from some pre-GMAT review over at the Khan Academy – here’s an article on using Khan Academy to help with your GMAT studies. The better you plan your studying, the less the GMAT will cost in terms of time and money.
If you want to get this done quickly, regardless of where you are starting out, then you will probably want to hire someone who knows exactly what work you will need to do in order to achieve your GMAT goals.
GMAT Tutoring or GMAT Classes?
Depending on what type of preparation you choose your GMAT costs will be different. I can’t recommend any GMAT classes at the moment. I wish that I could but:
1. None of them are comprehensive enough to be worth the cost in time and money.
2. None of them are cheap enough to be worth gambling on.
3. Each GMAT student has their own specific needs that may not have anything to do with any of the other students in the class. Lots of time is spent on content that will not be important for your GMAT success.
A GMAT class can be a great way of teaching certain parts of the GMAT (broad strategies/general introduction to topics) but it is inefficient for addressing the needs of individuals and certainly not a comprehensive solution for GMAT preparation. If the current GMAT class offerings were cheap I’d say go for it and see if they work for you but at $1500+ I would think twice about it. Especially considering that there could be dozens of other people in the class (each with specific strengths and weaknesses which will determine the pace and content of the class). If you are looking for GMAT preparation I would strongly consider contacting an experienced GMAT tutor and finding out about his/her services.
A rough breakdown of GMAT Cost for the self-motivated studier (materials, registration, and prep)
Materials and Practice Tests
Exam Pack 1 $39.99
Question Pack 1 $29.99
GMAT Paper Tests $89.97
GMAT Focus 3 Pack (here is a GMAT Focus Review) $79.99
Official Guide 13th Edition $23.05
Quantitative Review 2nd $10.49
Verbal Review 2nd $10.49 10
LSAT Prep Tests $19.77
Manhattan GMAT CAT Subscription $49
GMAT Test Simulation Plastic Pad $16.56
GMAT Tutoring Cost?
I am basing this on current Atlantic GMAT rates (which seem to be somewhere in the middle of the market) but obviously there is cheaper and more expensive tutoring out there. I could write an entire article about how to choose a quality GMAT tutor but the main thing that I would recommend is: have a conversation with your potential GMAT tutor before signing up for tutoring.
Eight 110 minute sessions@$195 per hour = $2760 With a 5% pre-pay discount the total comes to $2717
Just as a quick point of comparison: Manhattan GMAT Classes with up to 22 students (hard to find class size info but this was posted here) cost $1599 and Veritas GMAT Classes with up to 38 students cost $1650.
The grand total for GMAT materials + GMAT Private Tutoring + the cost of registering for the GMAT is (drum roll): $3336.30
This is an estimate for someone who can take 4 months to study and do a chunk of the basic work on their own (even if you are taking a class you will still have to do a review of the basics on your own). This is assuming that you are starting somewhere in the high 500’s or low 600’s and are aiming for 700+. If you want to get done quicker or if you are shooting for a bigger improvement then you will probably need more than the above level of tutoring and hence the GMAT preparation will cost more.
Likewise if you want to start from scratch and have a private tutor manage your entire preparation then you will most likely need another 5 sessions in the beginning to cover the basics. So from zero to prepared your GMAT costs (including materials and GMAT registration) would be $5123.80.
GMAT Cost for Non-Native MBAs
If English is your second language and you are struggling with the GMAT verbal you will need far more time to study than a native speaker would. That doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed. I’ve had plenty of non-natives rock the GMAT but verbal improvement (especially for non-native speakers) takes time. There is no way to speed up the process. What you can do is put in some work into your reading skills. I would suggest reading an article from the economist every day. Start this 6 months before you start prepping for the GMAT and you will find the GMAT verbal far more manageable. Here is an article on using the Economist to improve GMAT Reading Comprehension.
A Costly Conclusion
I hope that you haven’t left this article feeling depressed about how much real GMAT preparation costs. The point of this is to breakdown what successful MBAs have spent on GMAT preparation. Do you have to spend money on instruction to do well on the GMAT? Nope. Plenty of people have prepared on their own and have gotten excellent GMAT scores (Here's a GMAT Study Schedule to help you do that). Does expert instruction make GMAT studying easier. Yep.
The important thing is to be honest with yourself about what kind of studier you are. What kind of test taker you are. How have you succeeded in the past? Use this knowledge to make an informed decision about what type of GMAT preparation you need.