This article was guest-written by Peter Steinberg, a student who reviewed some Kaplan, ManhattanGMAT, and GMAT Pill material. Here are his thoughts.

Online GMAT: Going Online

With everything going online, there’s no reason why GMAT Prep isn’t going online. Let’s not be confused – the actual GMAT Exam that you take to go to business school – is a test taken on a computer at a testing center. That exam is not “online” or on the “internet.” What IS on the internet though is GMAT Prep materials. The old fashion way of preparing was taking a class for over $1000 and attending weekly classes on a Saturday. Well guess what? Nobody wants to wake up and do that anymore when the more effective and efficient way of studying is signing up for an online study method. Well there have been several notable companies that have emerged in this space.

PART 1: First let me show you how you should be evaluating some of the selling points that these test prep companies use. When they list out bullet points, which ones matter? How do you figure out which is the BEST TEST PREP out there?

50-Point Guarantee:
Don’t be fooled by 50-point guarantees by companies. What YOU care about is your own score. 50 point guarantees are very easy for students scoring in the 500 Level range. In fact, a good 70% of students score below 600. Offering a 50-point guarantee is a low hurdle because jumping from 500 to 550 is much much easier than jumping from 650 to 700. If a test prep company can get more 500 level students to signup, that’s more revenue for them. The number of students scoring in the high 600 level range are fewer. Pissing them off is not as important as pissing off the 500 level students because Level 500 students represent more money. If a test prep company gives money back or offers the high 600 level students to retake the course, it’s not much of a loss for the company. A test prep company is a business, they are maximizing their profits. Don’t get tricked by a company that offers 50-point guarantees, particularly if you are in the high 600 level range.

The GMAT is for business school. Think BUSINESS! Don’t get DUPED!

More # of practice questions or More hours of instruction
This is the area that appalls me. If you keep doing more GMAT practice questions, is that going to make you better? Does practice make perfect?

The answer is NO. Practice makes perfect IF AND ONLY IF you have a good coach. When you practice on your own first, you will improve a little bit. But shortly, you will find out that your improvement will STOP and PLATEAU. Many of the test prep companies offer tons of practice material. Your GMAT thinking strategy may change slightly but from feedback I’ve gotten from students who take GMAT multiple times from multiple prep companies, I find that their thinking hasn’t changed much. To really jump above the 650 hurdle or the 700 hurdle, you really need a CHANGE in your thinking strategy. NOT more practice and NOT more hours listening to instruction.

PART 2: Ok, now that you know some pointers on what to look out for when you evaluate these test prep companies, let me provide you a brief overview and my personal opinion about them.

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