Starting your journey to business school can be daunting, particularly if you’re a full-time student, full-time employee, or both! Preparing to take the GMAT is just one of the several difficult things you need to check off your list to go from applicant to enrolled. From deciding where to apply, to selecting the best GMAT prep books to boost your GMAT score, getting started might be the hardest step for potential test-takers and we’re here to help with our list of the best GMAT prep courses.
Whether you’re trying to find the best self-paced test prep strategies, most diverse and challenging bank of practice questions, a nicely structured free study schedule, or looking to maximize your practice test scores, a GMAT prep course is probably one of the better options you have as a test-taker to improve your score in a structured environment that’s designed for you.
As a private tutor for the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, ACT, and SAT, I’ve seen students work through thousands of questions, hundreds of practice tests, and dozens of different test prep and study materials. What I’ve found is that GMAT test prep materials — and GMAT prep courses — are all about fit. A better fit on the preparation side leads to a higher score come test day.
I’ve reviewed the available GMAT prep courses on three main criteria: accessibility, cost, and comprehensiveness. The fact of the matter is that, while there are a lot of competitors in the GMAT marketplace, the quality is fairly similar across businesses. Those who can’t keep up in terms of questions, writing quality, and instructional skills simply don’t make it. That’s where fit comes in.
While many potential GMAT test-takers are satisfied with the scores they earn through self-study, the accessibility, cost, and comprehensiveness of prep programs offered by GMAT test prep pros like Kaplan, Manhattan Prep, the Princeton Review, the Economist, Veritas Prep, Magoosh, and Khan Academy are crucial to identify when differentiating the best from the rest.
Below, I outline my picks for the best GMAT prep courses when considering:
Manhattan Prep is a known entity in the test prep world. If you’re preparing for the GMAT, GRE, SAT, ACT, or LSAT, they have materials and courses available for most price ranges and learning styles. Manhattan Prep offers a range of in-person, online, paid, and free GMAT prep courses and prides itself on individualized, student-driven content.
Manhattan Prep’s GMAT Prep Course offerings include:
Accessibility: With a handful of diverse in-person and online instructional options, I give Manhattan Prep’s GMAT prep course materials an A+. Students across the skill spectrum can find content to work with, can benefit from the professional and organized instructors Manhattan Prep boasts, and tailor their study plans to their schedules and needs. With progress trackers, online practice exams, small class sizes, and consistently updated material, Manhattan Prep offers an excellent array of quality GMAT prep courses.
Cost: The main barrier most test-takers might have to enjoying Manhattan Prep’s prep courses and materials is cost. Though they market free resources on their websites and in reviews, these resources are just trial runs of their comparatively costly prep courses and test prep materials. Though they are quick to note that “test prep is an investment”, even their lowest-cost options might be out of reach for some students. I give Manhattan Prep’s GMAT prep course options a C for cost.
Comprehensiveness: Manhattan Prep has been in the test prep game long enough to cover the bases and more. Reviewers consistently note that both their test prep materials and their GMAT prep courses offer a depth and breadth of content that they need to master the GMAT test and improve their scores. While Manhattan Prep doesn’t dive deep like some of their more niche competitors (for example, Target Test Prep), there aren’t any glaring holes in their materials, though some reviewers have noted spelling and grammar errors. I give them an A for comprehensiveness.
The GMAT Test Prep Course offerings at Magoosh are probably some of the most affordable GMAT prep course options in the market. With their ambitious 50-point score guarantee, Magoosh is putting some skin in the test prep game.
Magoosh has two main prep course offerings:
Accessibility: Many of Magoosh’s customer reviews talked about returning to studying for tests after a decade or more out of school and how easy Magoosh made it to dive into content. With their straightforward and simple video lessons, scaling difficulty question bank, practice tests, and dynamic score prediction, Magoosh’s GMAT prep course options are accessible for test-takers who are full-time students, full-time employees, or somewhere in between. It doesn’t hurt that Magoosh’s costs are lower than its competitors on average. I give them an A for accessibility.
Magoosh also has an informative blog that accompanies their test prep materials and prep courses. The blog boasts several free (!) study plans and tips for GMAT prep that compliment Magoosh’s approach to test prep and offer test-takers some free resources if they can’t commit to spending their money. Alongside their blog, Magoosh has a GMAT prep app with 30 free questions, 80 free video lessons, and tips and tricks for test-takers.
Cost: Magoosh’s GMAT prep courses are comparatively cheaper than their competitors. With a 7-day commitment-free trial (that means no credit card required), free test prep resources, and a relatively cheap self-study plan, Magoosh’s GMAT prep courses have great cost value. I give them an A for cost.
Comprehensiveness: Magoosh’s student reviews are glowing, particularly when past students talk about the video explanations Magoosh offers for each question. While Magoosh certainly doesn’t offer the thousands of questions larger competitors do, it covers all of the concepts covered on the GMAT test and provides explanations in real-time and in-depth.
Though most of their material is self-paced, Magoosh offers students a variety of comprehensive study plans designed to make sure they stay on track and work towards score improvement. Similarly, Magoosh lets students take as many timed practice exams as they need, ensuring that each test-taker has the chance to holistically approach the GMAT come test day. I give Magoosh an A for comprehensiveness.
The Quant GMAT Test Prep Course offered by Target Test Prep is mainly focused on the challenging quantitative portion of the GMAT. Reviewers consistently noted that the Quant GMAT Test Prep Course offered by Target Test Prep was great for repeatedly targeting specific quantitative question types across a range of difficulties and for drilling down deeper into the quantitative material that other test prep courses sometimes skim.
Accessibility: The Quant GMAT Test Prep Course offered by Target Test Prep is entirely online and boasts over 800 instructor-led HD videos. With feedback analytics built into the 6 adaptable course plans, Target Test Prep’s approach to teaching the quantitative portion of the GMAT offers students repetition, mastery of required skills, and a range of question types and difficulties that cover the full-range of quantitative GMAT questions. With a question bank of over 3000 questions, you’re not likely to hit repeats early on. Finally, the flexible study plans offered by Target Test Prep are supplemented by expert tutoring to offer a level of instructional depth you just can’t get in recorded videos. I give the Quant GMAT Test Prep Course by Target Test Prep an A for accessibility.
Cost: Target Test Prep offers three affordable course options and a $1 5-day trial. With the low trial cost and relatively accessible month-to-month and package plans below, I give Target Test Prep’s Quant GMAT Test Prep Course a B for cost. When you consider that TTP is really only offering material for the quantitative section, it could be priced slightly lower.
Comprehensiveness: The Quant GMAT Test Prep Course from Target Test Prep gets a B- in comprehensiveness. Though the depth of instruction, question types, and content covered by the TTP team is impressive, the program only targets quant GMAT questions. If you’re struggling with the quantitative section of the GMAT exam, consider TTP, but if you’re looking for a more holistic GMAT prep course, you’ll want to consider other options.
The Princeton Review is synonymous with test prep for the ACT, SAT, AP Exams, and the GRE and GMAT. The Princeton Review offers several GMAT prep course options ranging from $149 to $1800. While most reviewers were satisfied with their Princeton Review experience, there was a general consensus that the material is “pretty basic” and “covers the bare bones of what you need to know”.
The Princeton Review offers GMAT prep course options of:
Accessibility: With self-paced, online, in-person, and private tutoring options, the Princeton Review’s GMAT Prep course options are comprehensive and accessible to most test-takers. The Princeton Review offers students enrolling in their courses access to the Official GMAC test prep materials, which we named our top pick for Best GMAT prep books. Students also have access to 10 computer-adaptive online practice exams that dynamically shift as students answer questions, ensuring a nuanced and personalized test-taking experience just like the real GMAT test. Finally, video lessons offer students human instructions that you can’t get from a book. We give the Princeton Review’s GMAT prep course options an A for accessibility.
Cost: With the Princeton name attached, you’d guess the Princeton Review’s test prep materials and test prep courses aren’t cheap. Though they aren’t as pricey as some of their competitors, they aren’t the most affordable options on the market for what they provide: a tour of the basics. We give the Princeton Review’s GMAT test prep courses a C for cost.
Comprehensiveness: Student reviews of the Princeton Review’s GMAT prep course options consistently mentioned that the materials and courses were thorough but a fairly basic overview of what’s tested on the GMAT. The materials included with the courses similarly focus on broad strokes understandings of test question types, concepts, and content. While the computer-adaptive nature of the practice exams ensured some variation in difficulty, students complained that the Princeton Review does not offer the depth of instruction that some students need for score improvement. We give the Princeton Review’s GMAT prep course options a B for comprehensiveness.
According to Kaplan, they “invented test prep”. While I won’t argue with that — they’ve been in the game as long as anyone else — the range of their test prep and prep course options suggests a more generalist approach than some of the more boutique test prep firms like Target Test Prep and Magoosh.
Kaplan’s wide range of GMAT prep courses include everything from self-paced courses to in-class programs; they also offer private GMAT tutoring services, resources, blog posts, and sample exams. Certainly, one of the biggest perks of the Kaplan GMAT prep course experience is the opportunity to take a practice test in an actual testing facility, simulating the experience of test day without actually having to pay for and take the real GMAT test.
Kaplan’s offerings include:
All of Kaplan’s offerings include:
Accessibility: Kaplan has a lot of options when it comes to GMAT prep courses and students who may be more comfortable taking advantage of an in-person class, online, or simply a self-directed, self-paced study plan have options at Kaplan. The 24/7 access to video lessons on their GMAT channel, exclusive official test day experience, and large, adaptive question bank make Kaplan a great source of options in the test prep and prep course game. I give them an A for accessibility.
Cost: Kaplan’s wide variety of test prep and GMAT prep course options make cost less of an issue for them than for competitors with fewer offerings. That being said, Kaplan is maybe too big to fail at this point and doesn’t really have an incentive to offer competitive class pricing or to have a generous cost guarantee (they have one, but you’re not likely to qualify for it). While I appreciate the breadth of their offerings, reviewers noted that some of their options (like the adaptive question bank) are fairly repetitive and not updated frequently enough to warrant the price. I give Kaplan’s GMAT prep course offerings a C for cost.
Comprehensiveness: Again, Kaplan offers a great variety of test prep and prep course options, but student reviewers consistently mentioned that their fairly basic and, though thorough in their explanations, don’t offer rich, deep descriptions of content that is harder to master. Without the deep dive material that is available with other test prep options, Kaplan’s bulk of practice problems, practice exams, and review materials seem to add up to a lot of the same. Some student reviewers suggested that, though they had a good experience, they felt they might have done just as well using the test prep books offered by Kaplan, GMAC, or Manhattan. Due to the lack of advanced difficulty, depth, and dynamism present in Kaplan’s otherwise thorough materials, I give them a C for comprehensiveness.
If you’ve ever taken organic chemistry, struggled through cell biology, or wanted to brush up on your calculus skills, you know Khan Academy. Founded by Sal Khan, Khan Academy is a nonprofit that is “all in for education” and has you covered when it comes to GMAT test prep.
Though there isn’t an actual structured course at Khan Academy, Sal Khan and his team have gone through loads of GMAT questions and practice problems, provided step-by-step instructions on how to solve them, and offered solutions. If you’re looking for a supplement to your existing GMAT test prep, Khan Academy might be a great place to start.
Like selecting GMAT test prep books, picking and sticking to a GMAT prep course is all about individual fit, needs, and priorities. If you’re someone who simply cannot sit still long enough to make it through a practice exam without the stern gaze of a proctor, you probably should register for an in-person class.
If you’re extremely motivated to take do practice problems and take practice tests on your own, you might opt for an online class that lets you go at your own pace or even consider simply utilizing the bulk of great GMAT test prep materials available (learn more out our top picks here).
The only score guarantee that is 100% effective is the one you make for yourself: make a plan, stick to it, and don’t be afraid to lean on what others have developed (study plans, schedules, syllabi, flashcard banks, etc.). MBA programs aren’t a single-player sport, they’re about working together to do better business. Even though there are two I’s in MBA admissions, you’re already seeking out references to help sharpen your resume and personal statement, adding a GMAT prep course is just another way to make sure they’re dotted and your t’s are crossed.
Many students can achieve great success without ever taking a GMAT course. Whether you’re looking to improve your score or just cover your bases, GMAT test prep books can offer similar levels of depth and breadth when compared to a GMAT prep course.
That being said, many students struggle to self-motivate to take their fourth or fifth practice test and can’t keep up with the structure offered by an online course, live online course, private tutoring, or GMAT prep course. Without preset expectations, checkpoints, and feedback, it can be hard to push yourself.
Similarly, most GMAT prep courses offer algorithmic progression that challenges you if you’re doing well and throws you some softballs if you’re struggling — just like the real test! You really can’t recreate that experience on your own.
There are pros and cons to both. Many people do great on the GMAT simply by following the official guide, taking practice exams, and studying up until test day but a lot of students benefit greatly from the boot camp-like style of GMAT prep courses.
Online courses offer students big benefits: you don’t have to drive anywhere, you don’t have to get dressed, and you can keep eating the burrito you stashed in your purse before class. If the course isn’t a live online course, it has the added benefit of allowing you to study and catch up whenever you have free time. There is minimal risk of embarrassing yourself by answering a question wrong and you don’t have to worry about calling the instructor mom.
Online courses have drawbacks as well. There is minimal if any interaction with the instructor, which can make it hard to clarify difficult to understand arguments or ask questions that require more nuance than can be communicated over email. Similarly, online-only courses can become isolating and lonely, which can make it hard to stick to your study schedule given the limited accountability associated with a screen. Unlike the passive-aggressive, shame-y Duolingo owl or your Apple Watch’s notifications that you just aren’t moving enough, online GMAT prep courses aren’t sending out push notifications to shame you into studying.
Aside from cost, accessibility, and comprehensiveness, you’ll want to check out how well the video production is, if the course has any free GMAT prep options or a cost or improvement guarantee, and how well the course’s content is indexed and available when you’re not 2 hours deep into a video lecture.
You’ll be watching hours of video so the quality of the video lessons is important (you’ll probably also want to check that you don’t find the instructor’s voice annoying and make sure it doesn’t make you fall asleep). Similarly, if you are reviewing and can’t find a piece of information you found helpful in a 3-hour video lecture or a 25-page online chapter, it might not be helpful to you the night before test day.
After you choose between an online course and an in-person course (or some hybrid), you need to either create a schedule for yourself or follow the study schedule included in the course. You should also put it into your calendar with notifications so you don’t forget about it or actively avoid it. Maybe even include small rewards (snacks, coffee, another episode of that prestige HBO drama). Make GMAT preparation inescapable, but in a fun way!
You should also take advantage of the many features test prep companies have built into their courses. Confused about a concept? Rewatch the video that covers it. Maybe even rewatch it at 2x speed until you get it or its irreparably beaten into your brain.
Finally, remember that the most crucial part of test prep and GMAT prep courses is testing yourself and participating in feedback loops that can help you maximize score improvement, your learning style, and your overall approach to test-taking. Take the practice exams, exhaust the question bank, make some flashcards, but move at your own pace.