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Wednesday, February 28th
With a focus on budget test prep, Prep Scholar is- on the surface - a standard low-cost GMAT study service. However, when given a closer look, their low-cost offerings can't quite compare to competitors, and their refund and guarantee policies are downright poor. Here's what Prep Scholar offers.
Decidedly budget services
Prep Scholar's base plan costs $139 for 3 months of access and includes 750 practice questions, a diagnostic assessment, 30 GMAT skill lessons, 5 GMAT strategy lessons, and two practice tests. The "Complete GMAT Online Prep" option will get you 4 months of access for $259, includes 1,000 practice questions, adds 5 additional GMAT strategy lessons, and includes a 60-point score increase guarantee. Prep Scholar's most premium option, their "1-1 Tutoring + Complete GMAT Online Prep" , integrates 4 hours of tutoring into their "Complete GMAT" plan. You can purchase 10 hours of tutoring for $1,699, and 20 hours of tutoring at $3,399.
A diagnostic study tool
The biggest differentiator between Prep Scholar and similarly-priced competitors is their "diagnostic" element, which tailors a study schedule based on the metrics of your initial test. Otherwise, Prep Scholar's offerings are comparable or inferior to the best-rated on our list, especially as they only offer 4 months of access as opposed to a year. Prep Scholar's sub-optimal value is especially apparent in their tutoring options, which actually gets you a worse deal the more you purchase. Subtracting the cost of a 4-month online prep plan, Prep Scholar's lowest-cost tutoring package costs $130 per hour, while their 20 hours of tutoring costs about $150 per hour. If someone is spending $3,399 on test prep (their most expensive plan), we would expect - at least - some kind of benefit to justify the expense.
A terrible score guarantee
The most egregious part of Prep Scholar is the huge caveats they place around their score guarantee. To qualify, not only do you have to complete every single lesson, quiz, and homework material, but you have to "achieve mastery" in these materials. As Prep Scholar defines mastery on their own terms, and users on test prep study forums and the Better Business Bureau have testified that it is almost impossible to achieve, we think that "mastery" is a fluid concept likely used to deny you a refund.
Jump through the hoops
If that wasn't enough, Prep Scholar requires that you physically mail your test results to their address. When competitors are content with a simple email, it becomes increasingly clear: Prep Scholar's score guarantee is only a score guarantee if you are willing to jump through the unnecessary hoops they've placed between you and a refund, and achieve the impossible standards they've set.
Good reviews but a poor value
Prep Scholar has earned an "A" grade with the Better Business Bureau due to their response to customer complaints on the site, which we've factored into our rating. Even so, while Prep-Scholar's offerings may seem reasonable and robust, we think the juice just isn't worth the squeeze. If you need self-led prep or tutoring, choose a company that respects you with their score guarantees, and offers an appropriate amount of test prep for the price. Only if you really like paying for postage to ensure your refund should Prep Scholar be your first choice.
The question is a critical one, because choosing the right study schedule and test prep materials can make-or-break your plans for a good GMAT score, and - subsequently - admittance into a prestigious (or even standard) MBA school. In fact, 9 out of 10 new MBA enrollments are made using a GMAT score, and it's accepted by more than 7,000 programs around the world.
Although it is still widely used, keep in mind that some MBA programs utilized the pandemic to phase out their standardized testing requirements. If you're focusing on one particular school, it might be wise to check their requirements. If they likely still use the GMAT, the materials you'll find here will go a long way towards simplifying your test prep decision making process.
The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is meant to assess an applicant's general suitability for graduate study, particularly in regards to business and MBA performance. The GMAT distinguishes itself from the more generalized GRE insofar as its quantitative reasoning assessments are much more in-depth, and it de-emphasizes verbal reasoning assessment.
The GMAT consists of four sections: an Analytical Writing Assignment (AWA) that lasts 30 minutes, a multiple choice Integrated Reasoning (IR) section that consists of 12 questions and lasts 30 minutes, a Quantitative section of 31 questions that lasts 62 minutes, and a Verbal section of 36 questions that lasts 65 minutes. In short the test is extensive, and as such it will pay dividends to make some common sense preparations and study plans beforehand.
In spite of what some of the advertisements might say, there is no magic bullet to an improved GMAT score. While some highly rated test prep materials can certainly help, they are only one half of the equation, the other half being a realistic assessment of your needs, your timeframe, and the work needed to reach your goals. As you search for some appropriate GMAT prep that fits your budget and timeframe, it is important to take a deep breath and remember that - as long as you put in the work - you will in all likelihood improve your score.
In any case, as you start preparing for the GMAT gauntlet, here are some tips we've found for you to keep in mind:
Searching for test preparation materials is often - let's be frank - a terrible experience. The field of GMAT test prep hosts an entire industry sustained by the dangling of higher-test scores in front of often financially-insecure graduates behind huge costs. Even so, there are good companies out there offering reasonably priced and well-supported GMAT materials. Here at Top Consumer Reviews, we've done the legwork to help you find them. So, while searching for GMAT test prep is certainly not fun, we're certain that our curated list of high-quality and well-rounded test prep will help make the process a whole lot easier.
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