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Barron's is a well-known test preparation company that has been helping students prepare for standardized testing for 70 years. They offer preparation courses for the SAT, PSAT, GRE, ACT, and GMAT exams. Their GMAT test prep course is customized to meet the individuals needs of the student and earns high marks.
The Barron's website is very well laid out and easy to navigate. The GMAT page advertises that preparing for the GMAT has never been easier than with the current Barron's program, and if the course prep is as simple and straightforward as the website, we would have to agree. There is a 'course tour' button which leads the user through a very brief outline of what the GMAT test prep course will offer. The student first takes a diagnostic test to determine the base level of knowledge on a variety of skills necessary to perform well on the GMAT. After this test, results are given in the form of detailed skill reports, and a study plan is created based on the individual performance of the particular student. If one or two skills are particularly lacking, the study plan will be created to dedicate more time to those skills.
We really liked this level of customization in the Barron's GMAT test prep plan. After that there are hundreds of instructional videos linked to each skill, and thousands of test questions also broken down by a certain skill required to pass the GMAT.
From a technology standpoint, Barron's offers the latest options for today's on-the-go students and professionals. The course preparation program is available on computer, tablet or smart phone so you can practice anywhere. As mentioned above, the test prep adaptive learning technology does not merely provide a static list of questions, but 'learns' what skills each student needs the most work on and highlights those skills in the training plan. The website offers live videos with trainers who explain in simple terms the answers and strategies to answer certain types of questions. This is more helpful for most students when compared with simply reading the answers and strategies. The website even has a blog where students chat back and forth, bouncing answers, tips and solutions off each other for interactive learning.
There is a basic level of test prep that Barron's will give you for free. This includes:
The full program costs $99 which gives the students the following additional resources:
Barron's has been a trusted name in the standardized test preparation business for a long time, and the current program offers the most advanced technology at a very competitive price. For these reasons we give Barron's GMAT test prep program very high marks.
Magoosh was founded in 2008 by students at Berkley who felt there must be a better way to study for standardized tests than static text books and expensive tutoring. The focus on new technology and excellent customer service in the Magoosh GMAT test preparation learning system reflects this modern approach.
Magoosh has a simple interface with a lot of content. The technology allows students to log in to the learning system from any computer, tablet or smart phone which is a big plus in today's mobile world. The system is set-up so that each student gets a personalized dashboard that tracks lesson progress and question results, and suggests additional lessons based on the performance of the student. This interactive tool allows the student to focus quickly in areas on which they need to improve, rather than wasting time studying topics on which they are already strong.
As a student works through each customizable practice session there are lesson videos for each topic given by one of the Magoosh GMAT expert tutors. Then there are quizzes to go along with each lesson, and within the quizzes each question has its own video. So if a question is answered incorrectly, the student can review the question video and it will explain in detail what the correct answer is and why. This is a nice detail and very helpful to providing a better understanding of each question being asked. After each lesson the student receives a detailed performance analysis, each of which adds to the overall performance summary on the personalized dashboard. It really is a very succinct, organized system.
The cost is $99.00 for access to the complete learning system for one year. There is also an option to purchase just the math section, or just the verbal section, for $79.00. The $99.00 includes:
This is a lot of content, though not quite as many practice questions as we have seen with some of the other top GMAT study programs. The video lessons and quizzes are the core of the learning process, and the video library is extensive. Magoosh also offers two money back guarantees. One is a standard 7 day money back guarantee where students can receive a full refund if they don't like the system after using it for 7 days. The other is a score guarantee. For anyone who has already taken the GMAT and has a valid score, Magoosh promises to raise it by 50 points or delivery a full refund. This is a nice feature that makes Magoosh even more appealing. We would have likely given Magoosh our top ranking if it wasn't for the fewer videos and questions in the package, but make no mistake Magoosh is an excellent option for GMAT preparation.
The Economist GMAT preparation program uses the latest technology, features an interactive learning system that focuses on areas of improvement for each student, and has an impressive number of questions and quizzes. However it's a lot more expensive than other similar GMAT test preparation programs and this may turn some students away.
The technology offered by the Economist meets or exceeds that used by the other GMAT test prep programs we have reviewed. The system is fully mobile and can be accessed at any time on a computer, tablet or smart phone. The content consists of video lessons and then test questions for each, covering every area on the GMAT exam. After each quiz a score is given to the student and these scores are compiled on a personalized dashboard. The dashboard tracks performance and guides the study program towards areas that the student needs to work on. This automatic customization is found in all of the most successful online test prep programs and it helps students avoid wasting time studying material that they already know well. In addition to the lessons and quizzes, there are also complete GMAT text exams so students can practice the full GMAT test experience.
The Economist also offers e-mail support through their ask-a-tutor program. There are additional levels of personal assistance with this program, however, that we have not seen in many other GMAT test preparation programs. Every course in the program comes with one on one personal video tutoring sessions included in the price. If you're having trouble with a certain aspect of the GMAT you can conference in with a live tutor and they will walk you through a lesson. Each student receives 6 or 8 of these personal sessions depending on which plan is purchased.
Additionally you can send your writing samples from the writing section of the GMAT to get personal writing help from a tutor. They will mark up sample essays, provide tips on avoiding common errors, and even give suggestions on how to improve each students writing style. Each student can have 5 or 6 essays corrected in this way. This could be extremely helpful for students who learn better through human interaction, and the availability of such personal assistance is very likely the reason for the high cost of this program.
With either of the premium programs, The Economist offers a money back guarantee if your score does not improve by a full 70 points. This is higher than another other point guarantee we have seen in another other GMAT test preparation program, and for students who have a baseline GMAT score already this could be a powerful incentive to go with the Economist.
The Economist offers a great GMAT test preparation program. It's expensive, but it provides a level of personal tutoring and teaching that many of the other strictly online programs don't offer. We highly recommend this program to anyone who learns best with personal human contact. For anyone who has no such need for the one on one tutoring, there are other online programs that are much less expensive.
Kaplan is perhaps the oldest and most well-known standardized test preparation organization in the world. Since 1938 Kaplan has been training prospective students on how to improve their scores on the various standardized tests common to American students. Kaplan focuses primarily on classroom style training with real live teachers, but also offers the more common online "do it yourself" program. With Kaplan you can get professional quality personal training, but the expense is quite high.
The GMAT test prep page on the Kaplan website asks the question, how do you prefer to study? Then it provides you with 4 options based on your answer; with a tutor, in a live classroom, in an online classroom, or at your own pace. These descend in price from highest to lowest.
The tutor option is the most expensive at a whopping $2,599.00 for 15 hours of private tutoring. Kaplan's expert teachers are widely respected and there is no discounting what a private and personal teacher can provide a student over a self-study option. The costs increase all the way up to $4,799.00 for 35 hours of tutoring. If you have the money and want the private tutoring, this is the option for you.
The classroom setting is Kaplan's bread and butter. For $1,249.00 the student gets 13 interactive classroom sessions, 4 standard text books, 5000+ sample questions, and the option to receive all prep materials on the Kindle reading app via any device that supports it. Kaplan classroom prep is the classic test prep course we've all known about for years, and for students who learn best in a live classroom, this option is appropriate. The online classroom option is very similar offering the same number of classes, sample questions and text books, only the student views the classroom online via streaming video and the cost is reduced to $799 for the 13 sessions and related materials.
Finally the online at your own pace option will cost a student $599.00, and this is more like the other test prep courses we have reviewed with no live teachers or classrooms. The following is included in the price of $599.00:
Overall it's a nice list of materials, but with a $599.00 price tag we feel you can get a lot more for your money elsewhere in the world of online test preparation. On the other hand, if personal, live teachers are important to a student, and cost is not a factor, we recommend Kaplan's personal teaching options quite highly. For this reason we give Kaplan a middle of the road review overall.
The Princeton Review is a test preparation and college admissions services company that has been in business since 1981. The primary focus of the Princeton Review is personal tutoring and traditional classroom training, although they do offer a standard online preparation course as well.
The primary decision a student has to make when deciding whether or not to use the Princeton review for their GMAT preparation is what kind of studying do they want to do? Do they want real live teachers, one on one, in a classroom, or online training only? The Princeton Review offers all options.
The most expensive option is obviously the one-on-one personal tutoring. This costs $3,530.00 to $7,150.00 depending on the course selected. All tutoring courses include 22 hours of private teaching and all the necessary materials, practice tests and questions.
There are two classroom options available, both of which include 27 hours of classroom time taught by one of the Princeton Review's expert tutors. For $1,299.00 you can attend a regular classroom course, and for $1,599.00 they offer small group classes so that no more than 4 students are with the teacher during the lessons. This is similar in cost to other live classroom test preparation courses.
Then there is the online only option, which consists of the standard online training tools. There are video lessons, practice questions and full length GMAT practice exams. The $499 price tag includes the following:
It is a decent enough program, but we feel other less expensive online programs that we have reviewed are better. With the Princeton review there is no intuitive customization, performance tracking or on-the-go mobile applications. The learning videos, tests and questions are good learning tools, but the Princeton Review version is a good deal higher than other more modern online test prep options.
Overall, for someone who is looking to receive personal training from real live teachers, in either a one on one or classroom setting, the Princeton review is one of the best around. For anyone looking for online only test preparation, we'd recommend one of our other highly reviewed options.
Right off the bat we were put off by the amateur appearance of the GMAT Hacks website. The main page is in the format of a piece of notepaper, complete with push-pin graphic, that contains a personalized welcome message from the author of the test prep materials, Jeff Sackman. There are 4 links on this page: books, articles, about us, and question of the day.
The 'about us' page is a short biography of Mr. Jeff Sackman, who it says was employed with a major test preparation company until 2005 when he broke out on his own to write his own test preparation course material. There is no other information, GMAT Hacks is just one person selling his test preparation books. There is no customer support number, no advisors to call, just Jeff selling his books.
The books themselves are just that...books. You can purchase the books in standard print form, or chose the e-book option which delivers the book in PDF format. To say this technology is behind the times is an understatement. There is no online material to access, no tablet or smart phone applications, no intuitive software, just old school soft cover text books. He offers a total of three books, one for the math section of the GMAT one for the verbal section, and a 'GMAT tips and tricks" book. Reviewing the details of each book contains chapters of lessons and then 200-300 test questions. It is very possible that some people prefer standard text books and static practice questions, so for anyone who learns best in this fashion, perhaps GMAT Hacks would be a good choice.
However the expense should deter even the most old school of text book student. The cost for just one of the three books is $59.95, or $49.95 for the e-book/PDF version. To purchase all three would cost you $150-$180 and you'd get at the most 900 test questions that don't change and are not customizable to each student. Due to the rudimentary technology, high cost and lack of content, we cannot recommend GMAT Hacks as a good value for GMAT test preparation.
GMAT Test Prep
Going to graduate school is a big decision that many individuals are making today to help them get ahead. Having an MBA is one way to stand out from other candidates competing for the same job. It's also another way for employees to outpace co-workers when it's time for that promotion. An MBA provides business majors more training as well as the chance to get where they want to go.
An MBA requires getting into a decent business school which can be a challenge with the number of graduate students that apply each year. Having a strong GMAT score not only helps candidates meet the basic requirements of many colleges but it also highlights their knowledge to college admission professionals.
But getting a solid GMAT score takes practice and training and that's where GMAT prep classes become necessary. A GMAT test prep course is a great way to improve your overall score. These courses vary greatly in format, features and cost. Choosing the right GMAT prep program can be a hard decision. No one wants to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on a program that doesn't fit to their personal learning needs.
When choosing a GMAT test prep program, you should look for the following:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best GMAT Test Prep programs available today. We hope these reviews help you score high with your next GMAT exam!
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