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gmat-self-study-classSummer is here again, along with the GMAT busy season. Application deadlines are just a few short months away! It’s time to get your GMAT study into gear.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how to study overall. Students ask whether they should study on their own or whether they should take a class or work with a tutor.

In the first part of this 2-part series, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the three primary study approaches; in the second part, we’ll examine how to choose the best program and instructor for you (if you decide to take a class or work with a tutor).

How to study: self-study, class, or tutor?

There are plenty of study materials and programs available from which to choose; the question is what is right for you.

Expect to spend between 50 and 100 hours total spread over approximately 2 to 4 months, depending upon your starting point and goal score. You’ll need to cover a wide range of material and strategies for the four sections of the test. In fact, this is why so many people do choose to take a class (though there are plenty of self-studiers out there, too!).

There are three primary approaches: working on your own (possibly with friends, but without the help of a professional), taking a GMAT class, or working with a private GMAT tutor. No one method is universally the best method. There are benefits and drawbacks to each situation, so deciding which one is best for you will depend upon your specific learning style, goals, needs, and preferences.

Regardless of study method, there are certain aspects that everyone must have. You will need materials that teach you the content tested on the exam, as well as techniques and methodologies for answering the different kinds of questions on the GMAT. You will also need practice materials, both individual practice problems (which can also be grouped into practice sets) and full, adaptive practice CATs.

You will also need some kind of plan—an outline of what to study and when. If you work with a company, that company should provide a syllabus and materials for you. If you work on your own, you will have to determine your own syllabus and decide what materials to use.

Self-Study

Studying on your own is typically the least expensive option and allows you to work on your own schedule. You also have to develop your own study program, which some people view as a benefit and some view as a drawback.

Developing your own plan can be a benefit if you have past experience with developing study plans, including diagnosing your strengths and weaknesses, choosing the best books and online materials to address your particular issues, planning your time wisely, sticking to a schedule, and, most importantly, teaching yourself. A lot of free resources are available to help you with these steps; for example, here’s an article that will help you Develop a Study Plan.

Some companies offer more complete self-study programs. For example, Manhattan GMAT offers an interactive digital learning platform called Interact. GMAT Interact for Integrated Reasoning™ is already available and a full GMAT Interact program will be available in about two weeks.

You can also choose to work just from books; the Developing a Study Plan article linked above talks more about the kinds of materials you’ll need. The basic books might cost you about $250 to $350, while a more advanced interactive learning program might set you back about $500 to $1,000.

You are going to have to be your own taskmaster. If you know from past experience that you’ll find it hard to stay home on Saturdays to study, especially when the sunshine is beckoning, then you may want to consider taking a course with regular class sessions and assigned homework. The last thing you want to do is reach mid-August and realize that you’ve barely cracked the books.

If you have generally done well on standardized tests in the past, are disciplined, and aren’t looking for an extra-large (200+ points) score increase, then self-study may be the option for you.

Class

Taking a GMAT class is more expensive than studying on your own but less expensive than tutoring. On average, a class might cost you $1,000 to $2,000. It will also, of course, provide you with a study schedule (though you will still have to have the discipline to follow it!).

A GMAT course will provide you with a comprehensive set of effective materials and a syllabus to follow. Using a class syllabus will be somewhat less flexible than developing your own (with or without the help of a tutor), but you also won’t have to sit down and figure out what to study on your own. You can (and should!) prioritize the standard syllabus according to your own strengths and weaknesses, spending additional time in weaker areas and moving on more quickly to advanced material in stronger areas.

A good instructor will be able to address different learning styles in the classroom. You will also be able to ask questions and discuss the finer points of GMAT problems with a real, live person; your teacher will become familiar with your strengths and weaknesses over the length of the course and will be better able to assist you as a result.

If you’re going for a large score increase (200+ points) or a very high score (700+), then this option might be the one for you. The cost is mid-range between the other two, and you gain access to a tried-and-tested program and an instructor who can help guide you through your studies. (Plus, the incremental cost over a self-study plan is negligible compared to the opportunities that will open up if you can hit your ambitious goal score.)

Tutoring

Tutoring is the most flexible and customized option, but also the most expensive—so much so that cost is the primary drawback to tutoring. Expect to spend a minimum of $3,000 (and quite possibly more).

A tutoring package will provide you with a comprehensive set of effective materials and a tutor should customize a syllabus based upon your particular learning style, goals, strengths, and weaknesses. You will also have the flexibility to set your own schedule and to concentrate on the areas that are most problematic for you. Further, because the expert is working with you one-on-one, she or he will quickly learn what your needs are and customize the lessons accordingly. As a result, tutoring is typically the most efficient study method (though you will pay for that efficiency!).

If cost is no object or if you know that self-study and classroom approaches won’t work well for you, then tutoring may be the best path. You might also use a hybrid approach in which you study on your own or take a class, and then do only a small number of hours of tutoring for more targeted help.

For options two and three, the right instructor makes all the difference. In the second part of this two-part series, we’ll talk about how to choose a particular instructor who matches your learning style, motivates you to attend class, and effectively conveys how best to think and work as the best GMAT test-takers do.

Related Article: Read How to Choose: GMAT Self-Study, Class or Tutor? (Part 2).

Studying for the GMAT? Take a free GMAT practice exam or sign up for a free GMAT trial class, online or near you. Be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter!

With GMAT INTERACT™ coming June 16th, we’d like to take you behind-the-scenes to explore some fun facts about GMAT INTERACT and the creation process that has made all of this possible. Here are a few fun facts we’d like to share.

1. GMAT INTERACT was years in the making.

gmat interact

 

It took over 6,000 hours of development to bring GMAT INTERACT to life. An expert team of Manhattan Prep designers, coders, developers, and instructors worked for over three years on the design and development of the platform to create a user experience that is unlike anything else in test prep.

2. This is the first GMAT learning platform that is truly interactive.

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GMAT INTERACT is a comprehensive on demand, self-paced program that features 35+ lessons that are interactive, funny, and completely directed by you. No two people see the same thing. Designed around the student-teacher connection, an expert Manhattan Prep instructor will guide you through each section of the GMAT, asking you questions and prompting you to think about the content presented. What’s more: every response you give tailors the lesson you’ll receive.

3. We’ve made GMAT Fun!

gmat online course

Manhattan GMAT is known for our incredible instructors (just check out our Beat The GMAT Verified Reviews). Not only are our teachers top scoring GMAT experts, they’re also fun and engaging—and we’ve put them front and center in GMAT INTERACT. And, we may have also thrown in a sock puppet or two…

To give you a taste of the fun you can expect, here are some facts about GMAT INTERACT:

o Number of times you get to see Tommy dance: 3
o Number of times Whitney Garner laughs on camera: uncountable
o Most takes we needed for a clip: 16
o Number of times we cursed on camera and had to toss the clip: 11
o Number of dolphin drawings used: 1
o Number of dinosaur cat robots destroyed in production: 1
o Number of bubbles used in the Evil Grammar Lab: 521
o Number of cavemen used in production: 1

4. With GMAT INTERACT, you don’t get 1 Manhattan Prep instructor – you get 11!

best gmat online course

When we say that GMAT INTERACT is comprehensive – we mean it! We put eleven of our most accomplished instructors in front of the camera, take-after-take, and are delivering them to your computer and mobile devices wherever you are. Not just a video, our instructors will engage with you based on the responses and answers you input.

5. You don’t have to wait until June 16th to try GMAT INTERACT!

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While the full version of GMAT INTERACT won’t be available until June 16th for purchase, you can try a FREE GMAT INTERACT Geometry Lesson right now, for free. So what are you waiting for? Jump in and have some fun! Test prep doesn’t have to be boring ever again!

Here are the free GMAT events we’re holding this week. All times are local unless otherwise specified.

12/15/13- Online - Essay Writing Workshop presented by mbaMission-  8:00AM- 9:30PM (EST)

12/15/13- Online- Free Trial Class- 7:00AM- 10:00AM (EST)

12/16/13-New York, NY-MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed presented by mbaMission- 7:30PM- 9:00PM

12/19/13-  Online - MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed presented by mbaMission- 12:00PM- 1:30PM (EST)

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page.

Here are the free GMAT events we’re holding this week. All times are local unless otherwise specified.

Remember, our Black Friday GMAT special ends on December 15th. Receive $150 off all December GMAT courses will the code BLACKFRIDAY150.

12/8/13- Online - Free Trial Class-  7:00AM- 10:30AM (EST)

12/8/13- Washington, DC- Free Trial Class- 10:30PM- 1:30PM

12/8/13-New York, NY- Free Trial Class- 5:30PM- 8:30PM

12/8/13-  Irvine, CA- Free Trial Class- 5:30PM- 8:30PM

12/8/13- San Francisco, CA- Free Trial Class - 2:00PM- 5:00PM

12/8/13- Santa Monica, CA- Free Trial Class- 10:00AM- 1:00PM

12/8/13- San Diego, CA - Free Trial Class-  11:00AM- 2:00PM

12/8/13- London-Free Trial Class- 10:00AM- 1:00PM

12/8/13- Online- Free Trial Class- 8:30AM- 11:30PM (EST)

12/8/13- Boston, MA- Free Trial Class- 5:30PM- 8:30PM

12/8/13-Toronto, ON-  Free Trial Class- 2:00PM- 5:00PM

12/9/13 -  Bellaire, TX- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

12/10/13- Online- The Last-Minute MBA Application presented by mbaMission - 3:00PM- 4:30PM (EST)

12/10/13- Santa Clara, CA- Free Trial Class- 6:30AM- 9:30PM

12/10/13- Online - Free Trial Class-  3:00PM- 6:00PM (EST)

12/11/13- Philadelphia, PA-Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

12/14/13- Online- Free Trial Class- 2:30PM- 5:30PM

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page.

Here are the free GMAT events we’re holding this week. All times are local unless otherwise specified.

11/17/13- Online - Free Trial Class-  7:00AM- 10:00AM (EDT)

11/17/13- Santa Monica, CA- Free Trial Class- 5:30PM- 8:30PM

11/18/13-Boston, MA- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

11/18/13-  Austin, TX- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

11/19/13- Toronto, ON- Free Trial Class - 6:30PM- 9:30PM

11/19/13- Online- MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed presented by mbaMission- 5:00PM- 6:30PM (EDT)

11/19/13- Online - Free Trial Class-  8:00PM- 11:00PM (EDT)

11/20/13- New York, NY- Essay Writing Workshop presented by mbaMission-  7:00PM- 8:30PM

11/21/13- Online- Thursdays with Ron- 7:00PM- 8:30PM (EST)

11/21/13- Boston, MA- Choosing the Right B-School presented by mbaMission- 7:00PM-8:30PM

11/23/13- New York, NY - Free Trial Class- 2:00PM-5:00PM

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page.

Here are the free GMAT events we’re holding this week. All times are local unless otherwise specified.

9/30/13- Chicago, IL - Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/1/13- Princeton, NJ-Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/313- Austin, TX- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

10/5/13-  Online - Free Trial Class- 2:00PM- 5:00PM (EDT)

10/5/13- Online -Live Online GMAT Preview- 2:00PM- 3:30PM (EDT)

10/5/13- Arlington, VA- Free Trial Class- 10:00AM- 1:00PM

10/6/13- Durham, NC- Free Trial Class- 5:30PM- 8:30PM

10/6/13- Washington, DC Essay Writing Workshop presented by mbaMission-  9:00PM- 12:00AM (EDT)

10/6/13- Chicago, IL-Free Trial Class - 10:00AM- 1:00PM

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page.

Here are the free GMAT events we’re holding this week. All times are local unless otherwise specified.

9/9/13- Online - Free Trial Class- 9:00PM- 12:00AM (EDT)

9/10/13- Santa Monica, CA- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

9/10/13- New York, NY- Accessing Your MBA Profile presented by mbaMission- 7:00PM- 8:30PM (EDT)

9/10/13-  Philidelphia, PA – Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

9/10/13- Durham, NC – Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

9/10/13- Arlington, VA- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

9/11/13- Westlake Village, CA- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

9/11/13- Santa Clara, CA- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

9/11/13- Bellevue, WA- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

9/11/13- Glendale, CA - Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

9/14/13- Santa Monica, CA - Free Trial Class- 2:00PM- 5:00PM

9/14/13- San Francisco, CA- Free Trial Class- 2:00PM- 5:00PM

9/15/13- Online- Free Trial Class- 7:00AM- 10:00AM (EDT)

9/1513- West Hollywood, CA- Free Trial Class- 5:30PM- 8:30PM

9/15/13- San Diego, CA- Free Trial Class – 2:00PM- 5:00PM
Continue Reading…

Here are the free GMAT events we’re holding this week. All times are local unless otherwise specified.

8/13/13- New York, NY - Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

8/13/13- Chicago, IL- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

8/13/13- Denver, CO- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

8/13/13-  Seattle, WA- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

8/14/13- Online – Choosing the Right B-School Presented by MBA Mission- 8:30-10:00PM (EDT)

8/14/13- Arlington, VA- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

8/14/13-  West Hollywood, CA- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

8/15/13- New York, NY- Free Trial Class- 6:30PM- 9:30PM

8/17/13- Washington, DC- Free Trial Class- 10:30AM- 1:30PM

8/17/13- Online - Free Trial Class- 10:00AM- 1:00PM

8/18/13- Online - Free Trial Class- 1:30PM- 4:30PM

8/18/13- London- Free Trial Class- 10:00AM- 1:00PM

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listings Page.