How effective is Online Test Prep?

There can be multiple ways to prepare for the GMAT exam and no one program may offer all what one may want. Many times a student may require assistance from multiple channels while many times only one resource may suffice. In this post, we will look at a few positives and negatives of 2 major approaches: going for self-study accompanied by online test prep tools or going for a traditional full-fledged classroom course or one-on-one tutoring with bells and whistles.

Traditional Test Prep Methods

To give credit where credit is due, traditional methods typically provide a wider exposure as compared to online programs. So if you have absolutely no idea where to begin or fear that you may lack seriousness and regularity in self-study and may need constant aggravation to keep you motivated enough to study, then this might just be the right approach for you. To give credit where credit is due, classroom courses will involve more contact hours with their faculty and thus more chances of doubt clearing sessions which will serve to clear your doubts without any delay so that you may move on with your study plan.

However there are some cons as well about these courses. First and foremost is that they usually cost a bomb. According to independent researches done amongst parents of students who signed up for such courses, they had to take up credit to fill up this big black hole created in their pockets by these companies.  Another fact these test prep companies don’t want you to know is that several of them claim the students getting a higher score or they will return their money back. What they don’t tell you is that their expected score increases are not based on average numbers and often number gymnastics are played to claim false increases. According to a study, a big test prep company had to recently cut back on its advertising which claimed an increase 3 times as big as what the actual average increase was. Money back hardly offers any credible motivation for students.

Online Test Prep Methods

On the other hand, online test prep tools provide a good start to students with minimum commitment risk. It allows one to be flexible with their timings, pace and approach. A godsend for students who have a day job or other work commitments. Classroom coaching, typically involving travelling to-and-fro and keeping up with a certain amount of homework everyday lest they risk slipping behind the rest of the class, is a non-starter for most working professionals. With online test prep tools, one may decide on his/her own study plan suited to individual needs i.e. a customized plan. Another benefit many online tools provide nowadays is their adaptivity to the student’s performance. What it essentially means is that the study plan proposed will change according to how the student performs in various subjects and type of questions. More learning is focused upon weak areas than stronger areas to optimize for a higher overall score. One can also look at a lot of free tools available online to get started. Typically most companies provide a free mock-test which mimics the actual GMAT exam. A good starting point to assess your performance all the while checking out the quality of the content the company provides. Apart from free tools, most online test prep tools come for almost ten to hundred times lesser cost than most classroom courses, which is another benefit for maxed out parents.

Although great for working professionals and for people who want to prepare well in a budget, not all may like to subscribe for an online study tool primarily because of lack of frequent doubt clearing sessions for weak areas. This may however be compensated with a lot of forums where students can put questions and queries to GMAT instructors and peers who help them with their tips and tricks.

Both the approaches are right for different people. At the end, one should weigh pros and cons of both the approaches and decide which maybe the best for them.


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