GMAT: Paying for Points

Test-prep services can be a big help as applicants prepare for the B-school admissions exam. Here, a rundown of some well-known players

By Francesca Di Meglio

If you’re thinking of applying to B-school, then you’re likely also wondering how to conquer the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)—and whether a commercial test-preparation service, which can cost upwards of $1,000, is right for you.

Although admissions committees, even at the best-ranked B-schools, will tell you that your GMAT score is only one of many criteria for getting accepted, you still should plan on earning between 600 and a perfect 800, especially if you’re gunning for the A-list. (To find the average and median GMAT scores of accepted students in individual programs, scan the BusinessWeek.com B-school profiles.)

There’s no way you should go into the GMAT cold. You must prepare, says Lawrence Rudner, vice-president of research & development at the Graduate Management Admissions Council, which administers the test. The question is how to prepare, and the answer is different for everyone. Take a practice test, see how you do, and then decide how much preparation you need to arrive at your ideal score. For some, picking up a practice book will suffice, while others will need private tutoring.

One popular option is consulting a test-prep company that provides everything from group instruction to online courses. Here’s an overview of the most popular GMAT test-preparation services in alphabetical order. For more opinions on the various test-prep services from test takers themselves, visit the BusinessWeek.com B-School forums, where this subject comes up a lot. And you can also check out BusinessWeek.com’s newly updated GMAT Prep page.

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