## Articles published in January 2009

### When do I take the GMAT?

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Many people who are considering applying to Business School in the future want to know when they should take the GMAT.

The first thing to know is that your GMAT Score is good for 5 years.  This means that you should feel free to prepare for the GMAT and take it when you have some time, NOT right before you’re gearing up to apply.  Indeed, many people would be very well-served taking the test during their senior year in college, as they’re still in an academic, test-taking mode at this point (and still vaguely remember, say, the formula for the area of a trapezoid).

At this point, you’re likely reading this blog posting thinking “Great, where were you 4 years ago when I was still in college?”  Don’t worry about it, as the average GMAT test-taker is in his or her mid-to-late 20s (70% from 22 -30).

The general principle is that you are best served taking the test when you have the bandwidth to fit it into your schedule.  Ideally, you’ll have your GMAT Score established before you gear up to complete your applications.  Indeed, your score may even change which MBA programs you apply to (for better or worse).  When app deadlines roll around, you’ll want to be worrying about honing your essays and arranging school visits – the last thing you want to have in mind at that point is getting a higher GMAT Score.

Another reason to take the GMAT early is that, if you’re determined to get a certain goal score, you’ll have a much better chance of doing so if you give yourself a runway.  The correlation between time spent studying and one’s score is consistently positive – the average person spends 2 – 3 months preparing for the GMAT.  Indeed, the average score increase for someone who takes the test a 2nd time is 31 points (according to data from GMAC).  As you can only take the GMAT once per month, you’d like to give yourself time for multiple tries if necessary before any deadline creeps up.

Now you may be thinking, “Wait a minute, I can take this test more than once?”  That’s right, Business Schools take your best score, not your average score.  So there’s really not much of a disincentive to take the GMAT multiple times, aside from your time (and the $250 per sitting it will cost you). This has its limits though – Harvard Business School, for example, told us that by the 5th try, they tend to discount your score a little bit. So try and get your best score possible within your 1st four tries or so. Bottom line – wait until you have some time on your hands, but generally the sooner you prepare and get your test score out of the way, the better off you’ll be (unless you’re not going to apply within the next 5 years, and then you really have better things to be reading than this blog!). ### Starting to Prep Hi, all, and welcome to my inaugural post on the MGMAT blog. I’m really excited to join Andrew in talking about All Things GMAT. 🙂 As we gear up for the fall 2009 admissions frenzy (for admission in 2010), a lot of people have been asking how they should plan their GMAT prep. So I thought I’d post some ideas about how to get started. People prep in a variety of ways but there are three big categories in general: self study, private tutoring, and classes. There is no one right way to prep, but there are some things to keep in mind while you decide which path is the best one for you. ### Pricing News by Effective March 1st, 2009, Manhattan GMAT Course Prices are going to increase$50 – $100 to$1,490 in all locations (with a couple of exceptions that will be explained below). Our online course will also increase in price, to $1,090. This is not a move we make lightly. At MGMAT, we always try to provide the best value possible to our students; this is the 1st price increase we’ve had in over two years for much the same reason. In those same two years, we have dedicated ourselves to providing the best, most complete GMAT prep course possible. We’ve added many things to our course during this period, including: 1. Updated 3rd Edition Strategy Guides and Curriculum. We spent hundreds of hours improving and updating our curricular materials to reflect lessons from the classroom as well as recent developments with the GMAT itself. 2. Improved Post-Exam Assessment. Students now can consult with a senior Instructor after they take their GMAT to debrief and plan next steps. Hopefully, this isn’t necessary! But we know that sometimes it’s exceedingly helpful to students to have guidance for a second shot; the average increase for a 2nd-time test-taker is 31 points (from GMAC data, not just among our students) for a reason. 3. Our Test Simulation Booklet. We added this to make sure that our students could practice using the same sort of laminated booklet and marker that they’ll have to use on test day. It’s been a hit with students. 4. Manual Stopwatches. We’ve provided an online stopwatch for practice for years. However, some of our students reported that they sometimes found themselves practicing away from a computer, so we’ve now added stopwatches with lap functions to the set of materials that each student receives. 5. Essay Rating Software. We now provide our course students access to the same essay-grading software that GMAC itself uses. We have made many other improvements large and small during this same period (e.g. we revised our online labs, etc.). We have internalized the cost of these improvements over the past 2 years, and are only now modifying our pricing to reflect some of our increased costs. Again, this isn’t something we like to do. Still, we do take some comfort in the fact that we are yet providing what we feel is the best GMAT prep course available at a price that remains competitive with the market rate (e.g. Kaplan) while still maintaining our industry-leading Instructor compensation ($100+/hour).

If you’re reading this and were considering signing up for a course in the next few months, try to get in before March 1st. 🙂

(Our pricing is somewhat lower in Los Angeles and Austin due to pre-existing commitments we’ve made. So if you’re in one of these two areas, you not only get sunshine, you get a bargain on your GMAT course!)