B-school Facilitated Test Prep


More and more business schools – whether undergraduate or graduate – are utilizing test preparation to help boost scores on graduate admissions exams like the GMAT and GRE. In the case of graduate schools, more often than not the target market is their likely applicant pool. It’s similar for undergraduate institutions as well, though in the case of undergrads it’s also about bolstering the school’s reputation regardless of whether undergrads ultimately apply to and attend a graduate program at their institution.

Graduate programs direct involvement in providing access to test preparation has grown so much that recently, GMAC (the company that produces the GMAT) held a panel discussion at its annual industry conference in Chicago to discuss this very phenomenon. Three very different programs and three very test preparation methods made up the panel and offered insight into how they provided preparation. In reviewing the discussion, we found that it might be pertinent to point out the differences between the three programs as an example of how varied test preparation offerings could be.

 

 

J. Mack Robinson College of Business – Georgia State U.

Graduate School of Management – Kent State U.

London School of Business

Inception

2001

2009

N/A

Specs

7-week, 28-hour course (covers both Quant and Verbal topics)

4-week, 16-hour Quantitative course and 4-week, 16-hour Verbal course (4 weeks, 32 hours total)

Test preparation events

Instructors

Dr. Gary Cohen, a test prep instructor at GSU since 2001.

Kent State University MBA Alumni

Varies

Provider

GSU Executive Education Department’s Test Prep Academy

Kent State University Graduate Programs

Various Test Prep Companies

Materials

Doing Your Best on the GMAT, by Dr. Gary Cohen

The Official Guide for GMAT Review (from GMAC)

N/A

Class Size

Up to 55

15-20

N/A

Enrollment

Open to students and non-students

Open to students and non-students

N/A

Cost

$625

Verbal – $125

Quantitative – $125

Both – $225

N/A

From the table we can see that significant variety exists in the services offered by schools for GMAT preparation, each with its pros and cons. The class at GSU, for example is taught by a test prep professional with years of experience and his own test prep strategy book. However, based on the large number of potential students, the class likely has more a lecture style than an intimate discussion style. By comparison, the course at Kent State offers a great price on 32 hours of GMAT preparation in a small, discussion style format, but is taught by MBA Alumni who may or may not be test prep professionals.

Neither of the courses offered at Kent State or GSU include any additional materials, particularly the all-important computer-based practice material that is so vital to getting test-takers comfortable with testing in the computer adaptive format the GMAT uses. It is unclear what is offered by the London Business School, but the impression is that they’re largely one-off marketing type events that may provide good isolated strategies, but will not provide the kind of comprehensive and focused instruction that helps students make significant score improvements.

As with making any decision to invest in preparation for a standardized test, you want to consider carefully your options, even if they’re offered by a university or college. Quality and breadth vary from course to course and university to university, so you want to make sure the investment you’re making is best for you. Here are three things to ask yourself if you’re considering a course offered by a university near you:

  1. What resources do I receive for my investment? A significant amount of practice material is needed to effectively prepare for the GMAT and effectively learn strategies and approaches. Ideally, both online/electronic and hard copy practice will be available. If not, ask yourself how much more (and where) you’ll need to invest to get everything you need.
  2. Will the format of the course work for me? This speaks to everything from the schedule and size of the class to the style of the instruction and instructor. Give thought to more than just the price when determining what’s the best fit.  If a particular course will require a lot more time and effort from you than another course would to make it beneficial, you might be better off investing in alternative preparation options even if they’re a little more expensive.
  3. Is there other support available after I’m finished? If the course wraps up and you’re on your own, you may find it difficult to make any additional progress you need after the course is finished. Will the program offer any additional support? Will the instructor be available to answer questions? Is there a policy if you want to retake the class?

There are great test preparation options available out there, both at the institutional level offered at colleges and universities, and at the retail level offered by test prep companies. As the volume of test preparation done on campuses increases, prospective test-takers will have even more options at their disposal. Often institutional courses offer significant savings, which makes them compelling. Price is usually important,  but it is just one factor that you should consider before investing your time and money in a course. Find the right fit, whatever that may be!

 

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