GMAT Prep Essentials From Khan Academy

The GMAT Prep Crunch

The GMAT Prep Crunch

Building GMAT Fundamentals with the Khan Academy


We are hit over the head over and over again about how the GMAT is not a content based test and how you only need the most basic quant skills to do perfectly well on the GMAT. That’s true. And in fact most of the essential GMAT Quant skills you probably learned by the time you were 14 years old. But, the fact is that it’s been a long time since high school and you may not have done a heck of a lot of math in the past 10 years. Where does that leave you in terms of the GMAT? Honestly, you are in the same boat as a lot of other people. Many of my students start off not very confident about their GMAT Quant fundamentals and therefore not confident about their GMAT Quant in general.


What can you do to boost those GMAT Quant fundamentals?


Two words: Khan Academy. Yes, Khan was the megalomaniac nemesis of Captain Kirk in Star Trek but the Khan Academy is an organization dedicated to producing online teaching content for FREE. If you are unsure about a basic math skill look it up on Khan Academy and watch the associated video lessons. These lessons are great for getting you up to speed. For this purpose the Khan Academy is a great companion in your GMAT studying. Realize that it may take a while to get through all of this fundamental GMAT Quant content. That’s OK. Set goals. Make a GMAT study schedule. Focus on developing good GMAT study habits.


The GMAT Khan Academy: Limitations

Yes, Khan Academy also has GMAT explanations. Some of them are excellent and many of them them can get you on the right track. However, just like the explanations in the Official Guide, the explanations at the Khan Academy don’t always explain GMAT questions in the most efficient way. This is not a bash on Khan – not at all. Thank you Khan for this wonderful resource. However, once you get to the point where your basics are solid enough that you are approaching more nuanced GMAT questions you may want to look to a more specialized GMAT site, take a GMAT class, or hire a private tutor. The GMAT forums: GMAT Club,Beat the GMAT, and Manhattan GMAT have some excellent explanations. You have to look around a bit and sort through some of the muck but hey: they are free!


GMAT Khan Academy Suggestions


The amount of material in the Khan Academy is overwhelming. I’ve taken a tour through the site and selected a basic GMAT Quant curriculum to cover the vast majority of the fundamental skills that you need to earn a great GMAT score. This would be an excellent thing to work through before taking a class or hiring a tutor so that you can get the most out of those services. I’ve arranged the lessons in an order that makes the most sense in terms of skill building but feel free to jump around depending on your needs. I know it looks like a lot to do and yes there are a bunch of new things to learn but some of these lessons are pretty quick (especially in the Arithmetic section). Still – be patient with your GMAT preparation. Play the long game. Invest in your fundamental skills and you’ll be on your way to MBA and GMAT success in no time.

(See following page for Andrew’s recommended Khan Academy Study Videos)

  • Karel Koes Hiranjgarbh Missier

    Absolutely, good luck ! Karel Koes Hiranjgarbh Missier Paragh

  • Hi Amit,

    Thanks for pointing that out. I think those explanations can be helpful. One thing to note though: the Khan GMAT explanations tend to plow through the questions without always considering the best way of getting to the solutions (I prefer using Khan for basic content, it’s great for teaching the fundamentals). So, yes, these explanations illustrate one way of solving the questions but I would recommend getting a second opinion from the GMAT forums. It’s good to see questions solved a few different ways anyways. Seeing these different perspectives can really flesh out the underlying concepts.

    Happy Studies,


  • amit

    there is also a gmat prep section where khan goes through the GMAT 11th edition, 2005, problem solving and data sufficiency tutorial of each problem.

  • Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for sharing. Excellent work on your GMAT studying! Agreed – Khan is a great resource for getting your math skills back. That’s good to know that you found success with some of the more specific question tutorials. Maybe there can be a “part II” of this GMAT Khan Academy list highlighting some of the more advanced Khan Academy lessons involving strategies for solving specific GMAT questions types such as rates and work. Best of luck with your GMAT studying and certainly post any GMAT questions that you have.

  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks Andrew. Really appreciate it.

  • Andrew

    Hi John,


    I found the tutorials on word problems to be useful. They are similar to GMAT IR questions. Also, for some reason I had consistent difficulty with rate and work problems, both of which are explained on the site. I would also recommend expressions with unknown variables, they resemble a lot of the voodoo mind tricks you find on the problem solving portion of the GMAT.

    A few things beginners should keep in mind about Khan academy:

    It allows the user to select which broad topic to test on. At the start menu, you’ll be able to select whether you would like to study Arithmetic, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, or Probability and Statistics. There are other categories, but those five are the most relevant to the GMAT.

    Alternatively, you can select “world of math”. This is more of a potpourri category that will test the user on a range of questions from the categories listed above, much like the actual GMAT.

    Additionally you can have a “coach” sign up to monitor your progress. I find that I do much better when I am being judged, so having a friend act as coach has been very useful to me.

    Above all, I have benefited from the constant testing. My math anxiety level has come down drastically over the past couple months. I no longer panic when I see a problem I’m unfamiliar with, now I apply problem solving techniques that the software has taught me.

    Good luck studying!

  • Matt

    Good luck on your GMAT!

  • JohnAByrne


    Thanks much for weighing in. Can you recommend specific Khan Academy lectures that we neglected to mention?



  • Andrew

    I’d like to make a quick endorsement.

    I’ve been using Khan academy over the past two months to prepare for the GMAT. It is AMAZING!

    My first practice exam (prior to Khan academy) was a 500. After a month with Khan academy I shot up to 640. I have 2.5 months until I take the exam and I am super confident that I will hit 700+.

    Khan academy is probably the single best tool you can use to brush up on high school and college math. I can’t recommend it enough. Not just for the GMAT but the other videos on finance, history, astronomy. They are all excellent.

    Check it out!