Guide to GMAT Test Prep Courses

The average in-person Bell Curves class has eight people, and there’s a cap at 15. Online, there are six students on average. Students who study with the New York-based prep company improve their score by an average of 70 points, says Bello. Bell Curves’ online GMAT Center is constantly evolving, even tending to little tweaks in order to accommodate the increasingly international student pool. (For instance, Curves removed quant questions about nickels and dimes.) It includes more than 6500 questions – including eight CATs – in timed and untimed sets paired with explanations and diagnostic data.

Aaliyah Williams, a 2002 Harvard grad, took Bell Curves and raised her score from 490 on the practice test to a 700 on her GMAT. “The course was pretty thorough,” she says. “They take very basic concepts and then show you how the GMAT makes it more complicated.” Williams decided to bypass an MBA and founded a film and Web production company in California. She now teaches GMAT prep for Bell Curves as well.

Bell Curves takes a balanced approach to test prep. To prepare you for the GMAT format, Bell Curves’ adaptive quizzes get more difficult as you answer questions correctly. To cut time off your arithmetic, there are 122 timed drills that challenge simple tasks like figuring out a often-used fraction. Bell Curves also offers mini GMATs – 15 questions, say, in 30 minutes.

Kellogg School of Management graduate Justin Dean opted for the self-study online option because he had an erratic schedule. “I would pay $150 again for the course rather than $900 for Kaplan.” He also appreciated Bell Curves’ unique teaching methods. To prove that the adaptive GMAT truly places more importance on the first section, Bello took the GMAT himself, answered the first ten questions correctly and bombed the rest. He still scored above a 600. Dean, now an energy and organizational-practice consultant at Boston Consulting Group, was more consistent – he scored a 710.

Asked whether Bello is seeing a rise in online enrollment, he says, “Oh, without a doubt.”

Teachers work the live-chat help desk from 9 am-5 pm Eastern Time and provide e-mail support to answer late-night questions. “If [a teacher’s] not at their computer within five hours, I’m amazed,” says Bello. If you miss an in-person class, you can make it up in another in-person session. Online classes utilize webinar technology that allows students to hear each other just like a live class. Every week from 9 pm to 10 pm EST, Bell Curves holds online and offline information sessions for students.


GMAT Classic Course

36 hours of in-class instruction over three months. The Classic Course includes access to Bell Curves’ online GMAT Center, quantitative and verbal manuals and workbooks, eight CATs and three official GMAC guides.

$1199, only in New York

GMAT Premium Course

24 in-class hours over 12 weeks along with TEN hours of private tutoring. The Premium course offers two-hour weekly review sessions either in-person or online. There is a class maximum of eight students, and an average of five. This option also includes weekly review sessions, access to the GMAT Center, quantitative and manual workbooks and manuals, eight CATs and three official GMAC guides.



Live Online

12-week weekend course broken up into three-hour sessions. A max of nine students and an average of five. Bell Curves’ online offering comes armed with an interactive Internet whiteboard, live online classes and conference calls, verbal and quant manuals, three official GMAT guides and eight CATs.



Follow your own schedule, and utilize Bell Curves’ GMAT Center with interactive online lessons.

GMAT Center Basic:

Access the Bell Curves GMAT Center where every lesson is written up, discussed and demonstrated by a teacher using the interactive whiteboard. There are topical-based walkthroughs, 59 adaptive quizzes, 112 time drills and 116 static practice sets. The Bell Curves GMAT Center also includes eight practice CATs, the online help desk and GMAT Analyzer3k (diagnostic software).

$29 per month.

GMAT Center Plus:

Schedule monthly consultations to cover any topic you want. The tutoring sessions are done with a combination of phone and online in monthly sessions. You also get access to a GMAT advisor who you can meet with via phone, email or live chat for immediate assistance and answers to questions. GMAT Center Plus also includes adaptive quizzes, timed drills, practice sets, the GMAT Analyzer and online help desk.

$59 per month.


Bell Curves provides topic-specific instruction through a variety of intensive workshops.

Critical Reasoning Workshop

4-hour workshop over two weeks. Los Angeles.


Number Properties Workshop

4-hour workshop over two Saturdays. Los Angeles.


Statistics Workshop

4-hour workshop over a week

Los Angeles


Sentence Correction Workshop

4-hour workshop over two Saturdays

Los Angeles


Arithmetic Workshop

4-hour workshop over two Saturdays

Los Angeles



Bell Curves breaks its tutoring options in two: Professional and Premium. “You’re paying for experience, which is par for the course in pretty much every industry,” says Bello. “It’s more difficult to get the more experience doctor of teacher. The more experienced tutors come at a premium.” Premium tutors have at least eight years of experience. Tutoring is done over the phone and via Bell Curves’ live interactive classroom.

Tutoring by the hour

$150 per hour for Professional

$250 per hour for Premium

Tutoring 1

Recommended for students focusing on either verbal or quantitative section.

15 hours

$1950 for Professional

$3250 for Premium

Tutoring 2

Recommended for complete GMAT coverage

25 hours

$3150 for Professional

$5250 for Premium