Guide to GMAT Test Prep Courses


link and 800.KAP.TEST

Perhaps the biggest name in test prep, Kaplan has been teaching GMAT preparation for 40 years. Still, the New York-based company re-engineered its prep course in January. Kaplan added a teaching session to its comprehensive courses, increased online offerings and provides a more balanced approach to teaching. “We tend to think [only] about math and verbal,” says Andrew Mitchell, director of graduate programs, but now Kaplan is integrating more strategy and pattern recognition to its curriculum.

The new Smart Reports that are included with all comprehensive courses, provide students with diagnostic reports, general assignments and personalized quiz banks. Kaplan’s Online Center includes 25 workshops, Lessons on Demand, access to fellow Kaplan B-School aspirants and nine proprietary CATs. Here, you can pose questions to the community or teacher and discuss the grueling GMAT journey. Live Online classes are taught by a lead teacher and a teaching assistant, and Kaplan is the only company in the industry that offers a full course geared toward 600+ students. They partnered with Pearson Testing Center to offer an “Official Test Day Experience,” where you can take a practice CAT from the same sterile, silent confines as you’ll see on test day.

Mitchell won’t quantify the number of students who take the course, but there are 160 testing centers in the US. The average in-person class has 20 students, but online, Mitchell says, the average is slightly bigger. Mitchell says the score improvement ranges from 70 to 200 points. “We guarantee your score will go up,” Mitchell claims.

Beth, an associate at a Manhattan-based asset management firm, raised her score from 590 to 680 with Kaplan. She will be attending Columbia Business School this fall and says that the company’s customized quiz banks were particularly helpful.

Kaplan’s Quiz Bank allow you to choose questions by difficulty, question type and subject (only medium-level data sufficiency questions, for instance). If you don’t improve your score, you can study again for free or get your money back. If you don’t feel prepared to take the test, you can study again for free as well. Miss a class? Attend another session at any GMAT prep center, or watch the class on GMAT Online. Different instructor; same lesson.

Stoddard Pierce, who earned a scholarship to Tulane’s Freeman School of Business says, “Kaplan was great for getting me back in a discipline.” Pierce admits it was difficult for a math novice like him to keep up with the course’s teaching speed. “The problem with Kaplan was that they just didn’t give me those tools that people might have done in elementary school. After scoring poorly post-Kaplan, Pierce employed a ManhattanGMAT (owner of Kaplan) tutor and ManhattanGMAT books and scored a 610.


GMAT Advanced

Feeling confident already? Kaplan Advanced is for students who scored 600 or higher on a previous GMAT, Kaplan practice or diagnostic test. Focusing only on questions that 90th-percentile students miss will sharpen your ability to tackle the toughest problems. “It’s a bit brisker and focused more on difficult questions from the outset,” says Mitchell. GMAT Advanced offers nine 2.5-hour classroom sessions over course of nine weeks or the more compressed (twice-weekly sessions) month-long plan. GMAT Advanced also includes two hours of private tutoring, an advanced workbook, and 9 CATs, which help comprise the 6,000 total questions. Kaplan’s diagnostic Smart Reports are included as well as the Online Center and the Official Test Day Experience. Free classes if you miss one (or two) as well as the  Higher Score Guarantee.

$1549 and available online

GMAT Classroom

Mitchell says between 70- and 80-percent of students opt for Kaplan’s in-person teaching. GMAT Classroom is similar to Advanced with 22.5 hours of classroom time, 9 CATs, 6000 practice items, Smart Reports, Online Center and the Official Test Day Experience. Free make-up class if you miss one.


Math Refresher

Been working a journalism job and want to strengthen your quantitative skills? Kaplan’s Math Refresher focuses on the basics like fractions, algebra and geometry.  Take this refresher in-person or online over three weeks of (three) 2.5-hour sessions. Includes two hours of private tutoring, the math refresher course book, one lesson on demand, online workshops and 400 practice questions.

$499 and available online

$299 with any complete Kaplan program.


GMAT Premium Online

Get 24/7 access to audio-visual GMAT preparation. Instructors teach via a dynamic combination of instant chat, a virtual whiteboard and screen sharing. One teacher goes over the lesson plan, while a teaching assistant offers online support by answering questions and moderating the live student discussion. Premium Online is held over nine online sessions and includes nine Lessons on Demand, nine CATs and 6000 practice questions. Also included are the Smart Reports, Online Center, Official Test Day Experience and the higher score guarantee. Here is a screen shot.

$1299 or explore a free trial.

GMAT Live Online: Prefer to take the GMAT Classroom, Advanced Math Refresher or Private Tutoring online? You can. The Live Online environment streams video of your instructor as well as a chat window where the class communicates amongst themselves or with the teaching assistant. An interactive whiteboard allows the teacher to write on slides throughout the class and give visual aid to students. Polling allows teachers to gauge class performance during a session. “Also, you get to ask the T.A. private questions without stepping out of the room,” says Mitchell. “For people who travel a lot and are super busy, but still value” a live teacher. Live Online is 22.5 hours of instruction over nine weeks

$1549 or explore a free trial.


GMAT Private Tutoring

Get personal attention from Kaplan teachers, customize to fit your needs and schedule. “Tutoring is meant to be flexible,” says Mitchell. Private tutoring packages come in 15-, 25-, and 35-hour bundles, and extra hours are also available.  Enrollment in private tutoring automatically pays your way through a structured course like Live Online, GMAT Classroom or GMAT Advanced. Kaplan’s private tutoring includes Smart Reports, the Online Center, 6000 practice items, 9 CATs, and the Official Test Day Experience.

$2449 for 15 hours

$3549 for 25 hours

$4649 for 35 hours


GMAT Online

This self-study program offers three months of online assistance from Kaplan teachers at your own pace, 300 simulated GMAT questions and explanations, post-test diagnostics, and six CATs.


GMAT Quiz Bank

Build personalized quizzes. Choose questions by difficulty, question type and subject. Choose difficulty level from high, medium or low; only quant or verbal. You can select medium-level data sufficiency questions, for instance. Or you can choose difficult number-property questions. Or just reading comprehension. Choose the parameters and then the number of questions you’d like to do. GMAT Quiz Bank is 24/7 access and three-month enrollment.



Help position your application in a way that will make you stand out from the competition. Kaplan offers personalized guidance from its business-school consultants who have worked in admissions offices. There are four one-on-one options, and additional hours are $249 per hour.


Three hours for prospective students seeking advice on one or two applications



Six hours for those applying to three or four schools



Ten hours for students to five or more schools and want thorough help from drafting an essay to writing a resume



15-hour package


$249 for additional hours

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.