So you need to prepare for the GMAT and you want the best possible materials. But what materials do you really need to pay for? And can you prepare well without breaking the bank? Being cost efficient during your test prep is its own financial reward—but it’s also a chance for many teachable moments. As a future business student and business professional, you’ll study and practice cost-efficiency and financial prudence. That can start now, as you gather affordable study materials and cost-effective GMAT prep resources.
To make your GMAT prep more affordable, here are five things you can do right away:
- Take advantage of GMAC’s free practice questions. GMAC offers a wealth of free prep material, including a free software bundle. Like the test itself, the GMAT software includes 90 questions and covers Integrated Reasoning, Quants, and Verbal. The software doesn’t include an AWA question, but you can get nearly 150 free practice AWA questions from the AWA section of the GMAT’s official website.
- Get AWA feedback from online GMAT forums. Unlike other GMAT sections, AWA cannot simply be checked through an answer key. And it’s scored by humans, not machines. This is why many GMAT preppers hire a writing tutor for help. Tutors can be expensive, but there’s a cheaper option—a free one in fact! There are many message boards where you can get free writing assistance from fellow GMAT preppers and others who’ve already gotten top scores on the exam. The GMAT Club Forums are a great place to start—they even have one message board just for AWA.
- Get materials from self-study websites. Online, you can find free or reasonably priced materials for any aspect of the GMAT. Khan Academy has advanced math video lessons. Websites like Arts and Letters Daily provide graduate-level reading practice, and sites such as FreeRice.com offer fun games for building advanced vocabulary suitable for GMAT Verbal.
There are even websites that specialize in the GMAT itself. Test-prep self-study sites like Magoosh GMAT offer hundreds of practice questions at affordable prices. And not everything costs something on GMAT specialty sites. Magoosh and many other self-study sites typically offer free resources, too. Check out Magoosh’s free GMAT resources, and look for similar freebies on other similar GMAT websites.
- Buy used versions of the official GMAT study guides. The cost of the GMAC-created study guides purchased new can really add up. The good news is used versions of the books are always available at bargain prices online. While there are some benefits to buying the newest official guides, last year’s materials aren’t that dated. In fact, you can go back several years and still find official GMAT books that are true to the current test in most respects.
- Use some of the GRE’s official free resources. The GRE has an even larger reserve of test prep resources than the GMAT, and some of those resources are completely GMAT-relevant. GRE and GMAT Quants are similar in many ways. Both exams have an AWA essay, a lot of comparable Quants questions, and some similar Verbal items. Check out the GRE’s free test prep questions and software, and use anything that matches up to the skills in your GRE practice materials.
David Recine is a GMAT and TOEFL expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA TESOL from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been tutoring and teaching ESL since 2007.