Preparing to take the GMAT is an important step towards your goal of attending business school.
If you have been working full time for a few years, the prospect of spending 3 to 6 months studying for an exam during your limited free time is not an exciting thought to consider.
Before you make the decision to commit you’re limited free time to preparing for the GMAT, it is important to fully understand what to expect, the potential benefits, and the tradeoffs you will be required to make.
This article includes a curated list of the best available free GMAT test prep resources to help you make the right decision.
We organized our list into three main topic areas:
- MBA long term benefits and considerations.
- Free GMAT prep resources and study tips.
- Important GMAT news and information.
MBA long term Benefits and Considerations
Deciding to attend business school is a big decision. Should you go part time or full time? Should you study for the GMAT or GRE?
Which MBA programs should you consider? Will your salary increase enough to justify the cost?
- Compare the Best GMAT Prep Courses.
What are the Most Important Considerations?
Choosing a full time or part time MBA program will have a major impact on both your wallet and your potential career prospects.
Choosing a part time program may require 3 to 4 years to complete compared with just 2 years for a full time program.
With a part time program, your employer may be able to partially subsidize your costs. In comparison, a full time program will most likely require you to pay for the program yourself.
Full time programs at the top universities require higher average GMAT scores. Part time programs may not require as high average GMAT scores and some part time programs may even offer a GMAT waiver under certain circumstances.
Recent GMAT Survey Data
The 2019 GMAC survey provides the most up to date statistics on business school trends. We included some of the most notable data from the survey below:
- The MBA program still remains the most popular business school program. 4 out of every 5 candidates is considering an MBA program.
- The largest non-MBA programs chosen by students include the Masters of Finance program (24%) and the Masters of Data Analytics (19%).
- The full time MBA program is the most popular choice as 65% of students have chosen this program option compared to just 22% of students that are considering a part time program.
- Not surprisingly, 56% of full time MBA candidates are pursuing the program in pursuit of a new job, compared to 27% of candidates that plan to stay with their current job.
- 43% of candidates consider the quality and reputation of the school as the most important factor, followed by specific program qualities at 17%.
- Given the high preference towards full time MBA programs, it shouldn’t be a surprise that 26% of candidates reported that cost was the largest factor that might prevent them from attending business school.
MBA Salary Surveys
For most people, the single most important consideration for pursuing an MBA is whether or not your education investment will pay off in your long term salary.
If your expected salary return exceeds your education cost, then it makes sense to invest the time and effort required to get into a top program.
However, if your costs exceed your long term salary return, it really doesn’t make sense for you to trade your time and effort for an extra degree.
Keep in mind that there is no way to provide a perfect answer to this question. However we believe that survey data offers a good starting point for most people to begin considering potential outcomes.
Corporate Recruiters Salary Survey
We used the 2018 Corporate Recruiters Survey which is compiled by GMAC to highlight some of the most recent salary statistics:
- US companies offered MBA graduates in 2018 average starting salaries of $105,000 compared to a $65,000 average salary for bachelor degree candidates.
- Average salaries for MBA graduates is highest in the northeast part of the US at $115,000. The other major US regions all had a $105,000 average starting salary. Even though average starting salaries are highest in the northeast, you may be better off looking at a region with a lower cost of living since average MBA salaries are just $10,000 below the northeast.
- Consulting firms offered MBA graduates the highest average salary at $125,000, followed by finance & accounting at $120,000, and the technology industry at $115,000.
- 56% of US based companies offered MBA graduates a signing bonus with a median amount of $10,500.
MBA Alumni Return on Investment Survey
Another way to evaluate MBA programs is by evaluating your return on investment. The 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey provides the most recent statistics concerning potential returns on investment by MBA program type.
Keep in mind this data is based on survey results from graduation class years that range from 1986 through 2012. We have included the most notable median statistics below:
Years to Recoup Education Cost
Two Year Full Time MBA Program:
- Cost – $105,000
- Years to recoup cost – 3.5 years
Part Time MBA Program:
- Cost – $25,000
- Years to Recoup cost – 2.5 years
After 10 years, full time MBA students reported a median cumulative base salary of $348,000 after 3 years compared to a median cumulative salary of $331,000 for part time MBA students after 3 years.
The survey data is suggesting that part time MBA programs offer a higher return on your money because part time programs have a lower cost and respondents report average salary data that is very close to average salary ranges for full time MBA graduates.
However, keep in mind that data represents the median of a very large universe.
I don’t have the data to prove it, but if you compared the long term salary data for the very top full time business schools, I believe those top schools offer a better long term return than the average part-time MBA program.
The salary data also doesn’t account for the networking opportunities that are more significant in full time programs rather than part time programs.
It’s easier to network with other students when you’re not racing home at night to get up for your next day at work.
Free GMAT Online Test Prep Resources
Improving your GMAT score requires a significant amount of time and effort.
One of the most efficient ways to start your study program is to check your current starting skill level.
The easiest way to do this is by taking a preliminary GMAT diagnostic test.
- Try our GMAT Practice Question of the Day.
How Long do you Need to Study?
Understanding how long you need to study for the GMAT makes a major difference when planning your study schedule.
Magoosh offers students a free quiz that can help you answer that critical question.
- Take the free GMAT Study Quiz.
Read our full Magoosh GMAT review article.
Live Classroom Course
Many students prefer learning in a traditional classroom setting. The easiest way to find out if your GMAT score might benefit from an in person classroom experience is by attending a free GMAT prep course in your city.
Manhattan Prep offers a free trial GMAT course in 20 major cities around the country. These classes aren’t just a quick overview either.
The classes include a full 3 hours of instruction focusing on problem solving strategies and critical test taking skills.
If you live nearby one of the classroom locations, it is definitely worth your time to attend. The class times are conveniently scheduled with many evening and weekend options available.
- Find a Free GMAT class near you.
For more information, see our Manhattan Prep GMAT review article.
Full Length Practice Tests
There is no substitute for regularly practicing a full length GMAT exam. Being able to replicate test day conditions is critical to improving your confidence and increasing your test taking endurance.
Kaplan offers a free full length GMAT exam which is structured to replicate your test day experience. Each question is timed in the same manner as the GMAT. Plan to take the test when you have a four full hours of free time.
After you finish the practice exam, you’ll receive a detailed score analysis with a full breakdown of your performance by section.
- Try a Free GMAT Practice Exam
If you’re looking for an extra full length practice test, the Princeton Review also offers a free full length exam.
- Additional GMAT Practice Exam
Using flash cards is one of the most effective ways to remember formulas and other critical concepts on the GMAT.
Rather than spend extra time creating your own flash cards from scratch, why not just save some time and use free GMAT flash cards right from your phone or tablet.
Magoosh offers a free flashcard app for your android or apple phone that lets you practice important concepts and skills whenever you have a few minutes of free time.
The free app is highly rated and includes 425 math flash cards and 160 idiom cards.
- Free GMAT Flashcard Apps
6 Month Study Plan
Some students are comfortable setting their own study plan. Others would prefer to use an example when creating their own plan.
The Economist offers a comprehensive 6 month free study plan. You can follow their plan exactly or you can use it as an example for how to setup your own study plan.
- Free 6 month study plan
Compare the Economist GMAT review course with other plans.
Math Formula Cheat Sheet
Target Test Prep offers a 15 page printable math formula sheet. This is a comprehensive listing of every important math formula that you will need to memorize for the GMAT exam.
It’s worth noting that Target offers a number of other free resources along with their math formula sheet including a diagnostic exam and multiple quant problem solving webinars.
Rather than read through endless text based articles, it’s often easier to watch or listen to video based information and content.
We have included a roundup of some of the most important and useful GMAT video based webinars.
Strategies for Scoring Greater than 700
ExamPal created a unique webinar that delves into specific strategies and tips utilized by students scoring greater than 700 on the GMAT.
Expect to learn new strategies and tactics in this webinar.
- Strategies for High Scores on the GMAT webinar.
See our ExamPal GMAT Review article for more course details.
Important GMAT News and Information
The GMAT test structure constantly evolves.
Before starting your GMAT study program, make sure you know what to expect on test day so you don’t have any unexpected surprises.
2019 GMAT Changes
The most notable change in 2019 was the announcement that the test time was reduced by 23 minutes and the number of questions on the math and verbal sections was reduced by 11 questions.
- 2019 GMAT changes article.
Should you Retake the GMAT?
Many people wonder about whether it might make sense to retake the GMAT if they’re not happy with their score.
You might be surprised to learn that of the 250,000 times the exam is given each year, around 50,000 exams are given to students that are re-taking the GMAT.
Re-taking the GMAT is very easy. Just make sure you keep in mind the major limitations. You can only take the exam once every 16 days.
No more than 5 times in any 12 month period and you can’t take the GMAT more than 8 times in total.
- Information on Re-taking the GMAT.