GMAT Prep on the Cheap

Time to crush the GMAT once and for all.

Your goal is to focus your study based on your strengths and weaknesses to hit your target score as efficiently as possible. As you visit the main math and verbal pages you will see the modules you need to use for improvement. I’m certainly biased toward my materials, but if you want to save al of your pennies, here’s the bare minimum of what you actually need. (but seriously, you can do Core membership for $99 for 30 days so…)

The resources you must have:

1. The Official Guide.
Written by the GMAC, this is the number 1 go-to source for practice problems. For best results, ALWAYS use this book timed. My preference for timing: 4 questions / 7 minutes or 8 questions / 15 minutes.

Answered all 4 questions in 7 minutes even if you need to guess. Why? Because you have to train yourself to deal with the frustration of educated and even random guesses BEFORE you get into the test center. It bites, but that’s the reality.

2. GMAT prep software.
To take the GMAT you will need to register for an account at You have the option to download the free GMATprep software. Do that on a machine you will be able to access again. The software will provide you with 2 practice tests and several practice problems.

3. GMATprep Question pack 1. And Add-on test pack 1 or 2 or 3, one set is fine.
GMAC has recently made more questions and adaptive tests available. You don’t need most of those. But I do recommend that you add Question pack 1 to your software and purchase one of the additional test packs. It will give you more IR questions and provides more quant and verbal. The additional tests are helpful because the free tests are so widely available that you’ve definitely seen those questions (even if you don’t recognize them).

Things to think about

The GMAT is a strategy game, not a test. You will do best by understanding your strengths and weaknesses. You must cover your weaknesses or your top score will be limited. But once your weaknesses – as long as there aren’t too many! – are covered, you will do even better by enhancing your strengths. Maximize the impact of what you can do well and minimize the risk on question types you don’t complete as well.

Top scores are reached by being a high performer on both quant and verbal.

Your scaled scores are more important in determining your overall score than the percentiles. Focus on increasing your scaled scores.

The larger the gap between your verbal and quant scaled scores, the more predictive the LOWER of the two will be in determining your overall score.

If your verbal scaled score is below 35, you will not reach 700.

If your math scaled score is below 35 you should be in a math fundamental course before you even begin to consider business school. A math scaled score below 40 indicates significant fundamental processing flaws and likely poor understanding of basic math mechanics. You may have made it through high school and college, possibly even with A-grades, but those days are over. You will hate your life in bschool if your quant is that low.

A quant scaled score of 48 or better is typically (barely) sufficient for consideration at top tier programs. There is no similar “safe” score for verbal.