Preparing for the GMAT? You might’ve noticed that there are tons of online GMAT prep options available to you, from books to courses to flashcards to practice tests and question sets. But how can you find the right option for your needs? And how can you make sure that the online resource you’re using is high quality and effective?
In this guide, I’ll talk about why it’s important to prepare for the GMAT test online, what you should look for in online GMAT prep resources, and review the best online GMAT practice that you can use in your studying.
Why Should You Practice the GMAT Online?
There are dozens of options out there to help you prep for the GMAT, both in print and online. For many test-takers, using a paper test prep book is a traditional and time-tested way to prep for a standardized test. So why does it make sense to prep online for the GMAT, rather than with a book?
The GMAT is a computerized, adaptive test (CAT). Because you take the GMAT on a computer, it makes sense to do some, if not all, of your GMAT prep online.
GMAT prep software helps you by simulating test-taking conditions. You’ll familiarize yourself with how to answer questions on the computer, as well as with how to navigate through the test.
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It always helps to simulate test day conditions as much as possible so that you’re comfortable and prepared when you go to take the exam. If you’ve only studied with a book, you may feel strange selecting answers on a computer or be unfamiliar with the basic functions of the GMAT program, such as where to click to get the next question or how to go back and review previous answers.
The most valuable online practice, then, is the official GMATPrep practice, which is the most realistic simulation of the actual GMAT.
What Should You Look for in Online GMAT Practice?
It’s important to make sure that you’re using the most effective and most accurate GMAT practice options possible, whether online or in print. It can be difficult to figure out what prep options to choose. Here’s what you should look for in your online GMAT practice.
#1: Same Question Format and Types as the Real GMAT
You want to make sure that your prep is following the same format as real GMAT questions. GMAT questions are written in a very specific style. Practicing that style will help you understand what the questions are asking and how to best answer them. Along those lines, your online practice should help you by providing answer explanations and test-taking strategies, which we’ll talk about soon.
#2: Assess the Same Content as the Real GMAT
Why waste your time studying something that won’t appear on the actual test? Any CATs that you take should cover only the content that’s on the GMAT. Likewise, the CATs should cover all of the content that’s on the GMAT, so you’re not missing out on practicing a particular skill.
#3: Same Length and Question Breakdown as the Real GMAT
Taking a practice full-length GMAT test online is a great way to build your stamina and confidence before exam day. A full-length practice test puts you into a similar situation as you will be in during the test. You’ll be able to practice your timing throughout the test. If your practice test is too long or too short, or has the incorrect number of questions, your pacing strategies will be off.
The Official GMAT Prep Software: GMATPrep
GMAC offers an official, free online GMAT prep software called GMATPrep. Using the GMATPrep software is a must for every test taker. Here’s an overview of it.
- Two free, full-length practice tests with answers (note that detailed explanations of answers are not included) with the option to purchase up to four additional tests
- 90 free questions – 30 Quantitative, 45 Verbal, and 15 Integrated Reasoning – with answers and explanations.
- Tools to create your own practice question set based on the skills you’re studying, such as a question set that tests on sentence correction and algebra.
- GMAT Total, Verbal, Quantitative, and Integrated Reasoning scores for your practice tests.
- A comprehensive math review.
- A step-by-step guide to preparing for the GMAT exam.
- This is the most realistic GMAT prep software you can use. Because it’s made by GMAC, the questions in the GMAT prep software are actual, retired GMAT questions. You won’t get more accurate questions anywhere.
- The full-length practice tests are great simulations of the test day. Again, because they’re written by GMAC, the software really simulates exactly what the test will be like. You’ll get to familiarize yourself with the format and the functions of the program.
- It’s free! There’s nothing better than an awesome, totally free service.
- You can create your own practice question sets based on your strengths and weaknesses, so you can tailor your prep based on your needs.
- All practice questions come with explanations so that you can learn where you went wrong.
- The step-by-step guide helps you plan out your studying schedule, as well as makes sure that you’re timing your test appropriately. It also gives tips for registering for the exam and sending your scores to schools.
- The GMAT online test sets offered by GMATPrep don’t come with answer explanations. While the practice questions do have explanations, the tests don’t. You’ll be able to see what you got wrong, and the right answers, but you won’t be able to learn where you went wrong.
- While the software does offer a comprehensive math review, it doesn’t cover any of the other sections of the GMAT (verbal, integrated reasoning, AWA).
- Creating your own practice set is clunky. The software isn’t very intuitive when you’re trying to build your own practice set. While the feature is nice, it’s simply not very streamlined.
- There simply aren’t very many questions. Aside from the two full-length practice tests (which, again, don’t include explanations), you only get 90 free questions. You’ll definitely need to supplement these with other prep question sets, either online or in print.
The Best Unofficial GMAT Online Tests
As I mentioned before, taking a full-length practice GMAT online testis one of the best ways to simulate test day conditions and to build your confidence in pacing the exam. If you’ve exhausted the official online GMAT practice tests offered by GMATPrep, there are plenty of free resources out there for you to take the GMAT test online.
The following programs offer you the chance to take one unofficial, full-length GMAT test online. For each of them, you need to sign up for an account with the service.
Veritas Prep offers one free GMAT online test with explanations. If you’d like, you can purchase six more tests for $49. You can take the test with normal time, or you can add extra time. Veritas Prep is known for having accurate GMAT-style questions, which means that you’ll receive a realistic predictor of your actual GMAT score when you take their practice tests. Veritas Prep also offers in-depth answer explanations for all questions, so you can learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as a test-taker while assessing the questions you got right and wrong.
Kaplan offers two types of free GMAT online practice tests: self-proctored and instructor-proctored. For the self-proctored test, you’ll receive your scores and answer explanations to peruse at your leisure. For the instructor-proctored exam, you’ll get your scores, and then work with an instructor in real-time online to get answer explanations. Taking an instructor-proctored exam is a neat opportunity to get some one-on-one time with a solid GMAT instructor, who’ll be able to walk you through the nuances of your GMAT score report and offer advice about your GMAT study plan. The Kaplan test is generally fairly accurate, but does have some problems that are either a little different in format or a little off from GMAT core content.
Manhattan Prep offers free access to one full-length GMAT online test. Manhattan Prep is known for having rigorous and accurate GMAT questions, which means that taking a Manhattan Prep full-length GMAT test is a decent substitute for taking a real GMAT. However, this practice test doesn’t come with answer explanations. Instead, you’ll get access to their e-book, The GMAT Uncovered, which gives a bunch of information about the structure of the exam, its scoring, and topics covered.
Free Online GMAT Practice Resources
In addition to taking a GMAT test online, you can use a ton of different free, online resources to help your practice.
The Mini GMAT Quiz from MBA.Com
The Mini GMAT quiz gives you eight real, retired GMAT questions and answer explanations. These are different than the ones offered in the GMATPrep software, so it’s great to take them because they cover additional content and are super realistic as official exam questions. The Mini GMAT Quiz only tests on verbal and quantitative questions.
Magoosh GMAT Flashcards
Magoosh offers free online flashcards to help with quantitative problems or with idioms for the verbal section. You can download these flashcards online or as an app for iPhone or Android. They aren’t full-length GMAT questions, but rather drills that can help build your foundational knowledge.
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Prep4GMAT is a free app that has over 1,000 verbal and quantitative questions and explanations, as well as hundreds of flashcards and practice tests. It’s great for traveling because you can download it on your phone. The app can be a bit buggy and some users report that it crashes frequently.
3 Tips for Effective Online GMAT Prep
Now that you know where to find the best study resources, how do you make your online GMAT prep as effective as possible?
#1: Make Your Environment Realistic
Make sure that you’re taking your full-length GMAT online test in one sitting, with minimal distractions, if possible. This builds your stamina and simulates test day. When you’re studying, you want to make sure you’re working in a quiet environment as well.
#2: Eliminate Distractions
Try to eliminate distractions while you study. Turn your cell phone to silent. If you’re like me and find yourself compulsively checking Facebook every five minutes, use a blocker like SelfControlApp to make sure you turn off access to social media during your studying.
#3: Use Quality Prep Tools
Use this guide to assess your prep tools. Are you using the best programs you can find? Take the official practice tests first, as these tests are the most realistic simulations of test day. If you’ve exhausted official resources, make sure the resources you’re using are well-regarded and accurate. Check out reviews on Amazon or on GMAT forums to see what other experts and users are saying about your resources.
More of a print person than an online person? Don’t worry! There are plenty of print options to boost your GMAT prep. Check out our guide to the Best GMAT Books for 2017 for more information about different books you can use in your studying.
Looking to do a deep dive into a specific GMAT study tool? Manhattan Prep is a well-respected test prep company, with a suite of GMAT study resources. Learn more about Manhattan Prep’s Complete GMAT Strategy Guide in our in-depth guide.
As I mentioned, using real GMAT questions is one of the very best things you can do for your GMAT prep. But what’s the quality of the official GMAT print guides really like? In our guide to the Official GMAT Guide 2017, I analyze the strengths and weaknesses of GMAC’s official text.