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I think it depends on the person. I think classes would be good for anyone who has trouble motivating themselves to study. But as far as content goes, anything they teach in these classes can be learned from the books, and you can save yourself a lot of money. I think classes are NOT worth it.
I've always had the sense that classes were good for people scoring in an average range that needed help moving up to an above average range. Say, 550-600 hoping to move up 50-100 points. I think classes have limited usefulness for people scoring 700+ because they just aren't really geared for those scoring at that level (I'm talking about the standard classes).
- I think classes are good to keep you motivated to dedicate time (you are paying for it and need to stick to a schedule).
- To discuss problems not only with teachers but also with classmates.
- To help you navigate the inevitable GMAT learning curve faster.
- To help you gauge when you are ready.
The program I took was not any of the brand name ones. It's a local program developed specifically for the local market (i.e.: non native speakers, class sizes upto a maximum of 6 people, etc.).
I think that had I not taken the classes, I would have had to invest about 6 - 12 months instead of 3.5 and probably retake once or twice. Yet I agree with johnnyx, it's different for each person.
I thought about taking a class for a while and probably would have if I could have worked it into my schedule. I think the class would be more valuable if it was a one shot deal. But since you can take it multiple times, I would suggest at least trying to take the exam once before investing in a class. I guess another interesting option I could have added was the number of attempts, although I do not think the poll would allow that many choices.
The fact that Kaplan and Princeton have survived for so long tells me that there is an insanely lucrative market out there for GMAT instruction.
Edited: Kaplan makes most of their money from the SAT. Not that its a surprise.
Most GMAT classroom instruction tends to be basic, catering to the lowest common denominator. This makes business sense for the companies who understand that a majority of test takers lie below the 650 mark. Several companies do offer advanced courses. MGMAT is a great example of such a company.
Classroom instruction also works great for test takers who have difficulty sticking to a schedule. Its not the best way to blow $1000 away, but it helps a lot of test takers.
My personal favorite is online learning; such courses offered by GMAX Online and MGMAT.
Finally, it is naive to think that a Kaplan or a GMAX or a MGMAT is all you need to do well on the GMAT. The question of "How valuable is a test prep company for your GMAT Success?" remains a mystery. Obviously, there is more opinion than evidence out there. The solution looks like a fun multiple regression model though.
Last edited by Praetorian on 25 Apr 2007, 12:48, edited 3 times in total.
I took classes on weekends: 7 hours in a row (3.5 verbal + 3.5 math) for 6 + 4 weeks. While I do not underestimate the importance of homework and self-preparation I can say that the classes helped me a lot in understanding the "GMAT-English" rules and approach to solving math problems.
Unless you're lucky and get a dedicated instructor, I'd have to say that Kaplan is a waste of money. Manhattan does a good job of keeping their instructors motivated by paying them descent hourly wages ($100+ p/hr).
One of my favorite acronyms: Kaplan = Kan't Always Pick Little Abstract Numbers
I took Manhattan GMAT lessons and was really happy about them. However, I was the only one in the class who scored above 700 (760, actually).
I guess it helped me to know the basics of GMAT and to meet people with the same worries and problems, which was important. The instructor was also great and I learnt a lot from him. Somehow, he taught me everything I needed to score around 650 (got a 660 in my first attempt). However, I had to work on my own to achieve my final score in my second attempt.
If money is not a big problem, you are not too advanced in your GMAT preparation and can attend a Manhattan GMAT course, then I definitely would recommend it.