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Well, like most things, it depends. If you're not good at standardized tests, then they are probably the best thing to do for yourself. Classes like PR focus on test-taking skills, and that can make a huge difference. If you also need discipline to stay on a regular study schedule (I had a problem with that), then they are especially good because you get a lot of homework.
If you're naturally good at these tests or don't need a lot of practice, then you probably don't need a prep course. If you are targeting a high score, though, which you seem to be, then it could help give you the edge.
it is true only 5% of the applicants score over 700. while the reasons may differ, i tend to think that we should have every advantage we can to get into this club. Oh no, 700 is not the end of your application, but it is definitely a comfort zone for most of the applicants. So, yes, if you can make changes to your schedule so that you can take prep course, you should. Always remember that the prep course is ONLY a start. To borrow a phrase from Linda, a prep course is a great place to start your prep, but a bad place to end it.
you should take a GMAT Course if any or all of the following applying
1. you are working full time ( consider purchasing a online course like GMAX Online )
2. you have been out of school for 3 or more years.
3. you are an international student ( learning correct english will save you a LOT , a LOT of time on your verbal prep and in your essays)
4. you have ATLEAST two months to prep. this is very very important.
your actual prep time = GMAT Course + Self Study
remember ,a prep course is nothing but a great start to your prep. the hard part begins when you have apply what you learnt in your Course to your prep. but i am confident that you will have a headstart if you take a Course and try to study regularly.
After you are done with your course, you are welcome to try out problems in our forums.
There is obviously quite a bit of difference between online courses and in-person classes. Not all companies provide online courses, but those that do usually use the same material; thus the only difference is ability to ask questions and instructor time. Also, you don't have as much of a schedule when you study on your own. The list continues. It is really up to you and your personality - if you need somebody to crack the whip - then classroom course is the way to go. If you like to move at your own pace, then online course is your best pick.