GMAT study plan review and comparison: MBA.com vs. Magoosh vs. MBA Crystal Ball vs. Kaplan vs. GMATClub
I’m a professional GMAT tutor, so I get the chance to see a lot of people go through the GMAT studying process. Here’s how the process normally goes:
- “I’m a smart, confident person. The GMAT should be a piece of cake!”
- “They expect me to know what? What is this? Why do I have to know this stuff?”
- “Better get a study plan!”
And then you Google something like “GMAT Study Plan” or “GMAT study plan for working professionals” or “Help I don’t know what I’m doing on the GMAT”.
Unfortunately, when you do Google that, you get a bunch of results. Given that you can really only follow one study plan at a time without going insane, it’s important to pick the right one. But how do you know what the right one is?
Well, you go to a study plan review. Like mine! Let’s dig in. Oh, and before I forget, I’d be remiss not to mention my guide on how to study for the GMAT. It should be super helpful.
Best GMAT study plan: GMATClub
GMATClub’s study plan takes it.
They provide a nuanced, balanced approach to actually studying for the GMAT, replete with a lot of helpful, free links.
Now, this plan isn’t perfect. For one thing, there’s not much of a time element: there’s a lot of stuff to do, but not a lot of info on how much time to spend on each.
But it’s a great jumping off point. Besides, the amount of time you spend does depend on you, so it’s hard to say exactly what you should be doing in any given week.
(This is a good place for a tutor, by the way, who can personalize it for you.)
Magoosh study plan review: it’s a little too much pushing their own products
Magoosh puts out a lot of products. I think that’s great. But… most of the products aren’t that helpful for your GMAT studying, so it’s really not helpful for them to push it in their study plan.
For example, in their 3 month study plan, they tell you to get their eBook, their math flashcards, and their idiom flashcards, and they push you to use them throughout the study plan.
This doesn’t make a lot of sense. Magoosh literally says in their own study plan that Manhattan makes better books than them!
“Any single volume of the 9-volume Manhattan GMAT series. These books are about the best material available in hard-copy print form”
So why would they tell you to pick up their eBook? Because it’s theirs.
Same thing with their idiom flashcards. Pretty much nobody should be memorizing idioms for the GMAT. If you’re a native English speaker, you already know almost all of the idioms you need. If you’re not a native English speaker, idioms are a really low-yield thing to be memorizing.
But, Magoosh made idiom flashcards, so of course they push them in their study plan. Would not recommend.
MBA.com GMAT study plan review: it’s written by people who never took the GMAT
MBA.com’s study plan looks nice. Well, maybe not nice (I don’t know why they insist on a black, yellow, and gray color scheme), but it looks expensive.
Unfortunately, it was really clearly written by someone who never actually took the test. Instead, I’m imagining it was written by a poor “content marketing associate” who just needed to put out something.
That’s the only possible reason why they would think it’s a good idea to put advice like: “Pay attention to pacing” in week 7 and “identify strengths and weaknesses and create a 2 week study plan” in week 2.
Seriously. They advise you to create a study plan inside their study plan. Study plan inception!
MBA Crystal Ball GMAT study plan review: just kind of generic
Speaking properly, MBA Crystal Ball doesn’t have a study plan. Instead, they have a study plan by a random dude who scored a 780, which MBA Crystal Ball might or might not endorse.
He apparently scored this without coaching, which is great for him. Unfortunately, I’m not sure he knows how he scored so well.
I’m just judging this based on his advice, which is literally: learn quant, then learn verbal, then take practice tests, then take the exam.
I’m not kidding. That’s his advice. Like, this is his advice on studying quant:
“After this I started working on my basic Quant concepts. For an initial overview I would suggest that you go through the explanations of different topics that are given in the Official Guide.
After this you can switch to a more extensive guide such as a Kaplan or a Manhattan; however, this is not necessary, you could scout various GMAT forums for notes, which are generally condensed versions of the rules given in these guides.”
So his advice on studying quant is go through the topics, then maybe look at a guide or go to forums. Groundbreaking!
Kaplan GMAT study plan review: it could have been just replaced with a single line that said “please buy our materials”
Oh Kaplan. They are generally terrible for every exam. I don’t know if they used to be better, but I literally dislike all of their material.
Their study plan is no exception. Like check out this sage advice from their study plan:
“What should you study? That depends on the results of your practice test! Focus mostly on material that is (a) difficult for you and (b) most often tested.”
Oh jeeze, Kaplan! Can’t be dropping too many knowledge bombs!
The only links out are to paid Kaplan products. At least Magoosh linked out to their free products. Sigh. Dump Kaplan.