Tag Archives: GMAT

Graduate School… Costs a Fortune Before You Get In

Forget the cost of tuition, room and board, the cost of applying to graduate school is fiercely staring at my quivering piggy bank like an angry honey badger ready to pounce on an unsuspecting snake long before I’ve even scribbled a sentence of my application essay.

To get into a top masters program — MBA or otherwise — you need to stand out for more than just your GPA. When your GPA makes you stand out for the wrong reasons, you’re far behind the curve. It isn’t clear if it’s possible to run really fast and hard to make it over that hump (ie pay expert consultants a lot of money to teach you the right speed to run and how your feet should hit the ground every step of the way) but the consultants surely will tell you that without them, you’ll be sitting down where you started, exhausted, looking up at a giant insurmountable lump of your future.

The cost for a live or online GMAT study program is somewhere around $1000 – $1400. There are cheaper programs, of course, and plenty of ways to get some books and study on your own, but many advise to take one of the classes if you’re the kind of person to underachieve on standardized tests. But for the candidates who really want to do well, you can pour hundreds or thousands of dollars more into private tutoring… just so you’ll break 700 or 750.

Consulting by admissions experts for the top programs is even more painful. One program I was examining the other night cost $3500 for a full package of help and edits to apply to just one school. Plenty may argue that putting $5000 – $10,000 into preparing yourself to apply for a top ranked program is worth it because on the other side of the hill… long after the field trips and late nights getting intimate with statistics… there’s a miraculous salary increase that will improve your overall lifetime earnings by, well, something around a lot of money, give or take a decimal point. But that’s IF you get in. All the coaching and test-taking advice in the world may never be enough. It’s a gamble either way. And if you can do it on your own (obviously there are plenty of people who have got into top MBA programs without draining their savings on outside help) then why seek out an expert?

Looking at my semi-healthy bank account, I can’t fathom draining my cash or stocks for this kind of coaching. And maybe that’s why I’ll never be an MBA student or even masters student. I figure, if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be. And, meanwhile, am somewhat jealous of the people in the world that can afford such coaching, and their Harvard / Stanford / Wharton / Kellogg / Haas / Ross pedigree.

Preparing to take the GMAT in 2010

I decided today that I am going to take the GMAT in October of 2010. It’s too early to even sign up for a test date, but I’m going to start studying for the test. Worst case scenerio I decide to retake the GRE instead and my math skills have improved, or I end up in a job I love and I have no reason to go to grad school right now or ever, and I know a bit more about grammar and Algebra II.

But where do I start? I made a very strict study plan for the GREs (noting how many new words I needed to learn each day) and that lasted about a week before I threw myself off. With the GMAT, there is no date I “need” to take it, but I’d like to aim for October because that should be enough time to study — really study — without waiting too long that I’ll just procrastinate and not study at all.

I’m not a smart person. But I’d like to see if it’s possible to do well on a formulaic test without a high IQ.

Have you ever taken the GMAT? What study advice do you have?