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The Economics of How You Choose to Prepare For (and Take) the GMAT

By Max Peterson On Sep 4, 2015 In  Study Plans General GMAT 


GMATers vary in their perspectives on the amount of money that they ‘think’ they should spend on the GMAT. If we ignore the broader costs (time, energy, the money spent on crafting and sending out applications, ultimately attending Business School etc.), then we can focus on the immediate issue – how much should you plan to spend on YOUR individual GMAT training and Test-taking?

The Cost to Take

Assuming that you do end up taking the Official GMAT, then that’s going to be $250 right there. In theory, you could schedule the Test and then ask for a refund (as long as you ask at least 7 full days in advance), but that refund is just a partial refund (currently $80), so you’re going to end up spending some significant money the moment you schedule that Official Test appointment

The Costs to Retake

Now, imagine that you’ve tried to save some money on your training materials, and you’ve been working with free resources (or relatively cheap ones – some used books, for example)… If you take the GMAT and don’t end up with a score that makes you happy, then you can always retake the GMAT. GMAC makes it REALLY easy to do so – all you have to do is wait 16 days and spend another $250. You also have the freedom to take the GMAT up to 5 times in one rolling-year period…. to the tune of 5 x $250 = $1,250.

Investing to Save Money, Time and Effort

If you ‘rush in’ to take the GMAT (especially when you are NOT scoring close enough to your goal score during practice to make that result realistic), then you’re almost certain to take the GMAT again (and possibly multiple times). Considering how quickly that dollar investment will escalate, it’s worth questioning WHY you would choose to spend so little money on your training materials….

Would spending an extra $200-$300 be worth the investment to keep from having to take the GMAT over-and-over again, study repeatedly and repay the Test Fee? This isn’t a trick question. The answer is fairly obvious: YES - both your GMAT score and your future ARE worth that investment. Beyond the obvious dollar-savings, there’s also the broader savings in time, energy and state-of-mind. With a strong, competitive GMAT score, you can comfortably apply to more Schools (and higher ‘ranked’ ones) and increase your chances at receiving a Scholarship or other financial assistance.

While there are many GMAT resources that are ‘high-priced’, there are plenty of high-quality options that are not so pricey. One of the great aspects about this industry is that most companies offer free materials so that you can use to ‘test out’ a product before you invest in it. To maximize YOUR potential on the GMAT, and go about this whole process without spending way too much money, you should investigate the various options and choose whichever one(s) best match your personality, timeline and budget.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,


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