GMAT Coaching: Online GMAT preparation vs conventional class based training

Since we announced our online GMAT coaching tie-up with Knewton, we’ve been getting several queries from MBA applicants across India (and abroad) who’ve been considering options ranging from their friendly neighbourhood GMAT tutor to conventional GMAT classes dotted across the city. And when we start waxing eloquent about online GMAT preparation being a better alternative, a few raised eyebrows is the least we can expect.

Considering the frequency of these queries, we thought we should share some perspectives on the topic.

GMAT coaching classes (in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune or Timbuktu) have all followed a standard approach. Get a whole bunch of guys in the class and adopt the standard school, college and university style of teaching. In India, whether it is for CAT or GMAT prep, the one-size-fits-all methodology has remained largely unchanged. Private tutoring is too expensive for most of us.

With the advent of technology, the global rules of the game are evolving. Test prep (& not just for GMAT) teaching tools and techniques have become more flexible, more personalized and more relevant now.

– If you wish to start your GMAT preparation course in a day or two, will a regular GMAT coaching class accommodate your request?
– What if the 6pm class doesn’t suit you, do they have one at 7pm…and 8pm and 9pm?
– Will all the instructors from the class be top-notch? What if you don’t like a couple of them? Can you move to a better GMAT instructor?
– If you miss a couple of classes (boss has dumped his work on you) how do you catch up? Can you retake a class if you need some theory to be brushed up?
– Is the class going to be adapted to your needs or will it keep running at its own pace irrespective of whether you are finding it too fast or too slow?
– How much is the local class spending on ensuring that the course content is keeping pace with the dynamic GMAT test prep world?
– [And the clincher] Despite all the world-class, cutting edge features, can I still sign up at a price that’s cheaper than the fees charged by most GMAT classes?

We don’t know what alternatives you’ve been thinking about and how they’d fare when you view them through this critical lens. If we ask these questions to Knewton’s GMAT course designers, we think we know what their response would be. More information about our GMAT preparation course discount offer.

UPDATE: Knewton has stopped their special India discounts. They now manage the sign-up process centrally. Check out the other GMAT courses listed on our site.

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

6 thoughts on “GMAT Coaching: Online GMAT preparation vs conventional class based training”

  1. My two paisa on this matter
    While I used Knewton (for a trial period) and pored through material from GMAT coaching centres, I was not entirely happy with both of them.
    – Knewton material aimed at the 620-670 group (in terms of difficulty)
    – Material from centres was a rehash of CAT questions and the like.

    I believe that OG is still the best thing since sliced masala bread to crack GMAT. I can say this by my own GMAT experience which was ok.

    Other Salient points:
    -Indians, descendants of Aryabhatta and Bhaskara, are naturals at quant crackings.
    -Hinglish to English transition is difficult for my brethren. But they manage with Manhattan GMAT books.

    I also believe we learn best when we are taught by our friends. I found Grockit extremely useful as a online guide.
    – It creates a sense of competetion. You got people online all the time, with whom you can jointly solve questions.
    – Gives you a solid benchmark. You solve with peers who are a few weeks away from giving GMAT.
    – Analytics are pretty decent.
    – Gives you Facebook badges. I like badges. They help shore-up my self esteem.
    – Motivates you to perform because there is always that pretty chick online solving with you, whom you sooo neeed to impress.
    – Cheap. Yes Cheap. Yes I am Indian. No I am not a software engineer.

    So to conclude, I think classes are not required. But consistent practice is required. So you can use Grockit or any other alternatives.

  2. Damn! So much for our free-for-all, no-censoring policy.

    To be honest, I haven’t taken the Knewton course, but I do know they’ve had a lot of Indian guys signing up for their online prep program AND getting big jumps in their before and after GMAT scores.
    In fact, we helped a re-applicant get into ISB after he used the Knewton course (this was before our tie-up) to get a 100 point jump. His first attempt (pre-Knewton) score was in the early 600s. So I’m guessing many desi bhai-log and behenjis see value in it, specially those who aren’t already in the high GMAT score range and are looking for some structure and discipline in their preparation.

    It’ll be interesting to hear from people who’ve taken the full course (not just the trial) to know if they found the approach useful. Any other folks out there who’ve got some views to share about Knewton or about online GMAT preparation courses in general?

  3. Just wanted to add my two cents..
    I am taking the MGMAT online course(not at the Indian time). I was very tempted by Knewton as the price difference was substantial. I decided to go with MGMAT simply because of the following:

    1. Gives you a sense of discipline – forces you to study, something that you may not otherwise do – especially if you are older and have other priorities.

    2. Gives you a sense of competition/confidence – You do want to hold your own in the class. The class is participative and you are called upon. Also, if you do well, it gives you a sense of confidence and eggs you on.

    3. Tried and tested material – both online and books – MGMAT books and material are probably the most referenced in the GMAT community. Having said that you need to find what works for you and supplement with other material, if required – Powerscore CR for example.

    4. It helps to see how the instructors break down and think through a problem – both Quant and Verbal.

    5. Online labs – Weekly labs covering strategy – timing, DS, Strategic guessing, RC , CR etc – Available only to course students – these are great and not talked about highly enough.

    6. Half hour private tutoring every week – This is helpful but would have been more helpful if you could avail some of these later – especially after you complete the course and have more questions.

    One thing to add – The course by itself relies very heavily on the material and requires a lot of time commitment – close to 10-15 hours every week. You cant do this at your own pace.

    Obviously, I cant compare the course with Knewton’s but if I am convinced I made a great choice.

  4. Sir,

    My son is doing BE (CSE) II year at Bangalore. Please tell me how to enroll your coaching classes in New Delhi or Bangalore

    [Moderator edit: personal details edited out]

  5. Dear Mr. kamat,

    I am a complete newbie to this GMAT. I must admit that i do not have much knowledge about this exam and its requirements of syllabus.
    I surfed internet and to be honest got lost in all the so called luring websites, courses, coaching offers, manhattan stuff etc. My sincere request to you, would you kindly guide me in this aspect. Let me put this way. Kindly throw some light on
    1) GMAT requirements
    2) What I need to study(I just do not like piling up books in shelves and cant afford so called expensive study materials)
    3) What else i need to look into apart from regular study(ex. any short courses etc?)
    4) Is joining a coaching inst mandatory? could self study fetch me to excel in this exam?

    Thanks & Regards,


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