Manhattan GMAT books and MGMAT test prep software has been a long time favourite among GMAT exam takers. When working with Manhattan GMAT material, a common question that arises is whether the level of difficulty is the same as the actual GMAT or is it harder or easier.
Before we tackle that question, let’s go back in time and dig up a little bit of history. Always good to have the big picture perspective before drilling deeper. Right naa?
Manhattan GMAT and Kaplan
For many years (8 to be precise), Manhattan GMAT operated as an independent test prep company. They competed with another big name in the test prep business – Kaplan. And then, as is inevitable in any competitive industry there was consolidation. The bigger fish Kaplan, which also has a formidable presence in other test prep areas, acquired Manhattan GMAT in 2009.
The management team at MGMAT clearly saw value in the M&A deal. However competitors see it in a different light and talk about key team members from the earlier Manhattan GMAT team leaving the ship, the revenue declining, morale being low, lesser focus on innovating and re-directing the resources to other Kaplan products.
What’s true, what’s speculation? We don’t really know. What we do know is that the Manhattan GMAT Prep brand is still going strong not only across the world, but in India as well.
MGMAT books, strategy guides, SC guides have been selling well. In fact, MGMAT offers GMAT classes and courses scheduled for students in India. But compared to the local courses in Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and our all-time favouraite Jhumri Talaiyya…the Manhattan GMAT in India option is quite expensive.
How does MGMAT stack up versus it’s competitors (including the official GMAT prep software) when it comes to practice vs actual scores?
Is Manhattan GMAT more difficult than the real GMAT?
The official word from someone who’s part of the Manhattan GMAT online Marketing team is that they try to make the MGMAT tests as close to the real GMAT as possible. For instance, according to GMAC (the company that owns and runs GMAT), in the actual GMAT test the standard deviation (if you are technically inclined, they refer to it as ‘in student’ standard deviation) for scores is around 30 points.
This means that if you were to take the test multiple times without altering your competency, there is a high chance that your score range will be within 30 points of the other tests.
Manhattan GMAT tests are designed to have a similar ‘in student’ standard deviation of around 30 points. Every few months, the technical team re-calibrates the scoring logic by taking inputs from the thousands of practice tests taken by its users.
That’s the theory part. So, how do GMAT test takers who have no clue (or interest) in the behind-the-scenes technicalities and algorithm related discussions fare with MGMAT tests?
There isn’t a clear trend as you’ll find opinions that go in both directions. But a majority of Manhattan GMAT reviews on GMAT forums seem to indicate that the MGMAT tests are slightly tougher than the actual GMAT i.e. the real GMAT scores have been higher than the practice test scores.
Going by the simulation tools such as the GMAT Club GMAT score calculator, if you ignore the other tests and just play around with the MGMAT slider for multiple scores, it shows that the real GMAT score is 10 points lesser than Manhattan GMAT tests.
Interestingly, for higher values for ‘Performance under pressure’ the score improves. But again, this is a simulation based on user entered data for a limited number of volunteers. We don’t really know if the sample size is big enough for us to assume that this trend can be extrapolated for everyone.
Here’s another aspect that makes it tougher to address the MGMAT tests vs actual GMAT topic in simple terms.
The practice of re-taking tests is generally discouraged when you are using practice tests from GMAT Prep (the official version) or private players like Knewton. But Manhattan Prep allows you to reset your CATs. That means, as you get better with easier questions, the test can throw tougher ones at you using its adaptive nature. So you can take the same tests again and have a different experience and score.
One explanation to this might be that the number of questions available in the MGMAT question bank is probably significantly bigger than the others. So the likelihood of questions getting repeating is lesser, compared to other tests that have a limited question pool.
Have you used Manhattan GMAT prep books, tests or online classes? What has your experience been in the real GMAT exam? Did you score higher or lower than your MGMAT practice tests?
Have you tried our free GMAT practice test? Also if you aren’t planning to shell out big bucks on formal classroom training, check out the best GMAT prep books. If nothing else, at least pick up the GMAT Official Guide OG.
Disclaimer: We have no affiliation with Manhattan GMAT or Kaplan.