Choosing the “best” GMAT tutor can be a real test

For many applicants, the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) is the first and biggest hurdle on the road to a top MBA education.

Although business schools’ admission committees consider all aspects of a candidacy — professional, personal and academic — there’s only one common denominator: the GMAT score. Especially during a time of high application volume, a modest to poor GMAT score can discourage a committee from digging deeper into an application. A sub-par GMAT gives them an excuse to put the application aside or to disregard it completely.

On the other hand, a competitive GMAT score will encourage admissions committees to review a candidate’s complete application thoroughly. A quality score will subsequently allow a candidate’s other qualifications to shine.

For a fortunate few, this standardized test is one they can conquer with minimal preparation. For others, the very mention of those four letters G.M.A.T. produces a sense of terror and dread. The majority typically needs several weeks of diligent preparation in verbal and/or quantitative topics to unleash their full potential.

It seems like everyone who ever passed the GMAT claims to be an “expert” who can help others score a perfect 800. The promises are very tempting, especially after the applicant has tried to pursue a path of self-study. A search for “GMAT” books on yields a staggering 813 choices!

And the choices in terms of tutoring methodology add to the struggle: one-on-one individual vs. group, in-person vs. remote, flat-fee vs. hourly, etc. Picking the right one is a test unto itself.

Most students require about two months of tutoring to reach their peak. Some might also need additional time on the front end to refine quantitative and verbal skills that have been dormant since college or, in some cases, high school. If you haven’t started preparation already and you’re still looking at 2010 applications, the time to start is now.

The best way to approach the GMAT is by taking a free diagnostic test, which is available online from a variety of sources, to determine where you are at. A tutor can then help you determine where to focus your time and efforts for maximum results.

The reality is that one kind of tutoring is not right for everyone. That’s why The MBA Exchange helps our admissions consulting clients choose the right method and the right tutor for them.

Some of our competitors have tutoring under their roof or are aligned with a specific tutor. This “one-size-fits-all” philosophy can force applicants into a tutoring system that is not properly suited for them. We open it up much more broadly to a variety of tutors making sure an applicant gets his or her needs fit.