How Much Should You Pay for a Good GMAT Score?

yelpCurrently, my rate is $150/hr for all of my GMAT tutoring, and the question I get the most often from students is, “how can you charge so much less?”

It’s important for GMAT students to consider WHAT they are paying for, exactly, when they hire a company or a tutor to help them with their GMAT prep.

If money is the most important thing to you, then you might as well pay $50/hour for a college freshman to give you algebra tips, but if you want someone who knows the GMAT inside and out (and loves the GMAT), you need to start looking at the $100+ range.

I spent almost a decade working for private test prep companies, as both a classroom teacher/in-person tutor (Kaplan) and a virtual tutor (Grockit), as well as consulting with firms such as Magoosh and Veritas Prep to help them write their curriculum.

Though I learned a great deal working for these companies, one thing many GMAT students don’t realize is that what they are paying and what kind of tutor they are getting is not necessarily directly proportional.

Larger companies often pay their tutors in the realm of $20/hr to start (Kaplan), while charging students somewhere between $150-$300/hr. Teachers and tutors receive minimal training (usually around just 20-30 hours) during which they simply memorize a set script with set strategies and problems, and teach the same course material and the same 50 questions or so over and over (and over and over) again.

These courses are rarely designed to benefit students, since we each learn material differently and have our different strengths and weaknesses. It’s a very “one size fits all” approach, and that is ultimately what jaded me the most about working for a test prep company.

As you embark on your GMAT studies, I encourage you to think about what you expect out of a GMAT classroom course or private GMAT tutor (it’s great when students say to me in a first session, “Here’s the score I want. What do I really need to do to get there?”).

GMAT tutoring is more expensive than ever! Here’s a round-up of current (as of 2016) pricing available online:

  • Kaplan offers three tutoring packages: $2649 for 15 hours, $3749 for 25 hours, or $4849 for 35 hours. That works out to $176/hr, $149/hr, or $138/hr.
  • Manhattan Prep offers a base price of $220/hr, and then a cheaper rate as you buy more hours. If you purchase 25 hours, the rate becomes $195/hr.
  • Veritas Prep also offers its tutoring in packages starting at $2940 for 14 hours. Rates go from $183/hr to $210/hr depending on the package.

The problem:

All of the tutors who work for these companies will teach you curriculum specific to their company and their company only.

If you only study with a Veritas Prep tutor, you might miss out on a specific chapter of a Manhattan Guide that has a superior way of explaining something. If you only study with Kaplan, you may never know how to effectively utilize online resources such as GMATClub or Beat the GMAT to supplement your homework.

You will be getting the exact same tutoring session as every other student.

So why do I charge only $150/hr?

  • I have no boss.
  • I “remix” the best GMAT strategies and materials I have absorbed in my 10+ years to make my own curriculum for each individual student (this is fun for me, I know I’m a nerd). 🙂
  • I believe a good GMAT score is (and should be) available to EVERYONE who can put in at least 10+ hours a week of studying.

So whether you decide to tutor with me or another tutor, make sure you get what you pay for. 

Happy studying! 🙂

Learnist: How to Interpret your GMAT Score

Your GMAT score is calculated using a complex algorithm — here’s what you need to know about the scores you’ll receive before and after the exam.

This video above from GMAT PrepNow gives you a basic idea how the GMAT scoring works. Notice the point it makes about CATs: an adaptive test changes based on your response. If the question is answered correctly, the next question will be harder and the score will adjust upwards. If the question is answered incorrectly, the next question will be easier and the score will adjust downwards.

The GMAT is constantly recalculating the scaled score as the student progresses through the section to determine the precise ability of the test-taker.

It’s not the number of correct questions that matters most, but how hard the questions you answer correctly are! This is why you must challenge yourself with harder questions in your practice!

An official GMAT score report consists of four sections. There is a Verbal Scaled Score (on a scale from 0 to 60), a Quantitative Scaled Score (on a scale from 0 to 60), a Total Scaled Score (on a scale from 200 to 800) and an Analytical Writing Assessment Score (on a scale from 0 to 6).

Keep in mind: the GMAT scores the multiple choice and the writing sections differently. There are a total of 78 multiple choice questions: 41 in the verbal section and 37 in the quantitative section. To compute the scaled score for each section, the GMAT uses an algorithm that takes into account the total number of questions answered, the number of questions answered correctly, and the level of difficulty of the questions answered.

The standard error for the GMAT is +/- 30 points, meaning you have a significant advantage if you score 30 points higher than the average score of your dream school.

In this Kaplan video, you’ll see how the average GMAT score of all the top programs listed here is around 718. In order to be above par, a 750 score is required. This guarantees you a helpful push in your application (though GPA matters significantly as well).

That’s how you can evaluate your competitiveness for each school: look up the average GMAT score of accepted students, then add 30 points to it.

Get more tips for interpreting your GMAT score on Learnist!