The GMAT forms a central part of most graduate business school applications, and your scores can have a significant impact on which programs are open to you. In order to give themselves the best chance of doing well, many students turn to GMAT prep courses, and fortunately for Houston residents, there are plenty of options in your area. We’ve created this guide to the best GMAT prep courses in Houston to help you determine which program is best for your schedule, budget and learning style.
Our team of testing experts compared 14 of the most popular GMAT prep companies located in the Houston area to determine which best prepare students for the exam. We spoke to former students of each program and compared each company based on its study materials, accessibility, student support and overall comprehensiveness. In the end, three companies stood out from the rest.
Kaplan was our favorite because of its large network of in-person locations and its unique resources, like the GMAT Channel and the Official Test-Day Experience, that you won’t find with any other company. But everyone learns a little differently, and you may find that one of our other finalists suits you better. We recommend exploring all of our top picks to ensure you find the program that’s right for you.
A Full List of Every GMAT Prep Course in Houston Worth Considering
Our three finalists are listed below, along with the 10 other companies we considered, but ultimately didn’t choose. Click on the links to visit the company websites and to learn what we had to say about our top three.
The 3 Best GMAT Prep Courses in Houston
|Kaplan Test Prep||$799 - $4,999|
|The Princeton Review||$499 - $2,970
|Manhattan Prep||$999 - $7,749|
The Other 11 GMAT Prep Courses in Houston We Reviewed
|Advantage Testing||Visit Site|
|Houston GMAT||Visit Site|
|Manhattan Elite Prep||Visit Site|
|Manhattan Review||Visit Site|
|Suprex Learning||Visit Site|
|University of Houston Bauer College of Business||Visit Site|
|Varsity Tutors||Visit Site|
|Veritas Prep||Visit Site|
The Most Important Features: Course Access, Materials, Support and Personalization
When choosing the best GMAT prep courses in Houston, we focused on four key areas: course access, materials, support and personalization.
All of the companies we considered offer in-person GMAT prep courses or private tutoring at one or more locations in Houston. We preferred companies that also offered live online and self-paced courses for students who want to learn from the comfort of their own home. When choosing our top picks, we considered how many branch locations each company has and how often new courses are available. Night and weekend options were essential to accommodate those who have work or school on weekdays. Kaplan stood out the most in this category with seven locations in Houston and in-person courses starting every few weeks.
In order to be considered as one of our top picks, a prep course has to provide a thorough grounding in all sections of the exam and plenty of opportunities to put that knowledge into practice. Most prep courses include a textbook, question bank and full-length practice tests. The best programs will include proctored practice exams as part of their program to help you familiarize yourself with the time constraints and determine where you need further practice. All of our finalists performed well in this category, but Kaplan outdid the rest with its GMAT Channel, a growing library of webinars on all things GMAT, and its Official Test-Day Experience, which enables you to take a practice exam at a real GMAT testing facility.
Students in live GMAT prep courses have regular access to their instructors if they run into questions, but the best programs provide out-of-class support as well. Usually, this is limited to email, but some companies may offer a support hotline or a forum as well. Some prep courses, including Kaplan’s and The Princeton Review’s, also come with a score improvement guarantee. If after completing the prep course, you don’t see an improvement in your scores, you can apply for a free course retake or a full refund. There are often certain requirements you must meet in order to be eligible for this guarantee, however, so make sure you understand all of the rules before you sign up.
Everyone learns a little differently, and the best GMAT prep courses offer customized instruction for each student. This typically involves analytics that track your results on practice questions and tests to determine which areas you need further practice in. Private tutoring is also an option with all of our finalists. Though expensive, this is a great way to get the personalized assistance you need in order to ensure that you get the highest possible score on the exam.
Choosing the Right Houston GMAT Course Delivery Type for You
GMAT prep courses come in four main formats. Each has its own pros and cons, and the right one for you depends on your schedule, budget and individual preferences. We outline each type below.
- Self-Paced: You pay for the study materials and go over them when it’s convenient for you.
- Live Online: You join a virtual classroom and learn from a live instructor.
- Live In-Person: You travel to a physical location and learn in a traditional classroom alongside other students.
- Private Tutoring: A private tutor works with you to build a custom study plan tailored to your needs.
- Cheapest programs
- Choose your own schedule
- Move as fast or as slow as you want
- Must keep yourself on track
- Less personalization
- Little to no instructor assistance
What It’s Best For
A self-paced course is best for self-motivated students with busy schedules and those who prefer to work at their own pace.
- Attend from anywhere
- More personalized help
- Schedule to keep you on track
- Less interactive than in-person classes
- Potential for technical difficulties
Who It’s Best For
A live online course is ideal for students who prefer an interactive learning environment, but can’t commit to showing up in person each week.
- No distractions
- Familiar setting
- Interactive learning environment
- Requires travel
- Can’t choose schedule
- More expensive than online-only courses
Who It’s Best For
A live in-person course is a great fit for students who learn best while interacting with others and want a regular schedule to keep them on track.
- Personalized instruction
- Custom study plans
- Can be done online or in person
- Most expensive option
Who It’s Best For
Private tutoring is best for students who have to improve their GMAT scores significantly and those looking to retake the exam.
Full Reviews of the Best GMAT Prep Courses in Houston
Kaplan Test Prep GMAT Review
Best for comprehensive instruction.
Kaplan has become the top name in GMAT prep thanks to its comprehensive programs, innovative study materials and huge network of branch locations, including seven in the Houston area. It offers courses in all main formats, and each program comes with 24/7 email support and Kaplan’s score improvement guarantee, which promises a full refund or a free course retake if your scores don’t go up. If Kaplan has one shortcoming, it’s private tutoring. You must commit to at least 15 hours upfront, so it’s not ideal unless you want to do an individualized review of all sections of the exam.
What to Expect
Kaplan’s live courses are spread out over six three-hour sessions meeting once or twice per week, usually in the evenings. The number of available in-person courses varies throughout the year, but there’s at least one starting every month. And if for some reason that doesn’t work for you, you can sign up for a live online class instead. There are new programs starting every few days, and they’re all on different days of the week, so you can choose the one that works best with your schedule.
Self-paced courses are also available, and these online study materials are included for free with all live classes. They include a textbook, over 5,000 practice questions and nine full-length computer-adaptive practice tests, one of which is taken at a real GMAT testing facility. There’s also a Study Plan tool that makes recommendations about which topics you should study next, based on your answers to the practice questions and tests. Kaplan’s most innovative resource is the GMAT Channel, a webinar library that provides over 30 hours of additional instruction. You can search old videos by instructor, topic or difficulty to quickly find what you need. New webinars are being added all the time, and if you join these live, you’ll be able to ask questions just as you would in a regular live class.
Private tutoring is another option, but if you only need help with a single section, Kaplan may not be the right company for you. Its smallest tutoring package is 15 hours, and while the rates aren’t unreasonable, they’re not the most affordable in the industry either. We recommend checking out The Princeton Review for cheap GMAT tutoring in Houston, or else check out Kaplan’s PLUS plans. These include three hours of private tutoring, and this may be enough if you only need help with a certain question type.
Kaplan Test Prep GMAT Details
|GMAT Prep - Self-Paced||$799|
|GMAT Prep - Self-Paced PLUS||$999|
|GMAT Prep - Live Online||$1,249|
|GMAT Prep - Live Online PLUS||$1,649|
|GMAT Prep - In Person||$1,449|
|GMAT Prep - In Person PLUS||$1,849|
|Private Tutoring (15 Hours)||$2,799|
|Private Tutoring (25 Hours)||$3,899|
|Private Tutoring (35 Hours)||$4,999|
The Princeton Review GMAT Review
Best for affordable GMAT tutoring.
The Princeton Review offers comprehensive GMAT prep courses in all major formats, but where it really stands out is its private tutoring. Its rates are among the most affordable in the industry, and you can start with as little as three hours. It’s great as a supplement to one of the company’s other prep courses or as a standalone product. As part of each course, you get a custom lesson plan, video lectures and 10 full-length computer-adaptive practice tests, in addition to The Princeton Review’s score improvement guarantee.
What to Expect
The Princeton Review has a single location in Houston, so depending on where you live, it might be too far to travel to. In that case, check out their live online courses. Classes meet once or twice per week for three hours at a time for a total of 27 hours of live instruction. There are new courses starting every few days, so you shouldn’t have to wait long to find one that fits in with your schedule. During each session, your instructor will teach you important concepts and test-taking strategies and show you how these apply to various practice questions. There will also be time for you to ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
The study materials from the self-paced course are included with the live courses as well. These include 10 full-length practice tests, thousands of practice questions, video lectures and a custom lesson plan that automatically adjusts to target the areas where you need the most practice. There’s also a Hard Math workshop to help you tackle those difficult Quantitative problems, and the LiveGrader tool to give you feedback on how you can improve your essay responses.
The Princeton Review is your best bet if you’re interested in private tutoring on a budget. Its rates are the most affordable of any company on this list, and you can start with as little as three hours. This is great if you only need help with a single question type, but for a more comprehensive review, you’d be better off purchasing more hours upfront. Tutoring can be done online or in person, depending on what suits you best. The Princeton Review will match you with one of its tutors based on your goals and learning style. And if for any reason you’re unhappy with your tutor, the company will give you a new one at no cost.
The Princeton Review GMAT Details
|Ultimate In Person||$1,299|
|Private Tutoring - Flexible Plan (3 Hours)||$510|
|Private Tutoring - Targeted Package (10 Hours)||$1,555|
|Private Tutoring - Comprehensive Package (22 Hours)||$2,970|
Manhattan Prep GMAT Review
Best for flexible programs and quality instructors.
Manhattan Prep is your best option if you’re looking for targeted help on a single section of the GMAT. You can purchase the Quantitative and Verbal portions of the self-paced Interact course separately, if you only need help on one, or together for additional savings. There’s also regular workshops that target different sections of the exam. It runs traditional live online and in-person courses as well. Private tutoring is an option for students who want a truly flexible program built around them, but you’ll pay a premium for Manhattan Prep’s top-notch instructors.
What to Expect
Manhattan Prep has a single location in downtown Houston, and it has new GMAT prep courses starting every few weeks. Classes meet once per week for three hours at a time over nine weeks. These programs go over the full contents of the exam, but if you’re only interested in a single-section review, the self-paced Interact course is a better fit. You can purchase the Quantitative and Verbal sections separately at a rate that’s more affordable than any other program on this list. There’s also GMAT workshops focusing on different aspects of the test if you only need a quick refresher before you take the exam. All programs are taught by instructors who have scored in the 99th percentile on a real GMAT.
Each Manhattan Prep GMAT course includes 10 strategy guides, six full-length practice tests and access to the Interact on-demand video course. Its Navigator tool tracks your performance on the practice questions and makes suggestions about which areas you may want to review further before your exam. The live courses also come with two Foundations of Math workshops for those who need a little extra help on the Quantitative section. All of these online materials are mobile-friendly, so you can switch from your computer to your smartphone or tablet as necessary without losing your place.
All Manhattan Prep students can get support via email whenever they need it, but if you’re looking for more personalized attention, you may want to check out the company’s private tutoring plans instead. Packages start with as little as five hours and go up in five-hour increments from there. It’s not cheap, but you’ll be learning from some of the best instructors in the industry, and for some, that may be worth the additional cost. Manhattan Prep does admissions counseling as well, and you can save quite a bit when you bundle this with a GMAT prep course. It’s something to consider if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of getting into the school of your choice.
Manhattan Prep GMAT Details
|GMAT Interact (Self-Study)||$999|
|Complete Course - Online||$1,299|
|Complete Course - In Person||$1,599|
|Private Tutoring (5 hours)||$1,250|
|Private Tutoring (10 hours)||$2,450|
|Private Tutoring (15 hours)||$3,525|
|Private Tutoring (20 hours)||$4,600|
|Private Tutoring (25 hours)||$5,625|
|Prep + Admissions - Pre-Application||$3,399|
|Prep + Admissions - 1-School Package||$5,299|
|Prep + Admissions - 3-School Package||$7,749|
|GMAT Bootcamp - Online||$2,650|
|GMAT Bootcamp - In Person||$2,950|
Frequently Asked Questions About the GMAT
We wanted to create a comprehensive guide to the GMAT, so we’ve answered some of the most common questions about the test below. If there’s anything else that you’d like us to add, don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know.
What are the most important things to know prior to taking the GMAT?
Before you sign up for the GMAT, you should familiarize yourself with your chosen school’s requirements, the test format and the exam-day procedures.
Each graduate business program determines its own standards in terms of GMAT scores. Do some research to figure out what scores you should be aiming for based on the schools you’re applying to. Most will list an average GMAT score or a range of scores that they will accept. Use this number as your goal, and keep practicing until you feel confident that you can achieve it. It’s best to aim for a little above the average score, if you can, so that even if you fall below your goal, you’ll still be in an acceptable range.
You also need to pay attention to your school’s application deadlines. If there’s a rolling deadline, you have some freedom in when you submit your test scores, but if it’s a single date, you must make sure you get them in on time. It’s best to leave yourself two possible test dates in case you don’t get the score you want on your first try. Keep in mind that it takes 20 days after the test for your official scores to be released.
The GMAT is composed of four sections—Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning. The latter two are computer-adaptive, which means that the question difficulty varies depending on how you’ve answered the previous questions. You begin with a question of medium difficulty, and then this is adjusted up or down based on whether you answer it correctly or not. This enables the test to more accurately assess what you know than a standard multiple-choice test. Unfortunately, it also means that you’re not able to skip questions and return to them later, so if you don’t know, you should make an educated guess.
The Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections each contain a handful of unscored pretest questions. These have been included by the test creators to assess the difficulty and fairness of certain items they are considering including on future versions of the test. You won’t know which are the pretest questions when you’re taking the exam, so it’s best to act as if they were all going to count.
Pearson VUE administers the GMAT at its testing centers nationwide. Make sure you know how to get to your nearest testing center and arrive at least a half hour early. You will be required to present a valid, government-issued photo ID to the exam proctor, and you may be subjected to additional security checks like a finger or handprint scan. Once the test has begun, you will not be permitted to leave the testing facility for any reason until it is over.
You aren’t permitted to bring anything with you into the testing room. Scratch paper will be provided to you for the Quantitative section. The exam proctor will give you a secure locker where you can store your belongings during the test. For a full list of test-day rules and procedures, visit Pearson VUE’s website.
How much time should I spend studying for the GMAT?
There is no one right answer to this question. It all depends on what you already know and how much time you have. When designing your study plan, ask yourself the following questions.
What do I already know?
Start off by taking a timed practice test to see how well you already know the material. Let your results be your guide. If you did well in all sections except Quantitative Reasoning, you’ll know you need to spend most of your time on this and you may be able to get by with just a quick refresher of the other sections. In general, though, it’s best to do a thorough review of each section to give yourself the best possible chance of scoring high.
When is my application deadline?
If your application deadline is fast approaching, you’ll have to devote more hours per day to studying than someone who has months to submit their scores. It’s best to start studying early if you can and to leave yourself at least two possible test dates in case you need to retake the exam. Don’t forget that it takes about 20 days for your official scores to be released, and schools won’t be able to view your reports until then.
What is my schedule like?
Those who have a lot on their plates will want to begin studying for the GMAT early to give themselves plenty of time to cover all of the material before the test. It’s best to set aside some designated study time per week in order to keep yourself on track. Once you’ve figured out your test date and decided what material you need to review, you can begin breaking down the key content into manageable chunks.
How is the GMAT scored?
The GMAT consist of 91 questions broken down into four sections. Each section is scored differently, and then the four sections are added together to reach the total score, which ranges from 200 to 800. We discuss each section in more detail below.
Section 1: Analytical Writing Assessment
This section consists of a single essay question that you must write a response to in 30 minutes. The prompts usually ask you to read a short passage and analyze the author’s arguments. Your responses are graded twice—once by a human grader that’s been specially trained for the task and once by a computer program. Each gives a score between 0 and 6 with half-point increments. The two scores are then averaged together to reach your final score. If the two grades are radically different, a second human grader will be brought in and the two human scores will be averaged instead. You’re allowed to request an essay rescore if you feel yours was graded unfairly, but think carefully before you do this. It costs $45 and it could result in a lower score.
Section 2: Integrated Reasoning
This section is composed of 12 multi-part questions, and you must answer all parts in order to receive credit. Usually, these questions involve reading a passage or looking at a chart and drawing inferences about what you find there. Your responses are scored on a scale from 1 to 8 points. You have 30 minutes to complete this section.
Sections 3 and 4: Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning
The Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections contain 37 and 41 questions, respectively. You have 75 minutes to complete each. These sections are computer-adaptive, which means that the test will continue adjusting in difficulty to match your level of knowledge. Each question is weighted slightly differently, and you get more points for answering a difficult question right than an easy one. These sections are scored out of 60, and you will see your unofficial results as soon as the test is complete.
How important is the GMAT to business school admissions?
The GMAT has become a staple of business school applications because it enables admissions departments to quickly get a sense of how you stack up against other applicants. It also provides some estimate of how well you’ll cope with the challenging graduate-level coursework. But it’s not the only thing schools consider. They also look at your undergraduate transcripts, personal essay, interview, work history and letters of recommendation, and these can impact your chances of acceptance just as much as your GMAT scores.
Each school weighs the components of your application a little differently, so it’s impossible to say how big of a role your GMAT scores will play in your application. It’s best to aim for the school’s average GMAT score, or if it lists a range, try to shoot for the high end just to be safe. Do some research online to figure out what this is, and keep taking practice tests until you feel confident that you can meet your goal.
But don’t get too worried if you fall a little short. Doing well on the other aspects of your application, like your work history, interview and undergraduate transcripts, can make up for a below-average GMAT score. Schools don’t just want to know whether you’re intelligent. They also want to make sure you’re going to fit into their culture, and that’s where things like your essay and letters of recommendation can make a big difference.
How do I send my GMAT scores to schools?
On the day of the exam, you can select up to five schools that you’d like to receive your score reports once the results have been released. There is no charge for these first five score reports, as they are included in your exam fee. For most students, this is all you need to do. Then, 20 days later when your official reports are released, your results will be passed along to the schools you indicated.
If you’re planning on sending your results out to more than four schools, you can add additional recipients by contacting the Graduate Management Admission Council by phone or by filling out the request form and mailing it. Each additional score report costs $28. It takes an additional week after your results have been released for these scores to be sent out to schools, so keep that in mind when thinking about your application deadlines.
It’s possible to cancel your scores if you feel you didn’t do well on the test, but this generally isn’t a wise move. For one, you’ll forfeit the $250 exam fee and you’ll still have to take the test again. Plus, all future score reports will indicate that you cancelled your scores. You’re better off not submitting your reports to schools right away and waiting to see how you did before deciding your next move.
Key Statistics of the GMAT
GMAT total scores range from 200 to 800 in 10-point increments. Each section also has its own individual scoring system. To give you some idea of how your scores stack up against others who have taken the GMAT in the last few years, we’ve gathered some statistics and listed them below. All data is rounded up to the closest percentile listed.
90th Percentile: 710
70th Percentile: 640
50th Percentile: 580
30th Percentile: 500
10th Percentile: 390
90th Percentile: 8
70th Percentile: 6
50th Percentile: 5
30th Percentile: 3
10th Percentile: 2
90th Percentile: 40
70th Percentile: 34
50th Percentile: 28
30th Percentile: 22
10th Percentile: 15
90th Percentile: 51
70th Percentile: 48
50th Percentile: 43
30th Percentile: 36
10th Percentile: 23
90th Percentile: 6
70th Percentile: 5.5
50th Percentile: 5
30th Percentile: 4.5
10th Percentile: 3.5