True Cost vs. Efficient Cost of GMAT

Sometime ago I wrote my GMAT debrief on and found a very interesting feedback: “But this it seems your expenditure on GMAT and prep is more than $3000. This will not be affordable by most of the students.” This was the first time I realized how much I spent so for other to not suffer from over spending on GMAT materials, I have recalculated the efficient cost of GMAT and exactly how much you should save to achieve a 700+ score. Truth be told, all of the studying can be done for free if you know your resources.

What to Budget?

Studying GMAT is a crucial part of MBA school applications. The price of studying can range from $0 to $3000+. If you had planned how much to spend in the beginning, you will significantly reduce the amount of money wasted on redundant materials that would both waste your time and energy. Most importantly, there are at least two major categories for you to keep in mind for GMAT budgeting.

1. Cost of GMAT Exams

Each GMAT exams cost exactly $250 and I do hope this price will not change over the next 5 years. I honestly feel that it is very expensive and the GMAC are becoming rich because of this standardized test. The cost of an Enhanced Score Report is $24.95 while each GMAT rescheduling cost $50.

How to save: Budget how many times you are going to take the exam and stick to your date!

2. Cost of Studying Materials

The cost of studying materials is the hefty part. Some people are savvy and managed to go absolutely free but some have to spend money so that they can improve their test taking abilities over a short period of time.

The materials you need to really consider for GMAT is the official guides and the non-official guides. The price point for official guides can be found on GMAC and Amazon. The non-official guides can be found on the internet. Of course, if you know where to look, all of this can be available for free.

On the other hand, test takers purchase courses from test prep companies to prepare for GMAT as well. These courses can range between $50 – $800, given where you search. Typically, I think a typical test taker pays around $300 – $400.

How to save: Read reviews and take free trials from test prep companies to get a good purchase.

My True Cost for GMAT

So what was my true cost for GMAT? If I could turn back time, I would totally tell myself to not pick up some of the materials and courses I did so that I will have more time, energy, and resources to focus on what is truly helping me. My true cost for GMAT was $1587 + $1250 (exams) = $2837. There are also other cost associated with GMAT if you take into account the amount of Starbucks and gas I had to use to get through 5 months of studying. Business school is not cheap. The pre-experience is super expensive.

My Efficient Cost for GMAT

On the other hand, my efficient cost for GMAT was only $288 + $1250 (exams) = $1538. Excluding the cost of the exam, everything was only $288. This is very affordable for most people. So why was my efficient cost not that expensive? Most of the materials I received were passed down copies and PDF. I didn’t really want to buy these test taking materials as it would not be beneficial to me after the period of studying. Plus, I hated to use paper.

Key Takeaway

GMAT studying materials and courses do not have to be expensive. There are tonnes of avenues out there you can walk down to find deals and discounts. GMATclub is what I recommend to other test takers to check out as they constantly have savings and deals for test prep companies.

The forums itself also has a tremendous amount of resources. You can find official guide and even Manhattan Prep questions on this forum. All of this is available for free! You also have the option to learn from other people or veterans who have taken the test as well. This forum is a steal for anyone who wants to studying GMAT.

Gmatclub has many GMAT course discounts!
Checking out online forums will help you lower cost.

I do not think that anybody should be discourage from taking GMAT due to its cost.

Erik Qualman once said “The ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years”. My interpretation of this is that in the grand scheme of things you are going to be sloshing almost $200K over two years for an MBA.

A mere $3000 is only a little over a fraction of your future earnings and spending when you will be paying almost $200,000 for an MBA.

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Munkhchimeg says:

    Sorry i don’t know ur name. But ur blog impressed me so much that i am really in that anxiety period of application.
    I just want to ask:
    Where to start. I am afraid of losing the chance which i could apply and try out. But i don’t know where to start. For example I am interested entering Vanderbilt university. Then i search the scholarship there but i don’t really get how the scholarship process go on. I am planning and wish to start my academic year in September, 2018. Currently i haven’t taken Gmat, got 7.00 on IELTS. I haved for 3 years now for one big Mongolian company in my country.
    Please if it is possible share ur opinion and advice. It would be nice if we be friends on facebook or other social media.


    1. Mim says: Author

      Hey there! I’m more than happy to help. Send an email over to and I’ll give you my contact.

      Also to answer your question:

      To start off with MBA applications, you need to be familiar with the process and what to expect. You can read this on here

      Chances: generally people who attend MBA are around 28-29 years old with an average of 5 years of experience at matriculation. Their GMAT ranges on the school. The higher your GMAT the better the chance of scholarship. The golden number is 700+. For English proficiency, I recommend doing TOEFL and scoring 110 but 100ish is okay. IELTS I recommend 7.5 or above. Another aspect would be the quality of your work experience. Last (also very important) but not least would be interviews and essays. I would have to ask about your profile to assess your chances.

      Scholarship: Vanderbilt has merit scholarship which are also given to internationals. You are automatically enrolled into the scholarship pool once your apply to the school. This means you do not need to do anything else. However, whether or not you receive scholarship depends on the attractiveness of your applications.

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