Do-It-Yourself Test Prep for the GMAT

Do-it-yourself guide for online GMAT prep

Don't have the time or money to pay for courses to help you prepare for the GMAT? Thinking of studying for the GMAT by yourself? No worries. With the Internet, bookstores, and prep courses, it's easier than ever to study for a standardized test on your own.

There are many ways to study for the GMAT by yourself. The books available come with practice tests, formats, scoring, and tons of other information on the overall test, as well as the GMAT's individual components. Many of these books are accompanied by online platforms, while some stand-alone websites are also dedicated to the topic of GMAT self-preparation. But the problem with practice tests in books is that the GMAT is adaptive based on your performance, so you'll want to take the test on a computer to get the full experience.

To get started, think about what study methods work best for you, and what kind of budget you have. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much can I afford to spend to prepare for the GMAT?
  • What sources can I find to help me with the test?
  • Do I study better on the computer or on paper?
  • Do I need the real feel of the actual test setting?
  • How much time do I have to prepare before I am scheduled to take the test?

Once you have these answers, it will be easier to find the perfect do-it-yourself GMAT prep, whether that is online GMAT prep, or using a book or course to study for the GMAT by yourself.

Books that can lend a hand

Kaplan is one of the leading sources of test prep books on the market. Kaplan's GMAT study guides can be purchased, or found at libraries around the country. They're full of practice tests, questions, and tips for each section of the test; some GMAT study guides come with a CD full of practice tests. These information heavy books explain the format, scoring, and each section of the test; they also provide practice questions and full-length practice tests. With so many tools available in one book, it's easy to study for the GMAT by yourself--your best bet is to schedule regular study sessions leading up to test day.

Kaplan also has a free, daily "brain workout," which offers 20-minutes of practice questioning or online GMAT prep. This is just one of many opportunities for free online GMAT prep.

In addition to Kaplan, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) also sells an inexpensive prep book. It is very similar to the Kaplan prep book, but GMAC's is the official guide for the test. The book gives you tips for do-it-yourself GMAT prep, formatting, scoring, and more practice questions, as well as samples, and strategies for taking the test. These books use actual questions from previous tests, allowing you to study for the GMAT yourself.

Online sources for success

There are also many do-it-yourself GMAT prep sites online, which allow you to take practice tests or download software that has these questions on it. offers a free test-preparation software for the GMAT that only requires you to download it. also has a free online GMAT prep test component, in addition to online programs, books, and courses that they offer.

Courses geared toward test prep and tutors to help

Sites like offer a list of partners and courses that are available for students, often at discounted rates. You can use this site to go through their multiple partners and find a course that is priced right for you. The site also offers some free tests and a diagnostic test that may come in handy for you to study for the GMAT yourself.

If you prefer a tutor, check at your local college. Message boards and student centers can ususally lead you to good test prep tutors. is another resource for online and local tutors.

Making a plan of action

For the best do-it-yourself GMAT prep, make a plan of action. Check out site like, which is packed full of useful information on how to study for GMAT by yourself, including a 60-day study plan. In addition, the site offers links with tools, tips, and practice materials for online GMAT prep.

Find the study method that suits you best, buy the book, take the course, and take advantage of all the free information, practice tests, and study guides online. Make use of timing strategies and test-taking tips to increase your odds of achieving your highest score on test day.

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