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Magoosh GMAT Prep Review
Our comprehensive evaluation and analysis of the Magoosh GMAT prep course
Test prep newcomer Magoosh brings a fresh approach to studying for the GMAT. Rather than sitting in classrooms and live streaming lectures, you instead get access to a library of video lessons, practice problems and other online resources that allow you to study anytime, anywhere, on any device – all for a fraction of the cost of a traditional prep course. But this begs the question – Will this alternative Magoosh course structure effectively prepare you for the GMAT? We address this specific thought and more in the following review of the Magoosh GMAT prep course.
It is no secret that Magoosh is the value prep option when it comes to studying for the GMAT. Their courses are priced at a fraction of the cost of rivals’ offerings and are intended to offer true bang for your buck. Magoosh has three different prep packages when it comes to the GMAT:
Math + IR
Tutoring + Premium
The Math + IR package is fairly self-explanatory, as it is limited to covering just the subjects of quant and integrated reasoning. It is priced at right around $220, which is a fraction of the cost you will find for comparable limited scope packages. For those that don’t need help with verbal or the AWA section, this may be a good option – though note the resources are more limited than in the full packages.
Magoosh’s Premium course is its flagship offering. This is their full course, covering all 4 sections of the GMAT. While their website says the “regular” price is around $440, we have rarely (if ever) seen this full price actually charged. This course is more commonly found at the very approachable rate of around $250. As mentioned, this is a VERY budget friendly option compared to similar on-demand courses. In fact, it is roughly ¼ the cost of Manhattan Prep’s self-paced study package. When students consider which GMAT course is best for them, this is likely the most important thing they’ll remember about Magoosh.
Lastly, Magoosh offers its Premium course with a private tutoring component. This package is identical to the Premium course, but with 6 added hours of 1-on-1 time with a Magoosh GMAT expert. This package will run you about $800, or roughly $550 more than the base Premium course. With some quick math you’ll realize this means the tutoring sessions come out to less than $100 per session, which is an absolute steal in the world of private tutoring among test prep companies. More on that below.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Evaluation of Curriculum, Lessons & Coursework
Magoosh is not like other test prep companies. Where more traditional test prep firms offer robust curriculums that follow a linear and well-developed path, Magoosh offers users an a la carte menu of video lessons. There is no real ordered approach to their video instruction; rather you are given a list of all the topics covered and pick for yourself. Not to oversimplify it, Magoosh does organize the videos by section and some lessons do build on each other (Geometry I, Geometry II, etc.). But by and large, you as the student are in the driver seat when it comes to curriculum structure.
For some students, this may be appealing, and for others that need structure in their studies, this may be a little off-putting. That will totally depend on the individual student. Personally, I don’t mind the non-structured, library approach. I just pick a topic and work through it one lesson at a time. And I am guessing that is how most students would do it as well.
As for the video lessons themselves, well, they are nothing to write home about. Whereas competitors like Kaplan offer interactive video instruction with top notch production quality, Magoosh does not focus on the delivery. The Magoosh video lessons feature a PowerPoint-type slideshow with the instructor voicing their lesson over the onscreen content and making notes. The instructor never appears onscreen, you only ever hear his or her voice verbalizing the 2- to 20-minute lesson as they make some notes on the slideshow presentation.
One standout feature, however, is the dynamic transcript that appears below each lesson. Every lesson is transcripted immediately below the video container and a nice highlight feature tracks what the instructor is saying. This is a great feature if you have to quickly glance back at a missed sentence or phrase.
The bottom line is that the delivery format of Magoosh’s video lessons misses the mark. That said, however, the substantive content behind the video is quite good. The material covered is spot on and the 340+ lessons cover each major topic and every niche subtopic of the GMAT. I do not believe you would see a question on the real GMAT that you have not seen at least once through watching all of Magoosh’s video lessons.
These lessons are thorough, yet succinct. The instructor breaks down the particular topic they’re discussing, then provides a few practice questions to illustrate the points made. It is an effective and efficient way of communicating the necessary material. I personally found the lessons to be dry, but sufficient to learn what I needed. If you want to be awed by cool video technology or have fun studying, go to Princeton Review or Manhattan Prep, because Magoosh is not that. They are all business when it comes to delivery of their video instruction.
Moving past the video lessons, Magoosh also offers 1,300+ practice questions to reinforce the lesson material and help you prepare. You can attack these practice questions direct from the dashboard through the “Quick Practice” function, or through Magoosh’s very slick “Custom Practice” feature. The “Custom Practice” tool allows you to design totally customized quizzes that can be sorted by question type, difficulty, timing, and a bunch of other factors. This is one of the best features of the Magoosh GMAT course and is right up there with the big boys in terms of functionality.
The practice questions themselves are also very well-designed. They are written by Magoosh’s GMAT pros and do a great job of replicating real GMAT problems. To be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference, which is always a good indicator of a well-written practice question.
Additionally, following each practice question you are given access to a video explanation AND a text explanation. Yes, the text explanations more or less mirror the transcript of the video breakdown, but it is still a really nice feature to have both. Looking at the numbers, this means you get access to over 1,300 video + text explanations. That is a lot of content to digest, and pleasantly surprising given the low price of Magoosh’s course. And in case you were wondering, the video explanations follow the same format as the video lessons – that is, slideshow type presentation with a voice over and notes.
Around each problem explanation you also get a cool notes and flag feature. You can flag the question to come back to it later if it was tricky or does a particularly good job illustrating a topic. And the notes feature allows you to type in some quick thoughts on that problem. These notes can later be quickly and easily accessed from the dashboard. Finally, below the explanations, students can also see suggested video lessons (linked because of their relevance) and some helpful FAQ’s.
All things considered, I was really pleased with the quality of the Magoosh coursework given the low price. My expectations were fairly low so I was genuinely (and pleasantly) surprised to find that I got so much content for the price tag. In my opinion, the 1,300+ practice problem explanations are top shelf, and I loved the custom practice tool. And while the video quality is relatively substandard, I did like the substantive quality of the lessons themselves.
Does Magoosh Have GMAT Books?
While Magoosh doesn’t offer prep books like more traditional test prep companies, they do offer a bevy of helpful online booklets. These digital guides are not really full books, nor do they have a practice component so they are not workbooks, but they do cover a variety of topics.
You will get online access to booklets on the following subjects:
Complete Guide to the GMAT
GMAT Idiom eBook
Integrated Reasoning Guide
These PDFs are easily downloadable and provide some nice instruction on their respective topics. They cover strategies, techniques and necessary content. And to be honest, they were more than I expected when I opened them up. I figured each would be a few pages long with some very generalized strategies, but these guides have some great detail. They are thorough and well-designed.
Just to be clear, these booklets are not nearly as comprehensive or strong as the books you will get from companies like Manhattan Prep and Kaplan, but they definitely add some value.
Magoosh GMAT Practice Tests
Like the design of their overarching curriculum, the Magoosh practice tests are a little unusual when compared to other test prep companies. Rather than having a set of dedicated practice exams for their students to take, Magoosh creates simulated tests from the student’s pool of unanswered practice questions. As such, they recommend students only take 2 practice tests so as not to drain the supply of practice problems.
This is a little disappointing. Not only because the quantity of practice tests (2) is way below the industry average (upward of 5), but also because you have to sacrifice practice problems to take a test. To me this is just robbing Peter to pay Paul. I don’t like the sliding scale of having to choose between simulated exams and practice questions – I want both.
That said, assuming you follow Magoosh’s recommended approach of taking just two practice tests, you should have plenty of study material left. And as mentioned previously, the quality of the practice problems is quite good, so the practice test questions will also be by default.
Interface and User Experience
Despite its budget price point and modest resources (at least as compared to test prep rival giants), Magoosh delivers a very appealing user experience and interface. The layout of the digital platform is clean, easy to use and very straightforward. All of your resource categories are laid out in the header – lessons, practice, review, etc. This makes navigating the portal incredibly easy.
Yet Magoosh manages to not sacrifice professional appearance for ease. The look is sleek and professional. In addition, the responsiveness is snappy and the hover feature is helpful. All in all, I was very happy with the interface and user experience of their platform given the cost.
Wait, There’s No Classes?
That is correct (I just had a very strong urge to insert a GIF of Chris Farley strip teaching from the movie Billy Madison, but will restrain myself). As mentioned above, Magoosh does not offer live classes. This is part of the Magoosh approach, and a large reason why they can keep costs so low. So no, there are no classes, but there are hundreds of lessons on demand for your consumption.
Whether this will matter to you totally depends on the manner in which you like to learn. If you are the type of student that needs structure and commitment, or likes to learn in a class setting, Magoosh may not be a great fit for you. But if you’re self-motivated and don’t mind learning on your own, this shouldn’t be an issue.
The Magoosh Resources
In addition to their primary lesson plan and coursework, Magoosh offers a surprising number of extra resources for students. I say “surprising” because many of these resources are not even offered by some of the bigger, more traditional players whose courses cost at least 2x as much as the Magoosh GMAT packages. These resources include:
Suggested study schedules by timeline
24/7 email support
Review feature to sort past questions
Forum for students to ask questions and engage
That’s a lot of resources. If you read some of our other GMAT prep course reviews, the section that covers resources will include lists not even half that long, and yet their prices are 2x or more. In short, the resources available to Magoosh students are pretty incredible.
The resource most worth highlighting (and my personal favorite) is the 24/7 email support. If you get stuck on a problem or just need some clarification on a lesson point, email the Magoosh GMAT team at any time. They will generally get back to you within a day or so.
To test this promise, I utilized this feature during my course and a Magoosh instructor got back to me within 4 hours. Granted I did ask during normal business hours, but nonetheless, the response was quick and efficient. The answer I got was not the most detailed reply I have seen from a prep instructor, but it was unquestionably to-the-point and effective. So, if you are wondering about the actual support given under this claim, I can confirm it is real.
Private Tutoring with Magoosh
Like other test prep companies, Magoosh offers private tutoring sessions to its students for an additional fee. You can either pay up initially for the Premium + Tutoring package, which includes 6 hours of 1-on-1 time, or you can buy tutoring sessions after the fact. If you just need one quick hit session, Magoosh charges $110/hr. However, they do give price breaks if you purchase your tutoring in bulk, and the price can drop to as low as $90/hr with the purchase of 10 sessions.
Relatively speaking, $90-110/hr is very inexpensive. A number of other test prep companies charge upwards of $200/hr for their experts’ time. Now, this is not an exact apples-to-apples comparison though, as many of the tutoring packages from companies like Kaplan and Manhattan Prep include access to their on-demand course as well. So in those more expensive rates you have to price in the cost of that course. But even so, the Magoosh price point still comes out lower, which is in line with their reputation as a budget friendly option.
After you purchase tutoring with Magoosh, they will ask you a few simple questions, then match you up with one of their experts. Before your first session even begins, the instructor will follow up with you by email and ask further questions, so they can have a plan ready for your first session. The whole process is very hands-on, and Magoosh definitely strives to give you bang for your buck. They’re not just going to let some tutor walk in and waste the first 20 minutes of your one-hour meeting getting caught up on your background and needs.
Access to Online Content
Magoosh delivers students one year of full access to their online content. This is 2x the duration you get with Manhattan Prep and Kaplan, and 3x what you get with Princeton Review. Given that, I was very pleased with the content access period. That said, most students won’t need a full year, and 4-6 months will do. However, for those select few who do need more than 6 months to study (or perhaps want to repeat in the same year), this is a very generous time frame.
The Magoosh GMAT Mobile App
A concern of many young, on-the-go students who are studying for the GMAT is whether they can access their study materials from their phone. Not only does Magoosh allow access from any device (including your smartphone), Magoosh also offers a nice mobile app to complement its primary digital platform. The mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android, offers access to a portion of your online content.
You can’t access everything, but you can work 700+ practice problems, as well as review their attendant video and text explanations. You can also view 200+ of the video-based lessons from your phone. In essence, the app just opens the door to some of your course materials, which isn’t a bad thing. Many companies’ mobile apps just give you some flashcards or a handful of practice problems. The Magoosh mobile app, by contrast, is actually fairly robust and I was very happy with its functionality as well.
Is there a Score Improvement Guarantee?
Not only does Magoosh offer a score guarantee, they offer a +50 points score increase guarantee. Other test prep companies cover themselves by offering an increase of the minimum amount (10 points), but Magoosh doubles down on their promise to the students (I guess they actually quintuple down, but I digress). Go big or go home I suppose. This is a VERY generous score increase guarantee. Check the fine print (there are always technicalities), but this is a nice insurance policy.
What is the Refund Policy?
Not only does Magoosh have a generous score increase guarantee, they also have a generous refund policy. If you’re not satisfied with your Magoosh course for any reason in the first 7 days after purchasing, just email them and they’ll refund your money. It’s that simple. This again is a very nice policy for those students who need a little reassurance.
Verdict: Magoosh GMAT Prep Course Review
The Magoosh GMAT prep course is a budget friendly prep option that packs a punch. Despite its low price, there is nothing minimal about the quality of its study materials. Their video-based lessons are extremely thorough and cover subtopics that might possibly be encountered on that GMAT, and their practice problem explanations are on par with some of the big boys in the test prep space.
It is true that the production value of the video instruction is lacking and the sheer quantity of study resources doesn’t stack up, but you can’t expect the world with a price that is roughly ¼ the cost of other courses. The bottom line is that their video isn’t as good as others and you don’t get quite as much practice material (both practice problems and full-length practice exams), but you get everything you’ll need to prep and increase your score. If you don’t need a live class and are just looking for an on-demand course to help you prep for the GMAT, I have no doubt that Magoosh will get the job done for you.
What is the cost of the Magoosh GMAT prep packages?
Magoosh’s prep options range in price from around $220 on the cheap end to close to $800 on the expensive side. The varying packages are priced based on difference in scope and content access, as well as tutoring.
Are there any live classes with Magoosh GMAT prep?
No. Magoosh’s GMAT prep options are entirely online and handled through their digital platform.
Does Magoosh have a score increase guarantee?
Yes. Magoosh offers a +50-point score increase guarantee, or your money back.