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Manhattan Prep GMAT Review

Our detailed review of the Manhattan Prep GMAT course following its merger with Kaplan and update for the GMAT Focus

Kaplan has long owned Manhattan Prep, but always kept the two companies separate—until now. That has all changed, and Kaplan has now folded their own prep program into the Manhattan Prep GMAT course. On top of that, the format of the GMAT has been radically changed to the new Focus Edition. So, to say that a lot has changed would be an understatement. In this review we take a deep dive and give you our thoughts on the new Manhattan Prep Powered By Kaplan GMAT course.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Live Course

Manhattan Prep

  • Self-Paced or Live Classes
  • Includes Prep Books
  • Self-Paced or Live Classes
  • Includes Prep Books
Our Score


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  • Video lessons efficiently deliver everything you need to know
  • Six mock exams with official questions from past exams
  • Detailed prep books that cover everything you need to effectively prep
  • Organized course structure that is intuitive and easy to follow
  • Foundations of Math pre-course for those weak in quant
  • Navigator portal contains in-depth explanations for every problem
  • Must jump back and forth between books and portal to review problems
  • Progress tracking log is cumbersome to fill-in and follow
Manhattan Prep GMAT Prep
Sale: 10% OFF Code: PREP10MGMAT

Article Outline: Manhattan Prep GMAT Course

As this is a lengthy review article, please feel free to use the jump-to link above to navigate this post.

Video: Is Manhattan Prep GMAT Good?

In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team covers everything you need to know about the GMAT Focus prep courses from Manhattan Prep.

Key Updates

As noted above, Manhattan Prep has recently updated their prep program to align with the new version of the GMAT—the GMAT Focus. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, in short, the GMAT has undergone some radical changes and looks pretty different from the classic version of the exam that had been around for the last 20 years or so.

I won’t go too far into the weeds here as it’s not the focus of this article, but some of the updates include:

  • testing durations for each section changed to 45 minutes;
  • Integrated Reasoning section renamed to Data Insights;
  • no more essay section;
  • all grammar and geometry has been removed;
  • some subjects are tested with different question types now; and
  • data analysis is now weighed a lot more heavily on your score

In short, there are some pretty big changes here. This is exactly why (in addition to the course merger) that we wanted to look at the combined Kaplan/Manhattan Prep GMAT course again. We wanted to see how they’ve tweaked their curriculum to account for these updates. So let’s just dive in.

How The Manhattan Prep GMAT Course Works & Our Thoughts

Generally speaking, the high-level structure of this GMAT prep course hasn’t changed too much in light of the updates. Manhattan Prep has taken the old Integrated Reasoning section (which is now Data Insights), and sort of lumped it in with Quant section as there is so much crossover. That’s the big organizational change to the program.

Otherwise, structurally, a lot of it looks the same to me. The Manhattan prep course is largely driven by your syllabus, which is carried out by a program called Atlas.

You’re given a very organized, task-based agenda, and the program is structured to be completed over 12 weeks. There are 9 weeks of lessons and homework, followed by a 3-week period of review and practice before exam day.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Dashboard
The Manhattan Prep GMAT program dashboard

However, that assumes you don’t need extra help with math. When you sign up with Manhattan, one of the very first tasks that they ask you to do is to take a basic math diagnostic.

It is only 16 problems, but is meant to assess your current math skills. Then based on how you perform, they may recommend you take their Foundations of Math course before diving in.

There are actually two ways to get the Foundations of Math work done. You can either stop what you’re doing and tackle that whole series before getting into the actual course; or, you can do it as you go over the first four weeks of the program. It’s totally up to you.

Personally, here is what I would recommend. If you struggle with most of the problems in the diagnostic, and haven’t taken any math classes in the last few years, stop what you’re doing and do the Foundations of Math course upfront.

I know it’s a pain, as it takes an extra 4 weeks by itself (which is a little crazy when you think about it), but it’s definitely worth it if you’re weak in math. For the GMAT, you have to master quant. There’s no way around it.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Video Lesson
Manhattan Prep GMAT video lesson

Alternatively, if you do so-so on the diagnostic, and feel good about some problems but not others, then just do it as you go over the first four weeks. By layering it in, you can keep moving through the course and get the whole program done in under 12 weeks.

Lastly, if you’re good at math and don’t struggle too much with the diagnostic, then don’t even bother with it and just jump right in. It’s not 100% necessary if you have a strong starting point in my opinion.

If you’re on the fence, do keep in mind that if you do the Foundations of Math course upfront, as noted, it takes roughly 4 weeks to get through the video workshops and reading assignments. Thus, it will extend the course from 12 weeks to 16 weeks long.

Whether you do the Foundations of Math course upfront, layered in, or not at all, there are two different ways to take the Manhattan course. There is a self-paced version of the course or a version with live classes.

To explain the difference as simply as possible, from what I could tell, the live class version is basically the exact same as the on demand, self-paced version, but with 27 hours of live instruction in an online classroom layered in.

Then even at that, the video lectures that make up the instructional component of the self-paced course are recordings from those live classes. So the only real difference is whether you want to participate in real time, so that you can ask the instructor questions.

Or perhaps you need the commitment and accountability that comes with a regular live class schedule—that would be another reason to go with the live version of the program. The live classes meet once a week for three hours, and that can be a big deal to some people, as it can help to keep them on track and disciplined.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Problem Solutions
A problem solution in the Navigator portal

In the end, it somewhat comes down to whether the cost difference is worth the value of those live classes. For an extra $1,000 (more on program cost below), it may or may not be worth it. It will just depend on your individual situation.

I will say though that I thought the live classes were very good. The Manhattan Prep instructors are probably the best we’ve seen in the GMAT space.

They have incredibly strong communication skills, effective approaches to tackling different problem types, and a really good grasp of the subject matter. They’re just incredible GMAT teachers.

However, you also get these same instructors in the pre-recorded video lectures in the on demand package, so it’s a really hard call whether to spring for the live classes. Either way, I suppose the point I’m making is that the Manhattan team of instructors is very good.

Circling back to the syllabus, whether you take the live class version of the course or the on demand package, you’re looking at about 8 to 15 hours of homework each week. That’s what we found.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Math Diagnostic
The math diagnostic

As noted above, the Atlas program is organized around a week-by-week schedule, and each week somewhat looks the same. You’ll have a module for Quant and DI (Data Insights), and a module for Verbal.

You’ll start with your live class or a video lecture (depending on format), and from there, you’ll get assigned readings from the course books and practice problem sets.

As for those books, when you sign up for Manhattan Prep’s course, you get six main prep books. You can get these in eBook form for free or in print format for an extra charge. My recommendation is to get the print books.

The software program where you read the eBooks borders on being terrible. It definitely is not my favorite.

The print books are way more practical and valuable in my opinion. This is especially true because of how you access your practice work in the Manhattan Prep program. Let me explain.

Manhattan Prep doesn’t actually generate practice problems themselves—they license them from GMAC, the makers of the exam. And that’s great news.

You are literally practicing on problems from real, past exams, so there’s no better form of practice material. However, the downside is that GMAC doesn’t allow Manhattan Prep to reproduce the problems in digital format within the Atlas program for some copyright reason.

Manhattan Prep GMAT eBook
One of the Manhattan Prep books in eBook software

Therefore, what ends up happening is you do the problems in the book (either print book or eBook), and then review your answers in the Atlas program. It is very odd, and it’s one of the few things that I didn’t like about the Manhattan Prep course.

Of course, it’s not really Manhattan Prep’s fault, but you have to jump back and forth between resources to review practice problem sets, which is annoying. So that’s part of the reason why I think the GMAT print books are actually worth it in this case.

Continuing on that thread, when you finish your assigned practice problem sets in the syllabus, you review the problems explanations in a program called Navigator. Basically, you work the problems in the book, then jump over and review the solutions in the Navigator portal.

The solutions that Manhattan Prep has crafted to go along with each problem are very good. They are very detailed and well-explained, and probably the best I’ve seen honestly. If you didn’t have to jump back and forth between the study tools, it would be nearly perfect.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Practice test
Manhattan Prep GMAT practice tests contain official problems

One other aspect of the Manhattan Prep practice work that I need to mention is that they want you categorizing and tracking every problem you take. They are relentless about tracking your progress, especially when it comes to practice tests. But here’s the thing—it’s a manual process.

Every time you take a CAT exam, they expect you to spend a big chunk of time afterwards going problem-by-problem and categorizing whether you got it right or wrong, whether you guessed, what your mistake was, and a few other filters. Basically, Manhattan Prep wants you to spend some time thinking about each question and learning from your mistakes.

It’s pretty brutal, but luckily, with the new Focus version of the GMAT, it’s only 64 total problems per test, so it goes kind of fast. Not to mention, it’s cool to have that data later as you’re preparing in the last week or two so you know what areas you still need work on. To briefly summarize, it’s a helpful, but very labor-intensive process.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Video Lectures
One of the Manhattan Prep video lectures

Anyway, that is how it goes with the Manhattan Prep syllabus. For the first 9 weeks, you attend your class each week or watch the prerecorded video lectures, do your assigned reading, and work your practice problems, reviewing after you’re done.

During those 9 weeks, there are three assigned mock exams, and then three more during the last couple weeks before test day. Also, around those mock exams during the last couple weeks, they have you focus on mindset, they reiterate strategy, and generally try to have to you learn from your mistakes and clean up any problems areas.

Around all of this, there are a few more small features, like a digital whiteboard and student forum to ask questions and connect with other students, but that’s sort of Manhattan Prep in a nutshell.

Manhattan Prep Course Cost & Prep Options

The standard Manhattan Prep on demand course costs $850, and their package with live classes costs $1,850. Thus, it’s about an even $1,000 difference between these two packages, which is a pretty sizable chunk of change.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Foundations of Math Workshop
Foundations of Math workshop

That being said, note that Manhattan Prep is very aggressive with sales and special promos, and you’ll rarely pay full price, which could change your thoughts on which package to opt for.

Plus, compared to other major GMAT prep providers, like Princeton Review, these prices are not outrageous. Manhattan offers a premium prep option, and they are in line with other more premium prep providers.

Verdict: Is The Manhattan Prep GMAT Course Worth It?

Honestly, I think this course is one of the best in the space. It is such a well-designed approach to teaching that it just feels more robust and comprehensive than all of the other courses I’ve taken and reviewed. The instructors are fantastic; the practice problems are official questions from past exams; the accompanying explanations are insightful and actionable; and the 12-week syllabus is a perfect length and structure. I am just a huge fan.

To be clear, I don’t really like how you have to jump back and forth between the books and digital portal; the meticulous problem tracking does get a little old; and the course is a little pricey; but overall, I really like this GMAT prep program. I don’t think you can go wrong with Manhattan Prep.

👉 Read Next: Our Top GMAT Course Rankings


Is Manhattan Prep owned by Kaplan?

Yes, Kaplan acquired Manhattan Prep more than a decade ago, but the two have operated independently up until now. They recently folded the Kaplan GMAT program into the Manhattan Prep GMAT course.

How much do the Manhattan Prep GMAT courses cost?

The GMAT courses from Manhattan Prep cost between $850 and $1,850, depending on which package you select.

What is the major highlight of the Manhattan Prep GMAT courses?

Manhattan Prep’s greatest strength is its series of video lessons, which are usually pre-recorded lectures from live classes. If you are a visual learner, the courses from Manhattan Prep will be a good fit for your learning style. The prep books are also rock solid though.

Is the Manhattan Prep GMAT course good?

Yes, we think the Manhattan Prep GMAT courses are extremely effective. Their curriculum is well-designed, the study materials are high-quality, and we liked the instructors.

Does Manhattan Prep use official practice problems from GMAC or make their own?

Manhattan Prep licenses all of their practice problems directly from GMAC, the makers of the exam. They craft the solutions that go with each problem themselves, but the underlying questions are straight from GMAC.