Can’t answer a GMAT question?
Is there a ridiculously challenging problem that you simply can’t understand? Forums are great way to dispel confusion. Many test prep experts, including myself, do our best to answer students’ questions.
Rarely have I seen a question thread in which the original poster has lingering doubts. Indeed, experts will go out of their way to make sure you fully understand whatever concept you were struggling with.
The price is right
The fact that forums are free (you only have to create an account) makes them an important part of your GMAT prep.
Take the test vicariously
You can also read about students’ experiences – how they studied, the resources they used, and the test day experience. Reading about students’ post-test debriefs can often be very illuminating. “If it wasn’t for that candy bar, I’d brought for the break, there was no way I would have gotten through the verbal” is a very useful insight that you may miss if you only read prep books.
A GMAT community at your fingertips
Finally, the forums offer a sense of community. By sharing test tips and commiserating over tricky problem types or lower-than-expected practice test scores, you will not be climbing the Mt. Olympus of GMAT prep alone – you can work together to ascend the summit, whether your goal is a perfect score or a more modest 650.
The top GMAT forums
Below is a description of the most popular forums. I’ve also described how they differ so that you can decide which is best for you. Of course visiting the sites is often the best way to do this. The links are provided below.
The GMATClub, along with beatthegmat, is the most popular GMAT forum. Unlike beatthegmat, the focus of GMAT club is the forum. For instance, the homepage highlights the most recent posts. (For beatthegmat you have to know where to click to find the forums). Within seconds you can be an active part of any of tens of thousands of threads.
Beatthegmat differentiates itself from gmatclub based on the flurry of daily blog posts. Indeed, a student may find it difficult to navigate through the homepage to get to forums. But once the business of navigating the homepage has been dealt with, the forums are well-organized and easy on the eyes. While this comment may sound superficial, if you spend many hours on gmatclub.com, the tidiness of the beatthegmat forums will come as a relief.
As for the content, many who post on gmatclub post on beatthegmat. Both sites have experts from Kaplan, Manhattan GMAT, and Veritas chiming in, so in many ways the two forums are similar.
The least trafficked of the three – at least in terms of GMAT – urch.com also lacks the aesthetic appeal. That urch.com is also a forum for every other grad test under the academic sun can perhaps account for this. Unsurprisingly, very few experts periodically chime in. One advantage is your question will stand out (on the other forums, your question can easily get lost in the mix). Also, the site caters only to forums and so is free of banner ads and other such clutter.
Points to Consider
While forums can be very helpful, you should keep the following points in mind. Many prep companies – Magoosh included – advertise on these sites. I’m not preaching buyer-beware – rather, these sites can tend to be “busy” and/or distracting (much like most of the web). However, once you know how to navigate to the forums you shouldn’t find this too problematic.
Another important point to consider is users may post wrong answers. On top of it, explanations can be so vague as to sounds if they are written in code. But remember—- on the forums students not only ask questions, they answer them too. And some students are just starting off (though there are many students who provide excellent answers).
Do not despair – an expert usually replies. All three forums clearly mark who the experts. And if there is an expert you like, you can follow him or her (or simply give them kudos/thumbs up).
The forums are free, interactive and immensely helpful. Make sure to make them an indispensible part of your GMAT prep!