4 Classes to Prepare You for the GMAT

At first glance, the GMAT seems like a complex exam, testing advanced skills in writing, data analysis, mathematics, social science, and grammar. However, most of the areas covered by the GMAT are actually a combination of core skills taught in high school level classes, including composition, reading, number properties, and word problems. High school classes in math and English actually provide an incredibly strong foundation for the GMAT because they reflect the material on each section of the exam.

Though more advanced classes — like precalculus, trigonometry, calculus, or physics — certainly help aid your skills, they don’t necessarily reflect the GMAT material as directly as the core-level classes mentioned above. Per the official website of the GMAT, "The mathematics needed to understand and solve the questions in this section of the GMAT exam are no greater than what is generally taught in secondary school classes." Similarly, classes like microeconomics, accounting, or global strategy might prepare students for the rigors of MBA classes, but not as much so for the rigors of the GMAT.

If you’re a college student preparing for the GMAT, consider seeking out refresher courses in these high school topics you may not have worked on in awhile. There are core classes, as well as electives, that you can take during the semester, which can naturally help you develop and improve your GMAT skills. Whether you choose to review these areas on your own, through GMAT tutoring, or simply by retaking these classes to get more practice, here are four subjects that can help you prepare for the GMAT.


For the GMAT Verbal section, an introductory English class can assist with your approach on reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction questions. You may gain regular practice in reading and interpreting passages, understanding content and meaning, and learning how to construct effective sentences — all necessary skills for the Verbal section. Your skills in analytical writing may also improve through the written assignments you will produce for class as you compose essays in a limited period of time. Additionally, the analytical abilities you gain can also translate into improved performance on the Integrated Reasoning section, as you develop methods of extracting the information you need from multiple passages to answer the question at hand.


Though the Integrated Reasoning section does provide an onscreen calculator, no calculators are permitted in the Quantitative section of the GMAT. Therefore, knowing how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers quickly on paper is important to your success on this part of the exam. There will be both problem-solving and data sufficiency questions in the section that require basic operations involving fractions, decimals, and percentages. Number properties, such as positive or negative integers, absolute value, powers or exponents and roots, along with mean, median, mode, and range will also be covered in the Quantitative section of the GMAT. So, taking a basic arithmetic class to polish the fundamentals of math can provide a solid base for your performance on the exam and allow you to build your knowledge of more complex concepts.


The GMAT Quantitative section also requires knowledge of operations with unknown qualities and variables. Though you likely took an algebra class in middle school or high school, you may not have worked with algebraic expressions or functions in years. Taking an algebra class now can help you answer many problem-solving and data sufficiency questions more easily. Knowing how to solve questions involving one or more variables, factoring, or inequalities can assist with success in the Quantitative section of the GMAT.


After high school, many people do not solve geometry problems on a regular basis. Every person who takes the GMAT, however, will encounter questions involving circles, rectangles, triangles, other polygons, rectangular solids, cylinders, and coordinate planes. The Quantitative section of the GMAT is filled with problem-solving and data sufficiency questions involving multiple geometric concepts and numerous formulas, like 45-45-90 triangles, A = π r2, or a2 + b2 = c2. Taking a geometry class can ease the stress of memorizing all of those rules by providing you with a lower pressure environment to learn what you need to know.

These courses can provide you with great resources to develop and improve your skills for the GMAT. Proficiency in both mathematics and English can help you do well on the exam. Once you refresh yourself in these courses, make sure to build your test-taking skills as well by studying specifically for the GMAT as a whole — consider online tutoring to get expert help quickly. Best of luck!