Online test prep has really become popular in India these past few years. The advent of technology, coupled with the hassles of negotiating traffic at the end of a long work day or week, the comfort of one’s home… there are plenty of reasons to explain this evolution. But what’s sauce for the goose is sometimes not so for the gander and it makes sense to consider your options (and their pros and cons) before making a choice between online courses and classroom learning.
First of all, these are the three essentials for an online course:
- A laptop, PC, tablet, or phone
- A broadband internet connection that doesn’t keep dropping off
- A room or space where you can work without any distractions
Without any one of these three, the question of preparing for the GMAT online becomes moot. Assuming, for the moment, that you still have a choice between offline and online prep, the next question that needs to be answered is: what are you most comfortable with?
Are you the kind of person who thrives in a competitive setup that a peer group provides? Does the presence of folks smarter or faster than you spur you to work harder? Do you enjoy the debates and discussions that come with a conventional classroom program? If you said yes to any of these, the classroom approach – with its real-time discussions and access to faculty and study groups – might appeal to you. You will, however, have to make the commitment to attend classes as per the schedule the coaching centres provides. You will have to compete for attention from your professor among many other individuals in the class. In the event that you miss a class you will not have a chance to catch up on the syllabus covered on that particular day. You will have to make do with, maybe notes from a friend.
If, on the other hand, you belong to the category that’s more comfortable working on your own, in a self-regulated, self-paced environment devoid of distractions, an online course that gives you the convenience of time and content will be the right choice. You have the flexibility to choose the hours which you study and the duration of your study time as well. You will have a vast amount of study material available to you at just a click away. You don’t have to deal with physically attending classes or jostling for attention from your professors. Additionally virtual classes are available to you at all points of time and you don’t have to worry about missing out on any important lessons. You also get to choose which topics to study and in which order to study them as well. You can determine your own study plan and not have to follow the plan which your professor is teaching. In case you would like to clarify your doubts then you have many online discussion boards available and you can seek help virtually from mentors. Learning in online classrooms tends to b more interesting as well due to the use of graphics, presentations and other visual representations. It has been established that individuals tend to grasp concepts and learn better with visually appealing study material. The use of illustrations for graphs in Integrated Reasoning topics and geometrical questions in Quantitative Aptitude is also beneficial. Another key advantage is that you can alter the program according to your requirements. For example, if you require more assistance in a particular topic in the Quant section then you can obtain the same.
It could all boil down to the sheer matter of convenience. If you work 10+ hours in a day and commute to and from work, you will be dead tired by the time you get home. The question of attending early morning or late evening classes will not even arise in this case. At the same time, if spending a good part of your weekend in a coaching class does not appeal to you either, then online preparation is really your best bet. This gives you the flexibility to prepare when you want, for however long you want, in an environment that you are most comfortable in.
As you can see, there is no one single answer that works for everyone. In fact, many successful students augment one type of course with the other which, we feel, is perhaps the golden mean.
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