The biggest struggle for students preparing for GMAT is to stay motivated and maintain consistency in practice. But before they begin practicing, an important decision that the students have to make is to decide how to prepare for the test. While some are confident enough to prepare by themselves, most prefer to seek additional help in the form of a private mentor, an online course, or a coaching institute. It may seem tough and overwhelming to choose one but having clarity of your requirements makes it easier to decide. Here are the 3 major factors that you must analyse before finalizing which option is better for you –
3 Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Online and Offline Classes
There are 3 main factors that you need to consider when facing the Online Vs Offline dilemma. Let’s discuss them one by one –
a. Your Preferences
The first thing to do when confused between online and offline classes is to ask yourself what an ideal environment for you is when it comes to learning. Do you learn better in a classroom or do you prefer to study alone? Your choice of an ideal course will depend upon how disciplined and focussed you are. So, it is important to know your persona before making a decision.
Before you choose between online and offline courses, you must understand your need for flexibility. For instance, if you have a job that comes with a dynamic schedule or if your work demands a lot of travel, joining a coaching institute may not be a feasible option for you. An online course, in this case, will be a better option as it gives you the flexibility to learn at your own comfort. So, you must choose accordingly.
Although coaching classes have their own infrastructure in place, you are still required to have the means to commute to and from the centre. On the other hand, to prepare from an online course, you need to have a computer and an internet connection at your disposal.
Now that we know what are the three main factors that help decide which course is ideal for you, let’s discuss online and offline courses and their pros and cons in detail –
I. Learning in A Classroom
If you are not confident about studying alone and prefer to have a mentor in person, then you can consider signing up for a coaching class. Learning from a team of teachers in a classroom with peers who share the same goal can keep you motivated and driven.
PROS of Signing Up for An Offline Coaching Class –
Infrastructure is Provided
Coaching centres come with the required infrastructure and are well-equipped with other resources that you may need. However, you might still need to buy the OG and other books for reference and attend the class regularly to stay on schedule.
Classroom coaching runs on a fixed schedule. This helps you to stay regular in prep and the teachers can also track your progress easily.
Interaction With Fellow Aspirants
If you prefer to have classroom discussions or to interact with your teachers and peers face-to-face, coaching centres provide you the platform to do so. You can also find a study partner who learns at a similar pace as yours.
Again, if you struggle with discipline and consistency, and tend to procrastinate often, going to a class will at least ensure that you are regular.
CONS of Signing Up for An Offline Coaching Class
Inconsistency in Methods Used in Class and the Material
A huge drawback of learning in a coaching center is the lack of consistency in methods used in class and the ones given in the material. So, if you missed a class or phased-out during the lecture, chances are your prep at home is going to suffer when you refer to the study material.
Heavy dependency on the instructors
Unlike an online course, in a coaching centre you have a high dependency on the instructors. In case your instructor changes, you will have to instantly deal with a different method and pace of teaching. More often than not, your prep suffers significantly.
Too Fast Paced
Coaching classes tend to cram up 2-3 topics in one session instead of giving in-depth attention to one topic at a time. Even the most lenient batches run at a comparatively high speed. Therefore, it depends a lot upon the students to catch up with the pace. To understand the concepts better, you will have to do some self-study before the class.
You tend to spend a considerable amount of time commuting to and from the class. If you are a working professional, finding the energy to do so after work can be another challenge. So, in case you have an unavoidable commitment at the time of the class, you have no other option but to miss it.
You have to adjust your entire day’s schedule around the class. Also, since the mentors have to go over the entire syllabus in a limited period of time, you may have to do without class discussions, doubt clearing sessions, or personal attention from the mentor for your progress assessment.
Now, when you pay for an online resource, you are only paying for what you use. Whereas, when you go for a traditional coaching centre, you end up paying for a part of maintaining the whole facility.
II. Learning from An Online Platform
If you feel that you need help in creating and following a study plan, someone to guide you through when facing trouble, and have your queries answered on-the-go as per your comfort, you can go for an online course. Most online courses offer a plethora of resources in one place, along with several additional features such as mentor on demand, private tutoring, performance analytics, and the leverage to go back to a lesson whenever you need. Also, the online courses are often less expensive than private classes or traditional coaching centers. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of online classes in detail to help you decide better –
PROS of Learning from An Online Platform
Online Courses Can Leverage Technology to Enhance Your Learning Experience
Unlike books and other offline resources, the online courses can use technology to enhance learning for you. Technology can help online platforms to utilize your data, organize it, and provide you with a more customized learning experience. For instance, platforms like GMATWhiz leverage AI to analyse a student’s performance in a practice quiz and automatically serve them with improvement modules on the spot that cater to their weak areas.
When you prepare from an online course, all you need is to get home, freshen up, eat, and start learning. You do not need to free-up your schedule, take a bus, or drive yourself to a class to take your online course. These courses not only save your commute time, but also do the required research for you so you do not have to spend hours looking for material or planning what to study when. In short, you have it all planned for you.
One of the major advantages of online courses is that they are not bound by a fixed schedule. The content of an online course is available 24*7 so you can study as per your convenience. You can revise a lesson multiple times, study after work, later in the night, or early in the morning based on your comfort and availability.
Online courses have a great advantage over the offline platforms i.e. they are standardized. Online courses are carefully designed by experts and maintain consistency throughout. The various approaches and methods taught in the course are consistent so as to make learning a lot more effective.
We already discussed how online courses have a leverage over technology which offline platforms do not. A prominent benefit of being technology-driven is that these courses offer analytics about your performance in real time. This allows you to work on the exact areas where you are weak.
CONS of Learning From An Online Course
You Have to Have Your Own Infrastructure
To prepare for GMAT from an online course, you need to have a computer, a working internet connection, and a place where you can focus while studying, something that is not a big challenge for most people.
You Have to Study On Your Own
When you prepare from an online course, you are usually on your own. You have to ensure that you are studying regularly and following the study plan properly. Therefore, discipline is a must if you wish to prepare from an online platform.
Lack of Interaction With Peers
Online courses do not provide you a face-to-face interaction with other GMAT aspirants. Although you can interact with fellow preparers through online forums, you won’t be able to have a one-to-one discussion if you want.
Clearly, the cons of offline courses outweigh those of the online classes. Since, having access to a computer and internet connection is not that difficult for most students, the negatives of online courses can be taken over with self-discipline (which if not there then even offline won’t help) and by advanced courses such as GMATWhiz which truly use technology and not just use online learning as a platform to increase reach.