It’s important to remember that studying for the GMAT takes time. Plan on spending two to three months and 100–120 hours reviewing and practicing content on a regular basis. On average, top GMAT scorers spend 120+ hours studying for Test Day over a period of time. The length of each study session will differ depending on your circumstances; nevertheless, most students aim for sessions that last between one and three hours.
When you split the average 120 hours of study time for a top scorer by the average ten weeks of study time, you get around 12 hours per week. This includes time spent in GMAT prep classes and tutoring sessions. It’s better to work two to three hours every day, six days a week, and take one day off per week if you split those hours out evenly.
Make a GMAT study schedule that is detailed.
The first thing to remember about the GMAT is that it is not a test that can be crammed for. Consider it as though you were training for a marathon. You’ll want to prepare for Test Day with a strategy that steadily improves your abilities and endurance. Because the GMAT assesses your analytical and critical thinking abilities, you must be able to think flexibly and coherently about the material. Knowledge of the patterns in the GMAT content is required for these analytical and critical thinking skills. As a result, it’s better to gradually add this level of depth and flexibility.
Next, remember to plan ahead of time for your studies. Make appointments with your GMAT books and practice exams on your calendar—and stick to them! When the deadline is weeks away, it’s easy to procrastinate, so find a means to hold yourself accountable by setting a date reminder and/or having someone help you stick to your study schedule.
Be deliberate with your GMAT dates, just as you are with your practice times. You may not know exactly what you’ll do throughout each study period while you’re planning your GMAT study schedule in your calendar at first. You can add specifics about the goal of the next several days’ sessions each day; for example, June 13th could be your night to devote to right triangles in geometry and subject-verb agreement in sentence correction. The goal of your session should be to master specified themes at the outset. As you get closer to Test Day, start incorporating pacing and mixed practice into your session goals.
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Calculate how many hours per week you can devote to studying.
Determine how many hours per week you can dedicate to studying as the next step in establishing your study approach.
It’s vital to maintain a sense of perspective. You want to get the most out of your time spent studying. Make sure you’re not putting your other employment or responsibilities on hold to study; after all, your GMAT application is based on more than just your GMAT score. If your practice schedule is too packed, you may become frustrated and burned out.
Putting in more hours is more important than putting in more weeks in general. That is, it is preferable to study 120 hours over twelve weeks rather than 80 hours over fifteen weeks. Your goals and obligations, though, will influence how much time you can invest each week. If cramming in 30 hours of study per week will force you to neglect other commitments, limit yourself to 15 hours per week and concentrate on your other obligations.
You’ll need fewer weeks to prepare for the GMAT if you can study for it for more hours per week. Keep in mind, however, that your learning should be useful and fruitful. It’s improbable that studying for 20 hours in one weekend will provide major results. If you try to cram too much learning into a short period of time, you will become weary.
Similarly, you should stick to a rigid and consistent regimen week after week. You will most likely forget what you learnt the week before if you simply study for an hour once a week. Set aside a consistent number of hard but not oppressive hours each week.
Determine the number of weeks you’ll need to study.
Now that you know how many hours you can study in a week and how many hours you need to study in total, it’s time to figure out how many weeks you’ll need to study. Divide the total number of hours you’ll need to study for the GMAT by the number of hours you’ll have available each week to study. You’ll have to study for that many weeks.
If you need 120 hours of study time but only have 10 hours per week available, you’ll have to study for 12 weeks.
When planning your GMAT study approach, remember to include time for retakes. You can take the GMAT up to five times in a 12-month period, but you must wait at least 16 days between exams. Give yourself at least four weeks between retakes if you think you’ll need to retake the GMAT exam to better understand where you went wrong.
Double-check the deadlines.
Check the application deadlines for each of your schools. Before taking the GMAT, you can choose which colleges you wish to send your test scores to, and they will receive them in less than 20 days. Take the GMAT at least three weeks before the application deadline to be safe.
If you need 12 weeks to prepare for the GMAT, four weeks for retakes, and three weeks for schools to receive your results, you should start studying about 19 weeks before the exam.
You have a few options if you are unable to complete your studies before the deadline. To begin, eliminate a retake from your schedule and focus solely on passing the exam the first time. Second, each week, try to squeeze in some more prep time. If you study for more hours each week, you’ll need to study for fewer weeks.
How can you effectively prepare?
Building GMAT knowledge is similar to working out at the gym. You must keep going and do something every day.
Avoid losing momentum by stopping and starting your studies. You must also maintain your practice across all of the topics assessed in order to avoid losing your gains. You’ll notice that if you ignore a component of the test for a while in order to concentrate on other parts of the test, your ability in that section will suffer.
It’s important to think of your preparation as three steps, regardless of your timeframe. You’ll spend the first stage learning about concepts and tactics. The timing aspect will be introduced in the second phase. In the third, you’ll practice mock tests (along with your time approach) to improve your mental stamina for the real thing.
What about the Online GMAT Exam?
Remember that the GMAT Online Exam does not have breaks between the quantitative and verbal portions, and it does not include the AWA essay.
Make sure you practice taking the test in the same circumstances as you will on test day. It’s critical to build mental stamina (and to be able to devise solutions for dealing with it).
If you’re taking the GMAT online, make sure you practice on both the online and physical whiteboards before the exam. Whether you’re taking the exam at home or at a testing facility, you should be aware of what to expect.
It’s important to know that your GMAT score is good for five years. As much as feasible, you should schedule your GMAT exam so that it does not conflict with your application preparation (such as writing essays) or other obligations, such as starting a new job.
Your GMAT score is significant, but it is not the be-all and end-all of your application. Make sure you put in the effort necessary to achieve the highest possible score.
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How much improvement do I need to make on my GMAT score?
Set a target GMAT score.
Setting a target GMAT score takes some effort. To begin, make a list of all the business school programs that you are interested in attending. Consider why you want to attend each of these programs as you make your list.
Next, look up the typical GMAT scores of the business schools you’re interested in attending. This information can be found in a variety of places. The majority of colleges publish this information on the admissions page for the program. If you can’t find the information online, you can phone the admissions department. Many schools’ average GMAT scores can also be found in third-party sources such as US News.
Add the average GMAT scores for each institution to your list of business programs you’re interested in once you’ve identified them. Then, among all the programs, find the one with the greatest average GMAT score.
Set a target score that’s around 20 points greater than the highest average GMAT score of the programs you’re interested in. That means you’ll score higher than the average in all of your classes. Check out our guide “What Is a Good GMAT Score?” to discover more about what makes a good GMAT score.
Test your GMAT knowledge by taking a practice exam.
After you’ve determined your target score, you should take a practice exam (if you haven’t already) to get an indication of your present performance.
Downloading the free GMATPrep program and taking an authentic practice test is the best approach to take a GMAT practice test. It is critical to take an official practice test since it provides you with the most realistic practice questions available.
Try to simulate the exam day as much as possible when taking your practice test. That means taking the test in one session, timed (the GMATPrep software provides this for you), and in a quiet environment with minimum distractions. As a result, you’ll earn a more accurate practice score.
You’ll get your GMAT total score automatically after taking the practice GMAT test. The total score is usually the one that schools care about the most. Check out our guide for more information on the GMAT total score.