3 Month GMAT Study Plan – How to Prepare for the GMAT in 3 Months

by Maximilian Claessens
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3 Month GMAT Study Plan - How to Prepare for the GMAT in 3 Months

Discussions online regarding the GMAT are often centered around the idea that the GMAT is a ‘hackable’ exam. What does this mean? It means that it’s not an exam with any interpretive or philosophical questions that require deep research, personal character, or an understanding of anything outside of logic and reason. Instead, it’s a very logic-based exam that can be beaten with the right amount of study and preparation. This is good news because it means that you don’t have to worry about being good or smart enough; anyone can achieve a high score on the GMAT exam, but only if they put in the work and study to ensure the result.
Three months is an ideal amount of time to spend preparing for the GMAT exam, it’s long enough to ensure you have sufficient time to prepare for all elements that will be covered, but it’s short enough to ensure that nothing you study will be forgotten by the time the exam date comes around. However, three months can pass very quickly if you do not have the right 3 month GMAT study plan. When it comes to the GMAT, the key to success isn’t being smarter or better than you need to be; the key to success exists entirely in becoming more organized and better prepared. Anything logic-based is understood and conquered because it isn’t interpretive; it’s definite. All the answers are out there, and you can find them, but it’s going to take three months of solid study and dedication. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can achieve a high score on the GMAT exam, but to get there, it’s going to require a high level of focus and the willingness to get to work.

Read on to learn about how to prepare for the GMAT in 3 months. We provide you with a structured 3 month GMAT study plan so you can make full use of the time you have to prepare.

Getting Started

When beginning our 3 Month GMAT study plan, the first and most important step is to book your GMAT test date. Some people wait until the date is closer in case they become unavailable on their test date, or they change their mind, but this is an enormous mistake. The study journey is going to be challenging, and you’re going to need an intentional date to strive for. This will be critical on days when you’re doubting yourself and feeling fatigued from the hard work of studying. Another reason is that once you’ve booked your exam date, you will have access to two free practice exams. These are the most ideal ways of testing your ability and ensuring a high score on the test, and they should bookend your study journey. This means you should take the first free test at the beginning of the three months and the other at the end. The reason for this is that the first test will teach you everything that you should expect to find in the real GMAT exam, and the second will verify that you did enough to prepare before taking the real exam.

Once you’ve booked your test date and have sat down to take the first practice exam, prepare a notebook and take copious notes. It’s important that you take very careful notes during the practice exam of every element that you’re finding challenging and can’t answer quickly. Remember, the real GMAT exam is timed, and you have very limited time per question to calculate precise answers without any aid from a calculator[1]. You have to be knowledgeable about relevant mathematic theories and principles and, most importantly, be able to utilize them to make accurate calculations in ideally under a minute. Keep this in mind as you take your notes, and then use these notes to create a study plan. Write down every area of focus that you need to ensure you cover in detail over the next month. Then, once you’re ready, get started studying.

First Month

The first month of the 3 Month GMAT study plan is focused on acquiring the knowledge necessary to complete the exam to a high standard and is critical for those who plan to prepare for the GMAT in 3 months. This is going to mean finding and collecting information from every reliable source you can get your hands on. There are many reliable providers of GMAT learning material, but it’s going to be your job to sift through the best and worst of it. Luckily, you’ve already seen what information the GMAT is going to test you on, so you’ll be able to easily spot information that isn’t important and weed it out.

Month one is information absorption month, meaning that it’s time to learn everything you don’t have an in-depth knowledge of. There are a large number of GMAT books and PDFs available online, many of which are at no cost. There are also a lot of companies that have a wealth of material, such as Manhattan Prep. If you can afford it, it’s a great idea to buy a course from them. Varying up the methods with which you absorb information is incredibly important because you should be studying six hours a day, and you need every hour to feel fresh. The best way to achieve that is to change up the method with which you absorb information every two hours.

One strategy for doing this is to change the part of the brain interpreting the information. To do that, start your study by listening to a podcast or audio teaching series. Podcasts such as ‘Inside the GMAT’ and ‘The GMAT Strategy Podcast’ are free and can be a great way to start your day[2]. After that, switch to videos and watch your way through either a Manhattan Prep course or a free alternative. Finally, switch to reading, working your way either through a book or a free PDF. It is possible to study for the GMAT for free, but you’re going to get better value for your time if you invest some money in high-quality resources. Don’t buy too much, but a single course can go a long way. Finally, finish up your day, every day, with a practice exam. Since you know how the real GMAT exam will look, always ensure that the practice exams you’re taking match the GMAT. Keep a record of your scores each day and take note of which parts of the exam you’re falling behind on, then use this data to study more effectively the next day. Study only works when you’re tracking the data and keeping yourself accountable for the areas you’re weak in.

Second Month

The first month was all about filling the mind as full as it could be with critical information that will help you understand theories and concepts. Right now, your brain is loaded up with the theoretical ability to solve just about any problem that the GMAT could throw your way, and that’s great! But you’re not done. Many people make the grave mistake of thinking that they can solve the problems in the GMAT once they understand how to do it in theory, but that’s only the first step. Now it comes to actually doing it and doing it quickly. You have under two minutes per question when you take the GMAT, and that time goes by in the blink of an eye when you’re reading, processing, calculating, and answering all within that time. The second month is application month in the journey to prepare for the GMAT in 3 months, and it’s time to apply what we’ve learned. This month, collate as many GMAT questions as possible that are available online. Many of the GMAT books and PDFs you’ve already sourced have hundreds of questions and problems within them. Find those books and PDFs as well as websites and other resources. Make the largest collection of questions and problems you can, and prepare to solve as many as you can each day.

It’s no longer about learning; the goal now is applying what you’ve learned so that each problem, each theory, becomes muscle memory. Time spent in the exam will be most effectively used if every question you encounter can be answered quickly and easily because you’ve applied the theory so many times already that your brain processes it automatically. Begin each day with a quick look at your notes and refresh your mind, then get to the questions, doing as many as you can in a day. However, don’t forget that you still need to finish each day with a practice test. When you’re doing your practice test, keep a close eye on both the time it takes you to finish the test and the time you’re spending on each question. It’s important that you work on getting both of these times down. Your goal is to be able to finish the month answering each question as fast as possible, with each problem tripping you up less and less. Still continue to evaluate completed practice exams and determine where and why you’ve made mistakes, taking note of areas where your mind still isn’t computing certain methods or theories.

Third Month

The third month of the 3 Month GMAT study plan is crunch month, and it’s this time that you’re going to watch the data the most closely and examine where you’re missing information and understanding on the most micro level. During this month, you’ll be taking two practice tests per day, once in the morning and again in the evening. You’ll need to bookend your day with tests because these are the best ways of understanding and tracking data.

In the morning, you’ll take a test and closely monitor the time you spend on each question and the test as a whole. Once you’re done, you’ll comb through the answers carefully, taking special note of what you got wrong, what school of thought or theory it was related to, and why you think you messed it up. Once you’re done, you’ll have a targeted list of areas to study. For the next several hours, you’ll study these areas extremely closely, working hard until you have a breakthrough. If ever you were to arrange tutoring for yourself, this month is the perfect time. In the previous months, there was no need for tutoring because you didn’t know which areas of knowledge you’d end up learning on your own; you just needed to learn as much as possible[3]. But this month, you know exactly which areas need work, and you can instruct a tutor to address these areas specifically. Online tutors are easy to find, and appointments over Zoom can easily be fit into your study time. Many good tutors will use their time effectively, working with you on targeted areas until a breakthrough is reached. Then, once you’ve arrived at the end of the day, take another practice exam and take notes once again. Did the study make a difference or not? Don’t get frustrated if you’ve not improved, but do factor it into your notes. If you’re going days or weeks without seeing improvement in a certain area, take note of the area and how many days you’re not seeing improvement. Perhaps you need to change the way you’re studying that area; maybe a video, book, or a different tutor could make the difference. Be creative in how you study problem areas and don’t give up; frustration and depression are your enemies in this area. If you’re relentless, your brain will apply itself more and more, and eventually, you’ll have a breakthrough, and when that moment comes, it will feel incredible.

Finally, it’ll be nearly time to take the exam. This is the time to take your second free GMAT practice exam. Take careful note of areas you still need to focus on and make use of your time right up until the day of the exam. The night before the exam, make sure you get a full night of sleep, all eight hours. It’s important that your brain is well rested and well hydrated before taking the exam itself to ensure it remembers everything you’ve studied. If you take the advice of this plan and work your hardest to prepare for the GMAT in 3 months, you will do well and end up with a score you can be proud of.

Summary

This 3 month GMAT study plan enables you to make optimum use of your preparation time. Here are the key guidelines to structuring your study:

 1st Month2nd Month3rd Month
MorningAudio StudyCheck NotesPractice Test
NoonVideo StudyAnswer QuestionsList Focused Problems
AfternoonBook StudySolve ProblemsStudy Problem Areas
EveningPractice TestPractice TestPractice Test
  • The first month of the plan requires that you absorb as much information as possible so that you’re knowledgeable in all relevant theories and schools of thought
  • The second month is focused on applying these theories so that your brain becomes an expert on solving problems and answering questions quickly
  • The third month is crunch month, and it’s during this month that you’ll focus on the data, improving everything in a laser-focused manner

We hope you enjoy this 3 month GMAT study plan and wish you the best of luck!


[1] MBA, GMAT Exam Structure, Graduate Management Admission Council, Accessed 2022, https://www.mba.com/exams/gmat/about-the-gmat-exam/gmat-exam-structure

[2] Das, Nikita, The 8 Best GMAT Podcasts to Listen to, EDU Opinions, 2019, https://www.eduopinions.com/blog/admissions-advice/the-8-best-gmat-podcasts-to-listen-to/

[3] Skoskiewicz, Mark, Is a GMAT Tutor Worth It? GMAT & MBA Admissions Blog, 2021, https://www.myguruedge.com/our-thinking/gmat-blog/is-a-gmat-tutor-worth-it

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