6 Month GMAT Study Plan – How to Prepare for the GMAT in 6 Months?

by Maximilian Claessens
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6 Month GMAT Study Plan - Prepare for the GMAT in 6 Months

Setting aside six months is the absolute ideal amount of time that will ensure you have enough time to memorize and internalize all of the lessons, theories, and formulas that are needed; without it being so much time that you start forgetting quantitative formulas you’d learned at the beginning of your study period. However, six months won’t be of much use if you don’t have a concrete study plan. Efficiently and strategically preparing for the GMAT is incredibly important because the exam doesn’t only test your knowledge of formulas and mathematic frameworks you’re used to; it also tests those you haven’t looked at in years. Therefore, we provide you with a 6 month GMAT study plan to effectively prepare you for the GMAT in 180 days.

The GMAT tests a whole range that you previously learned in high school and during your undergrad. It can be an issue when people assume that because they remember the semester when they learned a certain theory, they can count on this memory to carry them through the exam. This line of logic is flawed because mathematical reasoning and applied logic are like a muscle, they need to be worked, and if they aren’t, they will weaken with time. There are very few jobs out there that utilize all fields of mathematics and logical reasoning, so it’s unlikely these schools of thought are buried so deeply into your mind that you can access and utilize them quickly in an exam setting. Burying theories and logic deep into your subconscious mind is the main goal of study and the reason it’s so smart to begin six months ahead of time. The deeper these can be buried, the more second nature they become, and the more you can trust yourself to remember and think correctly when answering questions on exam day.

Becoming an Expert

It’s often said that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in any given field. Whether that means playing the violin, painting portraits, or solving mathematical equations, the only way to become a true master of your craft is to apply so many hours that it becomes part of you. At some point, after enough hours, your brain becomes so well trained in the discipline that it’s hardwired into you and becomes second nature. Once a skill is second nature, you can do it thoughtlessly. You don’t have to think or try when speaking your native language, nor when you walk, blink, or breathe. These things are hardwired into your brain and are so much a part of you that you couldn’t lose them, except in the case of someone suffering horrific brain trauma. Studying the GMAT for six months allows you to bury quantitative theories and logical reasoning deep into your mind in much the same way that a musician would for an instrument. What you need, though, is a thorough 6 month GMAT study plan, to make most use of the time you have left until test day.

Before You Start

The journey along your 6 month GMAT study plan begins by booking your exam. This is a very important first step because no journey can have a beginning without a clear end. Many who start studying without setting a clear and decisive end date find that they lose motivation extremely quickly because it feels as though the effort their expending is being lost. A day spent studying can easily be delayed or cut short when there’s nothing concrete to be worked toward. Because of this, always ensure that you have an exam date set at a test center of your choice before you begin any study.

Once you’ve booked your date, you’ll immediately have access to two free official GMAT practice exams. One of the toughest obstacles can be knowing what’s expected in the exam; because if you don’t know what’s going to be tested, how can you efficiently prepare? Because of that, it’s highly recommended that you begin your study by taking one of the practice exams. Use it to better understand exactly what the GMAT will be focusing on and how it’s structured[1]. It’s also a great chance to gauge which disciplines you’re already proficient at and which will require extra focus over the next six months. It’s a good idea to take the practice exam with a notebook and pen at the ready. Then, as you go through the exam, take note of parts that you find challenging. After the exam is finished, pour through your results because this is your greatest resource. Locate and understand exactly which parts you scored poorly in, and write detailed notes about exactly which theories and disciplines they involved.

6 Month GMAT Study Plan Month-by-Month

With the basics in place and the first practice exams taken, let’s embark on our journey to crack the GMAT. Here is a month-by-month study plan to prepare you for the GMAT in six months.

 1st Month2nd Month3rd Month4th Month5th Month6th Month
MorningStudyStudyStudySolve ProblemsSolve ProblemsPractice Exam
NoonStudyStudySolve ProblemsSolve ProblemsTutorialTake Notes
AfternoonStudySolve ProblemsSolve ProblemsPractice ExamPractice ExamFill Knowledge Gaps
EveningStudySolve ProblemsPractice ExamTake NotesTake NotesPractice Exam

Month One: Foundational Knowledge

The first month should be dedicated to learning. It’s essential that you fill the gaps in your knowledge and that you revisit everything you learned but have forgotten since high school math and undergraduate study. For a lot of people, buying a second-hand senior year math textbook and a first or second-year university math textbook can be really beneficial. Books such as this tackle complex theories in a really basic way and are great at helping build foundational learning. Many GMAT quantitative training courses rely on existing knowledge and can make a lot of assumptions about what you already know. Math textbooks such as these make no assumptions and often include lots of problems for you to solve, which will help bury these lessons deeper into your mind. By either buying and utilizing these textbooks in your study or using equivalent PDFs or websites; you can ensure that you’re building foundational knowledge that will be further built upon with ongoing study[2]. You should spend each day researching and learning as much as you can about quantitative theories of all kinds. This is your golden period to learn as much theory as practice as a basis for what’s coming next. Of course, there are many great GMAT study books out there that can help you to get started.

Month Two: Applying What You’ve Learned

Building on foundational learning means turning theory into deeply ingrained understanding. Theories and mathematical frameworks are useless if they’re not cemented into your brain with practice. There are far too many people out there who believe that after studying and understanding a theory, they can apply that theory to quantitative problems without any risk. They believe that knowing how something is theoretically solved is all that’s required, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. The GMAT exam not only requires you to solve problems using theories you’re not using on a daily basis, but it also requires you to do so in a very short amount of time. The nature of a timed exam requires that you pull answers from your rational mind faster than it takes the average person to calculate on a calculator (a tool you won’t be allowed to take into the exam). To ensure your brain is turning theory into actionable knowledge, this month, in your quest to prepare for the GMAT in 6 months, is your time to start answering as many questions as possible. You should still learn as much theory as you can during the first half of your study session, but use the last half to apply them to problems. There are many sites available online, as well as PDFs and books that will provide you with quantitative problems of all kinds. With half the day spent learning and the other half spent applying problems in practice, your brain will start taking your study truly seriously and burn this knowledge into your subconscious.

Month Three: Adding Practice Exams

By this point, you should have studied everything that’s covered in the GMAT in depth. If you’ve been consulting the notes you took during the GMAT practice exam, you should have deeply studied everything that was a focus for you and also covered everything else to some degree. You’ve also spent time doing problems and applying the theories, which should have shown you which areas of focus you still need to give attention to and which areas you’re excelling in. Now that you’re in the third month, it’s time to start putting time into practice exams. You don’t need to pay any additional money however, nor do you need to take the final official GMAT practice exam. It’s a good idea to save the final official practice exam for the days before the real exam as a final look into how far you’ve come over the preceding six months. Instead, look for the many freely available practice exams across the internet[3]. They’re everywhere, and most of them are available at no cost. You may need to join an email list or register for a free account with their service, but it’s worth it for the benefit of practicing for the GMAT; plus, you can always cancel accounts and unsubscribe from email newsletters later.

This third month in the 6 month GMAT study plan is your last chance to learn new material because from here on out, you need to focus on applying the knowledge. During this month, your day will break into thirds; the first third is dedicated to studying and learning new information; the second is dedicated to continuing to answer problems, questions and practically using the theories you’re learning; and the third part is dedicated to practice exams. Each day should end with a practice exam, which is the perfect chance to utilise what you’ve learned during the day.

Month Four: Learning Ends, Mastery Begins

Now that you’ve reached the fourth month, you’ve gained everything you’ve needed to learn from your studies. Your mind should be absolutely full of theories, pedagogies, and schools of thought, and adding any more wouldn’t be beneficial or time efficient. Instead, it’s now time to devour as many questions and problems as possible. As soon as your study session begins, you should be answering as many questions and solving as many problems as possible. As mentioned at the start of the article, it takes thousands of hours to burn a discipline into the subconscious, and that’s only possible if you’re using it every day and forcing your brain to keep practising. Spend your day solving problems, then end each day with a practice exam.

Remember to take the exam with a pencil and paper; you should always take note of where you’re still suffering and which types of problems you should be sourcing for future study sessions. Once you’re done with the exam and have compiled the data on which areas remain problematic for you, it’s a good idea to source the problems you’ll be solving the next day. The beginning of a study session is when you’re most alert, so it’s wise to make the most of that time and not use it to source problems to solve. Instead, find all the problems you need the night before and have them ready for the next morning[4]. You can find many in downloadable PDFs as well as online databases and also at the ends of chapters in textbooks.

Month Five: Time to Call in the Pro’s

During this month, you’ll want to keep going with the setup you established in month four. Each day should focus on as many problems as possible, with each day ending in a practice exam that gives you data to analyse and an opportunity to source new problems. However, this month is your chance to utilise the data to focus on problems that won’t budge. Almost everyone has one or two problem areas that persist, and no amount of study can budge them. For those problems, it’s now time we turn to tutors.

No one should get tutoring before month five because there’s still a chance that you’ll learn what you need for free, and you don’t want to waste money. But now that it’s month five, you can reliably bet that if there’s a gap now, it’ll be there on exam day. The one good thing about living in a post-pandemic world is that most great tutors are now online, so you can receive your tutoring without travelling. You can also find tutors from all over the world and fit them into your study schedule. Tutors are also cheap or free for the first session, so you can try out several and see whom you like. Make sure you’re clear on what you need and what you want them to focus on so you can get your money’s worth.

Month Six: Pushing It to the Extreme

You set out to prepare for the GMAT in 6 months, and now we’ve reached the final month, and it’s time to put the practice tests into top gear. You’ll now need to start and end with a practice test every day. This is the most efficient use of your final month and will maximize your learning after doing all of that study and solving all of those problems. Use the time in between exams to make detailed notes of where you’re losing points and solve problems in areas where they can help you. You can also find times to squeeze in tutors that can give you the final tips and advice you’ll need. At the end of the month, it’s finally time to take the second official practice exam and, finally, the real GMAT exam itself. If you’ve done everything in this 6 month GMAT study plan and studied as hard as you could, you can be sure of a great result.

Summary

Here are the key points to remember on the 6 month GMAT study plan:

  • The first month of study should be focused on filling your mind with as many theories and schools of thought as possible
  • The second should introduce questions and problems that can give your mind a way to practically make use of the theory you’ve learned
  • The third month brings in practice exams, which will tell you exactly which areas of focus you need to improve on
  • The fourth month eliminates study and focuses much more on applying what you already know
  • The fifth month introduces tutoring for problem areas and laser focus wherever it’s needed
  • The sixth month requires two practice exams per day and maximum dedication.

We wish you the best of luck for your exam!


[1] Uncredited, GMAT Study Plan: When to Prepare & How to Build a Schedule, Menlo Coaching, Accessed 2022, https://menlocoaching.com/mba-applications-and-admissions-guide/gmat-score/gmat-study-plan/

[2] Raj, Abhishek, GMAT Preparation Tips – How to Improve Your GMAT Score 2022 Update, e-GMAT, 2022, https://e-gmat.com/blogs/improve-gmat-score-preparation-tips/

[3] Uncredited, How to Start Studying for the GMAT, Vincia PREP, Accessed 2022, https://www.vinciaprep.com/en/blog/how-start-studying-gmat

[4] Grad Prep Advisors, How to Study for the GMAT, Grad Prep, 2022, https://www.gradprep.com/blogs/gmat/how-to-study

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