How Long to Study for the GMAT? Get Your GMAT Study Plan Right

by Maximilian Claessens
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How long to study for the GMAT - Get your GMAT Study Plan right

The GMAT preparation approach is unique to each candidate, although the main components are appropriate for most of those applying to MBA or overseas master’s programs. So while the answer may differ depending on individual circumstances and goals, the same question applies to every candidate: How long to study for the GMAT? Read on to learn more about developing the right GMAT study plan for you,

Although in the year 2021, GMAT experienced a new all-time low with only 38,509 people in the United States, the number of test-takers in the post-COVID era is expected to increase strongly, with many sitting for the exam several times. The following advice can help you better schedule your GMAT practice for effective results. So, if you aim to get an impressive result, these tips are meant for you.

The Big Picture of GMAT Preparation

The most challenging part of preparing for the GMAT is juggling the demands of daily life with studying for the exam. Creating a timetable to avoid sleep deprivation and unreasonable expectations is essential.

In general, you should dedicate 12 to 15 hours to study weekly. Practicing every day is critical, and skipping more than two days in a row could harm your performance.

You’ll get the most out of these 12 to 15 hours if you practice 1-1.5 hours a day during the week and 5-10 hours a day on the weekends.

Take breaks if you can’t concentrate for more than two hours straight on the GMAT. A 20-minute study break every 1-2 hours can do magic, especially when solving arithmetic problems. You can for instance use 2 sets of 2 hours or 3 sets of 1.5 hours for weekend study.

How long does it take to prepare for the GMAT?

Normally, most people draft a six to eight-week course study plan. There are also 3- to 4-week-long accelerated sessions. Some prefer to use a longer time frame to prepare for the GMAT, sometimes using 3, 6, 9 or even 12 months.

According to most experts, the ideal time frame is eight weeks and above. If you’ve done well on exams and had a lot of time to prepare, you may not need as much time as you think. On the other side, if your arithmetic abilities are woefully lacking, it may take 10-12 weeks of instruction to bring them up to par.

However, a time frame longer than 10-12 weeks might prove excessive. The law of diminishing returns and burnout syndrome comes into play. In addition, you may run out of supplies and need to relax; after all, you have covered everything.

You may prepare perfectly for the GMAT using just the Official Guide and Total GMAT Math, but if you study for a full five or six months, it will be tough to discover even more effective resources in the future – another reason for the common decline in results when using a longer study plan.

How do you prepare for the GMAT Exam?

The numerical component should be practiced at least every other day if you don’t have a natural talent for arithmetic or wish to enhance your math skills beyond the verbal ones. For this, you can for instance use our free GMAT Quant practice tests. Also, problem solving and data sufficiency do not have to be combined, but none of them should be left neglected for an extended time. Most students wonder what happens to their critical thinking abilities when they don’t study the verbal component for weeks.

Generally, you should work on your arithmetic skills 3-4 times each week. Plan to practice a few verbal section exercises weekly (critical thinking, reading, and correcting sentences). As a result, you’ll be able to maintain a consistent level of competence in all areas. Six to eight weeks will be needed to adequately study for the GMAT test and feel more secure on the day of the exam itself.

How to create a Study Plan for your GMAT?

There are several study plans covering a different duration depending on your personal starting point, goals and availability.

To help you prepare for the GMAT, we’ve provided you with an overview of what to consider when setting up your personal GMAT study plan, so let’s delve into it.

Before you begin, take a look at yourself.

The truth is that the GMAT exam assesses extremely specific components. Even if you think you know how well you do in areas like essay writing, mathematics, or grammar and spelling, you may struggle when you take the test.

Likewise, there are things you might not feel as good (or horrible) about as you think. As a starting point, you should take a model exam to get a rough idea of where you stand and devise a study plan geared toward addressing weaknesses and reinforcing strengths.

In addition, you should set a goal and track your progress. As with the last suggestion, you can perform this on your own or with the help of a professional.

Being by yourself is fine, but being accompanied is preferable.

As soon as you know where you’re going to start, you may officially begin your training. There is a lot of material regarding the GMAT exam available on the internet, some of which are better than others, but it is easy to become overwhelmed if you try to research.

If you want to step up your preparation for the GMAT, there are a variety of GMAT classes available near you. In addition to helping you narrow down your resources, attending a course provides you with the opportunity to learn from an expert in the field. It includes a more focused and planned study schedule, depending on the length of the course.

Embrace perseverance and consistency.

In other words, how far in advance should I start studying for the GMAT? You’ve already lost if you’re measuring time in days. It might not be certain, but it’s rather likely.

It is because the GMAT is intended for students who are already intellectually at a high level; taking this test will need significant preparation.

Each right response generates a more difficult question next, as the GMAT is an adaptive test. Even if this appears insignificant to you, remember that the GMAT was created by and for people proficient in English. Even if you’ve previously mastered English or are a native speaker, you should devote at least two months to preparing those fine language skills.

Get the most out of the information you’re given.

In addition to having someone well-versed in exam preparation to assist you, you’ll also need access to resources that can arm you with the knowledge you’ll need on test day.

Free and paid resources are available on the GMAT website, such as prior exam models, study guides, and strategy manuals for the test day. You can also speak to your teacher about additional materials that may be helpful.

Practice makes perfect.

The information, especially related to the exam structure, will not help you if you do not put enough effort into the preparation itself.

It’s not enough to take a practice test several times, write an essay, and review your math notes. You must practice until you can answer the questions with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back.

You need to practice in conditions similar to those on the day of the test. These conditions may include noise around you (e.g., other people typing or coughing), an unfamiliar environment or the lack of breaks. Practice in such conditions, so this does not become a stress factor. Remember that the GMAT exam will be as difficult as you let it be.

Fear is in your mind.

Perhaps you have read or heard that the GMAT test is the most feared by people applying for an MBA.

Fear is rational to some extent, as much depends on this test. But it’s just that, an evaluation, and that’s it. It can do more against you than the possible lack of preparation, so you must be, within what is possible, confident of the work you did and the good results you will obtain.

Learn to tackle the analytical writing assessment section (A.W.A.)

Each person has their least preferred section, depending on their strengths. Most of those who dread writing the two essays required by the GMAT believe they must write something worthy of a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize.

You should consider correct writing and good grammar and spelling rules. The first essay’s most important factor is the ability to condense a topic into short words.

As for the second essay, although you must argue, even if you are not the next Nobel Prize for Literature, you can get an excellent grade just by knowing how to structure an essay correctly.

Don’t forget the Verbal aspects.

In the GMAT exam, many things are not what they seem. In short, forget about reciting the concept of what an adverb or pronoun is. Here the concepts, or knowing what each grammatical or spelling rule is called, are extra.

You need to know certain things to apply, rather than define; you must be able to read and search for information; and you must know how to analyze, little else.

Know your Quant strength.

Numbers can’t be everyone’s forte and don’t necessarily have to be your thing. Although this is the most transparent section of the GMAT exam, what you see is what you get. For many, the Quant section is the hardest part of the GMAT, especially for native speakers who do not struggle with the verbal sections.

You’ll be in a little trouble if you’re fresh out of college and have fresh knowledge. Suppose you feel that math skills are not so present in your memory and you want to ensure a good score. Look for a GMAT course around you that specializes in the quantitative area. You can also review basic math concepts such as arithmetic and geometry on your own, for instance using YouTube tutorials, before you turn to more complex concepts specific to the GMAT.

The intangibles matter.

Certain elements of preparation are often missed in preparation guides, intangibles that can make the difference between sanity and insanity.

Resting properly, dedicating enough time to sleep and recreation, and maintaining a balanced diet are almost as important as preparation.

A healthy mind and body will perform better when taking a test than someone who can barely keep their eyes open or has a nervous breakdown from lack of recreation.

Closing Words

The GMAT is not an easy test. Especially if you are going for a high score to apply to top-tier MBAs, you will have to dedicate a significant part of your life to GMAT preparation. Don’t be discouraged if a first practice exam yields a very low score. This is totally normal and no reason to worry. If you invest the time into a sound GMAT study plan, you are on the best way to score high on test day.

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