Students who are looking to apply to top business graduate programs will have to learn how to study for the GMAT. This important test is used as one of the primary considerations for admissions into popular business programs.
While a high score doesn’t guarantee acceptance, it vastly improves the odds of being selected. The GMAT is a strong indicator of a student’s ability to navigate the courses one can expect in top business schools.
The good news is that students are able to choose which section of the test they start with, which makes preparation extremely important. This guide will show you how to study for the GMAT and includes a GMAT study guide to help you get started.
Summary: Use our GMAT study guide to prepare for your upcoming exam. For more in-depth help, check out our reviews of GMAT classes.
How to Study for the GMAT
You need to plan at least 4 weeks of studying for the GMAT. If you are also juggling a job, then you’ll need to plan for around 10 weeks. There is a formula for success that most students get wrong. You don’t have to study every day of the week but you need to study consistently. Here’s an example of a typical study week:
Monday: No Studies. Rest up. Have fun. Relax.
Tuesday: 2 hour study session in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.
Note: Preferably all evening study sessions should end within a couple of hours of your bedtime.
Wednesday: 3 hour study session in the morning and 3 hours in the evening.
Thursday: 3 hour study session in the morning and 3 hours in the evening.
Friday: No Studies. Rest up. Have fun. Relax.
Saturday: 2 hour study session in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.
Sunday: 3 hour study session in the morning. Practice test in the evening and then review practice test.
This is just an example and you can study at any time or day. Make sure that you’re getting in enough study hours in total and spread them out across the week. To be prepared within 5 weeks, you’ll want at least 23 hours of studying with enough time left over to take and review GMAT practice tests.
If you have a job, skip your morning session or evening session, depending on your job. Then extend your plan to 10 weeks instead of 5 weeks.
Detailed GMAT Study Guide
With that in mind, here is a great example of how to break down your studies every week. This will be followed by a description of each week and some study ideas.
- Week 1
- Take an Initial Practice Test
- Arithmetic & Critical Reasoning
- Geometry & Statistics
- Week 2
- Word Problems & Sentence Correction
- Algebra & Reading Comprehension
- Practice Test & Review(Untimed)
- Week 3
- Data Sufficiency & CR Review
- Study Weakest Areas.
- Practice Test & Review (Timed)
- Week 4
- Study Weak Areas to Improve Score
- Review Strongest Areas
- Final Practice Test & Review (Timed)
If you do not want to spend the time collecting study resources and other materials, you should consider investing in a GMAT prep course. Our team reviewed the best GMAT prep courses on the market. Find the best fit for you and save time while studying.
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How to Study for the GMAT: Week 1
Take an Initial Practice Test
Start out by taking a practice test so that you have a foundation for improvement. This will identify the areas where you need to spend the most time.
Arithmetic & Critical Reasoning
Review all of the arithmetic basics that you learned in high school. This includes factors, basic calculations, and percentages. That knowledge will be used in the GMAT so it’s important that you go ahead and get the basics out of the way.
For the best result, study by completing problems within one subcategory (e.g. factors) and then move onto the next (e.g. basic calculations). That way, you get all of the wrinkles out before you move on.
This week will also be spent working on critical reasoning practice questions. These types of study questions are one of the major benefits of investing in a prep course. Students who self-study will not develop a critical approach.
Geometry and Statistics
Now that you have worked on some of the basics, it’s time to move onto more advanced mathematics. Geometry and statistics must be built on a solid foundation or your score will suffer. Work on geometry formulas and strategies for approaching complex questions.
Statistics basics that you need to be prepared for include:
- Standard Deviation
- Basic Probability
Do large numbers of practice questions related to geometry and statistics, preferably on different days of the week.
How to Study for the GMAT: Week 2
Use this time to answer word problems so that you can develop a strategy for acing these essential questions. Mastering these types of questions is an essential step in scoring high on the GMAT. Here are some subcategories that you’ll find on the test:
- Venn Diagrams
- Work/Rate & Distance/Rate
- Weighted Average
Solve sets of each of those sets of word problems so that you’re ready for the real test.
Sentence correction problems are another area where students struggle. This requires a mastery of core grammar fundamentals. The best way to study this section of the GMAT is to solve problems.
Since this area is testing a student’s decision-making skills, the only way to prepare is to gain experience.
Study up on core algebra areas including exponents, roots, quadratics, inequalities, and calculations. Like other subjects, you should solve a large number of algebra questions so that you are able to master this topic.
Practice makes perfect so you will need to read through official prep packages and then answer questions related to those passages. The real key to acing this section of the GMAT is to master pattern recognition.
Practice Test & Review
Take a practice test and give yourself enough time to review every incorrect answer in detail. There’s no need to time this test this time so it’s okay to take your time with each question.
How to Study for the GMAT: Week 3
You need to learn the proper strategies for this complex series of questions. Learning certains strategies will help make this section a lot easier.
Solve a lot of questions related to data sufficiency and then review the results carefully. This is one area where there is absolutely no wiggle room. You must go into the GMAT prepared or you will fail this section of the test.
CR & RC Review
You want to answer a large number of CR and RC questions. Start out with easier questions and then move onto more advanced ones. Like the data sufficiency section, you’ll need experience to develop the core strategies required to test.
Study Weakest Areas
By this point, you will have a deeper understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. So you should spend a day studying areas that you are still struggling with. Do this before you take the weekly practice test.
Practice Test & Review (Timed)
Time yourself taking the practice GMAT. Create a realistic testing environment and pretend this is the real thing. Once you finish, review the results and carefully go through every question that you missed.
Your score on this practice test will determine how you spend the next week studying.
How to Study for the GMAT: Week 4
Study Weak Areas for Improvement
After reviewing the results of the previous practice test, plan out your studies for this week. Make your weakest scored areas the priority early. The goal here is to strengthen these areas slightly.
Review Stronger Areas
Spend the last couple of days studying your strongest areas so that you go into the test with a foundation for success. Our strengths are what carry us during a test so never neglect them.
Final Practice Test & Review
Take your final practice test and simulate the testing environment as much as possible. Set a time limit and only have access to things you’re allowed to use in the test.
Why you Should Invest in a GMAT Prep Course
Investing in a GMAT prep course will put you ahead of the curve by ensuring that you have access to the most up-to-date information. Most courses offer a score guarantee and give you a great chance of success. You can review the best GMAT prep courses for more information on a good fit for you.
Here are three reasons why you should invest in a GMAT prep course:
- Gives you Strategies: A prep course lays out a winning study strategy that will help you pass this important exam.
- Efficient Studies: Using a prep course makes students more efficient, which is an essential element when taking timed tests like the GMAT.
- Provides Direction: A prep course gives a student everything they need in order to study for the GMAT. Having access to the right information ensures that you will never study outdated material.
Improve your GMAT Score by Being Prepared
Learn how to study for the GMAT and give yourself the best chance of getting accepted into the business program of your choice by scoring high on the GMAT. The key is to create an efficient study plan and then follow through with it.
Just remember that the GMAT is not the only factor that’s considered on your application, but it will vastly improve your chances.