Are you planning to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or another graduate business degree? Then, without a doubt, you likely need GMAT prep and to tackle the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the GMAT is a crucial part of the admissions process for many business schools worldwide. The GMAT is designed to assess various skills, including quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and data analysis, all essential for business school success. Given the importance of this test, a common question comes up: How long should you prepare for the GMAT?

This blog will explore the ideal duration and approach to GMAT prep. If you’re a seasoned test-taker or just dipping your toes into the process, we’ll help you navigate this step on your journey to business school.

Understanding the GMAT

Before diving into the ideal preparation timeline, let’s first grasp the structure and importance of the GMAT. The GMAT consists of three main sections:

Section 1: Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative reasoning part assesses mathematical skills and literacy and tests problem-solving and data interpretation. These Problem-Solving questions require basic math, algebra, and word problem skills.

Section 2: Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section of the test assesses your reading comprehension and critical thinking abilities. Two types of multiple-choice questions will test your skills in understanding, inferring from written content, and evaluating arguments. Reading Comprehension questions will have passages up to 350 words. They will assess your ability to comprehend, deduce, and find logical links between different subject parts. Additionally, there are Critical Reasoning questions to test your ability to assess short arguments.

Section 3: Data Analysis

The Data Insights portion assesses your proficiency in reading and interpreting data in various formats, such as tables and graphs. It mimics how managers now combine data from many sources to find patterns, make decisions, and solve business problems. This GMAT Focus Edition section includes Data Sufficiency, Multi-Source Reasoning, Table Analysis, Graphics Interpretation, and Two-Part Analysis questions.

The total GMAT exam duration is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. It consists of 64 questions in total: Quantitative Reasoning: 21 questions, 45 minutes. The exam is a computer-adaptive test, meaning that the difficulty level of the questions adjusts according to your performance. 

Factors influencing GMAT preparation time

Several factors play into determining how long you should prepare for the GMAT. Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Baseline Knowledge: Evaluate your current knowledge level in the areas tested on the GMAT. Are you comfortable with basic algebra and geometry? How strong is your English grammar and reading comprehension? Identifying your strengths and weaknesses will help you tailor your preparation plan accordingly.
  2. Target Score: Determine the GMAT score you must achieve to get into your desired business school. Research the average GMAT scores your target schools accept and set a realistic target score.
  3. Time Availability: Consider your personal and professional commitments. Are you working full-time or part-time? Do you have family responsibilities? Assess how many hours per week you can devote to GMAT preparation.
  4. Learning Style: Understand your learning style—whether you prefer self-study, classroom instruction, or one-on-one tutoring. Your learning style will significantly influence how you approach GMAT preparation.

GMAT preparation timeline

Now that we have a basic understanding of the GMAT and the factors influencing preparation, let’s break down the preparation timeline:

6 Months Before the Test:

  • Baseline Assessment: Take a diagnostic GMAT practice test to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Research Schools: Research MBA or other graduate business programs and their average GMAT score requirements.

5 Months Before the Test:

  • Set a Target Score: Based on your research, set a target GMAT score.
  • Develop a Study Plan: Create a study plan that includes all sections of the GMAT. Allocate more time to your weaker areas.

4 Months Before the Test:

  • Begin Preparation: Study in-depth for all sections of the GMAT, focusing more on your weaker areas.
  • Practice Regularly: Practice each type of question regularly to build familiarity and speed.

3 Months Before the Test:

  • Refine Skills: Refine your skills in all areas by focusing on practice questions and reviewing strategies.
  • Take Full-Length Practice Tests: Take full-length practice tests to simulate actual test conditions.

2 Months Before the Test:

  • Evaluate Progress: Assess your progress by taking another full-length practice test.
  • Seek Help if Needed: If you’re struggling in any area, consider seeking help from a tutor or joining a GMAT prep course.

1 Month Before the Test:

  • Final Review: Spend this month reviewing all sections of the GMAT. Focus on time management and test-taking strategies.
  • Take Practice Tests: Take at least two full-length practice tests this month.

2 Weeks Before the Test:

  • Final Practice: Focus on practicing questions and reviewing strategies. Avoid learning new concepts at this stage.

1 Week Before the Test:

  • Relax and Rest: Take it easy in the last week before the test. Avoid studying too intensively. Ensure you’re well-rested and relaxed.

Intensive 1-Month GMAT preparation plan

If you have a tighter schedule, an intensive 1-month GMAT preparation plan can also be effective:

Week 1:

  • Days 1-4: Take a diagnostic test, review it, and identify your weaknesses. Then, start with foundational study material.
  • Days 5-7: Work on strengthening your weaknesses and familiarizing yourself with the exam format.

Week 2:

  • Days 8-14: Focus on learning the strategies for each exam section. Start practicing with timed exercises.

Week 3:

  • Days 15-21: Continue to practice regularly and work on time management. Take a full-length practice test at the end of the week.

Week 4:

  • Days 22-28: Review all the exam sections and continue to practice. Take at least two full-length practice tests during this week.
  • Days 29-30: Relax, review test-taking strategies, and ensure you’re well-rested for the test day.

GMAT ready with 700+Club

In conclusion, the ideal preparation time for the GMAT varies depending on individual circumstances. Whether you have six months or just one month to prepare, it’s essential to develop a strategic study plan, stick to it, and remain focused. Remember, success on the GMAT is not solely about innate ability but also dedication, perseverance, and the right preparation strategy. Consider joining the 700+Club by enrolling in a group or private course for the ultimate GMAT test prep. So, plan your GMAT preparation journey wisely, and best of luck on test day! 

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