A 3-Month GMAT Prep Plan

by on December 6th, 2009

StudyingUnlike the other elements of your MBA application, the GMAT is unique in that it’s 100% under your control: you cannot change the quality of your work experience or your college GPA, but by following the right study plan, you will be able to reach your target GMAT score. For self studiers who have the time, I recommend 2-3 months of prep time.

The following 3-month plan assumes that you can devote about 1.5 to 2 hours per weekday and 5 to 6 hours per day on weekends. As you might have guessed, preparing for the GMAT is quite a time commitment—but your discipline in sticking with this strategy will be rewarded!

First Week – GMAT Research and Study Plan Details

Your shopping list should include:

In the very first week of your prep, you should familiarize yourself with the basics of the test: structure, types of questions, directions, time limits, scoring, etc. All these elements are important in helping you understand the logic behind the GMAT. I advise you to read about the test from the makers of the GMAT directly by going to MBA.com and registering as a member. When you register, you will also be able to download one of the most important tools for your studies, the free GMATPrep practice test software.  GMATPrep tests are considered the most accurate representations of the actual test on the market, featuring real (but retired) GMAT questions.

The information on MBA.com alone will not be sufficient as a full GMAT introduction.  This website does not explain all the mechanics of the test. To better understand the ins-and-outs of the GMAT, you should consider acquiring the Kaplan GMAT Premier Live Online 2010, a book that provides an extensive analysis of the GMAT’s computer-adaptive test (CAT) format and the subjects tested. This Kaplan book will serve as an excellent introduction to the test.

After getting some basic GMAT orientation, it’s time to assess your starting performance. The best way to do this is to take one full-length practice test from the GMATPrep software you had downloaded from MBA.com. This practice test will yield three scores: your overall score, quantitative score, and verbal score. Carefully examine your results to understand your strengths and weaknesses with regard to specific GMAT concepts and question types.

Okay, so now you know where you’re starting from; and hopefully you should have a sense of how much you need to improve as well (look up the average GMAT scores of your target MBA programs on the school websites). The next step is to develop a strategy that addresses your weak spots.

Weeks Two to Five – Math Focus

Your shopping list should include:

The math tested on the GMAT is fairly basic. You will never see advanced subjects like Calculus tested. However, if you’ve been out of college for a while, you’ll likely discover that your skills are somewhat rusty.

A note to engineers and other math-minded individuals: no matter how mathematically skilled you think you are, do not neglect prepping for the GMAT math section. There are two reasons for this. First, the quantitative portion of the GMAT features a special type of question, Data Sufficiency. It’s unlikely that you’ve seen this format before and getting used to it takes some diligent practice. Second, in general, quant questions on the GMAT have a unique and subtle style. Even if you’re a math whiz, it takes some time to get used to the nuances of GMAT math problems.

I recommend the Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook as an effective reference for first approaching the GMAT math section. This book does a good job in explaining about 90% of the concepts you will need for GMAT math and also features extensive practice, both in drill format and in GMAT-style problem sets. For more practice problems, refer to the Kaplan GMAT Premier Live Online book, the Official Guide for the GMAT Review, 12th Edition or the Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review (this last book contains mainly easy and medium practice problems, but does feature lots of Data Sufficiency questions).

Unfortunately, the 10% of concepts not covered in the Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook are the hardest you will see on the test. While the average test taker will usually see no more than two or three questions with permutations, combinations and statistics (among the hardest math topics tested), this doesn’t mean you should ignore them completely. The bad news is that I have yet to find a decent book that addresses these subjects well. My recommendation is to search for these kinds of difficult practice questions in online communities like Beat The GMAT.

Weeks Six to Ten – Verbal Focus

Your shopping list should include:

You should devote the next five weeks of your prep to building your verbal skills. There are two important considerations: First, don’t stop reviewing math. My suggestion is to make a habit of doing just five quant practice problems per day along with your verbal practice.  This will ensure you will not lose the math skills you’ve picked up in your previous weeks of prep.

Second, start your verbal studies by focusing on your weaknesses first and ending with your strengths. Example: let’s say that Sentence Correction (SC) was the biggest hurdle you faced in your first practice test, while Critical Reasoning (CR) was your second most problematic subject, but you consistently perform well with Reading Comprehension (RC). If that’s the case, review SC for the first 2 to 2.5 weeks. Next, move on to CR and work on that for another 2 weeks. Whenever you move on to subsequent topics of GMAT Verbal, be sure to do a couple problems per day covering the previous verbal areas you’ve reviewed.  Thus in this example, by the time you start tackling RC in the final stages of your verbal prep, you should also be doing a few SC and CR questions per day. Again, as with quant, this strategy ensures that you do not forget what you’ve already learned. Consequently, this review methodology means that you will be devoting more and more time to your prep as you progress week to week!

Weeks Eleven to Thirteen – Practice Tests and Review of Errors

In the last few weeks of your prep you should focus on taking practice tests and getting comfortable with the GMAT’s computer-adaptive format; it takes time to get comfortable taking a test on the computer.

As I mentioned earlier, GMATPrep is the most accurate practice test on the market.  It should be a great indicator of where you stand after your weeks of hard work.  During this period of your studies, take the GMATPrep test #2 and review your results.  Next, for additional practice retake both GMATPrep test #1 and GMATPrep test #2.  By repeating both GMATPrep tests you’ll likely see a handful of questions you’ve seen before from previous tests, but I still think it’s a worthwhile exercise. For additional practice tests, I recommend Manhattan GMAT practice tests. Kaplan tests are also good practice but are often perceived to be a bit on the tough side.

Besides taking practice tests (which you should take on a weekly basis), the time leading up to your exam should be spent reviewing the mistakes that you’ve made up until now. The mistakes you made in the Official Guide for GMAT Review material are particularly important to review (since these are real but retired GMAT questions).  Here are two articles on how you can go about reviewing your mistakes:

In the very last week, I would review the tips and templates for the essay section of the GMAT, the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). The score you receive on this section is reported separately and does not count toward your overall GMAT score. In my experience I’ve found that most test takers can spend about 2-3 days studying AWA to be sufficiently prepared.

Finally, on the eve of your GMAT, try to relax and get a good night’s rest. Don’t worry, you’re more than ready to beat the GMAT now!

Quick Tips for Your Study

Consider the following when building your GMAT prep strategy.  I’ve rolled up these notes from my studies and from the experiences of the hundreds of test takers I’ve had contact with since the start of my own GMAT journey:

  • Once you’ve created a study plan, stick to it. You will get results through discipline!
  • Review all material with a pen and paper in hand. Most strategy guides are packed with information that you should carefully digest, so take notes. You should also consider making some flashcards for important concepts.  You can download an set of free GMAT Flashcards from Beat The GMAT as a model for your own flashcards
  • Keep an error log. Error logs are great for reviewing your performance and tracking your improvements
  • Always time your practice. Even if you’re at the early stages of your prep, time yourself. As you progress, try to impose realistic time limits for solving a given question (about 90 seconds per question), it will help you build a solid instinct for pacing
  • Get a thorough review of GMAT concepts prior to prepping with Official Guide material. The Official Guide for GMAT Review series is extremely valuable since it features real (but retired) test questions.  Be sure you have a basic foundation on the test prior to going through these practice questions
  • Take practice tests under simulated conditions. If possible, try to take your practice tests at the same hour of the day you would take your actual GMAT.  Also, try to mimic the environment of a testing center.  I personally enjoyed taking practice tests in a lightly trafficked area of a library to get used to the ambient noise
  • If you get a question wrong, make sure you review it properly. You must understand why the correct answer choice is right and why all the rest are wrong. This exercise will help you avoid future mistakes!
  • If you were unsure about a question but guessed correctly, review it as if you got it wrong. Maybe you got lucky this time around, but you may not be so lucky on test day
  • Know when to guess and move along. You must answer all questions on the GMAT.  You will be heavily penalized for not answering a question, so pace yourself well
  • In the last few days before the GMAT, ramp down your prep. Your body needs lots of rest for this 3+ hour test.  Eat well and get some sleep!


  • good stuff..i like so....

    • Really informative! Thank you for your insights. Saved it to my lappy :)

    • Hi... I have just started preparing looking to form study group in and around kalyani nagar pune to beat GMAT Aug 2010

    • Good one!!! Hope this will help me a lot!

  • Dana,

    I have been studying consistently for 2 months and I am left with 3 weeks to my G day. I am still learning specially on Number theory in the DS section. Should I worry?

    I manged to score 43 on quant and hope to improve a few more points. But I have serious problem with RC and SC as well.

  • Well, three weeks is not that much - but everything is possible. You should especially pay attention to your time allotment to the three weaknesses you've mentioned: number theory in DS is not as big of a section as RC and SC, so you should plan your remaining days accordingly. Also, remember to practice from the OG in your last few days!

  • Hi... DanaJ

    I have set 2.5 months duration to take final GMAT exam with daily 8-10 hrs. I have taken practice test of Princeton & got 580 score w\o AWA (Verbal-30 & Quant-43). I am targetting 700+ score. My weak areas in Quant are habit of doing silly mistakes such as calculation, lack of concentration & timing.
    I am pretty well with concepts in quant. My major concern is Verbal in which RC is poorest. In RC, i have problem in comprehending passage & timing. I am ok with SC & CR parts.

    Plz guide how to improve my RC part in verbal & get rid of silly mistakes in quant 7 improve concentration level in exam.


  • 8-10 hours daily?! That's a bit too much... I'm not sure you need that much time. Watch out not to overdo it, because you might be burned out by the time you take your test.
    I advise you to go to mba.com and download the GMATprep software and see how you do. Fact is, the tests in this software are the most reliable by far and Princeton tests are rumored to be on the easy side (haven't taken one myself, though). You can share your results with us afterward!
    If RC is your weakness, you can either opt for the Manhattan GMAT RC guide or the Verbal Bible by PowerScore. Both books are good, just that the second one also contains CR and SC (but is considerably more expensive too).
    Silly mistakes in quant are usually connected to the lack of practice (i.e. you need to brush up on general math and you'll surely see your scores improve) or bad timing (going too fast through the test - if that's the case, try to slow down a bit. I also had this issue and made myself go slower on purpose).

    • Hi DanaJ,
      I am planning to take the GMAT in 2011 June.....
      Can you provide me your feedback regarding the preparation strategy that I must take to score 770+.
      Am a employee with a Software company-US based and hardly get time after office to study....
      I have already purchased Princeton Review ..
      and am planning to buy GMAT Official Guide 12th Edition....
      Really appreciate your remarks!


  • Hi DanaJ. Thank you for sharing all this valuable information. I now understand that the tools and study plan I used in my first attempt were not the most appropriate. I have two questions for you:

    1. I want to strengthen my math skills but find it inconvenient to purchase physical books as I live outside the US. Which are the best self study online resources and will they be enough? Which are the best counseling options available? I scored 590 with a 37h percentile score in math.

    2. I scheduled my next GMAT appointment for May 22, but I'm thinking I might need some more time. I generally spend .7 hours on weekdays and 6 hours on weekends. What do you think?

  • 1. Generally, it is preferred to use GMAT-specific books because these books are designed to cater to the conceptual needs of GMAT test takers. Buying them online might take less than you think, both in terms of money and in terms of waiting time. I would suggest you check out a few options (such as the books mentioned in this article and Manhattan GMAT books, which I have reviewed recently and found to be really good). If it doesn't fit with your schedule, I would advise you go get your hands on your old high school books - they're a good starting point for a math refresher. The forum is also a great resource, because people will often post questions and you can see answers from experts on debates on the fastest method and so on.

    2. That depends on your target score. You now have about a month and a half, which is not that much, but it isn't a huge time crunch either. It might be a bit harder for you to obtain a 100 or so point increase mainly because of the materials.To maximize your potential score, I'd browse a high school math book and then turn to the forums each day for practice!

    • Thanks for the advice DanaJ. I ordered some books and expect them to arrive in 2-3 weeks (I live in Colombia so overnight is not exactly possible). In the meantime, I'ill review my OG and the BTG Flashcards. I'll postpone my test date to adjust to my new study plan, it makes a lot of sense to devote more time to the new approach on my second attempt (although I hate to throw in another $50 to the GMAT!!!). Thanks a lot for your advice and your book reviews.

  • What was the outcome of this study plan? What did you get on the gmat before and after the plan?

  • I started out with a 700 (q49, v36) and ended up with a 770 (q50, v47). For me in particular, the PowerScore CR Bible made the difference, because a lot of my 11-point increase in verbal was due to eventually mastering CR.
    As you might be able to tell, quant was not a problem for me. Actually, back then, besides loosely going through Kaplan, all I did was answer questions on this forum! I would advise anyone whose studying to do so as well, since if you can explain a question so that even a non-native speaker understands it, then you have a firm grasp of the concepts and techniques involved!

    • Cool thanks for the reply. I'm at a 530. Lets see if this plan can get me to a 650!

  • study plan seems to be pretty good ! i hav 2 books ie OG 11th edition and gmat premier program 2008 edition. do u think these books wil do? for me to get the recommended book it wil take som time as it is not available in my town and am bedridden.
    i hav not taken initial test as cant sit that along with the fractured leg.but started thru verbal section as i know that it wil be a bit difficult .
    i have 3 months time ...

  • Depends on your current score and your target score. These are good books, but they may not suffice for an improvement of more than 100 points or so. I suggest you take the diagnostic from mba.com and see where you stand. I think you might be able to order any books online on amazon.com - as far as I know, they make deliveries everywhere. It might take a while for them to get to you, but...
    Sorry to hear that you've had an accident! Get well soon!

  • please help me I need information pertaining to the GMAT scholarships competition.

    Can it help me to pay an application fee for Institutions such as IE.

    Please reply.


  • hello

    i have opted for 3 months study plan for gmat.
    i have gone tru CR and SC of OG 11th edition and kaplan pre prog 2008.
    CR seems to be very tough. m not gettin answer right as wel as takin lot of time.i think i need different strategies for tacklin it .

    plz help

  • @johannes nhabanga: Actually, the scholarships only cover courses from major prep companies. You can check it out at: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/scholarship

    @arun gupta: The two books that you've mentioned are pretty general. You should probably try to go for other resources that cover the GMAT in more detail, like the Manhattan GMAT guides, the PowerScore CR Bible.

  • ya i wil surely get powerscore bible .....
    thanx for the response

  • Hello Dana..
    Thanks for all the above stuff.. really your sugegstions and answers are pretty good. Adding to the above people, i have specific question. will Quantitative aptitude by R.S agarwal is useful to brush up our Math basics, as this book covers all the stuff. Also i am lack of knowledge in Verbal. could you please give me the best plan to speed up my verbal.

    Thanks in advance

  • Actually, I have never heard of the quant book you mention. I'm guessing it's only edited in India...
    You can check out this link for a few thoughts on verbal prep:

  • Hello All,

    I have taken the Manhattan GMAT class and acquired the entire 8 guide series.

    It is a great resource. They truly break down the entire test for you, and provide fabulous and easy-to-remember tricks that enable the test taker to do well.

    I am with all of you - this test is tough. I have taken it several times and have frequent issues. My biggest enemy: anxiety. One thing Manhattan GMAT tutors emphasize is the timing aspect. Keep watch on your time.

  • I have heard good things about PowerScore. Is the SC one good?

  • hi A

    powerscore CR is absolutely good . cant say @ SC one.but i hav gone tru manhattan SC, its a good option.

  • @A: Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to look go over the SC Bible, so I can't really say if it's good or bad. If I were you though, I'd buyt the CR Bible and the SC guide from Manhattan (unless you already have it), because the latter also provides access to their online CATs.

  • Dear Dana, I made a study plan, please advise.

    I got a 1360 on my SAT, with 700 Math and 660 Verbal. That's 3 years ago. Not the best score, but do you think this plan will help me reach around a 750 in 2 months? Thanks in advance and please advise.

    1. Take Official GMAT Test online, review all questions 5/29 Sat
    2. Review math 5/30 – 6/3
    a. Books:
    i. Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook for concept review and practice problems
    ii. Kaplan GMAT Premier Live Online for concept review and practice problems
    iii. Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review for practice problems
    iv. Official Guide for the GMAT Review, 12th Edition for practice problems – mostly easy and medium questions
    b. Tips:
    i. Take notes, make flashcards on important materials
    ii. Keep error log
    iii. Time: 90seconds/questions
    iv. Review all questions wrong thorough. Make notes to avoid in future.
    v. Review all guessed answers.
    3. Practice Math Questions 6/13 – 6/16
    a. Continue to practice problems
    b. Search for the hard 10% and practice

    4. Review Verbal, continue to practice math problems 6/17 - 6/23
    a. Books:
    i. Manhattan GMAT’s Sentence Correction Guide for concept review
    ii. PowerScore’s Critical Reasoning Bible for concept review
    iii. Kaplan GMAT Verbal Workbook for concept review
    iv. Official Guide for the GMAT Verbal Review for practice problems
    v. Official Guide for the GMAT Review, 12th Edition for practice problems
    5. Practice Verbal Questions, continue to practice math 6/23 – 7/1
    a. Should be devoting more and more time as material accumulates
    6. Build stamina through taking official exams and target weak points JULY
    i. Practice Questions, review, and read test tips 7/2 FRI

    1. Official GMAT Exam #2 and go over ALL solutions 7/3
    • Work on weak math 7/3
    • Work on weak verbal 7/4
    2. Official GMAT Exam #2 and go over ALL solutions 7/5
    • Work on weak math 7/6
    • Work on weak verbal 7/7
    3. Official GMAT Exam #2 and go over ALL solutions 7/8
    • Work on weak math 7/9
    • Work on weak verbal 7/10
    4. Official GMAT Exam #2 and go over ALL solutions 7/18
    • Work on weak math 7/18
    • Work on weak verbal 7/19
    5. Official GMAT Exam #2 and go over ALL solutions 7/20
    • Work on weak math 7/21
    • Work on weak verbal 7/22
    6. Official GMAT Exam #2 and go over ALL solutions 7/23
    • Work on weak math 7/24
    • Work on weak verbal 7/25
    7. Official GMAT Exam #2 and go over ALL solutions 7/26
    • Work on weak math 7/27
    • Work on weak verbal 7/28
    8. Official GMAT Exam #2 and go over ALL solutions 7/29
    • Work on weak math 7/30
    • Work on weak verbal 7/31
    9. Official GMAT Exam #2 and go over ALL solutions 8/1
    • Work on weak math 7/1
    • Work on weak verbal 7/2
    10. Official GMAT Exam #2 and go over ALL solutions 8/3
    • Work on weak math 8/4
    • Work on weak verbal 8/5


  • In addition, I will spend about 5 hours/day on weekdays and about 12hrs/day on weekends, so that's about 45-50hrs/week. If I have a solid plan I will follow it very studiously. Thanks in advance.

  • Well your plan seems pretty thorough to me. Just two comments:
    1. If your quant is strong, then you'd better drop the Kaplan Math Workbook and use some of the guides from Manhattan GMAT. The Number properties and Word Translations are the best. Besides this, there is a SIGNIFICANT OVERLAP between the Kaplan Math Workbook and the Premier Live Online book. This I did not know when I posted this plan (I had reviewed the books separately), but the bottom line is you shouldn't buy both. The overlap is mainly in the concepts section, since the Kaplan Math Workbook contains much more practice. I have posted this in the comments for these books, but I guess I'll have to edit the posts as well so people know what they are buying.
    2. What do you mean by Official GMAT Exam? If you mean the GMATprep software from mba.com, then more than three takes of it is enough, since you'll start seeing a lot of repeats. I think you might want to use the Manhattan tests besides retaking each GMATprep - they're pretty good as well.

  • Dear Dana,

    Thank you so much for your fast reply!

    Here is my new book list:

    a. Books:
    ii. Kaplan GMAT Premier Live Online for concept review and practice problems
    -Manhattan: the two your recommended
    iii. Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review for practice problems
    iv. Official Guide for the GMAT Review, 12th Edition for practice problems – mostly easy and medium questions

    a. Books:
    i. Manhattan GMAT’s Sentence Correction Guide for concept review
    ii. PowerScore’s Critical Reasoning Bible for concept review
    iv. Official Guide for the GMAT Verbal Review for practice problems
    v. Official Guide for the GMAT Review, 12th Edition for practice problems

    Would you recommend buying the Manhattan tests on top of doing the Kaplan and official gmat old tests? or should I just skip the Kaplan and official gmat 12th edition tests? I'm sorry, the tests on the bottom are meant to be kaplan/gmat 12 edition tests.

    Also, I'm sorry if the questions are very specific, but I don't have time left to experiment, so I can only rely on your experience. Again, thank you very much for the help.

  • The book list is OK. However, there are no GMAT 12 edition tests - that book only has a paper diagnostic test that doesn't give you a score, but a rating of "good" or "excellent" or whatever... You must be thinking of the tests you can download on mba.com, in the software GMATprep. Those tests are the best in the industry and I advise you to use them wisely! You can retake each of those tests for a total of 4 official tests (you'll see very few repeats).
    Kaplan tests are really OK, but there seems to be a strong feeling that Manhattan GMAT tests are better. You can access them with the codes you'll find in the books. Ultimately, you decide which tests to take. Each company has its "oddities" in the tests:
    - Manhattan math is a bit harder and might scare you a bit, so don't get discouraged
    - Kaplan math is more focused on straightforward math problems than word problems and they also have pretty long RC passages and slightly off CR questions

  • Dana, thank you SO much. You're definitely the best. I'm recommending this post to all my gmat friends.

  • Haha that's OK. Good luck with your prep!

  • Hi Dana,

    Is the material in the books that you've listed in this post sufficient to earn a 700+?

    Do we need any supplementary books to completely cover material for the quant section, perhaps some of the Manhattan books?

    Looking forward to your response!

    Thank you.

  • I actually hadn't reviewed the books from Manhattan before writing this plan, so I can now safely say that the MGMAT guides (as they are widely known) are indeed well worth your time. The best of the 8 guides are Number Properties, Word Translations and Sentence Correction.

    • This is the list of books that I have for my study plan.
      Is this list complete?

      Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook
      Kaplan GMAT Premier Live Online
      Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review
      Official Guide for the GMAT Review, 12th Edition
      Manhattan GMAT’s Sentence Correction Guide
      PowerScore’s Critical Reasoning Bible
      Kaplan GMAT Verbal Workbook
      Official Guide for the GMAT Verbal Review

      You have just suggested:
      Manhattan GMAT's Number Properties
      Manhattan GMAT's Word Translations

  • I think you can safely drop the Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook and replace it with the two MGMAT guides at the bottom. Fact is, as I've mentioned in the comments before yours, there is a significant overlap between the Kaplan Math Workbook and the Kaplan Premier Live Online.
    I think these books are enough to take you over 700 in three months' time.

    • And the number of hours that you recommend are 260 in 3 months, is that right?

      Thank you Dana :)

  • Whoa I have never done any precise calculations, but most people tend to study 1-2 hours during the week and 5-6 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. In the end though, the number of hours you put in is secondary to the quality of your study. For instance, 3 hours of prep after a hard day at work may be less efficient for your study than 1 hour when you're relaxed and focused on a Sunday morning.

    • I have the Kaplan GMAT Premier Program 2009 Edition. Would you know if the Kaplan GMAT Premier Live Online is just a slight variation of the Kaplan GMAT Premier Program that I own? In other words, would it be worthwhile to get the Kaplan GMAT Premier Live Online program that you suggested or should I just stick to the Kaplan GMAT Premier Program 2009 Edition?

  • I know for a fact that the differences are not substantial (mostly concerning a few changes in layout). I myself bought the 2009 edition and studied from it, but I ended up reviewing the Live Online book - they're pretty much the same thing.

    • In that case, I'll stick with the GMAT Premier Program book 2009 Edition that I own.

      Thank you Dana

  • Dear Dana,

    Firstly thanks for all the support ur providing to everybody. That's really worth commending. I have a query, like you I'm into finance, just completed my charter & want to start my mba in 2011. for that I am planning to appear for gmat in september. Now I have absolutely no knowledge of the ingredients of this paper & I want to score above 720 to get into a good college. I have 3 months & following books after reading the blogs here:
    a) OG Guide 12th ed.
    b) Kaplan GMAT premier live online
    c) OG verbal guide review (11th ed.)

    Now I know you've explained to a lot of people about their study plans & have gone through yours too. But I observed that most of them had a fair bit of an idea & you were already at 700 when you started preparing which is not the case with me. I haven't touched maths since school that was 11 years back. Although I haven't taken any test yet but I assume I won't be more than 500 at this level. Can you advise me a thorough & comprehensive study plan as I need to brush up every aspect of this test.I plan to give 2.5 hrs on weekdays (with fulltime 14 hra day job) & 6 hrs each on weekends. Would that be sufficient?

    Your response would be really appreciated.

  • I think you might find the following resources helpful:
    - Official Guide 12th ed.
    - Official Guide Verbal and Qant 2nd ed.
    - Manhattan GMAT series of 5 quant guides
    - Manhattan GMAT sentence Correction guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    However, I will advise you to take a mock test from mba.com right now and see where you stand. If your quant or verbal scores are relatively OK, then you might not need all the books mentioned above.
    Use these books and you will surely get a good score if you study properly. With the amount of time you are willing to put in for the GMAT, this should be doable, unless you are virtually too tired after work to focus on studying (this might be a problem for you).
    I would also recommend reading stuff in English every day since I suspect you're not a native speaker. This helps you a lot, since the verbal part tests your understanding of English and its rules.

    • Thanks a lot Dana for your prompt reply. As suggested I will go ahead with a test now & will get back to you with my results. Thanks!

    • Hello Dana,

      The first GMAT prep test score is 500. Quant (37Q,17Inc) & Verbal (41Q,18Inc). I assume it means a lot of work in both sections to achieve my target score of 720+. Can you help me finalise my study plan:
      Quant - Manhattan quant strategy guides (Concepts)
      M Tyra (Concepts & Practise)
      Verbal - Manhattan verbal strategy guides (Concepts)
      GMAT Verbal Official Guide
      Practise : GMAT Official guide 12th edition
      kaplan Premier live 2010
      Kaplan 800

      Please advise if the book list above is complete, & the study plan I should follow for next 80 days.

    • & Ofcourse a practise test every fortnight for first 2 months & then two every weekend in last 3 weeks.

  • Hi Dana,

    I'm just wondering, aside from doing CAT tests before your test day, did you do any Manhattan questions from its question banks?

    Could you provide some insight into the effective methods of preparing for the following:
    -Reading Comprehension (I went over the Manhattan RC book but it didn't help - I can't seem to apply their strategies)

    Is it necessary to study from LSAT material or do any LSAT questions for RC and CR?

  • No, I did not do any questions from Manhattan GMAT. Unfortunately, I discovered the very good products of this company only after I had already taken the GMAT.
    AWA should not be of concern. Use any general strategy guide for some tips two-three days before your exam. Think of it as a nice exercise and nothing more.
    RC is a bit difficult to improve upon, but it takes practice: read every day. I usually follow the logical path of a passage by looking at connectors: since, because, therefore, moreover, to conclude etc. etc. These words are really good at signaling the flow of ideas and the overall structure of a passage.
    LSAT material is good if you're aiming for a 45+ verbal score. I would not advise people to go into it unless they're already at a 40+ verbal level, since it's pretty damn hard and might discourage you.

    • Did you use any of the LSAT material to prepare for your GMAT?

  • I did some LSAT CR questions, yes. But no RC.

    • Where can I get a hold of these LSAT CR questions?

  • Please let me know which book to start with for CR. Powerscore Bible is good to start with or should I start with the Kaplan book. This is to say I am going to start the preparation from scratch. So which book is good to get a good foundation is important for me to know.


  • The CR Bible is the best. Go for that one and you won't regret it!

  • Thanks DanaJ for suggestion. Just to make it clear...I should start with powerscore CR bible even before the OG. I believe that should be the way.

  • Yes. because you need to know the concepts before you tackle questions.

  • @Sahil: I think that list should help you see a significant increase in your score. However, going from 500 to 720 is not going to be easy, especially when it comes to verbal (since you're a non native speaker). I advise you to work on quant for the first 25-30 days and on verbal for the next. Don't forget to:
    - make flashcards/take notes
    - always time your practice
    - keep an error log so you can review your mistakes later on
    - read stuff in English every single day
    Good luck!

  • @chakeli: I only have two sets, but you can buy more online on amazon.com (they're called "Actual LSATs"). Check this out: http://www.beatthegmat.com/suggested-lsat-material-cr-rc-t44191.html

  • Hi Dana, I see that you recommended the following book list:

    Manhattan GMAT's Number Properties
    Manhattan GMAT's Word Translations
    Kaplan GMAT Premier Live Online
    Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review
    Official Guide for the GMAT Review, 12th Edition
    Manhattan GMAT’s Sentence Correction Guide
    PowerScore’s Critical Reasoning Bible
    Kaplan GMAT Verbal Workbook
    Official Guide for the GMAT Verbal Review

    Is this still what you would recommend? I have more trouble with the math sections, and I'm considering getting KNewtown as well. But, is it worth the money? I received a low-score on my first try using the test, but I think I could have focused harder. What do you think?

    Thanks for your help!

  • Hmm... I think I need to better put these reviews into context. You see, the Kaplan Premier program got 4 stars because it's probably the best GENERAL guide - i.e. it's the best in this "class" of books. However, since it is a general guide, it doesn't go too deep into any particular subject, but rather scratches the surface of everything.
    Now, in your case, you might need something that's a bit more detailed, such as the Manhattan GMAT quant series. If your quant score was less than mid-30s, then buy the whole set, it's pretty detailed. If your score was better, try the two Manhattan books you've listed.
    The Kaplan Verbal Workbook is pretty good for RC and will be sufficient for most test takers, IMHO. If you want a detailed RC book though (meaning this section is causing you nightmares), you might want to try some other book, such as the Veritas Prep RC book or the Manhattan GMAT RC book.

  • Oops I forgot about the course... It really depends. I for one am a poor college student from Romania, so paying for a course was out of the question :)
    You say you took the test before - is it the Knewton diagnostic test or GMATprep or the real thing? If it's GMATprep or the real thing, then if your score is more than 200 points below what you're aiming for, a course might be a worthwhile investment. It's pretty hard to pull a more than 200-point increase on your own.

  • Thanks for your response. Well, I asked my parents and they said they would do it if worthwhile, but I don't want to have them spend it unless it's necessary. I do need around a 200 point increase though. Do you think I would need the whole set of Manhattan books if I take the course as supplemental guides to help me, or is that excessive?

  • Before you make a decision, you should be aware of the fact that you could also prep on your own with the full Manhattan GMAT set. I've regularly pointed out that this set could take you from a 400 to over 600, but if you have the time and patience to study on your own.
    You see, courses are designed for procrastinators. If you can't put yourself in the chair and spend two-three hours per day for the GMAT, then you need something to motivate you.
    However, if you're a good self studier (and you should know this by yourself up until now), i.e. patient and committed to your goal, then (with around three months of prep, the Manhattan set and all three official guides) you could pull it off.
    You need to think really hard about your style and make a decision! Good luck!

  • Thanks a lot for your article.

    It is very useful, I'm starting my 12 weeks stydy plan for my second intend, my fisrt one was not very good...530(43Q, 20V).

    One question, as my weekneses are all in the verbal section, do you think that in the first five weeks it would be better if I do some Verbal practice too?

  • I think you should probably focus more on verbal, yes. You see, the above plan was designed for someone who is equally challenged by both quant and verbal. If verbal is your weakness, then personalize this plan to suite that. You might also benefit from some other resources not listed above, like the Manhattan GMAT RC guide or the Veritas Prep RC guide (depending on whether you need more practice or not - see the Book reviews section here for more details: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/books )

  • Hi Dana,

    I am planning to use the above mentioned 3-Month GMAT Plan. Since at the later part you have mentioned not to use Kaplan GMAT Math workbook, then what would be my other alternative. I am really very weak at Math, so I need a book which gives a good grounding on all different types of GMAT Math concept, traps and strategy. I had already bought Kaplan GMAT Math Foundations. Can you pls recommend me something , which will help me to gain a good hold on GMAT MATH.

  • The reason why I mentioned not using the Kaplan Math Workbook is that it has a significant overlap with the Kaplan Live Online program.
    If you need a lot of help with quant, you might want to check out Manhattan GMAT's series of 5 guides - they're pretty comprehensive.



  • @Makarand - first off, please stop writing all caps. It makes your post hard to read. Now, for RC, you can either try the MGMAT RC guide or the Veritas Prep RC guide, depending on what you need. The former is more theoretically oriented, the latter is more practice oriented. Check out http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/books for book reviews.
    For quant, what you already have should be enough. If you need more practice (i.e. don't feel confident about your score yet), then buy a Kaplan book.
    I honestly can't really help you with admissions advice since it's not my specialty. However, post your profile in the "Ask and Admissions Consultant" section of our forum and they'll give you more detailed advice!

    @Suvankar: If you follow the above plan and maybe also use the Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant books instead of the Kaplan books, you could get a 770. However, there's no guarantee for this. You should take the practice test on mba.com and see where you stand. If your score is below 600, then getting to a 770 is going to be a tough job that might require you to take a course.

  • oh ....dint know this ...........no caps now onwards............. :)
    mgmat rc n cr r good to certain extent.
    presently iam doing 10 q each of sc/cr/rc/ds and 20 of ps from og[2nd reading] so that i can keep track of all the components and at the same time doing word problems in rest of time...typically 5-6 hr study plan per day .....and will start revising mgmat guides once i finish word problems say at the rate of 2-4 days one supplement and
    planning to give practice exams twice a week[mgmat,princeton] ....power score cr i do it in bits say an hour a day or so
    i also keep a track of and revise in depth those questions that i got wrong this time n previous time [first reading] and
    please tell me how i can improve my study plan ..........

  • hows princeton cracking the gmat ............planning to do all bin 3 n bin 4 prob from the book ..........

  • Your plan looks good to me, especially since you're keeping a good check on your weaknesses. You can see a review of the Princeton Review here:

  • Thank You Dana !!
    does jotting down points for rc help .............what is your experience?

  • I don't usually do that, but I've seen it work well for others, as long as they didn't write too much for a passage. You need to keep it short or else you're losing precious time!

  • Hi DanaJ,
    I am planning to take the GMAT in 2011 June.....
    Can you provide me your feedback regarding the preparation strategy that I must take to score 770+.
    Am a employee with a Software company-US based and hardly get time after office to study....
    I have already purchased Princeton Review and am planning to buy GMAT Official Guide 12th Edition....

    Adding on to the above, I have first tried the GMAT Prep and have scored 550 with out any prior preparation.But I feel this should be increased to 760+(a huge gap).

    Based on the above inputs can you provide ur feedbacks regarding the strategy I must follow to score high in GMAT.

    Really appreciate your remarks!


  • I think you need to invest in a lot more in books to get from 550 to 770, possibly even take a course. The list in the article should help you a lot though, if you're patient and structured enough!

  • Thanks DanaJ.
    I have already started preparing to get a score of 770+.
    Will keep you posted with the updates so that u can provide ur feeback.

  • Hello Dana and members,
    I have already given the GMAT twice and scored a 540 (V26, Q38) first on Jan 4, 2009 and a 460 (V24, Q30) on March 19, 2009. I have now set to down to score a massive increase through a determined study plan. I am currently out of a job and so can devote a lot more time but also am spending time in my job search and other part time jobs. Current plan is to attack the GMAT in 10 weeks from now.
    Target Score: 540 to 750
    Time Period: 1 Sept 2010 – 15 Nov 2010

    Primary Concepts Review & Practice- 7 weeks
    Comprehensive Practice Review- 3 weeks

    Phase 1- General Overview & Diagnostic
    I plan to study an overview of all sections before giving my Diagnostic test and am planning to use Kaplan Premier for doing that. This will entail going through all the sections of the GMAT using this book to give me a good overview. And then I plan to do a diagnostic from either Kaplan or Manhattan GMAT. I am choosing to do this, as I want a higher diagnostic start for my mental preparation since I don’t have much time.
    • Kaplan Premier- Introduction & overview of all areas
    • Diagnostic Test (Manhattan GMAT or Kaplan)
    • Setup of Error log
    • Schedule of Study and Timer

    Phase 2
    Verbal Preparation Plan
    I know I want to start my study with verbal and will vary the weeks of preparation based on the diagnostic test. The planned study order may change depending on the results.
    1. Sentence Correction
    2. Critical Reasoning
    3. Reading Comprehension
    I plan to work through each section one by one methodically by going through all books explaining that particular verbal subsection and practicing questions at the same time for them.
    Books Used
    • Manhattan Sentence Correction Guide
    • Manhattan Critical Reasoning Guide
    • PowerScore Critical Reasoning Bible
    • Manhattan Reading Comprehension Guide
    • The Official Guide for GMAT 12TH Edition- Verbal Practice qs
    • Kaplan Verbal Workbook- Concepts & practice
    • Kaplan 2011 Premier- Verbal Practice qs
    • Kaplan Advanced-Verbal Practice qs
    Partial Verbal CATs
    • Use verbal sections of CAT once all 3 areas are completed.

    Phase 3
    I plan to follow a similar methodical pattern for my quantitative preparation and go through specific areas starting with the Manhattan guides.
    Quantitative Preparation
    1. Problem Solving
    2. Data Sufficiency
    Books Used
    • Manhattan Number Properties Guide
    • Manhattan Geometry Guide
    • Manhattan Equations, Inequalities, & VICs Guide
    • Manhattan Fractions, Decimals, & Percents
    • Manhattan Word Translations Guide
    • The Official Guide for GMAT 12TH Edition- Math Practice Qs
    • Kaplan Math Work Book
    • Kaplan 2011 Premier- Math Practice qs
    • Kaplan Advanced-Math Practice Qs

    Phase 4-Practice CAT tests
    Initially I would have used a few of these tests for section specific practice rather than completing entire tests. But as soon as I am comfortable I will be practicing complete tests with essays.
    2 GMAT Prep- taken multiple times
    6 Manhattan CATs
    5 Kaplan CATs
    2 GMAT Club tests
    Other recommended CATs.

    I would like the opinion of members on this plan of execution. What would you recommend to change for each of the phase I have highlighted and if the time is realistic for a 750 score. Thanks for taking the time to offer your comments and advice.

  • Dana,

    Thank you for a realistic and comprehensive approach to meeting my 3 month goals. My question, would you recommend assigning myself the verbal portion of the study plan and then focusing on math portion thereafter? My weakness is math, and I would feel more comfortable having studying these critical skills shortly before the exam.


  • Hi Marcos,

    It's definitely not set in stone, so you should allot more time to the section you feel like covering! If you want a more detailed plan, you should try subscribing for the 60 GMAT study guide here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/gmat-guide

    This is a more detailed plan, telling you daily what to study. However, it's also fairly balanced between quant and verbal and starts off with quant focus.

  • Hi to all,

    That's nice really and works almost for everybody has enough time. But I want to know who is good for private tutoring for Verbal section? I am thinking about Jim from Grockit and really he has a very great review, Any suggestion?? What about Sarai for verbal from GMAX company??? Thanks for your help and guide.

  • Hi Amir,

    Don't really know much about the two instructors you mention. It might be worthwhile to post this question in the forums where more people will see it!

  • really loved reading this article. Thanks Dana!!

  • Thanks, Ashok! Hope you also liked it on Facebook, it's part of the $100K Challenge now - but shh, let's let people find it on their own :)

  • Wow!!! Thanks for sharing such a comprehensive plan :)

  • Dana, this is an excellent prep article! Like many others, I am only beginning my prep now .. well ok, so I already prepared for 1.5 months but then just let it go when the work pressure increased in the organization I work for.
    So far, I have almost finished off the verbal and half of quants from OG.
    Have realized once more that I cannot be stuck in the same job for long, I am beginning my MBA prep once again.
    What, do you think, would be a better strategy for me?
    1. restart the prep from scratch (maybe using your 3 month prep plan)
    2. pick up from where I left.

    Also, on an average, how many prep tests should one give?
    How do you know when the number of tests is too much or too less?
    I have the 2 free tests from GMAC, 6 kaplan tests online and the tests in kaplan CD (that comes with the premier version). I think I have a couple from Pearson too but no Manhattan :(
    I have the manhattan verbal series though (RC, SC, CR) - borrowed from a friend.

    Just want to know if I need any more tests? or perhaps retake these for practice?

    As far as the study material goes, I have far too much but am thinking of limiting myself to:
    OG verbal & math review
    manhattan verbal books for some concepts (this, too, looks like a lot of material to me)

    I have kaplan premier too but not sure if I should use it.
    I have about 3 months to go before I take the exam.
    You think the aforementioned material and tests are good to go?

    Appreciate your help.

  • Glad you liked my article! Well, I'm guessing there's no need for you to restart your prep from scratch because you already have some knowledge of the test.
    About prep tests: I think no more than one a week, so it depends on how many weeks you plan to study (although to be fair in the beginning or first month you should probably take one every two weeks to give yourself time to accumulate concepts). I believe you have enough tests. You can retake the GMATprep tests at least once. MGMAT tests are good, but they're not essential (I just took the free one and that was it when I was preparing).
    Of the books you mention, I do not see anything with a solid quant theoretical review. I'm guessing you're pretty strong in quant, but do not neglect this section! You can use the Kaplan book for this, although it does not contain many hard problems. Browse the forum for some good practice!

  • Hi Dana,

    Pardon me if i end up asking questions that are already repeated in this post, as i could not really go through each one of them. Ok, here we go...

    I have the following books with me already, but may buy 1 or 2 more, if needed.

    Official Guides:
    1. GMAT Review, 10th, 11th and 12th Editions
    2. GMAT Verbal Review, 2nd Edition

    For Quant:
    - Kaplan Math Workbook, 5th edition
    - Manhattan Number Properties, not latest edition

    For Verbal:
    - Manhattan SC guide (aligned with OG10)
    - Manhattan CR Guide (aligned with OG11)
    - Manhattan RC Guide, not latest
    - Powerscore CR Bible, not latest

    Here are my questions:
    1. Do you think the books i have will be sufficient?
    2. I do not have the latest editions of the books (except OG12 and OG verbal review). Is there a lot of difference between the older and latest versions of the books?
    3. How is the Combinatorics & Probability Book by Veritas Prep? If you recommend, i am willing to buy it.
    4. THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION---How do i wisely use this material? As per your advice, i plan to spend the next 4 weeks focussing on Quant and thereafter 4 weeks on verbal. Please help me lay out a basic yet effective study plan.

    I plan to take the GMAT on 28th January, 2011 and my target score is 750.

    Its been a while i sat down properly and studied so im afraid i might score low on the diagnostic if i take it now. Therefore i think about taking diagnostic in a month's time after reviewing basic concepts of Quant and Verbal. What do you say?

    Thank you for your time.....i will ask more questions with time...


  • The books you mention are good and you do not necessarily need the latest editions. The most recent editions would have been better, but I believe you can manage with older ones too. The problem is that since you haven't take a diagnostic test, I can't say for sure if these books will be enough for you. If you're at 450 right now, I'd say they aren't. If you're at 600 and above, then I'm sure they are!
    The Veritas book is pretty good! I also reviewed it in the book reviews section: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/books
    How to use these books depends a lot on what you're good at. You can spend equal amounts of time for quant and verbal, but only if you are equally good in both. If not, try to work most on the side that you're having trouble with.

    • Wow...thats a super quick reply. Thanks a lot.

      About the Diagnostic Test, I want to save the GMATPrep for later time. Which other test can i take to start with?


  • You can retake GMATprep without many repeats, so the two tests are actually four tests. It's OK to take one now. If not, try MGMAT.

    • Hi again. For Quant, what should be my plan. I feel i should start with Kaplan Math Workbook first and quickly brush up all the basics. What do you say?

    • Please help me with Section wise preparation.

      1. Quant (week 1 - 4) : I plan to finish Kaplan Math Workbook in the next 10 days, and thereafter my focus will be topic wise. I plan to finish the following books.
      - Numbers: Manhattan Number Series
      - Permutations, Combinations, Sets & Probability - Veritas Prep
      - Geometry: ??? No Clue
      - Equations, Time-Work, Statistics: ??? No Clue again
      - Averages, Mixtures & Alligations: I guess this will be taken care by Kaplan Math Workbook.
      - Have i missed any other topic????

      2. Quant (week 5 - 8) :
      - Start with RC, as i am the weakest in it. I have Manhattan RC with me. It should be a good start. What do you say? Continue with OG 12 questions.
      - SC: Manhattan SC Guide along with OG 10 questions, because this guide is aligned with OG10. I will continue with OG12 later.
      - CR: Powerscore CR Bible and OG 12 questions.

      3. Week 5 onwards: Take another test and see the score difference.

      Is this a sound strategy?


  • Your plan makes sense. The topics that you have marked as "no clue" are covered in the Kaplan Math Workbook. However, as I have said before, you need to make sure to spend more time on your weakness. I feel from your writing that verbal might be a problem - so try to spend more time on that!

  • Hi Dana,

    Thanks for the amazing article.. Im planning to take the GMAT in December so I have exactly 2 months from now.I have joined the Knewton Gmat Prep. It would be great if you could help me devise a study plan. I can put in around 5-6 hrs a day for Gmat study as I have to start working on my essays too.I am looking at applying to schools In Round 2.

    Look forward to your suggestions

  • The Knewton course should provide the structure you need. However, you can try other resources as well. Specifically, you can use the Official Guide 12th edition. Besides this, using other materials depends entirely on what you're bad at - you need to spend more time on your weaknesses and less on your strengths. You'll see a pretty nice list of resources here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/books. Use those that have a 4 or 5-star rating and that correspond to your weaknesses.

  • Appreciate ur quick response...Thanks for the suggestions :-) will surely consider the resources which you have mentioned depending on my weak areas.

  • Hi,
    I am really good at Qaunt and my problem area is verbal...I had English as second language...Could you please suggest me as which books can i refer to really improve my verbal score...

  • You can try the following:
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Manhattan GMAT RC guide or Veritas Prep RC book
    - Official Guide Verbal supplement 2nd edition

  • Hello DanaJ

    I am a nepali student, and I wish to get into the MBA programme of delhi university for which I require a score in excess of 670... I am doing a prep course, but both my instructor and I are non native speakers of the English language, and I find the verbal part quite difficult... I am planning to take the test in some four months time... Please suggest me a plan and the study materials...

  • The best study materials include:
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book or Manhattan GMAT RC guide
    - OG 12 and OG verbal
    I say spend most of your time on verbal, because I'm sure you'll do better in quant. Here's a study plan: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2010/01/16/verbal-focus-gmat-plan

  • I am currently a housewife and has a 2 yr old son. I want to give Gmat in march 2011. I want to do a full time MBA . I have a work exp of 3 yrs in banking-insurance industry. But for the last 3-4 yrs i m not wrkng because of the overseas assignment which my husband got, and i moved with him. Does this affect my chances of getting into a good B school?

  • I don't really know, to be honest... I think you should post your question here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/ask-an-mba-admissions-consultant-f40.html Admissions Consultants will be able to guide you better! Good luck!

  • Hoi Dana,
    I need some advice for my quant prep.
    As recommended by you, I've started with "Kaplan Math workbook",went thru all the concepts and practice problems. Then I worked on the practice problems in Official guide for GMAT review and Offocial guide for GMAT quant review. I couldn't afford the "Kaplan GMAT premier live online".
    Is this going to be sufficient for my prep? I still feel not so confident about probability, permutations and combinations and statistics. Could you suggest some other book by which I can gain a stronghold of these topics from GMAT perspective.
    Thanks in advance !
    Have a great day.


  • Hi Dana,
    Also what do you say about "Number Properties GMAT Strategy Guide, 4th Edition (Manhattan GMAT Preparation Guides)"? Or any other Math book by Manhattan?

    I want to get a full perfect score on quant. So could you please recommend any books/ give your thoughts for a perfect prep.



  • Hey Sam,

    The MGMAT Word Translations book should cover the topics you're not comfortable with. In general, the MGMAT guides are pretty good - the Number Properties and Word Translations ones in particular (the other three are pretty useful too but not as awesome as these two).
    Good luck!

    • So for a perfect quant score these books are all what i need, right?
      1. Kaplan Math workbook
      2. Official guide for GMAT review
      3. Official guide for GMAT Quant review
      4. MGMAT Number Properties
      5. MGMAT Word Translations

      Thank you very much. God Bless!!

  • It sort of depends on your starting score, to be honest. If you're in good shape, then numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 should suffice. The OG quant is kind of easy and if you're targeting a perfect score then it will probably seem like a breeze.

    • Thanks Dana. God Bless ya!!

  • Hi Dana,

    Would you also be able to suggest any book which can help gain some insight on the essay righting part of the B-School application, tips and tricks of it.

    thanks for your help in advance

  • Other than Montauk's book, I can't really think of anything else. I'm not that experienced in this area, sorry!

  • Hi Dana,
    I took the GMAT 1 month ago and got 440. I want to try again for 600+ score. From your posts, I got a good view of how to plan my studies. Now, I need to find good gmat books such as kaplan math, verbal workbooks, manhattan SC, power score CR bible that are available as Ebooks. I tried google shopping sections but no result come up. I have to buy them as Ebooks, because they're not available as paperbacks in local markets; company owners, amazon or any other book stores do not (or are not allowed to) ship them to our country. If you could provide me with a few links or a few threads that could point me in the right direction, I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

  • Hey Azadeh, sorry but I can't help you with this one! I don't know where to find ebook versions of the books you list.

  • Hi Dana!

    Thank you very much for your article! It's really helpful. You suggest using Kaplan math workbook for quant section. My question is: is there too much difference between the math section of Kaplan GMAT Premier (Kaplan's GMAT general guide) and Kaplan math workbook. I'm more interested in the theoretical part as I already have the OG GMAT review and the OG math workbook to practice.

    By the way, something that helped me a lot with my quant (my weakest side) was to separate the questions by subject, for example, I took all word problems first (and once more, classified them by machine problems, distance problems, set problems, mixtures, etc). I've found this very useful so as to become familiar with the different kind of problems and their possible forms. I just wanted to share this in case someone finds it helpful to.
    Thank you very much!!

  • Hi Leonel,
    In terms of theory, the Kaplan Premier book and the Kaplan Math Workbook are the same. The difference is that the math workbook contains more practice problems. If you feel the need for an even more dense theoretical review, then try the Manhattan GMAT set. There are 5 quant guides, but the Number Properties and Word Translations are the best of the 5.

  • Dana,

    I am planning on taking the GMAT around late August to early September for my first crach at achieving a respectable score for admission in the Fall of 2012. First of all I will say I am not a "test taker" and will most likely freak myself out. I woul like your opinion on what steps to take to study and achieve a score of 675+ ( my goal ). I currently am taking classes a Princeton Review and have all the books that they issued, plus the "12th edition GMAT Review" by Wiley. I am also currently studying 5-10 hrs a week as I have a full time job ( 50 + hrs a week ) currently, so as you can see time works against me with my schedule. Any advice you have would be great! Thank you again

  • Hi Garrett,
    What's your starting level? Did you take a diagnostic test at the beginning of your prep? In order to make specific recommendations, you should let me know. The Princeton Review books are quite OK, but they're not necessarily the best. However, since you're taking a course, this might be mitigated by your instructor's talent. If after you've finished the course, you take a diagnostic test and it's below your target score, you should consider buying other materials such as the Manhattan GMAT set or the PowerScore CR Bible. Here are some book recommendations: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/books
    It's hard to be too specific with advice given so little information, but I will say that you should spend more time on your weak spots than on your strengths. This is incredibly easy to say and most people view it as common sense, but trust me, it sounds a lot easier than it is. I myself had this habit of working more on quant just because I was better at it and felt more "successful" while solving some quant problems. I neglected verbal because I got frustrated by the incorrect answers. In retrospect, this was not such a good idea, so be strong and force yourself to work on what you need!

  • Intro - I am a beginer in GMAT race and recently joined this community.

    @Dana - This is excellent article that I have ever read in any GMAT forum. Good work.
    @Others - keep us posted on your plan. This helps.

  • Welcome to our community and good luck, Gourav!

  • Dana,

    Thanks for the reply. I am most certainly going to buy those additional books just to have addtional material to look through. I have taken a diagnostic and obviously was not pleased, mainly because there were several parts I haven't gone through yet. I am finding more and more that repitition in working problems is a huge part in knowing what to look for on the test, unless you are just one of the "those" truly gifted people of which I am not. I literally have to work harder than the next guy at everything. Again I appreciate your reply and will keep you updated if I have any more specific questions. Thank you,


  • Hey Garrett,
    Good luck with studying! Btw I edited your email address out of the comment, because it could get picked up for spam (there are bots scanning websites/forums that do this).

  • I'm retaking my GMATs in late August. I was unprepared my first go around.
    I have a little over 4 months. I'm shooting for 700+. I have been out of school for about 6 years and come from an advertising design background. I need all the help. Love the community though. 

  • Welcome, Joel! You can also try our 60-day study guide, with daily emails: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/gmat-guide Since you have an advertising background, I suspect that quant might be your weakness. I recommend the 5 Manhattan GMAT quant guides for covering this part of the test. You can check out more book recommendations here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/books

    • HI Dana - Thanks. I used to be very good at math when I was younger but hardly using it in unergrad I need a lot of help with the quant. 

  • Hi Dana,
    I have just found your through schedule.
    I have had GMAT exam on December 2010 in which I was very in a hurry and
    I only had less than a month to be prepared (I didn't know anything about GMAT one month before my exam)
    I scored 540 which wasn't good at all.
    since then I didn't return to GMAT, but just now I decided to take the exam again.
    I need a 750+ score and I have 3 months to my exam.
    do you think I should follow your 3-months study plan?
    I need your advice urgently.
    Thanks in advance :)  

  • I think you could! However, note that getting from a 540 to a 750 is not going to be easy. You need to work really hard for it. It is doable in three months if you use all of the best materials and put quite a few hours in it. You can use the above recommendations or you can sign up to the 60-day study guide here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/gmat-guide

  • Hi Dana

    I just recently decided to do the Gmat. I have 3.5 months to study.

    For week 1 - I will follow your recommendation. 

    However, could I make do with the Manhattan GMAT complete Prep Set - 4th edition for the rest?

    I notice that it includes the official review, quant and verbal Gmat guides in addition to the Manhattan 8 guides.

    Plus it comes with 6 CATs, and content for both Manhattan and Official.

    Would this be sufficient and comprehensive enough?

    Or should I really stick to your suggestions?

    I came across the thread with the Poll results and the clear winner was Manhattan. 

    Thank you in advance for any advice -- I will do as you say!

  • Plus it comes with 6 CATs, and *online* content for both Manhattan and Official.

  • Hi, what about spending time on the essay section? I heard scoring a 5 or a 6 is really tough..

  • I wouldn't be that worried since the essays don't count that much. Practice a bit using whichever book, but I personally didn't spend more than a day on the essays and still got a 5. It's not that hard, I believe.

  • Hi DanaJ, was there any ambiguity with my question that prevented you from replying?

  • @JS: I have no idea why I didn't respond to your comment. Really sorry about that! I usually respond to comments within the day. I must have missed the email with your comments or my replies might have gotten stuck in the spam filter and they're now deleted. In any case, if you see that I don't respond within 2 days, you should write another comment and/or send me a private message on the forums.
    To answer your question: yes, you could definitely use the MGMAT set. It's a good set of books and the above study plan was written before I had the chance to review the books myself. Since then, I've reviewed all the books from that set and I particularly liked the SC guide, the Number Properties guide and the Word Translations guide. You can check out a full analysis of the set here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2011/04/02/manhattan-gmat-set-of-8-strategy-guides-4th-edition-book-review
    I will reiterate what I've said time and again though: the CR book from MGMAT can't beat the PowerScore CR Bible (which is one of my favorite books ever and most definitely my favorite book for the GMAT). If you need more recommendations, please check out this page: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/books or go in the GMAT/MBA Library and do a search by my name (not all the reviews to the MGMAT guides are in the books section yet).
    And yes, the fact that the books come with access to their tests is definitely a plus. The MGMAT tests are widely considered second best after the GMATPrep tests.

  • Hi Dana,

    Its been a few years since I last opened a math book so I'm a bit rusty. Can you suggest anything that will help me. I took my first practice test yesterday and it wasn't pretty (310). I am currently using "Princeton Cracking the Gmat" and "OG 12th ed." Are those enough or should I be using other resources? I have 2-3 months to prepare for this. I really want to do well on this test (600-650), so I would really appreciate the help.

  • Hi Dana , i have tried my luck on gmat twice but 640 has been the limit. Now i am ready to give it a last try. I am fine in quat ...i scored 49 both times but its verbal that's killing me . I have realized that in my previous attempts i didn't pay much attention on error logs . Now ia m doing it but since during my last attempts i have used all og books.i almost remember answers to all questions....that's making it hard to learn. now i am confused which books i should use ....to practice and deeply learn the concepts

    . I am using manhattangmat sentence correction guide and powerscore critical reasoning bible as well..which i didn't use during my previous attempts.but my biggest problem is getting best practice material to learn ....pls suggest me what should i do?????

    i appreciate your taking time to answer my querry. Thank you very much.

  • Hmm... For practice, there are a couple of resources you can use. The MGMAT and PowerScore books provide some practice. For more, you can check out the Veritas Prep guides, they tend to be oriented more towards the practice than the theory, which might really suit you nicely.

  • Dear DanaJ,

    First of all, I am very thankful to you as you provided and listed all the valuable and effective steps to be successful at The GMAT test by ensuring a good score. I am fully fresher in this blog and about the GMAT but I do acknowledge that I am now well known about the GMAT through your wide description about this topic.

    By the way, I will complete my MBA (HELP University College, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) in January 2012 where I have successfully completed my BBA from the University of Madras in India with the average score of 69.30%(I achieved 100 out of 100 in my Project paper- Marketing). Now, I am planning to continue my further higher study to do PhD in Marketing where GMAT is mandatory to let the ball rolling in a good ground, therefore what will be suggestions about to plan for getting into a good business school and to become a successful applicants to achieve Scholarship or Fund.

    I will be waiting for your prompt reply to me.

    Rakesh Kumar Ghosh...

  • Unfortunately I don't know that much about applications and scholarships, so I think you might want to search somewhere else for this. You can try posting a question in the Ask an Admissions Consultant forum though, they might know better: http://www.beatthegmat.com/ask-an-mba-admissions-consultant-f40.html

  • Dear DanaJ,

    Thanks to reply me. Its ok but I became sad and felt unfortunate when I read your reply as you do not have much to write about my query. Whatever, I will contact with that blog what you have suggested me. But, in generally what do think about my qualifications- is it well enough to find a good B-School once I will ensure a good GMAT score (660-720) and what do think as I planned to prepare my GMAT at the same time of doing my MBA ???

    Rakesh Kumar Ghosh...

  • I can't really say, since I don't know how challenging the MBA you're doing right now is. Most people study for the test while working, so my guess is that it's doable for you too. I'm not familiar with the requirements of PhD programs though. All I know is that they require a higher GMAT score than MBAs, so be prepared to spend extra time on that!

  • Dear DanaJ,

    Thanks for your time to share with me. I will get back to you if I need any more clarification. Oh, I also would like to appreciate your active co-operation with me.

    Rakesh Kumar Ghosh...

  • Hi,

    Is there is an actual day by day 3 month study plan to download or view including reference to suggested exercises / tasks (similar to the daily emails sent for the 60 day study plan)? If so, where?



  • Nope, sorry, we didn't do that for other periods of time.

  • Dana,
    Thanks for your post. It is a very good one !! I am planning to start preparing for my GMAT very soon and my goal is 720 which I know means a lot of work specially because I know that I am very far from that point right now, so that is why I am planning to do the 3-month plan. I am just wondering if this plan remains the same to these days or if you have and "updated" version. Also, I have heard/read excellent comments about Manhattan materials (including your book review comments) and I am leaning toward those as my main preparation material so I was wondering why you only included only one of those in the shopping list. Bottom line: I want to make sure that I should follow this plan and make sure that I do not buy anything less and nothing more than what I actually need according to the study plan that I want to follow. I'll greatly appreciate your comments

  • Heh, you guessed correctly: the plan was written before I got a chance to read the Manhattan books myself. I think using those is really a good idea, although I did like the PowerScore CR Bible for CR more and still feel like their Manhattan RC guide is a bit too convoluted.

    • Thanks a lot for your quick reply ! That's awesome. Do you have an updated version of this plan that includes Manhattan ?

  • Unfortunately I don't. However, you can build one yourself: just replace the appropriate resources with MGMAT books. For instance, replace the three Kaplan books (Premier, Verbal and Math) with the MGMAT guides (use the 5 quant guides to replace everything math related and the other 3 verbal guides to replace everything verbal related). In the end this article was meant to be more of a general guideline on how to build a plan rather than a very strict thing! That being said, the Kaplan resources are not bad either, it's just that the MGMAT ones are a bit more thorough.

  • Dear Dana...Currently I have joined the Princeton review course and gave a princeton review CAT test. I score around 500 and require a score of 650. I have one month left. I also hav the following books: OG guide 12th edition, Princeton review for concepts, Kaplan premier. Please Advise

  • I don't really know what to say since I can't know for sure how much the course will help you. I have never taken a full course myself and besides this, each instructor is unique! I know one thing though: a 150-point increase in one month is not easy to get. You might want to supplement your prep with a couple of books that address your weaknesses. For instance, if SC is your weakness, then go for the Manhattan GMAT SC guide. If it's CR, then try the PowerScore CR Bible.

  • Hi. Danaj This was really informative. Thanks a lot.

    I already have given a GMAT and scored a 610. Quant was 48 and Verbal is a meager 25. I really want to up my Verbal score. SC has always been my pain point. I had to hurry up SC during my first attempt.

    I still have'nt taken a date and want to figure out a plan to get started. Please guide me. I am aiming for a score above 700.

  • It's obvious that you need to focus on verbal right now. You haven't mentioned what resources you've used so far, but here are my favorites:
    - Official Guides 12ed. and the Verbal one
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book
    If I were you, I'd work on the theory first and then practice using the Official Guides. Also, don't forget to take notes and make flashcards - don't just breeze through the material! It's a good idea to start working on your general knowledge of English by reading 30 mins a day (I assume you're Indian because you share the first name of HBS' Dean :) ).
    Good luck!

  • Thanks a lot for an instant reply and yes I am from India. :)
    It has now been just over 2months when i gave my GMAT. sorry I posted in the wrong section ,should have posted this on the Retaking section.
    I got to know about the GMAT forums just a 15 days before the exams and my prep scores were in the range of 580 -600.
    My main problem has been SC. I got to know about Manhattan SC books also quite late during my prep.
    My problem last time was prep time was less and I was quite overconfident that I would get a 700+ score quite easily.
    My prep materials were
    OG 12th edition and MGMAT books during the end of the prep.
    Kaplan 800 also I started quite at the end.

    The main problem is that I tried to take do all the stuff 15-20 days before the exam and with my proficiency in Maths I did get a good score but could'nt match the Verbal targets.
    Being from an Engineering background, I am quite familiar with Maths but still I dont want to get overconfident now.
    I wanted to start and look how consistent i am in my prep and then take a date.
    Is this the right approach?
    I need to get the basics clear for English Grammer for SC. Any specific materials for that?
    another confusion I have is Kaplan Princeton and Manhattan , I have most of the books. But I get confused that which one should be my focus point and which should be secondary.

  • I think you should focus on the Manhattan books right now and supplement those with practice from the official guides. It's a good idea to give yourself enough time to study, so yes, book a date whenever you feel it's best. It does take a while to see any meaningful improvement in verbal, you can't just polish your English over night. Give yourself about a month or two to get the score you need.
    For a more basic verbal resource, check out the Foundations of Verbal by Manhattan GMAT.

  • Thanks a lot. I will chalk out a Plan and try to stick to yet... Thanks a lot for your comments.

  • Hi Dana,

    I am a non native MBA aspirant from Zimbabwe, Africa and am aiming for Fall 2013 admission to top schools in US. This means i still have a year to prepare and retake the GMAT after i took it twice with no success.I was very casual in preparation and never took even a single practice test. I scored 330 in November 2010 and 410 in January 2011. I only casually browsed a few pages of the Princeton Review (2009) which and thought the test was an easy go. I have recently been introduced to the Forum and read your exellent post which converted and rejuvinated me.

    I am not a genius in math and verbal but one thing I know about myself is I can easily grasp math concepts and I have the drive to learn. I ordered the Official GMAT Verbal and Quant Reviews and these are the only books I have so far. I am planning to order a few more recomendations of yours but allow me to ask which books i can order given my background. I also did Finance in College.

    I intend to start studying on 01 January 2012 and would like to take the rest of this year compiling the literature. I intend to hit the 750 mark in April 2012.

    Be blessed for your hand Danna, u the best!

  • Hey Cosmas,
    Here are my favorite resources:
    - Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides and the sentence correction book
    - PowerScore Critical Reasoning Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book
    If you get all of these and study properly, then I guarantee you'll get a score in the 600s. Good luck!

    • Hi Dana,

      Thanks for the comment and input. But I need a 750 score not in the 600s. How is that achievable? I'm prepared to put in the extra effort.

      Thanks a lot and be blessed.

  • I think these resources should be enough for hitting a higher score as well. However, past a certain point it comes down to more than just the books you have. It's up to you to make the most of these books, i.e. study properly and carefully, taking notes, making flashcards, reviewing and keeping an error log.
    The problem is that you're starting off at a pretty low point. If your basics are weak, then use the Foundations of Math and Foundations of Verbal from Manhattan GMAT books before you jump in the books I listed above. You might also need to help of a tutor for a bit if you struggle with the more simple stuff. I'm sure that after a while, you'd work things out on your own, but the foundations might require some special assistance.

  • Hi Dana, I am starting with my 3 month GMAT Prep plan, can you please recommend the best books that covers everything? Thato

  • Here are my favorites:
    - Official Guide 12ed.
    - Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book

  • Hi Dana, 

    Thanks for sharing this plan.

    I hope I can stick to it. However, I wanted to know if you have a specific reason to start off with Math and then follow it with Verbal. 
    Also, what according to you is a decent score to start off from, talking about the GMAT Prep Practice Test 1.   

    Let me know your thoughts. 
    Thanks again!

  • People usually say that math is easier to improve upon compared to verbal. Also, if you're a non native speaker, it makes more sense to work on verbal last so that part is very fresh for you. I can't say there's any reason why you shouldn't combine the two though, if you feel you're equally strong in quant and verbal.
    The decent score you mention depends on your target score. If you're aiming for a 700, then getting a 600 in your first practice test is a good sign.

  • Thanks for your response. 

    I do think I need to work on my verbal from a conceptual standpoint, something i found out after i took the first Prep Test. I am thus planning to focus on verbal first followed by quant. This will also give me sufficient time to practice while working on my quant.

    As for the score, i am aiming at a 700+ score. I scored a 550 in the First Prep Test, a majority of my mistakes being careless ones. 

    Thoughts please. 
    Thanks again!

  • Dana,
    This is my draft shopping list. Should I add or drop anything ? I'm considering to drop the Kaplan ones. I'll greatly appreciate your comments
    Kaplan - GMAT Verbal Workbook - USD 13.60Official Guide for GMAT review - USD 21.43 ***GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible - USD 23.09 ***Manhattan set of 8 guides - USD 100.12 ***Official Guide Quant- USD 10.22 ***Kaplan Math - USD 11.49Official Guide Verbal - 10.23 ***Manhattan Advance Quant - USD 14.89 ***Veritas RC book ***

  • @Rohan, that makes sense too. The key is that once you're done with verbal and move on to quant, you shouldn't completely neglect verbal either. Do 3-4 SC, CR and RC questions per day besides your usual quant routine to keep stuff fresh! I think you can go to a 700+ from a 550 in 3 months as long as you work on your weaknesses and have the right resources.

  • @Luisl: Yup, I agree. There will be significant overlap between the Kaplan books and the Manhattan ones. The Manhattan ones are more complete anyway. But IMHO, there will also be some overlap between MGMAT CR and RC and the CR Bible and Veritas Prep RC. I personally prefer the CR Bible and Veritas Prep RC. Not sure it's worth buying all four books on CR and RC, again because of the overlap. Hope this helps.

    • Thank you sooo much. Am I also well covered on SC, DS and PS with those books ? I really want (and I will) hit it out of the park.
      Again, thanks a lot for your great advise !!

  • Luisl, I think you should be good with those books overall. PS and SC are definitely well covered. For DS, I think there's good coverage, but if later on you feel the need for more, you can always buy the Veritas Prep DS book. I wouldn't recommend this extra resource however unless you're stuck with DS later on - I think it would be an overkill to buy it now.

  • Hi Dana,

    I need your valuable advice please :

    I am now following a kind of 3-3.5 month study plan( my GMAT is end of May'12).

    I had started my preparation after buying the Manhattan GMAT 8 Strategy Guides ( 5 Quant and 3 Verbal).

    I started with the 1st guide Number Properties. It's giving me an excellent foundation to understand and practice the basics and concepts.At the same time; its too detailed and the information is too much!

    My problem is the following:

    After seeing the contents of the 8 strategy guides; I feel that I need to invest almost my full time for the next 3 months; to complete the Manhattan 8 strategy guides end to end. Each of the Manhattan guides contains lot of concepts,practice questions to reinforce the concepts and then reference to OG 12 problems.

    I don't have so much time on hand since I am full time working and have 2 kids. I can invest daily 2 hrs on a week day and 5hrs on weekends.

    In line with this :

    1) Can you please advice how I should use the Manhattan GMAT 8 strategy guides so that I can focus better and optimize my preparation time.

    2) My main problem is that : I feel that the content of Manhattan GMAT 8 strategy guides are too detail oriented and I am very overwhelmed. If I count the total number of pages in the 5 quant strategy guides it comes to ~840 pages. In additon to this there are 3 more gudies for verbal( SC,CR,RC). I don't think I can complete reading such huge content.

    3) Did I make a mistake by buying Manhattan GMAT 8 strategy guides? Are there any better single reference books(that gives good foundation and less content)for quant and verbal?

    Please give your guidance and valuable inputs on how I should re-orient my preparation using the Manhattan GMAT 8 strategy guides?

    Can I skip any of the guides out of the 8 below:

    Guide 1 : Number Properties
    Guide 2 : Fractions, Decimals and Percents
    Guide 3 : Equations, Inequalities
    Guide 4 : Word Translations
    Guide 5 : Geometry
    Guide 6 : Critical Reasoning
    Guide 7 : Reading Comprehension
    Guide 8 : Sentence Correction

    At the same time I don't want to cut corners during my preparation.

    Thanks a lot for your help.

    Looking forward for your earliest feedback and help.

    Best Regards,
    Bharath S

  • Yup I definitely agree they can look pretty overwhelming. The thing is, you don't need to remember all the details! At least that's how I see it. Of the guides that you list, you can only lightly browse through Equations and Inequalities and Geometry and completely eliminate Fractions, Decimals and Percents. There are other books you could use, like the Kaplan Math Workbook, but that's not nearly as complete as the Manhattan ones. I feel you have plenty of time on your hands (even given your family and work) to be able to complete this!

    • Hi Dana,

      Many thanks for your valuable inputs. Please advice as below:

      a) If I give a light reading of Equations,Inequalities and Geometry book - probably spending 5hrs on each book is sufficient?

      b) If I eliminate Fractions,Decimals&Percents : are there any short guides or notes that I can use as a replacement( would be helpful if you can tell from your experience)?

      c) For the Verbal : Do I need to do Reading Comprehension? I see that many poeple say that this will get covered when we read the Critical Reasoning?

      Please give me you guidance and help. I look forward to you.

      Many thanks.

      Best Regards,
      Bharath S

  • Hello Dana,

    I have taken the Gmat 3 times already but over 3 years. twice in 2010 and once in 2009. I just hit the exam day the first two times without serious preparation but I prepared really well before I took it the third time. My scores were 420/420/510

    I decided to face work in 2011 and I'm back at the GMAT this year, I've bought the quant guide set from Manhattan and I'm about to start preparing using the 60day study guide. i have moved closer to work so that I can cut out almost 4hrs spent commuting everyday from work and utilize same for study. Going through your recommendations above which tends towards the 3 month study plan. Do you think I should abandon the 2 months plan or I should carry on? Would I still be able to hit the 700 score whith my dedication to the 2 month plan?

  • Hey Opsymops, I think you can! Most people study for 2-3 months anyway and given that you have more time on your hands now, you should be good with the 60 day study guide. You've obviously bought some really good books (don't forget to get the Official Guide too if you haven't already), so you should be in good shape! Good luck!

  • Hello Dana, respect for your dedication in helping all those asking and wondering people, struggling for the GMAT. Well, my situation is not quite different. I plan to take the test around the middle of April 2012, therefore I have 2 months to prepare. Simultaneously, I have to take the TOEFL, which seems to be a warming work-out before the GMAT. The good point is that I have all that time free of any obligations like job, family, etc. so I can be devoted only to my prep. Reallistically speaking, more than 10 hours per day is unnecessary and has no sense. Although I graduated a math high school, I don't deem myself good enough and honesty my math is a bit rusty.
    My target is 600+ points. I'm already supplied with Manhattan 8 strategies and Official Guide 12th edintion; and still looking for OG quantitative and verbal 2nd editions. According to these specifications, could you propose me an appropiate syllabus? Thank you in advance! I really appriciate your support!

    Best regards,
    Onik Arabyan

  • Don't kill yourself studying - more than 8 hours a day might be too much anyway! Beyond a certain point, you start zoning out and stuff doesn't stick as much. I feel like the resources you've listed are some of the best out there, so definitely follow them! I suggest going through the quant guides in order (i.e. start with Number Properties, then go for the next ones etc.). You can mix that up with verbal or leave verbal for the last few weeks.

  • Thank you, Dana!

  • Hello Dana,

    I appreciate this opportunity to ask a few questions regarding GMAT prep. Thank you!

    My situation is a strange one. I have taken classes for GMAT prep - Manhattan and Veritas. My life was quite chaotic, and I really do not think I devoted myself to those classes. Last year, I studied for about three months. I still only scored a 530.

    My biggest problem is when I am in the testing center. I seem to lose my focus, and then I just give up. I always do very well on the AWA, with a usual 6.0. I also seem to have a better performance level on verbal. Not really sure what happens during the quant section - I just tend to blank out, and I forget all of my rules. I think I may have a serious issue with test anxiety. I see a counselor for that at the moment.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to target this problem with my new study plan? I am determined to apply to some great schools, and I want to have a competitive score. Do you think taking many different CATS/practice tests would help me overcome this problem? How do I keep myself motivated, even when my practice test scores are not what I want to see?

    I have all the material suggested in here:

    Manhattan GMAT Guides (all eight - two different volumes)
    Power Score CR & SC Bibles
    Official Guide 12
    Verbal and Quant OG (green and blue books)
    Veritas Prep Books - the only book I like here is on combinatorics and advanced principles
    *I also started to maintain an OG tracker - to evaluate my test scores and mistakes, and to evaluate my weaknesses

    I also got some advice that I should be able to solve 90% of my drills, and then I should move on to another section.

    What drills are the best? Is it better to start over with questions from the Manhattan GMAT book, just to start? My main concern is that I have seen all of these questions multiple times!

    In any event, one of my advisors told me that I need to focus more on my stamina and improvement in my anxiety level when taking practice CATs. Is that reasonable? I think it is hard for me to remember and recall material when I am in the actual testing center.

    Sorry for the lengthy post. Thanks so much for your time and consideration.


  • Angie, given the info you've provided above, I tend to agree that your problem is not as much what you study as how you deal with test day. To be clear, I believe you already have all the materials you need and I can't recommend more than going through them again. Anxiety can severely impact your test day performance and tackling that would be essential to getting a better score. Unfortunately, I'm not an expert in that field, because for some reason I tend to "zone out" and be one with the test whenever I have to take exams. I do like this article on struggling with the GMAT though: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2011/12/19/studying-for-and-struggling-with-the-gmat You'll find plenty of good info in it! I will say this though: it might be hard to do, but try to think about the GMAT as what it really is. It's just a test, it won't dramatically change your life, and you can always retake. It's not a do or die situation!
    Taking CATs is important for building stamina, but you shouldn't take more than one a week. CATs are exhausting and you don't really learn that much content. Also, in terms of drills, I recommend going through the OG problems as you review MGMAT books. Each MGMAT book has a set of OG problems for the topics in it.
    My advice to you overall is: face your anxiety head on and start working on concepts using a different approach from the one you use now. For instance, you mention that you tend to black out and forget all the rules. Have you ever considered writing flashcards for stuff? We have some flashcards on BTG as well, but nothing beats creating your own. Good luck!

  • Hello DanaJ,

    Thanks so much for your great response.

    I will most definitely do what you suggested. I also like the idea of flashcards. I actually have about a hundred or so of written flashcards. I will organize them and go through them each day. I did not make the most adequate use of them last time, so I plan to do so again. I also like the Manhattan GMAT flash cards, which I also used.

    I am also going to review the article that you sent me. Thank you!

    I plan to fully tackle this as much as possible. I was hoping that I could take the test in May, which would give me about three months or so. My goal is to make Round 1 or early Round 2 this year.

    Thanks again - I appreciate your advice. It is very helpful.


  • Question, this study plan was written in 2009. The guides listed are older and I was wondering if the newest editions should be replaced with the ones currently listed.

    Thank you

  • Tyler, the guides I listed above are virtually unchanged from edition to edition, so feel free to use them. However, you're sort of right: since 2009, I've reviewed other books too and have come to the conclusion that Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides is superior to the Kaplan books for the quant part.

  • Can u restructure the 3 month GMAT self-study-plan as the new pattern is fast approaching.. Since ppl who r staying to prepare fresh (like me) who might give their first gmat which follows the new pattern will be really useful and will be a guide for a lot of people.

  • Yup we will most likely improve this plan, but first and foremost we need to get some resources on IR. So far, no books have been published, official or otherwise. The content tested on IR is already being tested on quant and verbal, so you should be good anyway.

  • Hello DanaJ, I really like your 3 month plan and want to follow it as mush as possible. One thing I wanted to ask you, as a previous comment, is to update the necessary material if it is outdated. I have already with me Manhattan 8 strategies and Official Guide 12th edition, I'm also planning to buy PowerScore’s Critical Reasoning Bible, as I have weakness in verbal section (I'm non native speaker). What else do you recommend to buy to improve my verbal skills? I'm quite good in Math, I have taken the exam last year (not really prepared it) and got 570 and want to improve it to 700+. Finally, can you, by any chance, recommend how to prepare for 2 essays?

    • thank you in advance for your help.

  • Well the materials you have right now + the CR Bible should be enough to get you to a 700+. If you'd like an extra resource on verbal, you can check out the Foundations of Verbal from Manhattan GMAT, but given your score of 570, I'm not sure that's needed. Maybe only if your raw verbal score was below 20. Otherwise, I think you're good. There isn't really that much to worry about when it comes to the two essays. It's all about finding a couple of good templates. You'll find some of them in our GMAT library here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/category/tags/gmat-awa-essays I can't recommend more than that because I personally feel it doesn't take that much to get a decent score in the AWA and that's really all you need.

    • Thanks DanaJ, actually I tried Gmat prep software last year before the exam 3 times and I got 600, 650 and 710 of 715 don't remember exactly, but I was really nervous on the exam day and really couldn't concentrate on the exam at all. I can explain it for 2 reasons: 1 is that I'm quite emotional person and despite the huge number of tests I have taken in my lifetime, I am always nervous, and 2 is that I hadn't practiced a lot, did several tests only. This time I hope I will feel more confident. Thank you very much for your prompt response.

  • Hi Dana J,
    Firstly, let me thank you for your post. It really helped me through my last prep. But, I will be retaking the test now.
    Please take some time to go through my post and please advice me as to how to go about it this time around.


  • Hi Dana, I just recently took the GMAT and I was really disappointed on my score which was way below average. I spent a month studying just from the Official Guide, but my score was as if I did not even knew what the test was about. Now, I got the 8 books of the Manhattan Guide, and also the OG 12th. edition, my goal is to score 600+. How much time would you recommend before taking the test again, I was thinking 2 months, and studying 6-8 hrs from Monday to Friday. Is this a reasonable time? 

    Thanks for your answer in advance.

  • I think so! The Manhattan books are really good. In fact you can't really prep completely with only the OG, because its strategy portion is seriously lacking.

  • Hi DanaJ,

    I am thinking of taking the GMAT in about 4 months time from now, with the expected change of pattern, do u think the above specified books and also the strategy remains the same? Please suggest a list of good books to study?

    Thanks and regards,

  • The new section tests stuff you were already familiar with if you'd have taken the GMAT before, so I'm not too worried about it. So far, no major prep company has released a relevant Integrated Reasoning book, so there isn't really a resource I could recommend except the Official Guide 13th edition which was just published this week.

  • Hi I am a bad test taker especially on standardized tests. I am also pretty rusty on math and verbal. I did horrible on SAT's (1050 score) after tons of studying including a Kaplan course, Princeton review private tutor, and a few hundred hours of studying.  At the time I had an un-diagnosed speed processing learning disability about 14 years ago and I never was able to finish even one section. I am now going to try to tackle the GMAT. Thankfully I now get up to 50% extra time on tests, so the time factor should no longer be an issue. I am self employed so I have plenty of time to study and will most likely spend 4 hours per day during the week days and 2 hours per day on the weekends, so about 24 hours a week for up to 6 months (575 hours) if I really need to spend that much time. I am wondering if the GMAT material is something that can be learned in this amount of time by someone who isn't a good student and lacking in both verbal and math skills, but has extreme discipline to study whatever is needed? If so what would be the best mix of books and self study courses to use if the cost is not an issue? 

    In terms of a target score the masters program I am trying to get into has no minimum however the average is 601 and the range is 480-710, so a 600 would probably be good enough.

    • Check out my personal favorite books:
      - Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides and their SC guide
      - PowerScore CR Bible
      - Veritas Prep RC
      - Official guides for practice
      I think you have enough time on your hands to go through all of them! I'm confident you can score in the 600s using these materials. Good luck!

  • I would like to add something to this discussion.

    I have been on a GMAT Prep roller coaster for quite some time. I always thought that you have to follow a strict plan, review every book in existence, and hundreds and hundreds of problems.

    What I am noticing in my own preparation is that I have been through all the fundamentals. I KNOW the math. The problem is the approach. The way to approach a problem to get the answer.

    I have a tutor now that has explained to me that it is how you "retrain your brain" to think in "GMAT-ease". When you look at a problem during the course of your study, just attack it. Don't think "I am unsure, I don't know if this is right". Just follow your instinct.

    For instance, when I was doing a ratio problem with my tutor yesterday evening, I noticed that I tried to bring in earlier knowledge of my previous study into the problem. I did not attack it with a "blank slate". He showed me that it is important to bring out that part of your reasoning that can rationalize a problem and explore the correct avenue.

    That being said, if you need fundamentals, the Manhattan GMAT books are amazing. I would definitely try them. However, just remember that there are ways to do problems - Manhattan's methods are not always the way that it HAS to be done. Explore multiple ways to do things. Get the concepts DOWN. Most importantly, understand how you approach a problem, and remember how to do it that same way the next time around.

  • Just now seriously considering getting into business school. I'm thinking that I should just go out the gate and take a practice test to see where I am.  I just bought Powerscore-GMAT CR bible, Official Guide for GMAT quant. review 2nd ed., Official Guide for GMAT verbal review 2nd ed., Manhattan SC GMAT Prep Guide 4th ed., Barron's GMAT Math Workbook, and the Official guide for GMAT review 12th ed. Is it recommended to just take a practice test to baseline my abilities and then kickoff a 3month study plan?  I'm looking to take the test in Late July or Early Aug.  Thanks for the great board.

  • Yup, that's pretty much what you should do. Just a quick note though, the Barron's book might be a bit easy if you're aiming for a higher score. It's good as a starter.

  • Hi Dana, I am planning to take GMAT in August end...I have started my preparation in Feb end and could only spend 2hrs a day in weekdays and 4-5hrs in weekends. Is the time sufficient to complete preparation by July?Thanks in advance.

  • People usually study that much, since most of them are working just like you are. I think that should be good!

  • Hi Dana, I took the GMATprep Diagnostic test yesterday.My scores are V26 Q36 O530.
    I am looking at 710-730 range.i am going to follow the list of books that u have mentioned in this forum:Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides and their SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC
    - Official guides for practice.
    My questions:

    1)Are these books enough for a non native speaker like me to improve verbal.I am doing a fair bit of newspaper reading everyday(What we get in INdia not WSJ or NYT).
    2)I am planning to take the test in november.This is because I am quite rusty since I have been working for past 3.8 yrs.Do you suggest me to write earlier?3)After reviewing ur forum I came to know that one should go through the concepts firsts and only then one should attempt reading OG 13.Am I right?4)Should I start with Quant first or Verbal first..Pl help.Thanks.

  • 1) You might also want to supplement it with the Foundations of Verbal book from Manhattan, although it's not 100% necessary. I think spending your time reading stuff is great!

    2) I think that spending more than 3-4 months on the test is usually counterproductive - we tend to forget what we learn after a while. Of course, only you know your current level and time availability, so if you can only put in 30 mins per day then yes, it's probably better to take it in Nov.

    3) Yup, that's correct. You should also try to practice from the OG as close to the actual test date as possible, it helps keep the official material fresh.

    4) People usually start with quant because it's easier to improve upon. Given your score, that might be the way to go as well.

  • Thanks dana.. I will get back to you if I have any more doubts

  • Hi Dana, I am planning to buy GMAt books.
    Is amazon.com the best place to buy GMAT books at discount rates or do u know of any other community?

  • I think they have the lowest price for books, yes. Unless you can find a place to buy them used...

    • Thanks

  • @Shreenath - You may wanna try flipkart as well. I'm not sure whether the prices at flipkart are less than those at amazon, but what's the harm to check.

  • Hi dana, Sorry for bugging u again.Is it realistically possible to go from a 530 to 680 in three-four months time?

  • I think so - I would normally adivse to go for at least 2 months, so 3-4 is fine. Just don't overkill it.

  • Hi Dana,

    Hope you are dong fine.
    I had a question for you.

    1)I have started working on Quant with MGMAT 4th edition.You had earlier mentioned that one should work out OG problems as close to the actual
    test date as possible.But in MGMAT there are OG questions for practise after every section.So should I keep them for the last or should I practise them right after every section?

    2)I am practising with og 12 and MGMAT 4th edition.
    Is there any difference between the 12th edition and 13th edition apart fron Integrated reasoning section.Should I purchase the OG13 necessarily?

    • I think you should try to practice some while you study, but either keep some for right before the test or, even better, review right before the test.
      There is some difference between the two editions, but it's really not big, so I don't feel you need the most recent edition to do well.

  • Dana -- I really looked to see if this question was already asked but no luck finding it.

    First, is there a specific reason you suggest studying math first and then verbal? Why not the other way around?

    I've taken the test twice and saw dramatic swings in my Quant and Verbal Scores. The first time around I only managed a 31 in Verbal but had a 42 in Quant. Yet when I took it the second time my scores nearly reversed, with a 40 in Verbal and a 29 in Quant. I wonder which of the two I really need to concentrate on.

    • It's usually easier to study quant first because it's more rule based, whereas verbal is a bit more subtle and thus harder to improve upon. It's not a practice that's set in stone, you can of course study whichever you feel like first.
      I guess the thing in your case is that you need to focus fairly equally on both parts. I have the feeling that you started studying a lot for verbal on your second try and completely (or nearly) ignored quant, but it's not the way to go. Even if you have a weakness, it's always better to also practice your strength just to keep it strong.

  • Hi Dana

    I am right now practicing with OG 12th edition and have made my schedule to finish my preparation in 4 months time and appear for GMAT only then. I am quite optimistic and am targeting a score of 750+ I have a couple of questions.
    1)The Quants questions in OG 12th edition appeared quite simple to me. Will they be of the same level in the actual test.
    2) Once all problems in the OG, have been solved, I have planned to put my effort solving Kaplan GMAT Premier 2010 edition and also get the OG 13th edition for the Integrated Reasoning and some more practice. Is getting the Manhattan course material necessary?

  • 1) For high scorers, at least the first few questions in the OG 12 might seem quite easy. However, don't underestimate quant difficulty on test day! I still advise you to practice as much as possible from the OG, especially latter problems.
    2) I prefer the MGMAT materials to the Kaplan ones, but it's up to what materials you have. I would also take a practice score after going through the books you listed. If you're a long way away from your target score, then indeed consider buying the MGMAT books.

  • hello DanaJ,
     Actually i have started my gmat preps already....but this plan looks really good and i would like to follow it....
    basically to know our strenghts and weaknesses u advice us to take the diagnostic test or a practice test....can pls suggest where to take the test from ...??? and say i hv got 30 quants and 25 verbal questions crrct in a test how do i convert it to a ovr score....
    where is the procedure to convert our score...????....
    Thank u ....

  • hello DanaJ,
     Actually i have started my gmat preps already....but this plan looks really good and i would like to follow it....
    basically to know our strenghts and weaknesses u advice us to take the diagnostic test or a practice test....can pls suggest where to take the test from ...??? and say i hv got 30 quants and 25 verbal questions crrct in a test how do i convert it to a ovr score....

  • I advise you to take an online test from mba.com, where you can find the GMAT preparation software. This test is the closest thing to the real deal and will give you three scores at the end: a quant score, a verbal score and an overall score. You can tell by the percentiles which area needs to be improved upon.

    • thank u very much for ur help....what if i write an offline test from a book and want to know my score out of 800...????

  • You can't really translate the number of questions you get wrong in a paper test to an actual score that you'd see on an adaptive version of the test. It can still help you identify where you need to work though. For instance, if you get 20 out of 37 wrong in quant and get only 5 out of 41 wrong in verbal, it's obvious you need to spend more time on verbal. Similarly, if you get all sentence correction questions wrong but get only one wrong in reading comp, then of course focus on sentence correction. You need to use your best judgment here and in case you cannot figure your weaknesses yourself, I recommend hiring a tutor (but that's expensive, of course).

    • Is it necessary to learn a word list(on an avg it contains 3000 word) as people do it in gre if im not a native speaker....???...

    • Not at all. The GMAT is not a vocabulary test, it's more about grammar and critical thinking.

  • i took two diagnostic tests and my avg score is around 500.....so what do u think i shud do....??....undergo coaching or self preparation would do..??...is it a good score to start with..???...
    this forum is really helping me a lot......thank u very much for all the support...:)..

  • It really depends on where you want to be. If you want to go to 700+, you probably need to spend about 3 months studying. The various books from Manhattan GMAT are a good start and the OG is really good for practice. If your score is really lopsided, i.e. your verbal is significantly lower than your quant, then you may need the help of a tutor.

  • Hi Dana,

    I am preparing sincerely for my GMAT exam scheduled on sep 30th.Thanks for your guidance so far.I have st arted Vebal practise hoewever I have no clue to approach RC.I have 2 books with me MGMAT RC guide and Aristotle RC 99.My queries are:

    1.Does the Rc strategy vary from person to person?Does one have to figure the best strategy by oneself?

    2.What should be the books that I should be following?

    RC 99 - Good practise passages but no strategy.
    MGMAT RC - Abstract strategy,less practise.

    3.How much does reading "main point question type" from powerscore cr bible help in RC?Does mastering Main point quesion type help in mastering all types of RC questions?

    Pl help me out

  • 1. Yes, you should use the strategy that works best for you. In general there is no one-size-fits-all model for RC. I personally almost never take notes, but I've seen instructors that always take notes. It is a bit of a trial and error in the beginning to figure out what works and what not, but it's worth it.
    2. I am very suspicious of this RC 99 product. It was proven that it contains some passages stolen from Kaplan MCAT books, so I am generally doubtful of its quality. I think for practice, nothing really beats the OG. The Veritas Prep RC book is also very solid on that front, with plenty of passages. I generally like MGMAT, but I believe their techniques for approaching RC are too convoluted and not really feasible in the limited time you have on the actual test.
    3. Loved that chapter! That's why I've always said the CR Bible is good for both CR and RC. I strongly recommend leveraging the info from the CR Bible in RC questions.

  • I wrote my gmat in the month of May and scored a 650 ( Q 45 and V 34 ). I had always got around 650- 680 in Manhattan Test series and GmatPrep. On test day i clearly screwed up some questions in the middle of quants and panicked. Should have scored a bit higher on quants otherwise. Verbal I am constantly in the range of 32 - 35 in almost all my practice tests. Sentence correction being the most dreaded section for me. Even though i get almost equal number of wrong answers in all verbal sections I feel I am guessing more in SC.

    Books Used : OG 12, Kaplan Advanced 800, Princeton Review
    Tests attempted : 3 Tests in Manhattan series and 2 GMAT preps 
    ( Didn't take  practice tests under real conditions I skipped essays, took breaks more than the actual time)

    I am planning to take up more realistic tests this time since i struggled through my last attempt without stamina and focus.

    I am thinking of using Kaplan test series this time around since I have attempted most of the tests in Manhattan series.

    Any suggestions on books that can be used and practice test series that could be used.

    And thanks for the strategy I am planning to customise according to my need. Another thing i feel is i studied without any strategy or plan in place last time around. I just studied randomly whatever i felt like studying on that particular day.

  • Your score isn't at all surprising given your practice test scores. The test itself is built with a 30-point confidence interval. Indeed, not having a plan and just randomly practicing isn't the most effective study method. Keep an error log, review questions that you've answered incorrectly and make flashcards.
    You mention using the MGMAT tests, but not the MGMAT books. Those are some really good books for you, especially the SC one, which is one of the best. Kaplan tests are OK, although I have felt in the past that each section was a bit off.

  • Hi Dana, first of all i would like to say that im impressed of your devotion/work to answer everyones question, cudos for doing that. I was just wondering if these materials are sufficient for a 700+ score. I will devote 4-6 hours every day for 3 months, as i know i need alot of practice in both verbal and quant. The materials are: 6 MGMAT Cat, 2 GMAT prep Cat, OG 13, OG verbal review, OG quant review, MGMAT strategy guides (edition 5, set of 10) and last but not least the PowerScore CR Bible. I will also use the btg flash cards and keep an error log. Do you think the material are good enough for 700+ and if not, is there something i could add or change?

  • IMHO you have the best stuff available and you should be able to hit 700, but of course this depends on your personal situation. If you are starting at a very low level you might need the help of a tutor, but if your starting score is above 500 you should be good to go!

  • Hi Dana, 
               I plan to write the GMAT in December (last week) and can give 10-15 hrs per week for the prep, which I wish to start nxt week. I have gathered the following material - 
    Manhattan GMAT Verbal Strategy Guide Set - Manhattan Gmat
    Kaplan GMAT 800: Advanced Prep for Advanced Students - Kaplan
            OG-verbal review

    I am well off in Quant. I am a non-native speaker, hence would like to focus on verbal. Do I need the following additional books -

    1. Manhattan Advanced Quant
    2. Manhattan IR Guide
    3. Powerscore CR bible

    My target score is 780.

    Secondly, I plan to give approx 10 practice tests ( with similar or higher difficulty to the GMAT)  before GMAT. How can I gather these tests in the cheapest way?


  • I think you need to take a moment to evaluate where you stand at present before jumping into prep and setting a target like that. I recommend taking a practice test - I really helps gauge your current level. Don't neglect quant, it's an important part of the score and you might be surprised by things such as DS. The books you have right now are sufficient for your verbal part, but definitely not enough for quant. You might want to consider buying the MGMAT quant set as well, depending on how you do on the diagnostic test. Also, I believe 10 tests is a bit too much - I would tone it down to at most one every week and even one every two weeks in the first month or so. You get 2 tests from the official GMATPrep software which you can retake once without a significant impact on your score, so that makes 4 tests. You can supplement that with MGMAT tests that you get access to when buying any one of their books.

  • Sorry for the late reply. Just wanted to say thank you for the feedback.

  • Hi Dana,

    I am planning to give my GMAT in DEC and I have chalked out the following plan. Is this fine:

    Kaplan GMAT premier 2013
    MGMAT numbers and word translations

    MGMAT SC,RC and Powerscore CR bible

    Practice: OG official guide, Princeton 1037 practice questions

    Tests: Kaplan tests, GMAT prep

    Also I was reading about Kaplan advanced book for 700+ score. Can you please throw light on this book.

  • Yes, your book list sounds fine, although I would probably replace the Princeton practice book with something else like the OG supplements. I would take the MGMAT tests before taking the Kaplan ones, the MGMAT tests are said to be better. The Kaplan 800 Advanced book isn't perfect, in my opinion, I don't really think you need it.

  • Ok Thanks a lot ... The OG supplements you referred to was the OG verbal and quants right. Is there any overlap between the OG guide and these 2 books ?

  • Yes, those are the books. There's no overlap between them.

  • Hi Friends,

    I am planning to write GMAT and am not that much aware of that. I would like to have your advice to how to proceed. Please let me know how much time I need to prepare for GMAT and when is the right time ro appear for the exam. Thanks in advance.

  • Hi,
    Is there any difference if i choose a book that is newer edition vs an old edition?


  • It really depends on the book, but most companies have overhauled their products this year, so I would say that more recent editions of most books will be different than older ones.

  • I see that there is a daily 60 day study guide email.  Is there a 90 day study guide email available?

  • No, sorry, we never developed a 90-day email study plan.

  • Hi Dana,

    Thanks for your posts. They have been extremely helpful and informative.
    I have already purchased the full Manhattan GMAT set (Roadmap + Foundations of Math & Verbal + 5 Quant Strategy Guides + CR + RC + SC + IR + Advanced Quant). Given that I already have the CR included in the set, should I also buy the PowerScore CR Bible? You have listed it as your favourite for CR so I'm wondering if I should read both or just the MGMAT or just the PowerScore (leaving out the MGMAT I already have).


  • Yeah it is my favorite, but that doesn't mean that MGMAT CR is bad. In fact it's pretty good! I think you should go through it and if you still feel like you need more help, buy the CR Bible.

  • Hi Dana, 

    Thanks for the review. I was wondering if I am using some online prep like Master GMAT, does that mean that I can forget about the books? My target is above 700, hopefully 750.

  • A course from Master GMAT should cover all the important topics. However, I still advise you to buy the Official Guide 13th edition because it contains actual, real problems retired from the test. While they all try, test prep companies experience varying degrees of success in replicating the structure and feel of these problems!

    • Sure, that makes sense! I was reading that the OG will have similar questions to the real GMAT too since they are retired questions. It should help a lot in getting the right concepts into my head!

      Thanks Dana!

  • Dear Lana,
    I wanted to ask whether it is also good to use the Manhatten Guide for CR. I have the book from a friend, but if you think that CR from Powerscore much better is, than I would consider purchasing the Powerscore giude...I trust your opinion completely! :) This part seems to be my weakness. thanks Dana

  • I think you should give it a try using the MGMAT guide. If it's not working for you, then I heartily recommend the PowerScore book. My personal favorite is obvious, but the MGMAT book may just do the trick for you.

  • Hi Dana, I am going to prepare for GMAT exam (self study). I have been out of university for many years now, but I still have decent math skills (atleast I would like to think so) as my work involves statistical modelling and analysis. I am just wondering if you would be able to give me some good general tips to score good in the exam. I am targeting in the range of 700-730. Thanks

    • Hi Dana, I should also have mentioned that I have MGMAT strategy guides, powerscore CR bible, Kaplan GMAT premier and , official GMAT guide. Thanks

  • The MGMAT guides and the CR Bible should cover your theoretical needs. You can then use the official guide for practice. In your case, I would first take a practice test to see where you stand in terms of level in both quant and verbal. I wouldn't necessarily dismiss quant as easy from the beginning because it's mostly not statistics, but word problems and other "games." As such, you need to get used to the type of problem first and foremost! But of course, if you get confirmation you are already strong in quant, then work mostly on your verbal.

    • Thanks Dana, this is very helpful

  • Is there a big difference between the new edition of MGMAT Guides for Quant and the previous one? (I think 2010 or so-unfortunatelly I don't have them in front of me at the moment). Thank you. Dana

  • They have reshuffled chapters around a bit, but I'm pretty certain there isn't any major change in content.

  • Hi. I am trying to prepare for my GMAT and I have only purchased the official guide..the 12th and 13th edition. Which other books should I purchase to prepare? all the kaplan books?? Which ones are necessary..im confused since there are so many. Thank you.

  • Since writing this article I have had the chance to review a number of other resources. IMHO the Manhattan GMAT set of 8 books is enough for anyone prepping for the GMAT, but they do take time to cover. If you've got less than 2 months, it's best to go for the Kaplan books. They are not as thorough, but they're still OK.

  • Hi Dana,

    I am on the verge of completing manhattan quants books for gmat. So should I start solving the official GMAT questions on quants or shall I complete the verbal part and then solve OGMAT quants and verbal??

  • It's probably a good idea to work on quant first so the concepts you learned are put to use sooner rather than later. I wouldn't finish the entire OG quant section though, keep some for later for review.

  • Hi Dana,

    I was looking for question banks for GMAT apart from the official guides and I found 2 one from GMAC called GMAT question bank 1 and other is from manhattan online store. Can you help me on which one to buy?

  • The GMAC one has official questions so they're closer to the real thing, but they have lower quality explanations. The MGMAT ones, while still good, are not as good as the real thing but the explanations are much better. As such, depending on where you are with your study, you can go for one or the other. If you feel the need for practice, especially for verbal, GMAC is the right choice. If you're still having problems with concepts I would go for the MGMAT database.

    • Thanks a lot Dana

  • hi Dana,

    Can you please tell on how to study the Idioms part in Sentence correction . I am using manhattan sentence correction guide. Do I need to remember each and every idiom given in that or just skim through those?

  • varun, please try to post your questions in the forums first before posting here, thanks. There is lots of good info in the forums and it's only a search away. If you need to receive more detailed feedback, please contact a tutor as he would get to know you better. Idioms are important but not essential to GMAT study. Ideally you would know them all but it also depends on the amount of time you have for study.

  • Hi Danna, 

    I have reviewed concepts from Cracking the new GMAT by Princeton Review and I am quite comfortable in Quant section. Although, I am still to take the practice test from MBA.com this weekend, I would appreciate your suggestion for a book to practice more and more quant questions (Apart from OG 13th edition). I am targeting ~730 in actual test. 
    Thanks a lot in advance!

  • One more curiosity I have-Should I use "Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction Guide" or Grail's SC book? These both books are highly recommended on this forum and on other forums too, so want to know which one should be my best bet... I like using a book which provides practice questions closest/closer to GMAT questions. 

  • I think the Manhattan quant books are quite good. I was not impressed by the Princeton book, I felt it was too easy for a 700 score, but maybe your foundation is already quite solid. I would again go for the Manhattan SC book, it is considered one of the best out there. I haven't reviewed the Grail SC book you mention, so I can't really give you an informed opinion on it.

  • Hello Danaj,

    I have been going through all the posts here and I am planning to start the preparation in a week's time.

    Could you please advise me the list of "MUST HAVE BOOKS" to beat the GMAT. I am targeting a score of 700 +. The books which are good to start with and then books required for practice. I am looking at a timeframe of 3-4 months.

    Nacho !!

  • I think the OG 13 is the definite must have. Then you have the Manhattan GMAT set of books that are really good. I also very much enjoyed the PowerScore CR Bible.

  • Hi dana,

    Please give me some advice. I gave the gmat once. scored 620. i want to get a 700+ score. I have 3 months to prepare. Can you please suggest a study plan and books to refer?
    For my previous attempt, i did the OG 12th edition, OG verbal review and quant review, Kaplan strategy guide, Manhattan strategy guides. 
    But, as a lot of other people. I work in an IT firm, cant generate time on weekdays.
    I cant put in 1 hour max maybe me weekdays.   I can drill hard on weekends though. 

    i didnt give a lot of mock tests before, i realised that was wrong. i plan to give mock tests more regularly.
    I did ok in the maths section, i need more practise in the verbal section. 

    can you please suggest a study pattern and a list of study material that can help me achieve my goal? 
    a 700+ score? 

    Thanks & Regards,

  • I think you already have the right books, but it seems you may lack the time. Just take as much time as possible to review the strategy guides, they are definitely golden. Please take notes, make your own flashcards and keep an error log. Even one hour a day is a good start. You perhaps want to spend 2/3 of your time on verbal, since it seems you are not a native speaker. Increasing your verbal score will do wonders to the total score! Also, don't focus too much on taking practice tests. Once every two weeks or so is sufficient. You should use them as a way to benchmark where you stand and for pacing, but they don't really teach you that much in terms of content.

    • Thanks a lot Dana.

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  • Hi DanaJ,
    I need to gave a score of 760+...So,this 3 month study plan is derived considering how many hours on weekdays (2-3 hours or more than that...?)...?

    P.S: On weekends I can contribute 5-6 hours. Please consider my question as a general one.

    Much appreciate your feedback.

    • *need to get 760+*..Please ignore the typo above!


  • I think you do need to put in 2-3 hours per day. On weekends, you need slightly more than that. Of course, it also depends on your own personal pace.

    • Hi DanaJ,
      Thanks for your reply...On weekends if I can contribute 7-8 hours each day and on weekdays 4-5 hours each day (somehow I'll have to manage!)..So,36-38 hours roughly per week for 3-3.5 months.So,if I follow this study plan (here I'll add that my maths basics are strong enough as I'm from engineering background and doing good in SC and still working hard in SC along with CR and RC to get 760+...) considering the amount of time I can devote for GMAT prep as mentioned above, please let me know what do you think of myself crossing the 760+ or simply is it doable/realistic...??

      Also please do consider that there'll be some time I would have to dedicate for Application purpose in next 3-4  months...

      Much appreciate your straight forward feedback :)

  • It's really hard for me to say without knowing your baseline score. If you start out at 600 then I think it is doable. If you start out at 400 it's not realistic.

    • Hi DanaJ,
      Really appreciate your reply.
      As far as taking GMAT mock is concerned, apart from the two mock CATs that come with the GMAT prep software, what do you suggest as the best possible mock CAT available free/paid in the market?
      At this stage,I really don't want to exhaust these two full length tests that  provide the most accurate feedback on ones' s ability...

      Much appreciate your insights.

  • Manhattan GMAT provides one of the better tests available out there.

  • Hi Dana,
    I tried the GMATPrep Practice Test and got a 550:
    Quant 33 and Verbal 32.
    Quant was pretty low because I didn't remember most of the properties, formulas, calculation methods, etc. 
    I'm now familiar with the exam structure after taking several practice tests and analyzing answers for every right and wrong question.

    I have already bought the GMAT 13th Edition Review for practice questions,
    and both GMAT Quant and Verbal reviews. However, after reading this thread, I'm not sure if I should get the Kaplan book sets or the Manhattan GMAT material. I am looking for a 720 score aprox., and usually have very good math skills.. I'm just a bit rusty for the moment.

    Thank you in advanced for your answer.

  • I think the MGMAT books are more comprehensive, especially for quant.

  • I have been preparing for GMAT for quite sometime but could never bring it to finish line. I started last year May. Completed the quant in a month time with OG 12 but had health problems and had to be off till October. Did the SC and CR in Nov with OG 12. All of this was on and off prep.

    Finally took a test somewhere in Dec 2012 and scored 560 (Quant 41 and Verbal 26). I found that I really had problem with timing. Also here and there had conceptual problems. Especially with verbal, I took very long to go through the subject matter/questions. I did not touch GMAT book for few weeks before taking the test and never prepared under time conditions.

    During all this on-off prep I used Manhattan Quant guides, CR Bible and Manhattan SC. Prepared the flashcards as well.

    Things got busy at work and I could not start preparing until January 2013. I completed all OG 13 until mid Feb (also went through all the above mentioned books). Then again things became busy at work and quite a bit of travel for work. I was still picking up books whenever I could but that was 2-3 times a week for an hour or so.

    I am completely lost now. I think I am fine with concepts of the subject matter in GMAT. I am familiar with the kind of questions asked. But I am not quite sure where to pick up the preparations again. I pick up one thing one day and another thing another day. Please help me with some suggestion on how to kickstart the prep again. I want to finish it this time.

    Another thing, I want to ask you. I am already at the age (32) where I might be considered an older student at full time program. Does it still make sense to pursue a full time program.

    • The test I took was GMATprep test.

  • I think you do need to approach it in a more structured way. Just start from the beginning, as they say: review (but properly, not just browsing through) the Manhattan guides and re-start your practicing from the OG. There's no point in you going from one concept to the other and your score suggests that a full, good review is more than welcome.
    Yes, at 32 you are generally considered an older applicant, especially since you will be 33-34 by the time you start school. It really depends on what kind of school you are targeting. Harvard and Stanford generally prefer younger candidates, but schools such as Tuck or INSEAD go for older ones. I advise you to check out the websites of your target schools for the class profiles - they can really teach you quite a bit about where you stand.

    • I need one more suggestion from you. 

      I followed the 2-months study plan provided by beatthegmat. Should I again go ahead with the same. This plan divides the OG 13 questions by topic. Once I review a topic from Manhattan book, go to OG 13 to do questions on that topic.

      I am thinking of another plan, do 30 questions each day from OG 13 (complete the PS first, followed by DS, and similarly follow through with verbal) under timed conditions. Figure out where did I go wrong, which topic needs review and review the topic from Manhattan guides. I assume that this will help to keep track of the time and efficiency.

      Please suggest.

    • I think it probably makes more sense to do the reviewing first and the practicing later given your current score. You may use the BTG study guide or just go at it on your own if you already have a feel for where you are experiencing issues. I'm afraid just practice without reviewing won't help enough to get you to 700+.

  • Dana,

    I am about to begin my studying. I just took a practice test and made a 510. Really I want to make in the 700s. Have you changed many of your general recommendations from your original post? I have been looking into buying the complete Manhattan 5th edition set. If I were to get this, do you think it would be enough? Or should I stick with your original choices? Thanks Dana!

  • I'm more of a Manhattan GMAT fan these days as well :)

  • Hi Dana,

    I m unable to get a 3 months study plan for my GMAT and TOEFL preparation. I think its some account related issue. 

    Please help me as I have to start with my studies. I wish to get regular(daily) email for my preparation.

    Makkabee Shaikh

    • Thanks Dana :)

  • Please register for the 60 day study guide here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/gmat-guide

    We do not have an email guide for 3 months or for the TOEFL. Good luck!

    • Hi Dana,
      Is this 60-day guide for the beginners or for those who're already in the prep?

    • The 60 day study guide assumes you have not studied for the GMAT before.

  • Hi Dana,

    Can you please suggest me books to prepare for GMAT as my target score is 750 or more.
    I have bought OG 13th edition. So suggest me additionally  which book should I refer to reach my target score. I m slighlty weak in maths(general).

    Please please suggest me as I have to take admission in top B school. 


    • Hi Dana,

      Please help me,

      I am very confused these days. As said earlier that I m too weak in maths.

      I m using Manhattan books (entire set). Had taken local class for maths & verbal. But still I m not very confident in giving GMAT exam. I m suppose to give GMAT by 30 sept 2014. I have enough material

      My concern is : One cannot remember all & every concept studied on GMAT exam day especially when you have to answer question in few minutes.
      So can you please suggest me FEW IMPORTANT TIPS &TRICKS which will help me in giving GMAT.

      Should I practice again & again same question ? or what should I do to get good score in Quant part of GMAT.

      Please please please share your valuable suggestions.


  • I think the Manhattan GMAT series of books are really good. Use those for theory and the OG for practice.

  • Thanks Dana 

  • Hi Dana,

    Now I m totally confused and lost after going through so many forums for GMAT as every other person is suggesting a different book. But we can neither buy all books nor we can review it later as a last moment revision. So does it makes any sense buying so many books and ending up with lots of confusion ?

    I would appreciate if you can help me very simply by saying which book is most suited for which part of GMAT, i.e. Best book for each part of exam,

    1. Which book for "Analytical Writing" ?
    2. Which book for "Quantitative" ?
    3. Which book for "Verbal" ?

    I already have 13th edition of Official guide.

    Your answer will really help me in preparing in right direction and getting my goal of getting GMAT score 700+.

    Please please reply


  • 1. Do not focus too much on this section. I believe the OG 13 has something on the AWA and even just that might be sufficient to get you to a decent score. Also look in our forums for some examples of essays, but again do not spend more than 1-2 days on it.
    2. Use the 5 Manhattan GMAT quant guides, they are by far the most complete.
    3. I like the Manhattan verbal guides as well for this one, but the PowerScore CR Bible is better for Critical Reasoning IMHO.
    Overall you should rely on the OG for practice.

  • Hi Dana,
    I'd seek your feedback on the following related to GMAT verbal:
    There has been some news moving around in the forums that GMAT is having a trend shift towards short RC passages and probably doing away with the long passages gradually...
    Could you please share your thoughts on this and let me know that whether do we need to practice ONLY short RC passages now on-wards?

    Appreciate your reply.

  • I say prepare for the worst and practice as much of the difficult stuff as you can :) The difficulty of a passage is not necessarily linked to its length, but to its phrasing and the words used. So I wouldn't dismiss short passages as easy!

  • Hi Dana, i am about to start studying for the GMAT and would like to know if there are any study timetables i can use. My exam date is 96 days away....

  • You could use the 60-day study guide: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/gmat-guide I do not know of any other detailed study schedules.

  • Hi Dana

    I hope you're well.

    I have a test booked for december 5th (91 days) away and I wanted to use the above study guide. it references kaplan but i have heard the manhattan set is better. how can i tailor it? Also do you think it is better I use the 2 month guide or can I fit the above guide.

    I have also bought the gmac quan (2nd edition), verbal (2nd edition) and offical review (13th edition) books

    Finally, I am aiming for 700+ through self study.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  • to add dana i have to take 9 days off due to work and family commitments out of that 91 but otherwise i have 2 hours after work and the weekends to dedicate to this

  • it would be great to understand if you feel the 60 day plan with spare days will be ok or i should do the 3 month plan - i have 2 hours every weekday i can dedicate and 5 - 6 hours at the weekend each day

  • I also believe MGMAT is better than Kaplan. I would go for the 60 day study guide, especially if this is your first time taking the test and you are equally good in all sections. If you are better in one vs. the other, then focus mostly on the section you're not that good at.

  • Thank you Dana your comments are very helpful. Please can I ask if there is a big difference between the 4th and 5th edition manhattan books? Also I haven't done any prep work before and I haven't used maths in a work or educational environment since high school. Is self study enough to push me near to 700 or am i being unrealistic? 

  • I think the differences between the fifth and the fourth edition are largely cosmetic, as the content has always been top notch. As for your study goal, it really depends where you start off at: if your first practice test is a 400, then getting to 700 on your own might not go so well. if you're already starting in the 500s then it appears more likely that you'll succeed.

  • Thanks Dana I appreciate the advice 

  • Hi Dana,

    A silly question though , I see that you got a great GMAT score and you are helping everyone out who wanna get 700+ in GMAT. if you don't mind telling me , after getting such a great GMAT score which school did you get MBA from and what is the ranking of that school. Would there be a great difference if i do my mba from a school that needs only 400+ gmat score and a school that is asking for 700+ gmat score. I really wana know that before I start working on GMAT score. Please let me know.


  • Well I decided to go for a one year master's degree at the University of Amsterdam a couple of years ago, which is a highly rated university but not necessarily known for its Business programs. However, this was more of a pre-experience master's, so please ask me in a few months if I've made it into a top 5 school :)
    As for what works for you, it really depends on your personal situation and what you are trying to achieve. If you want to make a big career change and move into a competitive industry such as private equity, then going to the very top schools is a must. if your employer is paying for your MBA education for career advancement in your local area, then a local school might be sufficient.

  • Hi Dana,

    I need your suggestion,

    As said in my earlier messages that I m planning for 700+ score so do you think that it is IMPOSSIBLE without a private tutor or without attending classes ?? 

    Or it can be done with self study ? I have complete Manhattan set of 10 books.

    Your suggestion is very very important for me.

    Thanking you in advance.


  • I don't think it's impossible to get 700+ without a tutor or a class - many people do it. I think your starting point matters a lot though. If your starting score is around 600, then yes, I think you can do it in a few months. If your starting score is around 400, then it will be difficult for you to improve to 700+ on your own.

  • Thanks,

    Yet I have not taken the diagnostic test, as I thought I will prepare for few days and then will take it. Since I m away from maths(quant) from a longtime.

    So can you suggest me good tutor / course ? I mean whether egmat(verbal) or GMAtprep now or MGMAT ??

    Please give your suggestions.

    Thanking you in advance.


    • Makkabee,
      Before I share my thoughts, I'd like to know whether you're a native speaker or a non-native?

    • DB:

      I m a native speaker.


    • Makkabee,
      Here is my two cents-
      e-GMAT's course is especially designed for non-natives although it doesn't prevent you from trying their FREE Trial which is roughly 25% of their course as they say...then you can decide accordingly.
      As Dana has mentioned MGMAT has a great reputation in the business and (I think) so has Veritas. In fact, there is a 7 day trial for latter's on-demand course...you can check that out also.Do buy MGMAT's  books as per your requirement.

      No idea about GMAT Prep, however you may want to try their FREE videos.

      Hope this helps :-)

    • Thanks DB:

      I have set of 10 books of MGMAT. My worry is I should not fall on my face when preparing for GMAT at last moment as next year I m planning to go for 1yr MBA program and anyhow I need 700+ score. 

      Frankly speaking since my schools days I had avoided taking classes or tutor. That's why I asked Dana that is it mandatory to take classes for cracking GMAT ?

      Could you please share your experience of GMAT ?


  • Unfortunately I have not taken any of the courses. Manhattan GMAT has a good reputation, I know less about the other two. Please see the reviews website for some help on that: http://reviews.beatthegmat.com/

  • It's very straightforward to find out any matter on net as compared
    to textbooks, as I found this paragraph at this website.

  • HI Dana,

    Planning to give GMAT in couple of months ( no fixed date yet).

    It has been very long since I touched any books.

    Can you suggest books I need to buy to start/brush up on the concepts.
    ( please list all possible books which could be helpful )

    I really need to brush up on all my concepts before I can even think of giving a mock GMAT test.

  • I think the Manhattan GMAT set of books should be good for you. I've found them to be very comprehensive on topics tested on the GMAT. I recommend checking them out!

  • Hi Dana,

    I've just downloaded the GMATPrep software, in order to see how typical GMAT questions look like. As it is advised in almost every study plan ( including yours here ) I've decided to take one of the GMAT practice test to see what my level was. I can't tell you how surprised when I saw at the end that I had scored a 740 !! Especially considering I didn't do anything more than just familiarize myself with the 90 questions available. I don't know what to do next ! Should I take an other test to see whether I just got lucky ? And if not, what should I do to score even better at the exam ? Could I get any benefice from the Manhattan study guides for example ? Thank you !

  • Congrats on the high score on your first try, mmarion! It's good that you have a very solid base to work on. I wouldn't hang up the gloves just yet and continue studying though, since there's the potential to reach an even better score with this baseline. And we all know arrogance is no good, it makes you slack. If it helps, you did not use the word "benefice" correctly in the last sentence, so there's space for improvement :) I would definitely still go for some study. Especially the Manhattan GMAT guides have some tough questions in quant. The latter half of each section in the OG also has harder questions, so those may be good for you.

  • Hi DanaJ , Great Article Indeed.
    I Have few questions i am planning to take Gmat what would you suggest as the best month to take Gmat.
    Secondly , i have doubts related to whether i should do gmat or not, as i am a foreign student and i am pretty much short with funds.
    lastly , i have 15 year of education and not 16 , will it work.
    Hope you could answer these. Thanks

    • Hey Patrick, I cannot tell if I answered your questions or not, but here goes:
      There is not one good month to take the GMAT. Whenever you take it, the difficulty will be the same. However, it's best if you plan to take it at least 2-3 months before your applications are due to give you enough time to retake if needed.
      The decision on whether or not to go for the test is up to you, but the cost of the GMAT exam ($250) is hundreds of times less than that of an MBA. If you are looking for an MBA or pretty much any degree abroad, it will cost you a lot. If you cannot afford the test, I suggest finding some alternative funding methods such as scholarships and grants.
      I assume you have 15 years because you had a 3 year undergrad degree. That is not a problem for most universities as most are familiar with 3 year degrees.

    • atric¡ou  for  answering. Happy new  year

  • Dear Dana,
    I am a beginner in this  process. I would like to write the GMAT exam probably on february 2014. As it is my first try and also i am not much aware of the sections (both quantitaive and verbal)of this exam, can you suggest me some beginner preparatory books or courses so that i will get into this process soon inorder to grab the exam which i am planning to take on feb 2014. I would also like to know how many months will it take for a beginner to prepare for this?.Hoping for the reply soon. Also kindly advise me about the process in general.

  • Hey you can try this study plan: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/gmat-guide
    Most people usually study for 2-3 months before taking the test. I think the guide and various other articles on this forum do a pretty good job of explaining the works around the process. Good luck!

  • Thanks for your advice so far!

    I'm beginning studying for the GMAT fresh. I plan on taking a course (either Manhattan or Veritas) in March when my work schedule begins to slow down. However, I wanted to start with some study prep before I started the class for two reasons: I'm very rusty on math and most of the verbal sections of standardized testing and I believe if I have a strong base I may be able to gain more from the strategies in the class. First, does that sound right?

    Also, I saw in your original post that you recommended to end with the OG Guides. However, since I wanted to start studying before my class, I was thinking of studying through all three OG guides (review, quant and verbal), doing regular practice tests, completing the course I choose and then doing a comprehensive review for a couple weeks before taking the exam. Does this sound like a good plan? Or should I save the OG guides for after the course?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  • It does perhaps help to brush up on math and verbal, but it likely does not make sense to go through a full study regimen before you start your course. You could try buying those so-called GMAT Foundations books and go through those. However, going through the whole set doesn't make as much sense right now since you may feel less challenged when taking the course, i.e. the teacher may be moving too slowly for your knowledge level.
    I would save the OGs for later, not necessarily the last things you do, but just a bit later. Or maybe the last half on each section? The thing is, doing tons of practice with no theoretical structure may not help you as much. The OG has questions on a bunch of topics, mixed up. The first question you practice might be on primes, the second one on probability and the third one on geometry. If you jump from one topic to the other, there's less of a chance that something sticks. At least in the initial stages, it's better to group things, i.e. do three primes questions at the time, then next time do a set of questions on probability etc.

    • Thanks for the very quick response! In your study plan listed above, you recommend doing some questions each day on subjects that you previously covered. Is this advice more directed to after the Foundation books? Meaning while doing the Foundations, I should focus on just one topic each day and not review subjects done on previous days?

      Also, would you recommend taking the first practice exam before starting the Foundations materials, or after I finish the foundation series and before I move onto the regular studying materials?

      Sorry if these questions have already been asked. I tried to search for the posts where you mentioned Foundations.

    • Also, I read your review of the Manhattan Strategy Guides (4th Edition). If we are buying these books individually, instead of doing the course, in which order would you recommend we take these? Should we focus on all Quant subjects at once then Verbal? Or mix it up?

      Here's a list of the books in the 5th Edition:

      The GMAT Roadmap
      The Number Properties Guide
      The Fractions, Decimals, & Percents Guide
      The Algebra Guide
      The Word Problems Guide
      The Geometry Guide
      The Critical Reasoning Guide
      The Reading Comprehension Guide
      The Sentence Correction Guide
      The Integrated Reasoning & Essay Guide

  • I would say that the advice on doing a couple of questions each day on topics already covered is more valid after you've started the core part of your study. For Foundations, just follow their advice and go through the books. I generally recommend taking a practice test right before you start studying to figure out where you should focus (your weaknesses), but it seems to me like you'd want to go through a basics refresher no matter what and then begin full blown study. In that case, I think taking the test after you're done with basics is a good idea.
    People generally go through the study guides in the order they are provided by Manhattan for both verbal and quant. My advice is generally to start with quant, but it really depends on which part you're good at. Start with the topic you are weakest in, so that when you practice questions every day that one is reinforced more.

  • Hi Dana... I plan to begin my GMAT Prep in another couple of days time...in reference to the original post which is dated as back as 2009, would the books recommended for different sections still hold good to be worked on or you would want to update the recommendation?

  • I would say since then I began recommending the Manhattan GMAT series of books more. The recommendation for the Official Guide still stands.

  • Hi Dana,
    Need your expert-advise - I was scoring in Verbal in the range 36-38 and Quant 48-50 for last 1 month in practice tests(third party test like Veritas/Kaplan/Master GMAT etc.) but took a GMAT Prep last week and scored a miserable in verbal 27!!! No idea how did it happen (although Quant was 49)?

    Any thoughts what might went wrong? How to improve from it? My target Verbal i sin the range 41-43. Plan to take GMAT as soon as reach this score through practice tests in a consistent manner. So, it can be 2 months or 4 months from now...

    Let me know please if you need any further info.

    Thank you.

  • Original GMAT verbal questions are more subtle than those for quant. Usually, test prep companies are better are replicating the quant questions, whereas the verbal questions are harder to replicate. For instance, I've always felt that many of the Kaplan CR questions were markedly different or had a very different feel versus the questions on the actual test. That could explain your drop in verbal score: you've gotten better that the GMAT questions as written by test prep companies versus those on the real test.
    I'm not exactly sure which books you are using, but my picks are usually MGMAT for SC, PowerScore for CR and Veritas or MGMAT for RC. You also need to practice more from the OG and the verbal supplement. Spend some good time going through those questions, they're the best.

  • Hi Dana. I have question that is how should I prepare for GMAT exam? I have purchased Cracking the GMAT of Princeton review and Official GMAT of GMAC. Now, i need to determine how to prepare from those books. So, if you have possible, please tell me that do you have any planning related to those books?

    Because I really don't know how should i begin with those books.

    Thank you for your reply.

  • I don't have any planning for these two books in particular. I view the Princeton book as somewhat below par, so only study from that one if your target score is below 650. One way to go through it would be to do the theoretical part first from the Princeton book and then use the Official Guide for practice.

    • Thank you for your reply. I have planning for get GMAT exam at March. But I don't know whether to get in. Again, I have a question that is Should i to do first Princeton review than official guide for practice by section? or should I to to first Princeton review fully then to do official guide for practice by fully?

  • I would say do the part on math first from Princeton and then use the OG for some practice. Then do the part on verbal from Princeton and practice from the OG, all the while still doing some quant questions from the OG.

  • hi dana...Just wondering where i can get practice GMAT CAT exams... thanks

  • Hi Broker, they get offered with Manhattan GMAT books. THere are also some offered with Kaplan and Veritas books, but the reviews are better for Manhattan ones. And of course you have the official tests on mba.com. Good luck!

  • Thanks Dana...

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  • Hi Dana,

    I'm starting out with my GMAT prep and your article provides some wonderful advice. Thanks so much!

    My Quant skills are very dismal (I'm a biology major) so naturally, when I took a diagnostic test, my scores were pretty low - in the low 400 range. I have been reading a lot about the GMAT and most blogs/forums etc mention that people with scores as low as mine on the diagnostic can never manage to score 700+ on the GMAT. Is that true? 

    I don't want to give up before even attempting to take the GMAT, but this scares me. I really want to get into a great B-school but now I feel that I maybe too dumb, which I assure you I'm not. 

    Please help.

  • Haha no worries, Kay, no one is entitled to say you are "dumb" based on your GMAT score. It's just a test at the end of the day. As for whether you can improve from a 400 to a 700, it's not impossible but it's also not an easy task - which is why it's great you are looking into this right now as opposed to say August. In your case, it's perhaps wise to ask for help from a tutor, but it's not necessarily a requirement. You could also try self study, but maybe for a shorter while (a month?) and if you don't see tangible improvement, a tutor/course might be the only solution.

  • Hello Dana.

    I am planning to give the GMAT around December 2014.

    I have invested in the following books:

    GMAT OG, 13th edition
    MGMAT, 5th edition (All 9 guides)

    Please advise on what my study plan should be?
    Also, what is the ideal time to prepare for the GMAT?

    I am a working professional and work upto 50 hrs a day.
    My preparation would consist of 2-3 hours of study on weekdays.

    Any help would be highly appreciated.


    • Hey Ishaan, you've bought the right things, all good quality stuff. I say 2-3 months of prep should be enough for most people, but it really depends on where you start off and where you want to go. If you start off with a 700 and want a 750, it might take less time than if your initial diagnostic score is 400 and you want to get to a 700. Please see above for some study plan tips, hope they are helpful.
      P.S. I really hope you don't work 50 hours per day though....

    • Thanks Dana!

      Another few things I wanted to ask you, if you don't mind answering:

      1. According to the earlier posts, you would recommend studying the MGMAT guides for theory and practice problems first and later do the OG Problems, right?

      2. Would it be more beneficial to get the OG Verbal and Quant Reviews separately as well, for more practice on actual GMAT questions?

      3. Lastly, considering I start on 1st May and can study for 2-3 hours every week day (10-15 hours a week), what would you recommend to be the ideal preparation duration considering I am average in both Quant and Verbal?

      Awaiting your reply,

      Thanks a lot,

    • 1. Yes, I agree, theory first and then practice.
      2. It depends - I liked the OG Verbal, but felt that the OG Quant was a bit on the easy side. Depending on your level, you might find both useful.
      3. I think 2-3 months is generally enough for most people, although please note that "average" isn't a score in the GMAT :) So it's a bit difficult for me to say, because "average" means a lot of different things for different people!

    • Thank you so much!

      Really appreciate your quick replies!

      What book would you recommend for advanced quant then? Or the MGMAT guides will suffice for the same?

    • The MGMAT books are pretty good for that, yes!

    • Right!

      Thanks again so much!


  • Hi Dana, I am planning to give gmat on mid July. My mock test score is low which makes me nervous. I am working in cts (shift basis) and hardly manage to practice for GMAT, actually i have rescheduled my exam now. I
    have OG (13th edition) and IMS study material, also I have purchased the GMATprep videos. Kinldy suggest me the study plan and whether the resource I got is enough ? or any suggestion for new purchase?

    Awaiting for your suggestions, thank you!

  • Dana, adding to the above, Is 60 day study plan from GMATprep is advised for me or should i have my own study plan?

    • Sorry but I am not sure what you mean by IMS study material - I haven't heard of that one, so I can't comment. The 60 day study guide is pretty darn good and it provides a lot of structure to your study, so if you feel that could help you, go for it. it also uses some of the best books out there!

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    she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but
    I had to share it with someone!

  • Hey Dana,

    Thanks for helping out through this awesome post! I gave the GMAT exam in Feb this year and scored 540. It is nowhere near my aim of 680-720 and thus was trying to figure out a better study plan to crack GMAT. I am in no rush to give my second attempt, so was thinking of starting now and giving it in Jan. or Feb. of 2015. 

    The books i was considering buying are:
    Manhattan Quant set (5 books)
    OG 13th Edition (Already have this)
    Manhattan SC
    PowerScore CR Bible

    As i am working full time, i plan to study for 8-10 hours a week. I plan to spend a good 4-5 months on the theory and then proceed to practicing. I am considering such a long study period as the last time i rushed through the prep in 2 months and probably was burnt out by the time of the exam. So, does this study plan of preparing thoroughly at 10 hours a week for 6-8 months make sense to you? or should i just make a 3 month study plan and get done with it? I really don't want to give it for the third time. Please suggest.

    Awaiting your valuable feedback. Thanks

  • Hello Dana,

    I gave the GMAT Prep Practice Exam 1 today.

    I scored 550, with a 27 on verbal and 39 in quant.

    I plan to give GMAT on October 2nd 2014, aiming for a score of 750.

    Could you guide me on what my action plan should be.


    • Dana, your well appreciated thoughts please.

  • Dear Dana,

    I know that you have covered what books you recommend buying, but it seems like some recommendations have changed over the years. I was thinking of buying the Manhattan GMAT Complete Strategy Guide Set. Will this be enough or do you think that the Official GMAT Guide Bundle is needed as well?

    I aim to score 700+, although in reality I don't need to score higher than 660. I'm writing the GMAT in four months.

    Thank you!

  • Hi Dana,

    I hope you are doing well at your side.I am a full time IT working resource 45 hrs a week completing three years of work experience. I am in a big dilemma of what to do and what not to do, please help me with my practice. Either i quit GMAT because of my last performance or should I plan to give my GMAT by October 2014 end, as i am not in touch of gmat preperation. I gave GMAT last year and scored very less aroud 460(QA-42/ Verbal 13) :( awa-4.5, And in second attempt i scored even lesser 420(QA - 29/Verbal 19)awa-3.0, my second attempt i gave in the gap of 2 months . :(
    . Please guide me what should i do :( .. I am targeting 680+ score and this time i dont want to loose :(

    i followed below mentioned book for my preperation:- Official guide 12 and 13
    Kaplan 2013 edition
    Manhattan verbal and Quant books set.

    Waiting for your reply.


    Gracious :)

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  • Hey! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this.
    I will forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
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  • dear Dana,I am from Bangladesh,a third world Asian country .there is no enough study materials for GMAT course in my country.In addition,i cannot afford any book online.i bought only the official GMAT ,12th edition.Is this enough to take GMAT exam and get good score? please give me a suggestion.

  • Hi Dana, 

    I've decided to take the GMAT and am aiming for November '14 test date. Just wanted to thank you for all of the great information and for continuing to contribute to this thread FIVE years after the fact. I hope you realize how valuable this information is for people who are about to take the test and how much we appreciate you sharing your wisdom! Take care and best wishes! Cheers!

  • Why BTG admin is NOT taking any steps to stop the spam and irrelevant posts in this IMPORTANT thread ?

    @ Dana - could you please take it up with BTG Admin ?

    Thank you for your understanding!

  • Hi RBB,

    We clean the spam on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we are getting tons of spamy comments lately, which makes it a bit more difficult to handle.

    Thanks for your understanding,


  • Thanks Sorin.
    I think, then BTG should scale up its Moderator team accordingly to handle such situations.

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  • To DanaJ

    Dana, i had a quick question, I have the list of the books (GMAT Prep Kaplan) I just went through the math workbook and wanted to move forward with the quant workbook but I wanted to see what your thoughts were on which is better the gmat quant book or the manhattan prep ones. 
    Thank you 

  • iam looking forward to take the Gmat test but after reading the whole article i think i need to work extensively on maths as iam bad in it, looking for some more help in terms of preparation if any one in delhi knows someone who takes tuition for maths or GMAT   

  • Hi Dana/team,

    I plan on writing GMAT around June timeframe. I did try giving the diagnostic test and scored 610. I also seemed to fare similarly in all the sections. Please suggest on a plan, books I should refer to. My aim is to be 750+.


  • Hi dana
    I want to start my preparation for gmat but I am little bit confused that whether am I ready for that or not.
    I am pursuing BBA sixth semester and tell me how I can start my preparation and please suggest me some best books for gmat that helps me to score 750+.

  • Hi
    I have been trying to prepare for gmat from quite some time now and ended up no where every time
    I have to start from the scratch and have no idea how to do it
    could you please help me with some guidelines or a plan on how to prepare and which book to start from
    for starters like me does this plan help?

    please Help


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  • Just wanted to know if this study plan is still current/what you'd recommend since it's dated 2009. Thanks!

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