A One-Month GMAT Study Plan

by on December 24th, 2009

StudyingSo you’ve decided that you want an MBA, but you realize that the deadlines are rushing at you and you now have only one month to take the GMAT. You’ve never been keen on cramming, but right now this seems like the only reasonable option, given that you work full time and also need to write your application essays.

If this sounds like you, don’t fret! A one-month GMAT study plan can yield surprisingly good results, provided you use all the right resources and strategies.

Days 1 and 2 – Brief Introduction and Plan Development

If you are beginning your GMAT prep from scratch and don’t know anything about the test, you should spend a reasonable amount of time up front with research. Understanding the mechanics of the GMAT is important no matter how little time you have, since this test is really unique.

Start by browsing MBA.com, the official site of the GMAT. This is where you’ll find the most relevant information about the test, the way it’s scored, and an overview of the various types of questions you’ll see on your test day. Once you’ve registered on the site, you can also download the GMATPrep software, a program with two full-length CATs (computer adaptive tests) that are universally recognized as the most accurate estimators of your GMAT score. Should you feel that certain details about the test are not clear to you, try to skim through the introductory chapters of some of the books referenced below (particularly those released by Kaplan) or ask for advice in the Beat The GMAT community.

Your next step is to take a diagnostic test. I advise you to use one of the tests provided by the GMATPrep program that you’ve just downloaded. This initial assessment of your skills should give you an idea about your strengths and weaknesses, which should in turn help you personalize the study plan outlined below. The most important rule when tailoring the a study plan is that you should invest more time in targeting your weak spots and prep with more difficult material for your strengths. Another important rule is that from the very beginning of your prep you should make a habit of keeping an error log to help narrow down your weak areas.  You can read more about maintaining error logs at Beat The GMAT.

Days 3 to 14 – Quantitative Refresher

Shopping list:

After getting acquainted with the GMAT basics, you should waste no time in starting to work on the actual content of the test. Most students prefer to start with the quantitative portion of the GMAT for two main reasons: First, the quant section of the test is the easiest to improve upon – no subtle understanding of texts or grammar rules, just straight math. Second, the math you’ll find on your test day should be material you’ve seen before, mainly junior high or high school topics that you simply need to reconnect with.

Math on the GMAT is difficult because you’re constrained for time. On average you will need to answer each quantitative question within 2 minutes. Another challenge is that the GMAT tests a strange type of math question called Data Sufficiency, which is unique to the GMAT.  With Data Sufficiency questions, you will be provided a math problem and two pieces of data.  From the data provided you will then be asked whether you have sufficient information to answer the question (note: in these problems you are not asked to find the answer—just whether you have sufficient information to find the answer, yes or no).

I recommend that you begin your GMAT math review with the Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook. This book covers the most commonly tested topics on the GMAT and also has a lot of practice questions. However, given that you are short on prep time, the best strategy is to go through the concept lessons in this book (doing maybe 2-3 questions per topic), but rely on The Official Guide for the GMAT Review for practice. The reason for this is that Official Guide material features actual, but retired questions that closely resemble the problems you’ll likely see on test day, and thus provides the best practice.

Another important aspect when practicing is to remember to always time yourself. As you progress, try to solve the problems within the given 2-minute time constraint. This timed practice is invaluable for proper test-day pacing, since not finishing the test results in severe penalties.

Days 15 to 26 – Verbal Workout

Shopping list:

The next 12 days of your study plan involves strengthening your verbal aptitude. As is the case with the quantitative section, it is advisable to first become familiar with the various GMAT verbal question types/strategy before reviewing practice problems. You should allot about 4 days per question type: spend a day and a half reviewing tips and strategy, and then spend two and a half days practicing from Official Guide material.  Try to adopt this review structure for each question type, but adjust this schedule depending on your strengths and weaknesses (spending more time on weak areas). Despite the fact that this period of your prep is meant for verbal review, try to do just a handful of quant questions each day in order to maintain a grasp of the math concepts you’ve just acquired.

Since you’re very short on time, you’ll need a fairly condensed review of the three types of questions you will see on the verbal section (Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension). My advice is to study with Kaplan’s GMAT Verbal Workbook. This book does a fine job of covering Reading Comprehension and Sentence Correction. However, Critical Reasoning could have been treated better in this book, which is why you might want to consider purchasing the The PowerScore Critical Reasoning Bible, especially if Critical Reasoning (CR) is one of your weak subjects. At the very beginning of the PowerScore guide, you’ll find a list of “must-read” chapters that will help you channel your attention to the most commonly tested types of  CR questions found on the GMAT.

For your verbal practice it is essential that you work with the Official Guide for GMAT Review book. No test prep company I have seen has been able to produce verbal practice problems of the same quality as the Official Guide series. Moreover, many test takers have reported that certain question patterns seen in the Official Guide for GMAT Review have been also tested on the real GMAT.  So regard these retired questions as a preview of your real test experience.

Finally, don’t forget to time yourself.  Many test takers perceive the GMAT verbal section to be more difficult than the GMAT math section, primarily because you only have about 1 minute and 45 seconds to answer each question.

Days 27 to 30 – Finishing Touches and Practice Tests

You should spend Day 27 taking the second computer adaptive test in the GMATprep software. When you take this practice test, try to simulate the actual GMAT testing environment as best you can—I recommend taking your test in a somewhat well trafficked area of a library to get used to the ambient noise. You should also note any feelings of anxiety or stress you felt during your last practice test and try to address them in your remaining days.

Spend Day 28 by looking over a few templates for the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the GMAT. The AWA is the essay writing portion of the GMAT, which appears first on the test but does not count toward your final GMAT score (scaled between 200 and 800). Your AWA score is generally considered less important than your main GMAT score, but the fact that you start the GMAT with AWAs means that it will “set the tone” for the remainder of your test. Writing with confidence will certainly have a positive impact on your later performance!

During the final two days before your test day, avoid studying too much and try to relax. If need be, you can review a couple of problems. But be sure to lightly prep in these final days, since your body and your mind should be well rested before the 4-hour marathon that is the GMAT.

After one month of prep, you should now be sufficiently prepared to do well on the GMAT!  Good luck, and be sure to share your experiences with us in the I just Beat The GMAT! forum.


  • Is there anyone has tried this one month strategy and been successful? If you have, would you please post some comments about your experiences and your final score?

    Thank you,

    Neil Katz

  • Actually, it's a plan that I've devised from my very own experience. The crucial difference between this plan and what I did was the fact that I had more time to prepare. I will say this: I wasn't by far as efficient as I should have been. There are a few things that are particularly important, IMHO:
    - go for math first
    - use only official practice, since it's by far the best. If you're at the beginning of your prep, you might not tell the difference between an unofficial and an official question, but as you progress, you'll definitely feel the style
    - always always time yourself
    - allow more time for weaknesses. Mine was CR and I literally obsessed over it to the point that I had almost memorized some questions. A few days before the real thing, I took GMATprep #2 and had zero mistakes in CR! On D-day I recognized patterns from the OG! I attribute much of my 11-point jump in verbal score to this targeted practice.
    - GMATprep is the most accurate. When I took my last CAT, I scored a 760. Few days later I scored a 770.
    - I used an error log for my CATs only, but now I'm thinking I should have done it for practice as well. I think this would have pushed my quant score from a 50 to a 51
    - I did nothing the day before the test, only relaxed

    I'm not saying this is a definitive plan, but I'm confident that following its main points will produce results. As a matter of fact, right now four of my friends are studying for the GMAT and have asked me for help. The structure of the plan will be put to the test once more, and I'll probably report their progress once they're done.

    And to answer your question: I got a 770 (q50, v47).

    • Great Article! Today has been a big day for me so far - I failed the GMAT this morning (420 31Q 18V) after 9 days of studying, took the afternoon off to 'escape' my failure, and then motivated myself to research how to improve myself.

      My target score has been set at 560 - no less is acceptable. I must retake the exam between the 31-40 day range. This article is geared more towards me than some of the 'I Beat the GMAT' posts that detail 3-4 month strategies.

      About today's exam. I was lost. I blanked out several times after reading a question - both Q and V. In addition, I spent several minutes multiplying/dividing out long math computations. I knew there was a shortcut (since I read/practiced them in Princeton Review's Crack the GMAT), but it wasn't instinct to me.
      Time was intimidating! It took me about 10 minutes for the first 3 problems (eventually guessing on the third!). Frustration mounting.. In addition, I was very discouraged because the problems continued to get easier. Hurt my confidence, and I continued to dig a whole. GMAT Formula for DISASTER.
      Lastly, I had such a HARD TIME taking the CAT! Never took an exam on a computer before - FIRST TIME EVER this morning. Obviously not a good idea, but as of 24 hours ago I thought, "how different can it actually be?". Man, was I wrong.

      Anyway, my preparation for the first 4 days focused on Q basics - refreshing my memory on algebra, geometry, statistics, and various tested formulas. The next 3 days I went through about 80 practice problems. I actually performed very well on these problems (all in Princeton Review's Crack the GMAT) Bin 1 (easy), Bin 2 (med, easy) and Bin 3 (med, hard) in addition to the diagnostic book exam. Thought I was golden on Q!

      Day 9, I went over the V Sections. After the review, I took the diagnostic book exam and saw I needed added attention to SC. So I decided to go back and review, then jump right back into Bin 1 and 2 Verbal problems. After that, I closed the book, jumped in bed and took the exam this morning.

      Obviously, the ultimate cram did not work out for me. I need to achieve my target 560! It's a must. I have roughly 38 days or so until my retake (haven't scheduled yet, but that's what I'm planning for).

      Any Advice? Strategies? Plan of Attack? Again, just looking to achieve that 560 to gain acceptance. Thank you!

    • Dana,

      Are there any two-month study plans out there? I guess I could just doubled the number of days for each section you've outlined in the one-month study plan. I am planning to take the GMAT in two months and I would be very happy with a 600+. If you have any suggestions for a two-month study plan, I welcome them. Thanks!

    • Dana,
      Are there any two-month study plans out there? I guess I could just doubled the number of days for each section you've outlined in the one-month study plan. I am planning to take the GMAT in two months and I would be very happy with a 600+. If you have any suggestions for a two-month study plan, I welcome them. Thanks!

    • Hi Dana,

      I have to take the GMAT in a month and should I just follow your plan. Did the results come back from your friends' tests. You mentions th Manhattan books also so Im not sure wht to take. I have signed up for a private tutor from Manhattan to get me on track a few sessions. What are you thoughts. I need a definative plan that will give me atleast above a 600. Aiming for 650 preferably. Im really stressed out and have downloaded math and verbal cheat sheets to use to speed things up. I have only the Princeton review cracking the Gmat Book for now. Need a good plan to stick too. Sorry if my question is reduntant. Im 33 out of college for 10 years but remember many things on quant. Sentence Correction is a wear area for me also.



    • Hi Dana,

      I came across your post on a one month study plan.

      I'd like to get some more advice on how to go about this. I have abotu 35 days till test day and I've got loads to finish.

      I've scored a 650(Q38/V37) on my first MGMAT test and I've got a lot of other tests to take.

      Please read my post here


      I would be grateful if you could give me some useful feedback.


    • Congrats!

      I know this was made so long ago but I am hoping to take the GMAT in about a month just in case I may need to retake it before my application is due in March. I took the first practice GmatPrep test and I am so discouraged. Since then I have been trying to study and do about 50 problems every day but I just feel so behind. I bought the new OG as well as the quantitative review. I also bought the Kaplan book which I have not opened yet. I know I am struggling in the Q section but I don't know how to improve. For the first prep test I got a 400 I believe it was something like (q12,v27). Horrible, I know. I am a strong student but I am horrible when it comes to standardized tests...I have no idea why but I blank. Since the prep test I have been procrastinating because I feel like I am at a road block. Any advice is greatly appreciated :) .

    • hey dana
      i have my gmat exam a month later. i am targetting 700+
      i am good in quant,but my verbal portion just sucks.
      what do you suggest me? how should i go for verbal?
      Is OG 13 and verbal review enough?

    • Definitely focus on verbal for the moment. My favorite verbal books:
      - Manhattan GMAT SC book
      - PowerScore CR Bible
      - Manhattan GMAT RC book or Veritas Prep RC book
      You should also practice using the OG 13 or the verbal supplement. Don't neglect quant entirely though, but split your time maybe 2/3 on verbal and the rest on quant.

  • I'm sorry to hear about your experience, but it isn't a total surprise: prepping for the GMAT in just 9 days is probably not going to do the trick for anyone, not even Einstein. Now that you can spend more time on the test, I'm pretty sure you'll hit your target score!
    A few notes about your plan up until now: Crack the GMAT is easier than the real thing, so this might help explain why you were feeling confident about quant, but didn't do so well on the exam. My advice is to use a different resource, such as those outlined above. In terms of quant, the Manhattan GMAT series is also quite recommended - I'd buy the Number Properties, Word Translations and Geometry guides cover most of the topics you'll see on test day. If you choose Kaplan or Manhattan GMAT, it's all up to you. However, remember to practice official stuff! Buy the OG pronto, you can't afford to go for the retake unless you use this book.
    The basic rules of the plan are outlined above. What I could add is that you can also consider investing in the Manhattan GMAT SC guide, if you seem to be having trouble with this type of question. This is the ultimate resource for your SC woes, but it's pretty dense - maybe you could just go for the first part of the book and skip the second, advanced one.
    Hope this helps and keep us posted on your progress!

    • You mentioned in your article to use the Kaplan Workbooks (Q & V). Do you recommend using those workbooks over the OG Verbal/Math Review w/ 300 questions? Or does Kaplan do a better job at explaining, going through the steps.

      I purchased Kaplan Premier, OG 11, and still have PR Crack the GMAT. Just looking for extra practice problems that split it up by difficulty and problem type. Thanks DanaJ!

  • Kaplan is good for explanations. For practice, trust the OG all the way - its only downside is that it doesn't contain many 700-level problems, but since you're not aiming for a 700, that will definitely not be a problem for you.
    If you're looking for a resource that breaks down problems according to difficulty and problem type, then the Manhattan guides are probably your best option. They contain lists of problems from the OG (the most recent edition references OG 12, though, so be careful to order the older edition), broken up according to difficulty and specific topic tested (i.e. permo&combo, triangles etc.).

  • Hi Dana

    I'm going to use your plan for my upcoming GMAT. Do you have any additional followup tips from your friends who were trying this out? I've got OG 12 and I've started practicing with that. Thanks again for the strategy!


  • Right now I do not, but if you keep me posted on your progress, maybe I can offer some more specific advice. All the best!

  • Which of the Gmat books contains the most of the level 700 problems?Thanks!

  • Dana,

    My question is.... Although you say i can possibly take this test in one month from today (considering my application and scores are due on march 15) how many hours a day must i spend studying using this system. I am looking for a rough estimate. To be honest i don't want to try if there is no hope.
    I would rate myself as a very poor in standardized testing and always have been (1000 SAT, although i never studied), but tend to do well in the class room. Also i have heard that taking a practice exam is key first thing.. would you agree. I look forward to your response.


  • @Haaress: It's hard to say, really. It depends on what you're looking for! The Kaplan books usually have slightly harder quant problems, although they are also just a little bit off from real question (i.e. rely heavily on straightforward math; could use more tough word problems).

    The PowerScore CR Bible definitely has the toughest CRs, since this book is an abridged form of the book they have for Logical Reasoning, a type of question on the LSAT. Besides this one, use the OG in full confidence! While the quant I saw on test day was indeed a bit harder than the one in the OG, the verbal was extremely similar (not to mention that I saw a few CRs - my obsession - that had the exact same structure!).

    @Dustin: Indeed, you need to assess you starting level with a diagnostic test, as mentioned in the plan. After you're done with this, you might want to tweak the plan according to your specific weaknesses: say you get zero CRs wrong but have trouble with SCs. Then replace the PowerScore guide with the Manhattan GMAT SC! Once you're don with this first mock test, you can either send me a PM or post a message here and I'll make specific recommendations.

    The above plan is designed for around 2-2 and a half hours per day on weekdays and around 6 per weekend days.

  • First, congrats on your high GMAT score! Can you remember the number of Probs., combinatorics ( for Quant) and bold-faced questions (verbal) that you came across on your test day....I just need a ballpark estimate.

  • I think I had two or three combinatorics related questions in quant and NONE bold-faced CRs in verbal! So my advice is: don't use this as markers that you're doing good, just focus on what on the screen :)

  • hey u r doing a great job,,, i am also planning for gmat to give in one month, i have og 10, 11 , 12, kaplan premium program,, kaplan 800 ( 2005-2006 edition, P,R actually in gave gmat prep i got 44 in quant but 11 in verbal,, can you suggest me any plan to increase my verbal score.
    and is 44 in quant a good

  • I have written a plan that specifically targets the verbal part. You can check it out here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2010/01/16/verbal-focus-gmat-plan

    A 44 is a good score in quant, but of course there is room for improvement! However, it's obviously your verbal score that's severely pulling you down, so you should definitely work on that first.

  • Hi Dana, I am taking practice test every so often. I have done the first of the three practice tests, by the Thomson Arco/ Peterson group, and I just wanted to know if you've attempted this test and what you thought about them. I tried to look for feedback on these tests on the net but it doesn't seem to be a popular one. Thanks!

  • I'm sorry, but I have not tried those tests that you mention. I haven't seen anyone comment on their accuracy either, so I can't offer any "second-hand" advice.

  • @HarrisonT9: Actually, I wrote the quant and verbal focus plans as two-month plans:



    Of course, you can also check out the three-month plan and basically eliminate some of the resources mentioned there to free up one month. Unessential stuff include the Kaplan Premier book and the two supplemental OGs.

  • Hi Dana, i am planning to give the gmat in one month i am preparing for the gamt from the last few months i hae not attempted any GmatPrep till now ,but i have attempted kaplan1 (500) ,kaplan2(540),score800-1(540)
    i am depreesed i am fully prepared from my side still i am not getting good score,shall i give the GmatPrep1 to check my original level,i am planning to give GmatPrep1 this sunday,can u please help.

  • Yes, I do believe that it's worth it to take the first test from GMATprep. If you get a lower score than what you're targeting, you should let us know about what kind of materials you've been using and what your weaknesses are in order for us to make more specific recommendations.

    • hi Danaj .thnx i gave a GMATPrep1 in which i got (620) ,scaled score Quant-50 Verbal-25 , i am very depressed my target is 750.i am preparing for GMAT from last 4 months.
      i am not native speaker of english i have done Manhattan SC ,CR OG ,most of the question which i did wrong in GMATPrep1 from RC,which i thnk my weak area,For Sc i know almost all the rules but i do the wrong attempt in which there is little meaning change.what should i do for better understing of Rc and Sc questions.
      SC total wrong-5 out of 16
      CR total Wrong -2 out of 11(in GmatPrep1 faced few questions frm OG10)
      RC total Wrong -8 out of 14

  • Verbal is obviously your weakness here.

    In order to improve your general verbal skills, it's advisable to read stuff in English every day. I cannot stress this enough! People sometimes think that this is just something like "eat vegetables" or "exercise everyday", stuff that you should do but no one ever really does... It's not! It actually helps you a lot, maybe as much as using a specialized book to prep for the GMAT. Use economist.com, WSJ or Financial Times and articles on science for this. It will help with both RC and the "meaning issues" that you say you've been having with SC.

    Reading in English is one of the best ways of improving your RC accuracy. There aren't many books on RC out there, I think that only Manhattan GMAT has one. Maybe you can check it out - I have not personally reviewed it yet, unfortunately. However, I did like the RC tips section from the Kaplan Verbal Workbook, that's also an option.

    The PowerScore CR Bible is also a good resource for RC, so you should probably give this book a chance as well, if you have not already.

    • Shekhar, I guess I am in the same boat as you are. Please keep us posted on what works as you try out Dana's suggestions. Thank you!

  • Guys,

    I am also very much interested in hearing from you. I take feedback extremely seriously and try to answer questions as quickly as I can. These plans are not perfect, but they are perfectible!

    Good luck with the rest of your prep!

  • Will do. Thanks Dana!

  • I am trying to take GMAT in one month and looking for just the right books that can help me focus directly on real test problems. My goal is to get between 570-600. I do not want any extra book/material. Please suggest me one perfect book that can cover up pretty much everything1

  • Tough one! You ask for the perfect book and I tell you: there's no such thing. Buy the Official Guide and practice from it, you have more than enough material for one month. Also pick up something like the Kaplan Premier program, it's probably the best all-in-one book to use for strategies. It does not cover all the strategy you need for test day, but it will do the job.

  • Hi Dana,

    I am feeling blessed after coming to this site. I am takng up my GMAT for the first time and I am a little nervous and I have only a months time with me and you think 2-2.5 hrs per weekday of study is enough to score a 650+ ?
    Kindly advise a study plan for me ASAP. Thanks !

  • It depends, really. If your starting point is say 400, then a 650 is pretty unlikely, unfortunately. However, if your baseline score is something like 520, then it is possible to get a 650 in a month.

  • Hi Dana,

    I took my GMAT 4 days back and scored a dismal 640. I was targeting 720+. I was able to prepare for my exam for 10 days only due to my work. I am planning to retake the exam in about one month. My quant score was 42 and verbal 34. Suggest some tips to improve my score.
    What colleges do you think I could apply for with my current score.

    Thanks for your help,

  • Well, first off, congrats for having an incredibly balanced score! Each of the two scaled scores for quant and verbal are at around 62-63 percentile, which is good, because people usually tend to get huge differences in their scores.
    I think the tips above apply: spend more time on weaknesses and less on strengths. You should buy books according to these, so please check out our Book Recommendations in the Resources tab at the top of the page. Be sure to go through the Official Guide 12th edition and possibly even the two supplements.
    I can't really say for sure which schools would accept you, because it's not ALL about this score. You should probably post your profile in the "Ask an MBA Admissions Consultant" section of our site, they have lots more experience than I do.

  • Dana, I know you highly recommend the PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible for the CR part, however, I have the VERITAS CR booklets. Please let me know ,if you've had a chance peruse through both books, how one compares to and with the other. Thanks as always.

  • Can't say, since I have not used the booklets myself. They will be shipped to me sometime in the next few weeks, but my schedule is so hectic right now that I have no idea when I'm going to get around actually reviewing them.

    It's probably OK to use as well - just browse through and if you get a sense of adequacy, then go ahead and study from them.

  • Hey Alll...today i have started my GMAT preparation.i do have exactly one month from now.But i m quite sure that i will crack it.

  • Hi Dana, thanks for your great tips. I am schedule to write my GMAT in exactly 2 weeks and hoping you can give me some advice.

    I took a GMATPrep Practice Test 1 without doing any review prior to studying and I scored 550 (33Q, 33V). My goal is to score 650-680.

    I started studying 3 weeks ago, having used only the GMAT OG, reviewing all the sections and have so far done about 350 practice questions. Today, I took the second GMATPrep practice test and scored lower 530 (29Q, 34V). Needless to say, I am freaking out, particularly about the drop in my quant score.

    I am hoping you can suggest what I should do with the limited time I have remaining (2 weeks). I am particularly worried about my quant score. I am going to pick up the Kaplan GMAT Math book as I need a better overall review of Quant, but would appreciate any other suggestions or tips you have.

  • You shouldn't be worried about this drop in scores and there are two reasons for that:
    - the test is built with a 30-point confidence interval, which means that, if you score a 530, your true score is between 500 and 560
    - it's often the case that you'll see a small drop in scores after the first few weeks of prep, because it's right after you've been assimilating a lot of info. This means that it might take you a bit to get used to using all this info, which might slow you down.
    A 650 is within reach, but you will need to put some work into verbal as well. Not sure what your weak area is, but I suggest you buy one of the following:
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide
    - Manhattan GMAT RC guide
    You should buy only one of these guides to address your most weakest point, because there's simply no more time for more.
    The Kaplan book is good, but don't forget to keep up the practice from OG!

  • I forgot to mention one thing though. Your scores are certainly consistent, but getting to a 650 is not going to be easy, unfortunately... I would probably spend these two weeks focusing as much time as I can on the GMAT! Good luck!

  • Hi,
    I have taken the Veritas mock test absolutely without any preparation and i scored 520. My verbal was 17 and quant 40. Could you please tell me if i can take the test in third week of the June and aim at 700+.

    Please advise

    I could not skip any question due to some issue in the application, so had to select some answer for the questions that i did not know.

  • Well, first off, a computer adaptive test such as the GMAT does not allow you to proceed to the next question without answering the one you're looking at.
    You are looking for an almost 200-point increase, which is not going to be easy to get, especially since your verbal is pretty weak. However, if you study using all the good stuff (the books mentioned in the article or the set of 8 guides from Manhattan GMAT), you will be able to hit your target score.

  • Danaj, First, thank you for recommending the CR Bible. It such a great read so far. I am currently on the Numbers and % problem set and somehow stuck on a question ( Ditrama question on pg 277 ) and also posted my argument against the answer choice on a thread in beatthegmat. Please see if you can clear my confusion. Thanks much as always.

  • Dana, I just posted a problem-solving question - Height of a Spherical Vessel - on the BTG board. Please let me know if you help on it. It focuses on the r/ship between the volume of a cylinder and that of a sphere. Thanks!

  • Hi!! It's amazing to see such helpful people still around! I'm taking my GMAT exam right in a months time and I'm all nervous seeing so much efforts needed after reading all the comments. I'm aiming for 720 and am ready to do everything for it. Be it studying for 7-8 hrs/day. I need your help to guide me as to how do I start on the preparation front. Do I do the basics first for Quantitative? Or the Verbal/ AW section first? I've the official guide with me. Is that enough? Let me know how should I go about it and which is the best possible way to ace this test.

    Please reply at the earliest because this site is something which I can completely trust.

  • The official guide (OG) is not going to be enough for you, unfortunately, unless you're already at a decent level (around 650). You can see most of my recommendations in the article above. The Manhattan GMAT set of 8 guides is also a good resource.
    Ignore the AWA for the moment and focus on quant and verbal. Start with quant, but devote more time to your weaknesses.
    Break a leg! :)

  • Dana , I have studied the PowerScore Critical Reasoning Bible and simply loved it. I like the depth of the Manhattan SC guide but its format is dense and thus not reader friendly. I generally like the format of the Powerscore, would you recommend a buy for this product if I am targetting a 700+. I have been reading awesome reviews on the SC Bible but I wanted to seek for a second opinion from our expert - YOU. So, what say you? Thanks as always!

  • Well I'm glad you liked it! I felt largely the same way about the SC guide from MGMAT.
    Unfortunately though, I can't review the SC bible since it takes quite some time to have it shipped to my address in Romania. However, I have reviewed the Verbal bible and its CR section was basically a cut-down version of the CR bible, so I suspect they did the same thing for SC.
    SC is, sadly, pretty dry, so whichever book you choose, it's not going to be as readable and interesting as the CR bible... They do cover the same tedious rules... I don't think there's a major change in style from one book to another simply because the subject in itself is not as interesting, so using the MGMAT guide or the SC bible is probably going to be the same thing. The style might differ a bit, but not substantially.

  • Thanks for your quick response. I think I am qualified to say - we owe you a debt of gratitude. Keep up the good work and good karma will find you whereever you are -Romania or the US.

  • Hi Dana,

    Ive noted the above- can you please advise if I should stick with the original one month plan. and the books you have suggested. I have a month and need a 650 and have been out of college for a while. I need a soild plan.

    Please advise- Aplogies if redundant question but your friends , did they take the test.



  • @Dev: The plan really works. Even though my friends have not taken the GMAT yet, they have been seeing significant score increases in their practice tests (from 580 to 650).
    Now, about what you can do: first off, don't be stressed. It won''t help you! You need to do the most within the little time you have. I cannot (and no one can, actually) guarantee a 650 in a month's time. I know it can be done, but your starting score is eally important. If you're at 400 right now (take the diagnostic from mba.com if you don't know your baseline score), then getting a 650 is not going to be an option, since a 250-point increase usually takes two months or more.
    The Kaplan Math book and the Manhattan GMAT series are different, but they're probably the best on their respective fields. You see, the Kaplan Math book is a condensed review of the quant you need for the GMAT. It is mising a few details, but that's only natural, given the fact that it distills the information. The Manhattan GMAT guides are probably the most complete, but the problem with them is that they are a lot of work! If you plan on going through all the 5 quant guides from MGMAT, then it's going to take a while! I think it's best you:
    - take a diagnostic and see where you stand
    - zoom in on some weaknesses and buy the materials that fit you best
    - discuss all of the above with your tutor, he'll surely be able to help
    The Princeton book is pretty basic stuff, sadly. I'm not sure it can take you to 650...

    • Hello Dana,

      Thanks for the quick response, ur great.

      Ill take the test and see where I stand. I just have to have a plan and stick to it- Cant be shuffling books. Ill revert when I have something ready.

      Thanks, ur inspiring.

      My best,


    • Hi Dana,

      One more question- Does the Offical Guide have to be a certain version 11 or 12. or the versions dont matter?



    • Hi Again,

      I took a first practice test and it said that my score would be about 490 on the actual test. But I was rushing so Im sure it would be better. I have issues with Works and Rate Time problem. Also Data suffieciency confuses me. Also not started on the Verbal.
      1. Are there any good Diagnostic tests to segregate my problem areas- online etc
      2. Im trying to follow your plan but had already started with Princeton. I have the Kaplan books and the Powerscore CR. But I need to work a plan and the concepts that I have problems with - the only way is to make a good note sheet.

      I dont have a good study plan and need some guidance here. I have the test on June 17th and between kaplan and OG I find Kaplan more confusing.

      Any suggestions. Should I take private tuturiols with Kaplan or Manhattan Gmat.? V Stressed.



  • Here is a dilemma that would beg for your experience.

    I study a specific area in the GMAT such as SC for a few days. But, when I revert to another section that I prevuosly "mastered" , I do not seem as proficient as I was. Did you, or any other follower, experience this? If so what strategy helped you?


  • ..and I almost forgot to ask you whether you LSAT CRs were part of your GMAT practice arsenal. Thanks!

  • @Dev: The two versions are almost just as good. The difference between them is of about a third of the questions. If you have a choice, then buy OG 12. If you already have the OG 11, then stick with it.

    @Haaress: I know what you're talking about! This is why I advise people to practice even just a handful of questions per day from the sections they've already finished reviewing. You can actually read this in the plan above:
    "Despite the fact that this period of your prep is meant for verbal review, try to do just a handful of quant questions each day in order to maintain a grasp of the math concepts you’ve just acquired."
    I myself used to do this and it served me well!
    I certainly did a few LSAT CRs before my exam, but I did not have a full document of them. I just browsed the forum for practice! Later on I discovered two sets of LSAT questions and you can access them here:

  • @Dev: 1. You could try Manhattan GMAT. It provides a detailed analysis of how well you did at the end, with a spread sheet. It's not 100% like the GMAT, but it's rumored to be second best.
    2. Priceton is not bad, it's just slightly basic. My overall impression of that book is that it won't take you further than a 620. They tend to overemphasize tricks instead of teaching you the concepts.
    Kaplan might seem a bit confusing, but out of your set of resources, it's the best book for strategy and theoretical review. In the limited time you have, it's probably best to focus on this one (except in the case where you discover specific weaknesses, such as SC).
    Taking up tutoring hours is not a bad idea, but they're pretty expensive. If you just can't get your head around the plan/still feel a bit suspicious of the Kaplan book within the next week, I think it might be an option for you.

    • Hello Stacy,

      I have to appear for the Gmat by the end of the month. I have the following books,

      Kaplan verbal and Math
      OG 12th editions
      OG match and verbal review
      Manhattan Review Verbal and awaiting the Math

      Im aiming for a 650 or higher.

      The problem I am facing is that im not being able to get enough practice on my weak areas and am wasting time. I need to know how best to identify my weak areas and the best places to practice and learn the theory. Its a bit blurry right now.

      Also I need to know where to take the CAT practice tests. Where can I get them from. Any that will break down the areas to help me analysis strenghts and weakness by Problem Type for MATH.

      Math areas:
      Rate/ Work
      Coordinate Geometry
      Simultaneous / Quadriatic word problems
      Permutations Combinations

      Sentence Correction



  • Hi DANA,

    Completely newbie questions: ...

    1)Are calculators allowed? Which ones?
    2)How long does it take to take GMAT Prep (from mba.com - registered on Friday) .... (as part of your plan it says to take if 1st before doing any studying, so I plan on taking it today May/16/2010)
    3)Does the GMAT prep have a AWA on it as well?

    I will be attempting your 1 Month Plan... as I am essentially fresh and will give you my feedback.

    4)By the looks of it, I should be getting OG + Kaplan Math + Kaplan Verbal (according to your 1-month plan) ... instead of OG + OG Quant + OG Verbal ?


  • Hey Shawn, welcome to our forum!
    1) No, calculators are not allowed. In fact I think they even make you leave your watch in the locker room - security is pretty tight at GMAT testing facilities!
    2) The AWA part is 60 minutes, then you may take a 8 minute-break, and then you have the two main "events" of the exam, each 75 minutes long with another 8 minute break in between these two. So total time: 3 hours and around 45 minutes.
    3) Yes, you will also be asked to write two essays. However, they are not graded, so you basically do them for sport, so to speak. Some people choose not to do these in mock tests, but I think it's quite important that you do them. Maybe it's not essential on your first mock test, but it's really important later on when you're trying to build up stamina.
    4) The OG is a must have, but it supplies enough practice by itself for someone who has only a month to prepare. It does not contain any strategy though, and neither do the other two smaller OGs. This is why you'll need some other books for a thorough theoretical review. Kaplan is pretty good, but I've also reviewed the Manhattan GMAT set of 8 guides recently (the reviews are not up yet). That set might also be worth it, but it depends on your available time and if you are able to pinpoint your exact weaknesses from your first GMAT prep. You see, the 8 guides from MGMAT are pretty complete, but they're also pretty dense. The Kaplan guides are quite good too, but they're a condensed version of the material. It ultimately boils down to:
    - how many hours per day you can devote to prep
    - if you are able to make a clear picture of your greatest weaknesses and buy only the MGMAT guides that you need (you probably can't go through all 8 in a month)

  • Thanks, a few more follow up questions:

    1)Does your score on the GMAT for the AWA section go towards your numerical score? If not what is the point of this section? How many sentences should be done and what format should you present you work on the AWA?
    2) The total time: 3 hours and around 45 minutes is also the time on the GMAT Prep?
    3) Will the marks given to you from the GMAT Prep ... tell you your marks in Critical Resoning, Sentence Correction, Reading Comprehension?
    4) If the GMAT Prep only gives you 1 verbal mark, how do you really know which of the 3 parts is your true weakness?
    5) Are you alowed to use pencils/pens and paper for side work (especially for quants section) on the actual GMAT exam?

    I'm really only looking for a 550-600 final score, and only thought about GMAT/MBA this week. I am lucky enough to live close to the school I decided to apply to, and they essentially said that based on the rest of my resume/experience/references... I just need 550 to be accepted for September (if I wish to start at that time)... If I take the GMAT test early enough (by late June 2010). I have passed the CFA Level 1 exam (studying 3 months), but the GMAT is a completely different exam, and even tho ppl say its much easier then CFA Level 1, I can see that its a completely different kind of exam.

    6)I'm in Canada, and I don't think the Manhattan books are available here, and for them to be shipped here will take extra time I don't have and considering that I only have 4-5 weeks starting from fresh, 8 books is likely too much. I have seen everything else in stores. (OG's, Kaplan, Princeton, Barrons, Dummies.... Im not sure about Powerscore yet)

    7) I have not purchased any books yet, and not done any questions at all... do you still recommend me take the 4 hours to do the GMAT Prep exam (via mba.com) first and see where I stand at the beginning (today or tomorrow) ?

  • 1) The important score is just for the quant and verbal. AWA is on the side, so to speak. It's graded separately and people don't usually pay too much attention to it. But since it's the first "event", you need to make sure that you're in a good mood.
    2) It's the total time for a GMAT test and you're supposed to simulate it with GMAT prep.
    3) No, they won't. However, you could easily tell which one is giving you headaches by counting how many you got wrong for each type or the percentage per total questions.
    4) See 3)
    5) You will be given a laminated set of papers and you're supposed to write on them with a felt tip pen. You can have as many as you need.
    6) That's OK. The PowerScore series is possibly one of the best for verbal. If you need help in verbal, then definitely trust their products. Princeton is rather basic and focuses too much on tricks (that may backfire) instead of teaching you the theory. Stay away from Barrons at all cost; actually, if you want to buy this book, send me the money and you'd be better off. I haven't reviewed the Dummies book, but since it's from a general collection, I assume it's not that deep.
    7) Yes, because you can't set up your plan without knowing your baseline score. As I've said though, you could skip the AWA just this once. This would bring the time down to around two hours and a half. At the end of your GMATprep, you'll receive three scores:
    - a scaled score for quant from 1 to 51
    - a scaled score for verbal from 1 to 51
    - a total score from 200 to 800
    Write down all three scores right then and there, you won't be able to come back to that screen with the scores (it's a glitch in the program). Then you should either check your scores on mba.com and see your percentile ranking or send them to me and I'll tell you what you need help with. You should also send me how many questions you got wrong in each of the five question types (two in quant and the three you've mentioned in verbal). Knowing your weak spots will help you divide your time between verbal and quant and you can also buy the books that are best for you. If you want me to help you with this, simply send a private message on the forum. My ID is DanaJ.

    If you want to know more about the GMAT, there are tons of info in GMATprep. Just browse the software and you'll see!

  • hi DanaJ

    i have my exam schedule on 25th May ,the score which i was getting in manhattan CAT are 650/620/670/700, but today when i gave GmatPrep 2 i got only 570 very upset, i have only one day to reschedule the exam could u please suggest me that shall i reschedule my GMAT or go ahead.
    and how can i improve my RC because in verbal today my full starting 3 RC were Wrong(RC Weak point)


  • @Shekhar: A tough situation indeed... Are there any external factors that might have affected your performance today? If not, then it might just be that you're getting good at Manhattan GMAT tests, but not the GMAT itself... I know this might sound drastic, but unless there's something that really bugged you today...
    RC is one of the hardest types to improve upon for a non native speaker... A good book for RC would be the Kaplan Verbal Workbook. However, any book on its own is insufficient, because you really need to read stuff in English as much as you can to get better at it in general. Some quick thoughts:
    - don't take too many notes, they slow you down
    - focus on connectors ("moreover", "besides this", "however" etc.), since they help you follow the ideas of the passage
    - watch out for adjectives or adverbs that "betray" a certain position (for instance, "I strongly agree with something" means that my feelings for that are pretty deep)

  • Once again Thank you DanaJ

    I'll take the GMAT Prep today or tomorrow and write down those 3 scores... not sure where I'll find all the other info about percentiles and breakdowns of the other stuff, but we'll cross that bridge afterwards.

  • hi Danaj,

    Thanks for the quick response,highly apriciated.
    is it good to extend the gmat date about 6 weaks i have only one day to extend because 25th is my exam date.
    my further study plan....
    please have a look..

    Target : 730

    Weak Area - Verbal specially RC.

    Week 1 :- (daily schedule)
    Quant Section - OG+ manhattan
    Verbal Section- OG 10 (5 RC daily)
    Week 2 :
    Quant Section - manhattan continue
    Verbal Section - OG 12,OG11 (RC-5)

    Week 3:-
    Quant Practice:
    Verbal Section:- All Kaplan books
    Week 4:-
    Quant Practice:
    Verbal Section:- 1000 set(SC/CR/RC)
    Week 5:-
    Verbal Section :- Repeat ALL OG

    Mock exam every Saturday and Sunday. ( 2 mock every weak)
    1/2 hrs daily reading practice (feminist and political)
    Time to be devoted daily -5 hrs (working)
    Time devoted weekend - 10-12 hrs

    Danaj do you have gmail id i want to add you in my friend list.


  • @Shawn: Don't mention it. If you need more help, just send a private message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
    @Shekhar: your plan looks solid. If your target score is 730, then you definitely need to postpone... Sorry, it's just not feasible to expect an increase from 570 to 730... However, your plan seems OK to me, so keep it up and you should be fine!

  • @Dev: I think you must be confusing me with Stacy from Manhattan GMAT... If you want her to answer your questions, then it's best to send her a private message on the forum.
    My thoughts on what you've written are that you already know some of your weak spots - they're in the list you've put down. Use the resources that you already have to work on them, since the Kaplan Math Workbook, for instance, is divided by chapters. The OG also has some practice, but it is scattered... It's still good practice (the best, actually, since it's official questions) after you're done reviewing the concepts using the books you have.
    Now the problem here is that I have never reviewed the Manhattan Review set of books. These books are not the same as the Manhattan GMAT guides (red books with a "g" on the cover), which are pretty good... Actually, the Manhattan GMAT books also contain lists of problems in the OG that test this or that concept. They're very helpful for targeted practice in this respect, but I suspect you can't afford to wait for them to be mailed to you, since you only have a month to go... Not to fret though, you'll do fine with the stuff you already have.
    You'll find CATs at mba.com - those are the best indicators of your score. These CATs can be retaken and you'll see very few repeats. You'll also find one free CAT on the websites of major prep companies, such as Manhattan GMAT, Veritas Prep, Knewton, Kaplan... Some of these tests also provide an analysis of how you did at the end, broken down by subjects (I am sure the Manhattan GMAT one does, the others I'm not 100% sure - it's been more than a year since I've taken them myself), which might help you with figuring out your weaknesses.

  • hi Dana,

    I took up the gmat prep test I and I scored 630 the break up is 47 in quant and 30 in verbal. I am aiming for > 700. I tried to figure out my problem area's ; In quant i made some really silly mistakes which i think will go by some preparation. But in verbal my problem is SC i made a lot of mistakes here the major chunk of error i.e. 12/14. So I think I need to work a lot on SC's.

    1) Which book should I refer to improve my SC's?
    2) And what do you suggest should I start my prep of with quant and then move ahead to do Verbal?
    3) Plus I haven't booked my GMAT as of now, how much time you think it would take me to improve to scores > 700? - I am working so 2hrs daily with weekends 4-5 hrs of preparation.

  • 1) Go for the Manhattan GMAT SC guide, it's really good for SC.
    2) You should probably start with quant, since it's easier to improve upon. Spend around 1/4 of your prep time for quant and the rest for verbal.
    3) I think you need around a month and a half. The more the better, but in the end it's not necessarily about the time you spend, but the concentration.

  • Hi Dana,

    Going down the home stretch in terms of preperation in my "5 week" plan. I have roughly 2 days of true study left. On the 3rd day I plan to take the 2nd GMATprep, to see where I stand. Then schedule the test within a few days (I've checked and I can get a seating within a day if wanted), if I like my range.

    I expect SC to be my lowest on the prep, tho I have the Manhattan GMAT SC guide. Maybe I'm just set in my ways. Any common words that I should avoid in answers ?

  • Or any extra hints for doing SC questions ?

    One thing I'm leaning to, is when you think a) might be correct as is, it usually is. (since its supposedly right 20% of time). I know that seems obvious... but what I mean is when you think a) is a possibily, it likely is the correct answer.

    Like = comparing (Shawn, like Ryan, goes to x)
    Such as = examples

    Any other typical ones like these? ^

  • Unfortunately SC is not my strongest part. I specialize in CR and RC and can generally offer advice concerning those verbal parts... I don't have any specific recommendations to make, although as you yourself mention, A is definitely a possibility. However, even though you feel that A might be right, you really should read the other options as well, because you never know if there's a more concise answer choice.

  • Hi Dana,
    I have got my gmat on 12 july.I have been working for two months almost but still not getting the scores i need >700.Getting only 630-40 (48-50 in quant and 30-32 in verbal ).In verbal i am making lot of mistakes in RC and CR questions.Please tell me how can i improve my verbal scores.What should i do now i have finished a online course called mastergmat and verbal part of OG but still not getting up there.I have taken off from my office till my gmat.
    one thing more, should i postpone my gmat as anyways there is no point giving it with low scores

  • For RC and CR, try the PowerScore CR Bible and the Kaplan Verbal Workbook. You should probably buy the OG verbal supplement for extra practice too. If you want to improve your reading skills, you should read stuff in English every day - try WSJ, the Economist and sciencedaily.
    Unless you score above 700 in at least 2 mock test before your test day, I think you should probably postpone the test. You need to be realistic about your level.

  • Thanks dana, i will follow your advice and give two mocks before 5th of july and if the scores are above 700 i will go ahead else i will postpone the date and work more on my problem areas.Looking forward to hear more from your side in the coming days.


  • Hi Dana. I have already given the GMAT once and plan on giving it again this August. I have roughly a month's time and would like to improve on a few areas.

    My weak points are Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension in Verbal and Data Sufficiency Questions in the Quantitative section. I am fairly comfortable with problem-solving but would like additional practice solving advanced level problems. What do you recommend?

    I got a 710 earlier and am aiming for a 760+ score this time. I would also like to increase my speed.

  • For CR, try the CR Bible from PowerScore. You can also check out some advanced CR questions in LSAT sets. Here are two free ones: http://www.beatthegmat.com/suggested-lsat-material-cr-rc-t44191.html
    RC improvement comes with a better knowledge of general English. I suggest reading stuff in English every day. Besides this, you could also try one of the two dedicated guides, Manhattan GMAT RC or Veritas Prep RC.
    DS is actually a matter of getting used to the format. If your math is good, then practice just might do the trick. If you've already used up all the questions in the OG, try the OG quant (green book). It doesn't have many hard problems, but at least you get a good amount of practice with the format.
    Speed issues usually arise if you do not time yourself when you practice. I think using a timer each time you solve a given set of problems and trying to the best of your ability to stick to the official time (that is, around 2 mins per quant question and an average of 1 min 45 secs for verbal questions).

  • Hi Dana,

    I have exactly 1 month to study from start-to-finish so I was very happy to come across your 1 month plan. I have taken the month off work so I plan to spend 8 hours/day studying. I have 2 questions for you:

    1) Do you have an example of a more detailed study plan (say, daily or weekly?)

    2) I want to spend the first part of my study plan reviewing the basic concepts -- its been 5 years since I've seen math/english problems so I need a refresher. I got a few books from a friend that wrote the gmat last year -- I have the OG11 as well as some older versions from Kaplan (inc. kap 800) and Princeton. I see that you suggested the GMAT math workbook for math concepts but given that I have more time to study (I believe your plan is for studying 2.5 hrs/day) should I look at the MGMAT 8 books instead?

    I'll be sending more questions over the next couple of weeks. Thanks for your help!

  • 1) We actually have a detailed study plan, but it's for 2 months: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/gmat-guide

    2) The MGMAT books do tend to be more thorough, but they will definitely take more time. If you've taken time off, it might work for you. However, I must warn you: it's a lot of work!

  • Dana, thanks for your answers.

    One more question for you: I was considering taking an accelerated 1 - 2 week GMAT prep course (if nothing else, to get into the routine and discipline) but I can't find one that meets my timeline/location. With that in mind, I am contemplating taking an online course where (I believe) I can have access to archived previous/future lessons and therefore work on a faster pace then the 6 week course schedules. I'm thinking I can finish the online course in 7 days or so and spend the remaining three weeks sharpening weaknesses areas and going through problems and questions.

    What do you think of this idea? Does it makes sense for a 4-week plan?

    Do you have any recommendations between the online courses of MGMAT, Knewton and Princeton (saw the review you wrote for them)?


  • An accelerated course definitely makes sense given that you have very little time compared to the majority of students. You could study on your own though, don't think I'm pushing you to buy a course, but if you feel the need for a more guided approach, then you should definitely give it a look.
    I've heard largely positive feedback about MGMAT (never reviewed the course myself), Knewton is certainly an option and I can't comment on Princeton. However, you need to check and see if these companies offer accelerated courses (i.e. shorter than the regular two or three month courses), since I'm pretty sure that Knewton doesn't (for instance). I believe Veritas has an accelerated option and so does Kaplan. I'd say that the best way to shop for a course is to attend a session (companies will allow you to do that for free) and see if you relate to the instructor - to me that's probably one of the most important things when picking a course.

  • Hi Dana,
    What a coincidence! I have exactly 30 days to the GMAT and I saw this post today! Will pick up some points from your plan. Thank You :)

    I have been preparing for past 3 weeks and got a terrible 470 on a GMATprep test yesterday. I was so disheartened. I'm wondering if I can bring my score up to 570 in a month's time. is that possible? I got 39 in quant and 19 in verbal. I am targetting 550-600 range.

  • Yes, I think it's possible. I'd say you need to work on it though, both on quant and on verbal, although maybe more on verbal.

  • Thanks Dana!! That definitely boosts my spirits...I'm hpping to cross atleast 80 points on the actual test

    • Hi Dana..
      Just gave my GMAT ten days ago..got 640 (Q45,V33)
      ...I plan to write it again...
      Need help on verbal- CR & RC
      Quant-Co-ordinate geometry and Numbers

      Please advise!

  • Hi ruchi,

    For CR, try the PowerScore CR Bible. For RC, it depends on what you need... If it's practice, you can check out either the Veritas Prep RC book (90+ questions) or the Beat The GMAT Practice Questions (100+ questions). For a more detailed theoretical review, check out the Manhattan GMAT RC guide. Also, this video we put together might help: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2010/08/25/gmat-science-reading-comprehension

    For quant, try the Manhattan books, Number Properties + Geometry should do the trick.

  • Hi Dana,

    I scored a not so great 500 on the GMATPrep with no previous study.

    I am scheduled to take the test in 1 month and have created a schedule where after reviewing Math concepts, I will solve all quant questions from the GMAT Review (12th ed) during the following 5 days.

    Supposedly, in the GMAT Review as you progress on the questions they get harder. Knowing this, should I not waste my time answering all of them (230 PS, 174 DS) when chances are I won't get any 680-750 during my actual test? Instead I could use this time more wisely to review the 550-650 questions and my weak areas.

    Any thoughts?

  • Hi Regina,

    This has both a plus and a minus... You see, jumping over some of the easier stuff might get you into trouble on test day because you might see some easy questions that will throw you off. Most tutors keep saying that you should really nail the basics before you jump in the harder things.
    Of course, on the other hand, if you spend too much time on easy questions you won't have time to progress to harder ones!
    It's up to you to decide, but I think you should probably work through the easier questions as well. In case you don't have enough time to get to the harder stuff, you should probably try to give yourself more time.

  • Hi Dana,

    I took the GMAT today and didn't perform as well as I hoped to. I got a 600. Quantitative Score was 42 and Verbal was 31.

    I started studying about 2 weeks prior to the exam. I used some Veritas Prep books that I borrowed from a friend. 1 week prior to the exam, I took my first Practice GMAT from the http://www.mba.com site and got a 620. I took another one two days ago and got a 610.

    I understand that practice exams are pretty reflective of what most people end up getting on their actual GMAT day, so I guess I should have expected the score I got.

    That being said, my goal is to get a significantly higher score. My real goal is 700. I don't know if this is even possible, but I want to get your advice. I want to apply to several schools and a few of those deadlines are at the end of October. Therefore, I am going to sign up for 2nd GMAT on October 12th.

    What would be the most effective plan to try to improve my score to the near 700 range? If this is highly unlikely, just let me know the best method of increasing my score period.

    I have about a month from tomorrow. Should I just use the approach you detailed above. My gut feeling was to just go through the entire OG in detail.

    Thanks Dana. I look forward to reading your comments.

  • I certainly believe you can get a 600 in a month's time. Your quant and verbal scores are pretty similar in terms of percentile ranking, so you should allot almost equal amounts of time for each of the two sections. On verbal, if you feel like you're not that strong in a question type, use the appropriate book:
    - SC: MGMAT SC guide
    - CR: PowerScore CR Bible
    - RC: either MGMAT RC guide or Veritas Prep RC
    The OG is a really good resource of practice problems, but if you need a more theoretical background it won't be enough.

    • Hi Dana,

      Thank you very much for your prompt response. Your tips are very helpful and encouraging.

      Just one thing. I'm not sure if I was clear in my original post, but I actually already got a 600. My goal is to get a 700. In your response you stated that you believe I can get a 600 in month's time. Please advice if you think a 700 is attainable and if I should use the same methods you listed above.

      Thanks a lot!

  • Oops, sorry! I meant 700 but I hit the wrong key. :)

  • Hi Dana,
    I got 660 in my first attempt in 2008. Though I was getting consistently about 700 in practice tests but don't know how I ended so low.
    I am planning to take GMAT again and am targetting in the range of 720 to 740. Do you think one month strategy will help me ?


  • The difference between your practice tests and your real test is not that big, you may have just been nervous and nothing more. But now you're more familiar with the test setting so you should do better. A 60-point improvement is definitely doable, I believe. 660 is not a bad score to start with - not a bad score to end with either! Remember to focus on your weaknesses and practice from the OG!

  • Hi DanaJ
    Im planning to give GMAT in next 4-5 months time, i have no prior exposure to GMAT & is working 12 hrs a day with around only 2-3 hrs time daily for studies, lost touch with studies as i have started after 5 years of education, can you suggest me methodology to keep me motivated & ensure score of 700+, have started with OG-12, waiting for your reply.

  • Hi Kaustubh,
    You can try the 60 day study guide, it sends you emails every day with precise exercises to do. Check it out: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/gmat-guide

  • Hi Dana,

    Can you please give me any advice on improving my quant score? i plan to take the gmat in on 29th oct exactly one month.the verbal is very good but i find it challenging to interprete word problems .I have the Kaplan, and OG.Please advice.I will take on your study plan.Im getting soo nervous.Is it possible to get 100% in the verbal?

  • You can try the MGMAT series of 5 quant guides, it's pretty thorough! They also have a separate book on Word Translations which is pretty nice.
    Getting 100% in verbal is extremely rare! I'm sure it's doable, but you shouldn't set too high of a goal for yourself. Also, don't neglect this section completely - there is still room for improvement no matter what!

    • thanks Dana,
      will let you know how it goes.Wish me luck
      You are such an inspiration.Thank you


  • Hey no problem! Good luck!

  • Hi Dana, How's it going?

    It was a pleasure to read about your GMAT journey, congratulations for the fantastic score !

    I took the GMAT last week, and scored a dismal 480 ( target score 670-700). It was a tad shocking considering I had been scoring 580-590 consistently on the GMATPrep tests (MBA.com), 2010 Kaplan Premier Live Online Tests and 2010 Princeton Review CATs. Although after closely following the "Beat the GMAT" community and your posts especially, I have identified the following gaps in my study plan and preparation which in my opinion caused the downfall of my first GMAT attempt:

    1. I only used the 2010 Kaplan Premier Live Online for the preparation, which only exposed me to the "straightforward" math. I was clearly confused by the math problems on the test, and many of them seemed so confusing at the first glance, that I never got to actually solving them. The presentation and framing of the problems was enough to throw me off :(

    2. I think I paid way too much attention on studying the concepts and spent little time putting those concepts into application by practicing problems from different sources. In the end I did not have enough time to take the practice tests. After realising that I only had a week before the actual test, I hit the panic zone and started taking Practice CAT tests everyday, sometimes two a day. I remember having taken almost 10 tests in 7 days ( GMATPrep, Kaplan Premier and Princeton Review CATs), which obviously caused me to burn out eventually. Also, I wasn't really monitoring and correcting my mistakes, and faltered at the time management aspect of the test too. I was struggling to keep up with the pace of the test for both Quant and Verbal, which could be attributed to the fact that I was not timing myself while practicing the concepts after reviewing them.

    3. Lastly, I think I have failed at mastering the theory and concepts in the very first place ( both Quant and Verbal). This weak foundation has evidently made it difficult for me to solve questions quickly and effectively, thus leading to the inability to keep up the speed on the test.

    So here I am ,2 days after the debacle, I have decided to devote myself wholly to the GMAT this time. I am looking at booking the date on the 7th of Dec, which is 2 months and a week from now. As far as the study hours go, I plan to put in 6 hours everyday since I have taken time off work for the next 2 months. Yes! The 480 has been a real shocker, so I thought I can't let work affect me in any way whatsoever. Its going to be 2 months of GMAT and only GMAT.

    Currently I have the following two books at my disposal:

    1. 2010 Kaplan Premier Live Online
    2. 2010 Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT

    I have made a list of books to buy asap for strengthening my concepts and practicing problems to reinforce the same:

    - The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition
    - The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review, 2nd Edition
    - The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review, 2nd Edition
    - 8 Manhattan GMAT Strategy Guides
    - PowerScore CR Bible

    From the scant research I have done so far, I have a feeling that the GMAT SC and RC guides combined with PowerScore CR Bible should effectively combat my Verbal issues. For the Quant, are the 8 Manhattan Strategy Guides in conjunction with Kaplan Premier and OG books sufficient? Please have a look at the list that I have compiled, and let me know of your thoughts. Your input is highly appreciated!

    Thanks :)

  • Oops, I didn't realise how long the post was! Extremely sorry for the largely convoluting message!

  • Heh, don't worry about it. But everything you said certainly makes sense. I also feel that you've assembled a super duper book lists! What I would add is to devote more time to your weak spots and less to the stuff you're good at (without neglecting it though).
    Btw 6 hours a day should get you through all the material you have. Just be careful not to feel too burnt out after it though!

  • Thanks for the prompt response Dana, appreciate that!

    So I have already ordered the 3 OG books and the Powerscore CR Bible and Manhattan SC guide.

    Would you think that the other Manhattan guides are really a necessity if I am aiming for a 670-700 score considering my current situation? My concerns are especially catered towards the Quant section, I doubt if Kaplan + OG + OG Quant would suffice?

  • Actually I do believe they could help, especially the Number Properties and Word Translations books. You yourself mentioned that the quant section was not that good for you and that you struggled with word problems, so I think another investment is in order :)

  • Dana,
    Do you have a study plan for the TOEFL. I know you also smashed the TOEFL really well. Could you please share the resources and advise.

    Thanks as always!

  • You can try this study plan: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2010/05/11/a-three-week-toefl-study-plan

    Also be sure to check out some writing templates here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/writing-tips-templates-t51509.html

    You can read about my TOEFL experience here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/my-toefl-ibt-117-120-t51448.html

    Good luck!

  • Hi, Dana

    I am a working professional contemplating to take GMAT in coming november. I have been following your 1-month study plan for more than a week.

    My question: if i'm planning to have 2 rest days before the test day, what day would you think is better to take the GMAT?
    Is it MONDAY so I can fully rest on weekends and have less stress coming from work, or
    WEDNESDAY after 2 rest days on Monday and tuesday (where I am working on these days), so I can use the weekends to take diagnostic test and review AWA section.

  • Hmm... Tough choice! For practicing purposes, it would be better if you took the test on a Wednesday. However, if you always feel drained after work, then maybe it's better to use the weekend as a resting period and maybe just rest on Sunday and not the whole weekend.

  • Dana, I really appreciate your prompt responses.
    Since the stress coming from work can sometimes be a bit hard to predict, I will consider your advice on having 1-day rest (instead of 2) on sunday only before the test.
    Thanks much.

  • Hi

    If some one could advise me on how I could improve on my study pattern..............as I had taken gmat about 3 month ago and got a very low score (420)..............wat I realised during the exam that I had no energy when I started my verbal section and basically that section had pulled my score down ..............I got a good score in Quant (44) but still want to improve on it..........Before I took the exam I had prepared for about 3 months doing OG (which I thought was a waste because the questions are no way near the difficulty level of the actual exam questions) and past questions from different sources like Kaplan, Manhattan.............and did give free online cat exam that I had downloaded from mba site...........in my trail exams I did achieve about 620..............and thought that I was ready for the real deal.............I thought that I would atleast get 600 but since I gave the exam, my self esteem has gone down and am lost of which sections I should focus on ...............I did analyse that I am very weak in RC and SC...............my CR is not too bad..............just would like to know..........from which material should I do questions or read to improve my strategy on attacking questions.......

    I would also appreciate if I could know wat would help to sustain my energy...............

    Any suggestions are welcome as I am planning to give the exam in dec or jan.....


  • For SC, try the Manhattan GMAT SC guide. For RC, you can use the same Manhattan guide. It's a bit more subtle with verbal though, because you really need to know your English pretty well o succeed. You need to work on it every single day! Read stuff in English such as the Economist, sciencedaily.com, WSJ etc. Being exposed to the language every day is the best way to prepare!
    Other than that, working on your energy levels is also important, as you mention. You need to take CATs under timed conditions to prepare you for the real test. It's all about training yourself to withstand the three-four hours of intense work. There are no shortcuts on this one (at least as far as I know). You need to keep the ultimate goal in mind: getting into business school. You should know that my friends in b school report having to work tons and tons, with less than 5 hours of sleep. So this should motivate you: are you ready or not for this experience? Prove yourself that you are by beating the GMAT and overcoming your lack of stamina!

    • Dear Dana,

      Thanks for all your advise.


  • Hey Dana,

    I have been preparing since 15-20 days working on data sufficiency and then sentence correction. I had earlier taken my gmat prep test 1 scored 630 with a break up of 47 quant and 30 verbal. But today I took the Gmat prep test 2 didnt do well my score came down to 550, did a couple of mistakes in quant esp data sufficiency and the sentence correction rules have made me slow but not shown any significant improvement.

    I want to give more tests, so please if you can suggest online tests available that mimick the Gmat. I lost touch with some concepts I feel if i brush them up I will be back on track. I still have 25 days to go for the GMAT, please give me some suggestions.

    Another thing I have still not started solving the OG, I feel that I am not strong with some topics so I till now was saving it till the end. Should I start attempting the questions and learn from mistakes? or should I formally read the theory ?

  • You should definitely focus on theory first and CATs and practice afterward. In fact, take no more than one CAT per week, because these tests don't help you learn the underlying stuff at all. Practice should be done after you've completed the theoretical review for a subject and not before.

  • Hi, Dana

    I followed your one-month study plan, with slight modification.
    Quite struggling though, since I have to do my job and do my duties as a father.

    Took my GMAT last wednesday and scored 640, enough for two most popular part-time MBA in Singapore, i.e. Nanyang BS, and National Univ of Singapore.

    I am sincerely thanking you so much for sharing your brilliant study plan with us.

  • Wow, that's awesome! Congrats! Glad I helped! And the best of luck with the rest of your apps!

  • Dear Dana,

    First of all congrats on a brilliant score. I just read a long list of comments and I am impressed with your expertise.

    I intend to take GMAT in a months time and I consider myself lucky that I bumped on this page. I plan to strictly follow the regimen recommended by you.

    I am targeting 720 plus. Please advise if this would be possible. I took a prep test on Princeton's website and scored a 570 with no preparation at all.

    Second, would 1 month be enough to write my essays and prepare for interviews for top 10 b-schools. I plan to apply in IInd round.

    Many thanks,


  • Hey Naveen,
    Well, you're looking for a 150-point increase, which is not easily accomplished in a month's time, unfortunately. It depends on how much time you have on your hands (if you study one hour per day or if you can devote your entire day to the GMAT) and the resources you have access to. The main point is to focus on your weaknesses and try to consolidate your strengths. If you're a non native speaker, then tailor the plan above to include more on quant rather than verbal.
    To answer your second question, a month is not too much to finalize your essays... Trust me, they take A LOT of time and effort and if you compare your first draft with the actual essay that you submit, you'll see there will be a huge difference! However, if you can set goals for yourself and have someone trustworthy to help you with editing, I don't see why not.

    • Hey Dana,

      Thanks for prompt, frank and encouraging revert. Will follow your regimen and will see how far I go.

      Thanks again.


  • Hey Dana-

    I'm a current law student taking the GMAT in late Jan. for admission to a JD/MBA program and I plan on using this study plan. How much time should I be spending each day studying to achieve between a 670 and a 690? 2 hours? I've always excelled on standardized tests (1460 on the old SAT, 169 on the LSAT both on the first try) but I am worried about the GMAT because I am very rusty on the Quant stuff-- I simply haven't done this math in years. The verbal I am not too concerned about because I have heard it is much easier than the LSAT verbal aside from the sentence correction sentence.

  • In your case, you may want to focus more on quant by buying the Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides. Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension are indeed much easier than what you saw in the LSAT, so you should do just fine. If you also want a pretty complete guide for SC, then try the Manhattan GMAT guide for that - although I'm not sure if you really need anything more than practice from the Official Guide for this one.
    Good luck with all those tests/degrees! :)

  • Thanks for your help Dana! Would you happen to have a link to amazon or somewhere for the Quant books you recommended? They were not under the books listed for self study on the site.

    Additionally, I initially messed up and registered to take the GMAT about a week earlier than I meant to leaving me only 3 weeks to study. Should I push it back a week or is it possible to learn that Quant and the Sentence corrections studying 2-3 hours a day in three weeks?

  • The quant books I recommended can be found under the name of Manhattan GMAT. They are called "Number Properties," "Word Translations," "Equations and VICs," "Geometry" and "Fractions and Percents." The fifth book in this list is potentially unnecessary because it's kind of easy -if you're comfortable with percents and fractions, just don't buy it.
    It's a bit tight to learn all this stuff in 3 weeks... I don't feel like you'll have too much time, unfortunately. It also depends on your general level of math to start with.

  • Thanks so much again for all your help! probably best to push it back so that I don't have to rush/stress about it.

  • Could I have your email id ?i would like to email you instead of writing here..


  • Hi Reshma,
    I never give out my email address, but you can send me a private message through the forums. My username is "DanaJ"

  • Sorry to bother you Dana but one last question... I should just buy the 4 Manhattan GMAT Quant Books (not the the fractions and percents one which you're right would be a waste), the Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction book, and the Official Guide?


  • Yes, I think that's about enough. I'm pretty sure you won't have time to do everything, but you'll do a good chunk of the books.

    • Thanks Dana! Took the gmat today for the first and only time. Got a bit lower than I had been practicing at but a 730 is plenty good for the school I am going to.

  • Hi Dana,

    Congratulations on your great score and wish you all the luck for the admission process. Well sorry to be selfish but i am in need of tremendous help. I have written my gmat twice already and that two with dissappointing scores of 490 and 480. Yes i am planning to appear for my GMAT the third time but my prepartion is no better. I mean i have studied better this time but no real improvement has taken place. I have mainly used the OG-12 and Manhattan SC, RC and CR guides for the concepts. Finally i have given the GMATPrep a number of times but my score is usually around the 500 range. The last one being 530. I need to score a 700+ and there is no possibilty of settling for anything else now considering this is my third attempt. However as you know its almost January 2011 and I need to submit my applications by March 1st so that I stand the last possible chance of getting into a good school for fall 2011. I need to get into a decent B-School this fall in any case. Its my last hope. Im sorry for making this emotional but its how bad it is. The GMAT has been haunting me for over 1.5 years now and i need to get out of it. Considering i have 2 months to do everything which i intend to seriously this one time of my life i request you to guide my as to how i should proceed and when would it be appropriate to book an exam. Fall 2011 is my last hope for an MBA abroad.I work full-time and am even thinking of quittin my job as i feel its taking up too much of my valuable time and energy now. Will it be a wise thing to do? I am ready to quit all the comforts for these 2 months only to get a 700+ score in the GMAT. Please help me. Its a very very personal request. You can also e-mail me for the same. Looking forward to your reply. Thanks and wish u a happy new year in advance :-)

  • Hey there,
    Don't despair! You can do it! It's going to take a lot of work, but I'm sure you'll work through it in the end. There are a number of things you haven't told me though, such as your quant/verbal breakdowns. Have you been using some strategy guides for quant too? The OG is not enough for a good quant score. Something must be wrong with your approach. You need to change it dramatically, and I'm not sure you can do it on your own - especially since your scores are incredibly consistent, you may need help from some tutor or course.
    I don't think quitting your job is a wise decision. I know it may be tough to study while you also work, but I also feel that quitting to take a test is not the best thing to do in the grand scheme of things. You need to put your decisions into perspective, since anything you do right now will have an impact on your career overall. How will you explain to the adcom that you quit?

    • Hey Dana. It was so nice to see your quick reply. I thought id get it only next year :-) considering its new year time. Coming to my quant and verbal breakdowns: My quant has almost always been between 40Q-44Q(I suppose this is the score one gets at the end of the test right?) while verbal has been the most fluctuating part.The last which i remember was 27V(this was my highest). I realised that I am not too bad on CR. But in case of SC I think its a lack of practice. I almost blank out on every test and just dont know how to identify the thing. RC is on the same road. While practicing OG I was doing reasonably well but on the practice tests i just couldn't understand the passage. I mean it was tougher :-( I suppose that I can probably practice more math concepts and improve my score but how do i go about verbal? Well I guess if the job has to stay then I really need to pull up my sleeves. Dana, need a proper plan :-(

  • Hmm... I'm pretty sure you've got more problems with verbal than with quant. You should try the following plan: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2010/01/16/verbal-focus-gmat-plan
    I see you bought quite a few of the best resources for verbal. I think a solid review would be in order. However, you need to drastically change your approach to get better results. I'm not sure how you've been tackling each question, but don't sacrifice quality for quantity. I saw you mentioned that you needed practice for SC; that's not always the case. Are you 100% confident on the theoretical side of things? You need to be very confident on that side before anything else.

    • Hey Dana..

      I suppose that is one of the problems.. I have been chasing quantity over quality i guess.. Also need to work on my concepts for verbal..How much time would that take in general? (I know that depends on persons ability but still)..Dana do you think i should go ahead and book my exam and then plan my prep accordingly or vice-versa? The pressure is high as i know 2 months are not enough to finish everything..But i knew i had to do this some or the other day and this is the right time ..I would go through the verbal-gmat focus plan. Apart from that do you suggest any other study material or what i have is enough? Btw i had mailed my target universities regarding my application.They replied saying that submission by March 1st deadline would be ok but i shouldn't delay it further considering that i am an international applicant. Just one last thing, i know you dont give your email id but is there anyway if i can mail you or send you my queries since i dont really wish to exhaust this article space with my unlimited posts. Thank you for all your help and patience. Really appreciate that :-)

  • How much time you take depends, really. People usually spend 2-3 hours a day during weekdays and 5-6 hours a day on weekends. If you can do that for the next two months, you can safely say you've done your best. I can't think of any other resource apart from those that I've already listed.
    I never give out my email address. If you want, you can send me a private message on the forums.

  • Hi Dana,

    i wanted to know if this plan would work for me, i took the GMAT on December 24th and scored a dismal 500 (Q34, V21) after almost 3 months of studying. I had been scoring between 510-590 and a 630 once on the online Manhattan GMAT CATs. My verbal score had been varying between 33 - 39 during practice but dont know how i screwed up on D day.

    I am planning to re-take the test in a month in order to meet the application deadlines. I have the following prep material:

    OG 12
    Powerscore CR Bible
    MGMAT SC and CR
    OG Verbal and Quant Review books (10th ed)
    Princeton Review Manual for GMAT
    A few of the Veritas Books

    Last time i feel i didnt make use of much of the aforementioned material, rather focused too much on the MGMAT CATs and reviewing the questions that i got wrong.

    Any help would be appreciated and how i could tailor your 1 month plan to achieve better results.


  • Hey Andy,
    I think your biggest problem is focusing on CATs. These tests sever some purposes:
    - helping you with timing because the mimic the test-day pressure
    - assessing where you stand
    - helping you diagnose some problem areas
    Beyond that, CATs are not the best use of your time. You shouldn't take more than one every week. Instead, you should focus on getting your concepts straight and practicing a lot based on that. The materials you have are not bad at all and I suspect all you need to to is just use them properly. Your score indicates that you should probably spend equal amounts of time on verbal and quant. A word of caution, though: while I advise people to be optimistic about what they can achieve, a more than 100-point increase is highly unlikely in a month's time, no matter what you do. As such, if your target score is not in the low 600s range, you may want to postpone taking the test.

    • Thank you for the words of wisdom Dana. I will definitely keep these in mind while preparing for the test. I would be content if i get anything over 600 so even though a 100 point increase might be asking too much but i hope i can make that happen :) some inspirational posts about re-taking the test have definitely got me optimistic.

      Thanks again.


  • Does anyone one of any CD with practice questions that will keep track of one weak areas and automatically will enforce on those questions? I used this method for the CPA test and it was a great success.

  • I admit I've never heard of such a resource. However, most online courses will have some sort of adaptive platform to help you work on what you need to.

  • I have a month and a couple days before the GMAT deadline. I have to yet start preparing. But I am unable to decide whether this is a wise decision to go for it. Because English is my second language, and I have a poor grip over it, therefore I have no confidence.
    can you please tell me how can I check whether I am able to do this or not ?

  • also I am totally free, so I have all the time which I need if I do in a month.

  • Hey lamya, you should go to mba.com and get the GMATPrep software with the two tests. You should take one of those tests and see how much you get: if it's more than 100 points below your target score, then maybe you should postpone your test.

  • ok, thanks alot :)

  • @Eric, congrats!!! That's an awesome score! Glad I could help a bit! Wish you the best with your apps!

  • hey dana,

    I'm taking my GMAT in 20 days and I've been studying for 10days already and my resources are Kaplan Premier 2011, Kaplan Math and Verbal Workbook, OG 12 and the practice questions of beatthegmat. So far i've been focusing on quant, and so far i've done 300+ questions and got about 94% of them right (from Kaplan Math, Premier and OG) so i'm feeling confident. However, when i did my diagnose gmat, i scored 520, and i'm aiming at 700-720, so when you say its very unlikely that a 200jump occurs in a one month study plan, i find myself a bit alarmed. I feel like i can definetly achieve it, which comes from my good %of right answers on my practice, but i don't know if in 20 days i can get there. I'm planning on taking the 2nd gmatpre probably like 10 days before my gmat, so in case i score poorly i can postpone it, what do you think about my situation overall? I consider myself a fast learner, and i've been putting avg 6hours/day into studying for this sexy exam, but how far can my resources take me? do you feel like if i crush the books i have, i'm able to nail that 700?

    thank you

  • I think that you can reach a 700 in 20 days, especially if you study for 6 hours a day, but here are some red flags for me:
    1. You did not say anything about verbal. What's your verbal score? You can get 100% right on quant, but that hardly matters if you get a really low score on verbal - you won't be able to hit your target score.
    2. You say you've practicing a lot, but what exactly? The first 50-100 questions in the OG can be classified as easy. While they are still good practice, you should know that they're not particularly representative of the real thing if you want to hit 700.
    3. You mention practice, but I see nothing about theory. Are you just doing practice questions without a solid theoretical base? Then it's not such a good strategy, I'm afraid. Make sure you have the concepts locked in and then proceed with practice.
    Postponing the GMAT can be an option in case you're not hitting your target score. In the end it's up to you to decide whether or not you want to take the test!

    • hey dana thanks for the reply,

      1. Regarding verbal, i feel like my real problem lies in CR questions, and in order to try and solve it i will buy the CR powersource bible you recommend. SC isnt really an issue and i just feel like i need to practice to get the hang of it.

      2. For isntance regarding Kaplan's Math Workbook, there are tests for each topic covered on the gmat, and they have 3 levels as I'm sure you know. I did 10 questions per test, 2 basic level, 4 intermediate level and 4 advanced, and so far i have 117/120 (plan to do 180 of this book). Regarding OG and Kaplan Premier, I know what you mean when you say that most of them aren't representative, but I assume if one gets the advanced questions right, he should feel capable or something related. Do you feel like i need to get any of the MGMAT series in order tu further improve? I'm not scared of having a pile of books to go through in 3 weeks (I'm a bit obsessive, so when something gets going, it really gets going)

      3. Theory was my breakthrough in this study plan. I began by reading everything about quant I had, from the main books, and wrote all of the key concepts in a separate notebook. Before practice i always take a look at my notes and then seem to fare quite well in the questions. However, regarding the verbal part, which i'll begin monday until next sunday, my approach will be more theoretical, because there are a lot more mechanics that I'm not as familiar as I am with math.

      4. One last thing, as I've said on the other post, I plan to take my 2nd gmatpre probably after next week, with close to 2 weeks before my gmat, and my target score being 700,do you think it's still reachable if i get like 610-630 on the pre? thanks dana

  • 1. The CR Bible is indeed the best for CR. I highly recommend it!

    2. I'm not sure - but if you feel like doing some more practice, you can get the Number Properties and the Word Translations books. They're the best of the 5.

    3. That's good! I wasn't sure you've done everything in that direction.

    4. Hmm... As I've said, I'd rather be a bit more conservative in setting goals. It is possible, but it's not likely or easy. It all depends on your specific skill set.

  • wow, such a beautiful article.Thanks Dana. It also serves as a basic plan for those of us who are short on time! I have been studying for the GMAT for over a month now and I have 3 weeks more until my test day.I am scoring around 600 in the practice tests of mba.com and MGMAT tests. My Q scores are usually around 44 and V is around 25-30. I really need to get the Verbal up. Dana, do you think I can still achieve me dream goal of 700 assuming that I continue to study at the same pace for the next 3 weeks. I'm using all the MGMAT books for my study and I've gone thru 80% of the material in the books. Your thoughts?

  • You're not too far away from your goal, but at the same time I can't say that a 100-point increase is easy to do in three weeks. You should definitely focus more on verbal than on quant during this time, but try not to neglect quant as well. I'm thinking that you should probably take an mba.com test one week before your big day: if you're not within 20 points of the target score, then you probably need to give yourself more time.

    • Thanks Dana for your perspective! Yes, I"ll take a mba.com test sometime and see where my scores average. Actually, I need a 650 for my target schools but I'm pushing myself for a 700 :-)

  • Well the best of luck! Hope you can hit your target score! :)

    • Thanks Dana :)

  • Hi Dana,

    Am a GMAT student, i sat for my second gmat today and only scored 340 (Q32 V-16)which is lesser than what i scored the first time which is 380(Q32 V-11). After all the serious and dedicated study of 5 months with a gmat tutor . I was able to score only this much!!

    I am devastated to the core!.. i have no idea what went wrong. The first time i did not take gmat so serious with only few weeks of study i scored a 380.

    But the second time i used the OG 12, which is the only book i have been using , did all the 800 questions from it and been practicing test from the gmatprep over and over again..

    Can u please help me out Dana . Advice me on how I should improvise on this test. My next gmat test is on March 26 2011. I need a very effective gmat plan to beat the gmat by a fair 600 is enough for me!..

    Thanks a bunch.

  • Hi Rajlak,
    Your score indicates that you have deficiencies in both quant and verbal. I am a bit surprised that you got a lower score after prepping with a tutor for so long - are you sure your tutor is trustworthy? I would not spend that much time with him/her after these results...
    You have not mentioned any books that cover the theoretical part of the test. You can practice all you want, but unless there's a solid theoretical background, then it's likely not going to get you that much. I recommend that you invest time and money in resources such as the Manhattan GMAT set of 8 guides before you return to practice. That being said, is it at all possible to give yourself more time for study? I'm not trying to make you feel bad, but you should know that it's unlikely to achieve such an increase in score in a month.

  • Thanks alot for the advice Dana.... But am really out of time and i need to sit for the gmat in a month. I was practicing the gmatprep over and over again and was scoring in the range of 450-570 all the time...

    Yes this time am gonna do a self study.. but all i want is a tutor who could personally advice me on the resources i should use. I really appreciate it Dana that u recommended me the MGmat series of 8 guides.
    how many practice tests should i do?, also i have the only resource am using is the OG 12. Also i have downloaded the error log which would be of help.
    I feel that my fine with maths concept , its the time management am having a problem with. Also i was practicing gmatprep.
    I do seriously have some problem with the verbal section. But still i did all the OG questions from the book twice... I was not lucky enough may be!!!..
    What are the practice tests i should practice on, is gmatprep only enough to get a decent score of 600?..

  • From your messages, I definitely get the feeling that you are focusinh waaay too much on practice and not enough on theory. I'm sorry to say this, but the OG and GMATPrep on their own will not be enough to get you to your target score. You need to spend more time on concepts, perhaps using the 8 guides mentioned above. You shouldn't take more than two practice tests in the coming month, since practice tests won't really help you with theory. Their usefulness is limited to timed practice, score approximation and test day simulation.
    Managing your timing comes with practice. You need to practice using a timer each and every day: at first, allow yourself more time to do the questions, but, as you progress, try to keep it within the 2 mins/question.

  • Thanks DanaJ,

    I feel much relieved for identifying and letting me know my weaknesses. I have got the 8 series down now..
    These books are surely good, because it focuses on the concept in line with the retired questions. Therefore, it is easy to relate with.

    Is these books and the GMATPrep enough to score a 600 in a month.
    I would appreciate if u could let me know, if am in the correct track.

    Thanks again, I would keep you updated with the latest progresses..

  • These books are surely very good, but the problem is that you have very little time on your hands. It's pretty unusual to see an over 200-point increase in such a short time. I say take a diagnostic test a week before your test and, if you're more than 30 points away from your target score, then you need to give yourself more time.
    Good luck!

  • Hi Dana. Nice article.
    I have never read/prepared for GMAT before. I am planning to give GMAT exam by end of next month. Will your strategy work for it? I am working full time. So will be able to dedicate 2 hrs on weekdays... I am pretty ok in solving general maths problem. Verbal can be a problem for me.
    Target score - anything aove 650.
    Your help would be much appreciated.

  • I can't guarantee anything, since I do not know your current level. You can take a diagnostic test and figure out where you stand. For some more book recommendations, check out: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/books

  • Hi Dana,

    I have read through most of your posts and I am gearing up for your 30-day study plan. My situation allows for me to study 3-5 hours a day leading up to my test date on April 15, 2011. I scored a 540 on my first kaplan practice test and would like to achieve a 680+ on test day. First of all, do you feel this is possible and second, how many hours would you recommend I dedicate to the study plan?

    I would like to avoid diminishing returns so your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,


  • It's not going to be easy, to be honest. Improvement takes a bit of time, but that doesn't mean you should get discouraged. If you took the free Kaplan test though, your level might be a little higher than the 540 you got - this free test historically understates a test-taker's ability. I also strongly advise you to spend more time on your weaknesses than your strengths, this way you're bound to get the highest ROI. 3-5 hours a day sounds good, as long as you keep the quality pretty high too!

  • Hi Dana,

    I took GMAT on March 9 and score 610(45,28).
    This was way below my expectation level. I studied for over 3 months and last one month i put in lot of efforts. Frankly i have studied most of the verbal material but i find it hard to apply them during practice. I would like to mention my GMAT prep and MGMAT practice score:

    GMATprep 1 680 (Q 49 , V 34) 25th Feb
    MGMAT 1 720 ( Q 46, V 42) 27th feb
    MGMAT 3 650 (Q 46, V 34) 3rd march
    MGMAT 2 670 (Q 45, V 36) 5th march
    GMATprep 2 660(Q 48, V 34) This was one day before the test

    All the tests were timed and during GMATprep 2 i wrote essays as well.

    Actual GMAT 610 (Q 45, V 28)

    On test day:
    Quant: I could not solve first question and panicked. Also, i spent too much time on next few problems due to this I had to pace up towards the end. I am sure i guessed some questions. At the end of Queant section i knew i didn't do well.

    I took a break and i went ahead with verbal.

    Verbal: I felt i was doing good and i did it in usual manner. I was expecting at least 34-36 on test day.

    Books used:


    1) Manhattan SC: i have read it twice few months back but i guess i know most of the general rules. I did not have time to revise before exam though.
    2) Powerscore CR bible: I have read it and made notes but i am not able to apply the concepts during practice session and exam. I end up using my my general understanding of argument. If i understand argument well then i get it right else wrong. Moreover, i am usually stuck between two close answer choices.
    3) Kaplan GMAT premier 2010: I used this book for RC strategy and found this good enough for practicing RC, SC and CR.
    4) OG 10 and 12: I practiced OG 12 questions.For CR and SC i maintained an excel sheet and practiced around 20 questions from both sections. I also did some RC from OG-12.
    5) Manhattan GMAT flash cards and spidey's notes.
    6) BTG online practice questions.

    1) Kaplan GMAT premier 2010: I studied most of the quant theory from this book. Also referred to some flash cards and other material for formula.
    2) Online BTG practice question pool. In fact i revised them 2 days before test day.

    One note here: i never did OG as i found them too easy.

    My weak areas:
    1) DS: especially number problems, inequalities, advanced permutation combination problems and complex word problems.
    2) Problem Solving: Slow speed and word problems.
    3) RC: I have no strategy to improve it apart from studying and practicing. I have to reread passage in case of detail questions and i end up making mistakes as i am not sure.
    4) CR: it was fine during practice of OG questions but my performance for this section has been inconsistent.
    5) SC: I really feel this is my strong point but i am not sure how to be 100% sure about all the answers. Sometimes i just guess between two close answers.

    In sum, i really need to figure out a new schedule and approach for preparation and do it within 1 to 1.5 months. I have not scheduled the test date yet, as i was not sure about the strategy and the amount of time i would need to implement it.

  • Hmm... Your verbal score seems to be on the low side compared to your practice tests. The quant score is more or less what you'd expect given your practice test scores.
    From what I can tell, you're using all the right materials for verbal. However, there's also the question of using materials the right way. I have a feeling you're not getting the most of all these good resources, especially since you mentioned the issues with CR even after using the CR Bible. Maybe a good review is in order? Also, I strongly advise you to take notes or make flashcards, since you usually get a better grasp of things if you write down what you understood. For each section:
    - SC: you probably need to review your theoretical materials and take notes/make flashcards. Especially if you're a non-native speaker, it takes a while to memorize all the rules
    - CR: I personally believe in the efficiency of the CR Bible and the strategies it presents. You say you've taken notes: have you forced yourself to use the strategy described in the book? I know it must be hard at the beginning, when you practice, to actually apply the steps. It's time consuming and you need to convince yourself to drop the bad habits and use the proper approach. Take your time when you practice!
    - RC: there are very few shortcuts for this one. It takes reading, reading, reading! Read in English 30 mins a day - check out websites like The Economist or sciencedaily.com. Even Wikipedia works sometimes! As long as you read!
    For quant, there's a feeling that you're not using everything that's out there in terms of theory. Have you considered some of the MGMAT books? The Number Prop and Word Translations guides are particularly useful. The Kaplan books is pretty good too, but there's only so much detail you can pack in a general book before it becomes too heavy :) Also, don't neglect the OG: given your current quant score, you could probably use some official practice. If you find the first few questions too easy, that's ok, you can still practice say the last 100 questions for each section.
    Good luck!

  • Hey Dana,

    Great article. I took the GMAT in early Dec. and got a 570 (41Q, 27V). I feel as though I did horribly on Quant, but 41 seems rather high, so maybe my expectations are high. I know I did awful on Verbal because I simply did not do enough practice (this was after 9 months of on and off studying, 2-5 hours per week... it was clearly a bad plan).

    I took a couple months off, then hit my weak spot by tackling SC for a month in the 11th ed. OG. I noticed some major performance increases, and now I have 38 days until d-day. I started working on quant again and noticed a trend after 75 PS and 20 DS problems: I forgot everything in quant and panicked a few times in mornings, but I think I just have to get my brain used to it again.

    Anyway, I have completed 105 questions in the 12 ed. OG GMAT Error Log with 79% correct so far. I make note cards for each question I get wrong to review during lunch at work and plan to have the entire 12 ed. done in 27 days so I have enough time to see where I'm still doing poorly.

    The schedule is working on the guide 1-2 hours before work, note cards during lunch, work on more questions 1-2 hours in the evening, 3 hours on Saturday, note card review on Sunday then a practice test before Sunday ends.

    I thus have two questions:
    1) Do you think this is enough? Is reaching a 650 feasible?
    2) With this plan, I will have 12 days left to study once I finished the 12th ed. OG. What should I do during the remaining 12 days to help me ensure I can kick this bugger's derrier?

    Your 30 day plan and How I Beat the GMAT story made me more confident (also, an investment analyst from Goldman Sachs turned CEO of a web start-up who went to Wharton got a 570 the first try and a 650 after a month of studying, he inspired me). I have ADD and I'm rather incapable of noticing tiny details at times (my brain acts weird), so I tend to make enough mistakes to know not to get my hopes up.

    You're awesome!

  • Hey Galen,
    Your plan seems extremely solid and it will likely work much better than your on-off study routine so far. However, here's one thing I noticed while reading your post: you talk a lot about the OG (which is an awesome book, don't get me wrong, and it should be used by all that prep for the GMAT), but you have not said anything about books that cover the theoretical side of the GMAT. You see, the OG has just a few pages of concepts and is widely considered not to be enough as far as theory goes.
    I definitely agree that you should practice using the OG, keeping an error log and making flashcards, but you need to also know the theory really really well. The OG is a "mix," a collection of problems on various topics (you'll see a PS on circles then the next one is on equations etc etc). However, doing just one question on circles at a time does not help reinforce the theory. The best thing to do is:
    - review the full theory on circles
    - practice a few problems covering the topic
    Of course, this should be applied to all concepts.
    With regards to your score, you should know that 41q is the 58th percentile, while 27v is about 42nd percentile. There's more to gain out of improving your verbal, but if you're targeting Wharton (seems like it from your example), you might need to increase quant quite a bit too. They're known to be a quant school... There's another thing you should know: don't try to guess the level of difficulty on the GMAT! This test is adaptive, which means that it gets harder and harder as you get stuff right. You're bound to miss a few, but that's not such a big deal. Also, don't forget that you have experimental questions. I remember that I was getting all sorts of difficult questions on quant and then somewhere in the middle I got this very easy question with powers, that I literally solved in 15-20 seconds. I'm pretty sure that one was an experimental question, although I didn't waste any time thinking about it at the moment - time is extremely precious! Bottom line: whether you're getting really hard or really easy problems, you can't tell how well you're doing and you definitely should not waste time figuring this out.
    Hope this helps! Let me know if you need any book recommendations (I've also written a few reviews, you can find them in the Self Study tab).

  • Thanks for the advice, Dana!

    I actually took the Manhattan GMAT over a year ago (lost my job, couldn't focus on it, but had already paid, so had no choice). I've reviewed each book twice over the nine month period, and I'm keeping a log of which subjects I need to review in the books during this study period - most of what I need to review is geometry, roots/powers, combinatorics, and word translations. I've already done all the problems in the Manhattan books, so I've been looking for problems online or in the 11th ed OG to help me practice. I tried looking over some of the Kaplan and Princeton Review books in a Barnes & Noble, but I felt the detail in Manhattan GMAT was far better.

    I'm not targeting Wharton; in fact the average scores at the schools I'm targeting are around 650 (Boccia, Foster, Erasmus). The hard part is going to be learning another language in six months.

    I try not to think about how well I'm doing, the Manhattan instructor informed us no matter what, we'll feel we're getting about 50% wrong after the initial 5-6 questions in each section. I think I did worse in Verbal, but I know I need to train myself not to think about my performance while actually answering questions.

    The reason I'm focusing on the 12th ed. OG is it's the only way to figure out what I'm doing worst on and target those subjects before the test. The Error Log makes this an extremely efficient process, so thank you to whoever created it.

    Also, I forgot to mention the first nine months studying was in my favorite coffee shop; I figured it would be better to study where I don't have electronics to distract me. I didn't realize that I needed to prep myself in a similar test-taking environment: In front of a computer with ear plugs in, which I have been doing. The whole test experience after studying in a coffee shop made me extremely nervous, but I learned my lesson.

    I figured the last 12 days to d-day after finishing the 12th ed. OG could be spent working on subjects I suck at by reviewing note cards I haven't memorized yet, looking for questions online, reviewing the 11th ed. OG, and reviewing Manhattan GMAT concepts.

    Your insight is really helpful. I'm not shooting too high, because I'm significantly self-aware and know I'm capable of fouling up even after I've covered all my bases.


  • Ha - this makes much more sense then! Good luck!

  • Hi Dana,
    I have found sutdying for the GMAT to be REALLY daunting. I scored a 420 on my first practice and I'm aiming for a 600 in a little over a month, because I need to get my applications out by the beginning of June and I want to give myseld enough time to study and take it again before my apps are to. Is a jump like 420-600 even possible? Or am I dreaming. I plan on using your plan. Any other added advice as to how many hours a day etc? Math is my weakest point so that's been my focus. Oy- help!

  • Hi LynnTeresa,
    It is possible to get from a 420 to a 600 - but I'm not sure it's quite doable in a month. It takes a bit to properly go through everything! However, since quant is your problem area, you might just be able to pull it off. Usually, it takes less time to get better at quant than at verbal. My only remark is that you might want to shift to the Manhattan series of quant guides instead of the Kaplan book, since it's a more complete coverage of the test.
    There's no specific recommendation on hours a day, although most people usually clock in about two during workdays and 6+ during weekends. Focus most of your attention on your weakness!
    Good luck!

  • Hey DanaJ,

    Thanks for supporting all of us.

    I will be taking my GMAT exam in exactly a month.

    I currently own OG 12 and 2011 Kaplan Premier. I took the "practice" exam in the beginning of OG 12 and it seems like my weakness includes Math and Sentence Corrections.

    I'm fortunate to be able to study 4 hours every day to prepare for this exam.

    What is your recommendation in order for me to achieve the best possible score? What study guide should I follow? Should I focus on the essay part at all? Do I need any other books? If so, which do you recommend?

    Thank you for your time and convenience!


    • In addition... Is there a way to receive all the emails that are forwarded in the 60-day study guide?

      I would like all the emails in order to try to study the same material in roughly 30 days.

      Thanks again!


  • Hi Adam,
    You can use the resources outlined in this study guide, but you can also give the Manhattan books a try. Since you already have the Kaplan Premier book, just buy the following three guides: Word Translations, Number Properties and Sentence Correction. These should help you in covering your weakness while at the same keep the amount of books you need to go through relatively low (especially given that you have 4 hours per day).
    The essay part is sort of like... a thing you tick on the list. I personally studied for it less than a day (most definitely less than 2 hours) and got a 5. I'm pretty sure that if you wanted to get a 6 (the top score), then you might have to put more than 2 hours of work in it, but I'm not convinced it's that useful. The AWA is used to weed out too suspicious applicants. For instance, if your AWA is 2 but your application essays are flawless, it's reasonable to assume that you had someone write them for you.
    Unfortunately, I can't forward the entire guide at once... But best of luck!

  • Hi Dana,
    Just an off beat question.If all the contibuting factors be the same like time spent etc. for two individuals , will the quantum of rise (say 40 pts) in the scores be same at different levels? Does a growth from 620 to 660 take the same effort as 680 to 720 ?

  • I'd say it gets incrementally harder to improve as you progress. Getting from a 550 to a 600 is probably easier than getting from a 700 to a 750, since the concepts tested for each level become ever more difficult. This is, of course, assuming you start at 550 and continue your prep up to 750.
    However, I have my doubts about this. There's the question of starting level, which is also important. For instance, it might take the same effort for someone to get from 550 to 600 as it would for someone ELSE to get from 700 to 750. It might even be easier for the second person to go from 700 to 750 because some are just better test takers than others.

  • hii Dana,

    I have complete quant from MGMAT and OG...I went through CR MGMAT..but havent done much in verbal. Before I started my prep i scored a 580 in gmatprep. I need a score of 720+ . could you please advise? my exams on 3rd aug. and i am very worried.

  • I don't really know what your weakness is, but judging by your name you must be a non native speaker. As such, I really advise you to focus on that for the time being. Maybe you should take another diagnostic test and see where you stand? That could tell you if you are on the right track and which areas need improvement.

  • Hey Dana,
    I took my GMAT in April and scored a 660(48Q,33V). I am very unhappy with my score. The material I used was basically compiled from different editions of the OG.I prepared for almost a month seriously.I started with the first poweprep and I got a 640. After practising a bit, I gave a few paper based tests where I scored around 690-710. Then I gave the Manhattan GMAT where I got a 670. Finally 3 days before the actual gmat I gave my second power prep and scored a 720. so when I went for my exam, I was hoping for a 700+. I plan to retake the GMAT, but it makes sense only if I improve my score by atleast70-80 points. i.e. 730+.
    Also by the time I found out about the Manhattan SC guide(SC being my weakness) there was only a week left. I read a few chapters but thats all. 

    How would you suggest I prepare for the exam? Also, if you could suggest what books could I refer?
    And when should I give it? October is the latest I can give my exam.

    Thank you :)

  • I think your mistake here is focusing pretty much exclusively on the OG. The book is great for practice, since it contains 100% real questions from past tests. However, the theoretical review parts of the book are subpar at best. You need to invest in other resources that will teach you the approach and strategy you need to excel on test day. Here are my recommendations:
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book
    - Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides, although I'm not convinced you need all 5 since you scored pretty well on quant. But do invest in the Number Properties and Word Translations ones, they're the best of the lot! The Fractions, Decimals one is pretty easy for you, might be a waste of time.
    I suggest you give the test after scoring at or above your target score at least 3 times! When that happens, it all depends on you, but it shouldn't take more than 2-3 months.

  • Hi Dana,

    I just took the GMAT Prep- practice test 1 and scored a 640 (QA-47, VA-33) 11 wrong in each section. My GMAT is scheduled for 8th Sept 2011. I'm aiming for a 720+ score. I'm done with my VA preparation and found that I need improvement in RC. 
    As for QA I'm done with basic math and problem solving where as I still need to work on DS part from OG12.

    I have started working on RC-99 and SC grail. I user Kaplan's GMAT 2011 Premier.
    How should I study in this one month to achieve my target. I can spare 4 hrs per day from my work for studies.


  • My recommendation is that you spend about 75% of your time working on verbal, since that's your weakness. I see you've already identified your problem spots. I haven't used the verbal resources you mention and have heard little about them (except about the RC 99 from Aristotle Prep, which has been identified as stolen copyrighted material from Kaplan). I think you'd be better off if you used more mainstream resources to prepare, such as the Kaplan, Manhattan GMAT or Veritas Prep books. I also advise you to check out the OG supplement for verbal, it's got some really nice practice questions.

    • Thanks Dana, I'll keep your suggestions in mind :)

  • Hi Dana - I just took the gmat and scored a 580 with about 5wks prep coming in under 100hrs, i only used the og guide and didnt have time to take a cat test. I am aiming for 700+ and to take the text in 5-6wks aiming to put in around 150hrs. my quant score was 39 and verbal 30. I have the kaplan gmat math book, will that be sufficient for the quant area? I am particularly weak on SC, should i buy something specific for that or buy the kaplan verbal, or manhattan verbal books? Many thanks for your help.

  • The Kaplan book should be enough for quant. I feel like the MGMAT verbal books would be a more complete option for you, although the Kaplan verbal workbook isn't bad either.

    • Thanks Dana. Would you say a five week timeframe is realistic to cover the material in OG, which i have already done but will go over, complete kaplan math, and manhattan verbal as well as multiple cats? In your experience would that be enough or would a prep course be overkill?

  • I think you should be fine, but you'd have to work quite a bit, maybe three hours on weekdays and 6-8 hours on weekends.

    • im planning 4hrs per weekday and 6+ per weekend day and maybe a few days off before the exam. With the manhattan verbal guides, i was taking a look at your recommended reading lists and the posts on here for verbal, it sounds like manhatten sc is the way to go, i would say that is definitely my weakest area but given that i only got a 30 on the actual gmat exam should i just go all out and get RC and CR too? I feel like i get those alot more than i do the SC, but not sure my actual score reflects that. Thanks for your help.

  • I can't really say if you should buy the CR and RC guides too... The thing is, I don't really know how well you're doing on these two, i.e. how many questions you get wrong, what's making you lose time on the test etc. For me, CR was a big problem and I credit probably 75% of my verbal score increase (from 36 to 47) to the PowerScore CR Bible. The Manhattan CR book is pretty good too, but I prefer the PowerScore one. I guess it's up to you!

  • Thanks Dana - I think i will get manhatten for SC and RC but powerscore for CR and see how i get on. Thanks for your advice!

  • Hi Dana, I plan on taking the GMATs in November, but am absolutely terrified. I am not a good test taker, and have no idea how to go about it. My goal is to obtain a score of 650, what suggestions do you have for me? Thank you in Advance!

  • First off, take a diagnostic practice test from mba.com and figure out your baseline GMAT score and what you're doing worse in. Then buy some books accordingly. Here are my recommendations, which should cover everything, but if you're already good at some parts of the test it might not be necessary to buy all of them:
    - Official Guide 12th edition
    - Manhattan GMAT 5 quant guides and SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book
    Good luck!

  • Dear Dana, I am a retaker and have scheduled another GMAT in a month's time. My result was 610 (Q: 39, V: 35) and I was quite horrified as I had taken both GMATPrep CATs and my scores were 640 and 680 with a month of on-off part-time study in between. I could attribute the reasons to jet lag, anxiety, a flu contributing to timing problems in the quantitative section (straight guessing for the last 10 questions), but the fact is I have to improve my score to a target 650-700 within a month. My major weaknesses are in overall quantitative and CR. I have completed OG 10th & 11th edition, Kaplan Foundational Math, and McGraw Hill, I found the latter two very basic. I would appreciate your advice on study guides and a schedule. Thanks very much in advance.

  • For quant, try the Manhattan GMAT series of 5 quant guides. For CR, your best bet would be the PowerScore CR Bible. You need to put in more time on the quant side rather than the verbal, so I would focus on that for maybe two thirds of the time and spend the rest on verbal. Good luck!

  • Hi Dana,

    Thanks in advance for your time. I will take the GMAT Test in 4 weeks. I read your study plan, and I think is great. I bought the OG 12, Verbal and Quantative Review - 2nd edition, and the 8 Manhattan Guides. I took the GMATprep and I scored 500 (42Q - 18V). I would like to know if I can improve my verbal score in 4 weeks. I don't know where to start, how to attack the books and how many hours spend every day. I'm not working right now so I have time to improve my 500 score. How many hours do you think I have to study every day from Monday to Sunday? just verbal for two weeks? what about math? (I would like to reach the 50 or 51 score in math, what book do you recommend). My verbal score target is 30+,Do you think is possible or I'm dreaming about this score). I'm asking you all these questions because my situation is special since I have 4 weeks off. Thanks again for your time and matter.

  • So you're basically targeting about 700 (I think that's the score you'd get with a 50 quant and a 30+ verbal), which is a 200 point increase in about a month. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it won't be easy! Since you have time off and won't be working, I suggest you spend about 6 hours a day working on the test. I think you should start with verbal and dedicate more time to the stuff you're least comfortable with. Say you got most of your mistakes in SC, then start with that! The Manhattan books are nicely structured in the sense that they teach you the basics in the beginning and then move up to the more difficult items as you read on in the book, so my advice is to follow that structure.
    In terms of quant, pay special attention to the Number Properties and Word Translations guides. Not sure if you'll have the time to go through the 5 guides, so it's best that you focus on the most important ones. Again, go through them as they're numbered.

    • Thanks Dana. I will follow all your advices. About Math, my problem is not about content but speed. For instance, the GMATprep Math Section I did 25 questions correct in a row, but the last 12 questions I missed them because I had 10 minutes left, and probably with 15 more minutes I had finish the whole section (Now I know that I am really bad guessing questions). Do you have any technique in order to improve speed?

  • You know, when I hear about speed issues, there are two things that come to mind:
    1. You know the content, but you don't know the right/fast content. You may know how to solve something, but if it takes you 5 mins, then you probably don't know the right way to do it. In this case, the solution might be just reviewing the books you have for the correct method of approaching problems.
    2. You need more practice so that you speed up on your problem solving. You can achieve greater speed by always timing your practice: 1 min and 45 seconds for each problem, not more! It takes timed practice to really hammer the concepts in your head and to get yourself used to them.

  • Hey Dana...

    I took my GMAT a week ago and got a 650 (39 Q, 41 V), and somehow allowed myself to get angry enough to just book another test immediately, for the end of this month. (I'd gotten 700 in GMATPrep, so was quite disappointed/embarrassed). So I took a week off studying and want to get back into it, hard, focusing almost solely on the Quant, as a move from even 39 to 49 on that should give me the 700+ score I need. (I know I panicked on the Verbal as well after a woeful Quant experience, so if I can raise my Q confidence, I can nail my V, I'm sure)

    So now I have about 3 weeks to raise my quant raw score 10-15 points. I hear Quant is the easiest to improve. Any plans you think might help? I believe it's my approach to the problems...everyone says its a set template, etc etc. Your thoughts?

  • Have you checked out the Manhattan GMAT quant books? I don't think you need them all, but do take a look at the Number Properties and Word Translations books. I wouldn't neglect verbal either you know, we tend to forget stuff if we don't practice at all.

  • Hi Dana,

    Thanks first of all. My sis had posted earlier to this page for your suggestions and followed your advice. She did great. Scored 720 :) .

    I am a re-taker and was not willing to prepare again for another go, but my sis is really pushing me to take your advice and try for one last time.

    Well, my story, as I said, I have already given gmat and scored a take-for-free 620 (47/28). As it is pretty clear, I suck at Verbal. RC scares me to hell, I start sweating(literally) just by seeing one, though I feel I am ok with SC and CR. It just takes a little concentration to gather and put into, which I find difficult to do but is manageable (have to).

    I am not aiming to high, not too ambitious anymore. I have a current experience of approx 4+ years, so if I am able to just touch 700 that'll be great for me.

    Again, thanks a lot for all the advice/suggestions and time you put in into replying to us mba aspirants.


  • I'm getting the feeling that your issue is more about stress management and timing than anything else. 620 is a good score to build off of, if you can pull yourself together. I know it's easier said than done, but just look at the facts:
    - you can retake if you need to
    - it's not a life-or-death kind of thing (see Eric's post on this: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2010/03/06/the-gmat-is-not-important-in-life)
    - it's just you vs. the computer and nothing else!
    If you need more help with stress management, check out some of our articles here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/category/tags/gmat-test-day/stress-management-gmat-test-day
    That being said, you need to be a bit more careful with the resources you use too. I don't know what books you've used so far, but check out the following for verbal:
    - Manhattan GMAT SC
    - PowerScore CR
    - Veritas Prep RC or Manhattan GMAT RC
    I also strongly suggest that you try to take that 47q and make it into a 50q or 51q. This won't help as much as pulling your verbal from a 29 to a 35, but it's still something. If you've got the time, check out the two most useful MGMAT quant guides, the Number Properties and Word Translations ones.
    Good luck! :)

  • Hello Dana,

    I feel as if im in dire need of some real push to get my score up. i took my mock exam and scored 37 on Quants and 28 (pathetic) on verbal. I have book my date on 12th november and im planning to apply on to NUS and NTU Singapore.

    I always felt and my topic wise practice tests always showed that i was stronger in Verbal than in Quants but this mock exam has been an eye opener. What i have deduced is that its not the English which is killing me but the duration of the exam. At time during the test i felt so tired i blindly marked an answer or two.

    im again back in test taking mode and planning to score atleast a 720.

  • Actually your quant and verbal are equally good: they're both about 43rd percentile, so you need to work on both equally. You haven't mentioned anything about the resources you are using. Here are some of my favorite books:
    - OG 12
    - Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides and their SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book
    In terms of stamina during the test, my advice is to try to build this in time by practicing and taking a few CATs. You should also avoid taking the test after a day at work and use instead use the weekends.

  • Hey! Dana. Gave my GMAT a week back and scored a pathetic 500 Q26 V 34 . My practice scores were in a range of 650-720 including GMAT prep, with Q 42-48 and V 34-40. Guess it was not my day. I took a week off and I am going to take the GMAT again on 19th Oct 11. New Target :740. Q48 V 42 .
    In Quant the issue is the timing and in Verbal it is the SC. Now the plan : Quant - Manhattan Guides and FCs . Verbal : Revision of Manhattan SC and FCs. Practice Test: Atleast 6 . Now i have exhausted most of my practice materials i.e Kaplan Premier 2011, O.G 12, O.G V 2nd Edition, O.G Q 2nd Edition, BTG Practice Questions, 300 BTG CR so can you please suggest materials for verbal and Quant practice along with detailed answers .

    Thank you.

  • Your plan seems solid, although I would take fewer CATs - max one per week. They really don't teach you much, you gain a lot more by nailing down the theory. Other than helping you with pacing, figuring out your weaknesses (which you seem to have done already) and keeping tabs on your progress, mock tests don't really teach you how to solve a problem. I'm not sure how accurate your scores were either since repeating a test might provide an inflated result.
    I say you've got good books which I personally believe should be enough for practice in the time you've got (even reviewing is good, especially of OG material), but if you're dead set on more, you can check out Veritas Prep books (which emphasize practice, I feel - particularly liked their verbal questions) or a Grockit subscription (they're running a promotion right now, btw).

    • Thank you for the advice. All Tests were different and no repeats: Knewton -1 ,Kaplan 3,4,5,6 and GMATPrep 1 & 2. Does Veritas books gives access to their CATs ?

  • I think they do give access if you purchase the book from their website. I don't think they do if you buy a book from somewhere else - although you might want to double check with the Veritas people to make sure!

  • can anyone suggest, how to start prep for GMAT

  • Well I guess you could start by taking a practice test and seeing what topics are causing the most trouble! Then I would research the books you need to get to your target score and get studying! :)

  • well i wanna start this plan.. and it seems to be pretty apt for me.. but could pls suggest me more tips for my Verbal section.. specially in the critical reasoning.. am damn more scared of this. coz my score kept varying fom time specially coz of this critical reasoning and a lil of reading comprehension part.

  • This prep plan seems to be pretty good.. I would like to try this once.. but i will be more happy if u could give me more tips in answering critical reasoning and reading compreshension.. coz my score fluctuates badly coz of these two sections..

  • hey i have a doubt.. i was trying a similar method. But the issue was, while taking the test, i feel that the one that i have opted was always right. but when I look into the answers at the end i feel that the answer that was given might also be correct. I feel stuck like this for many a times. can u pls help me in this. as fast as possible :)

  • @smitha: if you're worried about verbal, here's a list of the books I think could help you most:
    - Official Guide 12th edition
    - Official Guide verbal
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Manhattan GMAT SC
    - Veritas Prep RC
    For CR, use the PowerScore book in full confidence. It is by far the best out there!

  • Hi Dana, I just wanted to drop a note of thanks for your excellent advice and recommendations. I got the Manhattan GMAT word translations, VICs, number properties, and PowerScore CR Bible, and managed to boost my score from 610 to 710 (45Q, 41V) in a month's prep. Thank you so much!

  • Hey YY, congrats!!!! Way to go! Now there's no time to celebrate though, you need to get working on those essays! The best of luck with the rest of the application process!

  • Thank u so uch DanaJ. let me give a try and rock.. :)

  • Hi Dana,

    After having roughly prepared for 4 months, I took my gmat prep last evening and ended up scoring a 680. I am quite dubious about how indicative this could be. I will tell you why:
    i downloaded this document titled 700+ questions from beat the gmat and had reviewed them thoroughly. To my misfortune, my current gmat prep1 test had a lot of questions from that word document. I have heard that gmatprep is a good indicator of my actual performance in the gmat, That being said, i feel i have wasted one of my gmatpreps(the other one is still left untouched though)....I will be taking the actual test on the 15th of November....what strategy would you prescribe for a 700 + score ..i am pretty much done with manhattan 8 set strategy(for quant), Manhattan SC/Spidey's notes for SC and Og12 as such...but i feel i am spending more time attempting a question rather than that expected of me to good a 700+ score, Please suggest a precise reckoner for this problem of mine....you seemed to be one of the very few bloggers who is patient enough to cater to everyone's opinion about cracking the gmat. I appreciate your answer in advance..thanks!

  • Unfortunately, the questions from that document are all from GMATPrep, so your scores will not necessarily be accurate anymore if you use that software. I think you should try taking a different test, like the ones from Manhattan GMAT or Veritas Prep.
    Since I don't know what your real situation is right now (because the 680 might be right, or it might be inflated), I can't make any specific recommendations. However, you do seem to have all the good resources. I'd say you should probably start reviewing right now. Use your error log to really work those weaknesses and re-attempt the questions you got wrong in the past. In terms of timing, you should always always time your practice, even if you're only trying to solve a few problems at a time. It's a matter of training: at first, give yourself a little bit more time per problem (say 3 mins per quant question), but as you progress, set the timer to less and less (i.e. go from 3 mins to 2 mins 50 seconds and then 2 mins and 40 seconds etc.).

  • Dana, Thank you so much for the pointers..and also i would like to know...whether reviewing the OG12 more than once could significantly help improve the overall Score in the gmat..i have read some blogs that talk about such an intensive review surrounding the OG..is it really...that critical to review  the OG more than once....Thanks a billion for the kind of the help that you provide...

  • I think it's a really good idea to review the OG, especially the questions you got wrong to see if you've gotten better at them. Also, no resource out there is as close to the real thing as the OG (obviously, ha!). But there's one caveat: it doesn't work for everyone. For me in particular, I found that I couldn't review OG questions, especially in CR, because I always remembered the answers from the previous practice session and that would basically spoil the questions for me. That being said, I do believe there are certain patters in GMAT questions that keep popping up on the test and that you'll see in the OG too (I saw one question on test day that had the exact same reasoning as a question in the OG - again, I was obsessed with CR while prepping :) )

  • Very true Dana....nonetheless...i will keep you posted about my progress and get back  to you in case i need help..thanks again...

  • Thanks DanaJ for all your encouragement and support. I am now knee-deep in covering the busy life in B-School.

    I do have a few GMAT book as good as new . I wantd to dispose them for any reasonable offer. Please email me, at Ebyans@yahoo.com, if you are interested.

    Here are some of the books....1. GMAT Guide 12th Edition, GMAT Quantitatve and Verbal guides, CR powerscore, Kaplan GMAT Premier, Princeton 1012 GMAT questions, Princeton Manual for GMAT, MGMAT SC, Cracking GMAT, Veritas setbook.

  • HI Dana, 

    I'm hoping you can help me...or if anyone can. I took my GMAT today and scored a 350. I don't know what happened...I believe the data sufficiency questions hurt me the most. Actually, with a score this low I don't know what happened. I have been practicing for about 5 hours a day for 6 weeks and felt prepared to test. 

    I have about 6 more weeks before I retake it. Any suggestions on what I should do? I want to get at least a 600...:-/ 

  • I don't really know what to say here, Alex. The thing is, your score of 350 reflects the fact that you are having trouble with more than just DS. I'd ask you: what resources have you been using? Here are some of the best:
    - Official Guide
    - Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides
    - Manhattan GMAT SC
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book
    Unfortunately though, I'm not sure if you can achieve a 250-point score increase in 6 weeks! I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm saying it might take a bit longer than that. Depending on how many hours per day you have, then it's doable.

  • Thank you for such a quick reply. 

    I have been using the Veritas and Kaplan test preps. As well as their online companions. I blame it on the DS because my questions would get harder and then after I answered a DS one the next would be much easier...and then I felt discouraged and it showed on the verbal. 

  • Then your no. 1 mistake is that you're trying to guess/estimate the difficulty level of each question :) Trust me, whatever looks easy to you might not be viewed as easy by someone else. The algorithm gives you easy questions - "easy" meaning that they were answered correctly by 90% of the population, but not necessarily "easy" according to Alex! :)
    So my advice to you: NEVER waste time trying to figure out how well you're doing. It just never pays off and you're more likely than not wrong.

  • Hi DanaJ,
    Thanks for all of your postings. I took the test last Jan and scored 600 (Q:45, V around 25 to 28 sorry !! i dont remember the exact score)

    I'm going to retake it in 5 weeks. I restarted the review last month but didn't spend much time yet. Verbal especially RC is my problem while Quant can be improved. I bought Manhattan GMAT SC, RC, CR, Word Translation, Number properties and Kaplan verbal. I'm also thinking of taking online Kaplan Advanced prep course or Kaplan on-demand course (give access only to Kaplan online materials but doesnt have instructor interaction) . I think I dont have enough time to work on all of above materials. it's hard to choose which materials work best for me.

    Can you pls give me some advices? To take more practice tests beside 2 GMATPrep test (the official guide), which ones I can work on? I took the Kaplan practice tests (before the last test in Jan) and figured out it didn't reflect my real score. I scored 620, 630, 680 and around in the practice test but only scored 600 on test day.

    To score 680 and above, can I do it in just 1 month? Thanks a lot

  • Well it is sort of optimistic to assume that you'd finish all these books, so I'm not sure if you could also squeeze a course in there! I personally really like the MGMAT materials, but if you feel like taking a course, then just cut down on the MGMAT books. I also think you need to focus on verbal, because that's obviously your weak spot.
    In terms of practice tests, you can try the MGMAT ones that come with the books. However, I would advise against taking more than one practice test per week, because they're very tiring and you're better off reviewing or learning new concepts.
    I think it's possible to pull your score up by 80 points, especially if you put in 2-3 hours a day and work on verbal!

    • Thanks Dana for your answer. Be honest, I'm thinking about the Kaplan advance course because I wonder if the books alone would be sufficient. I already took 1 regular Kaplan course (before my last test) and do not want to pay another ~$800 for the advanced course if I dont have to.

      Here is my action plan to: 2-3 hours a day (if necessary I can try to use 3-4 hours a day), 75% of the time for verbal, the rest for quant, and about 2-3 hours to review AWA.

      Verbal :
      1. MGMAT RC : my weakest point
      2. PowerScore CR
      3. MGMAT SC
      4. Official guide: I've done half of the verbal practice problems. now i do the rest
      5. Kaplan verbal workbook
      6. Do some readings on WSJ or Wikipedia

      1. MGMAT word translations
      2. MGMAT number properties
      3. Official guide: I've also done half of the math practice problems

      And do MGMAT and GMATprep practist tests, one per week.

      Will this plan work? or do you have any other book recommendations? The MGMAT books seem to focus on the concepts and strategies. Do I need to find more practice problems to practice the skills I learn from MGMAT books?

      I'm so worried about the test and so confused about the available materials. I understand I wouldnt have enough time to look all the materials. It's greatly appreciated if you can suggest an effective schedule and approach based on my current ability.

  • Hey Hoa, tbh I don't see the point of a course given the resources you already have and the improvement you're looking for. I think the plan makes sense. The MGMAT books are built such that you use the OG for practice, so that works - they're a good combo. I think that you should make an effort to study as much per day as possible, but don't spend 5-6 hours of which the last 3 you practically fall asleep in front of the books. It's more about the quality than the quantity!

    • Thanks Dana, I will now concentrate on the plan and wont get distracted by other materials and resources. Really appreciate your advices

  • HI Danaj,
    Hope you are doing great :) ....i have been averaging on a score of about 630-640 on the manhattan gmat mock tests , taken thus far:
    precisely, here are the individual scores:
    my aspirations are towards getting a 680+ score in the actual test...(which is about a week away from now, 15th of NOvember)..do you think if at all there are,, any ways to improve my score to a 680+ cadre from a 650 cadre in about a week's time?

  • First off, stop taking practice tests! They don't help you learn the content, they're good for figuring out where you stand and timing, but not much else. You're really close to your target score, so if I were you I'd spend this week going through the resources for your weaknesses. Not sure which books you're using, but I also recommend doing some practice from the Official Guide.
    Good luck!

  • Hi Danaj,

    I attempted the GMAT twice and I scored as following:
    600 (Quant 38 / Verbal 35)
    610 (Quant 47/ Verbal 27)
    As you can noticed I scored in the first attempt I scored a good score at the Verbal and a disappointing score at the Quant, and then I did completely vice versa in my second attempt.

    Actually I have been studying for the GMAT for about 6 month, first I spent some time on the OG to have a sense of the questions and then I started solving practice exams to have a better sense of the timing and the computer format. I used all the Manhattan GMAT practice test as well as the 800 Sore practice tests; I have solved all of them to, furthermore, I solved them more than once may twice or thrice. My score worst score on these exams was 650.

    So I am wondering if there is something wrong with my study strategy, or is it a matter of bad luck or over panic during the real test. Pls advise me what can be the best way to study or what do i need to rectify in order to be able to take the test within one month and score 680+. Also I am wondering if there are any practices that would help reduce the panic during the exam, since I suffer from panic and worry about running out of time during the real test

    Thank you

  • The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that you mention plenty of practice tests, but no other materials you've used to cover the theory. Focusing on practice tests is a really really bad idea. It means you have not actually covered the concepts you need on test day. A practice test is good for timing and figuring out where you stand, but it doesn't actually help you learn anything because it's a random collection of questions. You're much better off studying one concept, like circles, and then doing some targeted practice to nail it down. Here are my favorite resources:
    - Official Guide
    - Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides
    - Manhattan GMAT SC
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book

  • Thanks Danaj, That is really useful. I wonder if you can advise me from where I can get additional practice tests so that I can use them along with other resources you mentioned to assess my performance

  • You can check out the practice test from Veritas Prep or Kaplan. However, I can't stress this enough: do at most one practice test per week and focus 90% of your energy on concepts and targeted practice.

  • Hi Danaj,

    I am planning to sit for the GMAT after exactly one month and I have certain material which I have to finish before the exam date. I purchased the MGMAT Quant set and the Veritas RC Guide, which I both need to study them thoroughly before the test date. So I need from you to advise me with a study plan in order to finish these materials and also have some time to solve some exams. Furthermore, I need to know how many exams should I solve before sitting for the real exam.

    Thank you

  • Hi Akamal,
    You'll need to spend about 2-3 hours a day during weekdays and 6-7 hours on weekends. There's a lot of ground to cover in this month, so you'll need to work hard. Start with the topic that is hardest for you and work your way to the things you feel more comfortable with later. Do no more than one practice test per week! It's a much better idea to cover theory and then do some targeted practice. Good luck!

  • Danaj,

    Thank you for your prompt reply and helpful advice. However, pls note that I am not studying for the GMAT from scratch, as I have been studying already for about 3 month and I attempted the GMAT twice and scored 600 and 610. So I am wondering if I still have to stick to your proposed plan or is there another plan that might work better. I have advised you earlier and accordingly have bought the material which you recommended. I need to know how to have a balanced study plan between verbal and Quant so that I do not lose track on any of them.

    Thank you

  • Akamal, your percentile scores tell me you're having trouble with quant and verbal equally. I can't think of any advice to offer you short of giving you a day-by-day plan, which I do not have the time to do. You say it yourself very well: balanced study is the key.

  • Thanks Danaj, I really appreciate :)

  • Hi Dana-
    I am sitting for the GMAT on Feb 25 and have been studying 3 weeks now. I have gotten through the OG Verbal book and Kaplan study guide verbal chapters. I just started studying for the math section and haven't made much of a dent on it. I am going through Kaplan's brief math review chapter and am almost done with it. I am having trouble focusing on it because I have taken the CPA tests and my mindset is nothing can be harder than studying/passing those tests. So, I'm kind of at a roadblock.

    I have been reading that everyone has practice test scores so I was wondering if I should sit down and do an entire practice test at this point or get through the math section first? Also, what tests are they taking? I know my Kaplan book has practice GMAT tests, as well as the materials i downloaded from MBA.com. I'm looking to get a high 600 score.

  • Hi Dana, I just took a date for GMAT and it is Dec 30th.My weak point is Sentence Correction . Please advice which book should I go for? Also can you formulate a plan to complete ther GMAT syllabus in the time.
    In quant section , Do we have qyestiond from probability and Combinations. Which book do you advise.I am looking for a score of 700.


  • Sorry for the typo . The date is Jan 30th, 2012 and not Dec 30th.Thanks

  • @Margot: I think it's a good idea to take a practice test and see where you stand. While the resources you've been using are by no means bad, you need to evaluate yourself and adjust your study plan accordingly. I know we all prefer to practice what we're good at, but it's not going to work too well in the long run! Take one of the full tests from mba.com and see how well you do. If you're more than 50 points away from your target, in 3 weeks it might be hard to get there.

  • @Su:The best SC books is the Manhattan GMAT guide. Search for it on amazon.com and you're bound to find it! Focus on your weaknesses for the moment and spend some time on your strengths as you get closer to your test date.
    You'll have at most 3-4 questions from probability and combinatorics. I think you should focus on other stuff that's more likely to pop up: arithmetic, number properties, divisibility... Good luck!

  • I have ben planning to give the GMAT for the last 6 months but could not do so.Plus,my preparations were also lagging.I had enrolled myself for the Princeton review test series. and I have also gone through the OG once totally but 3 months back.I had scored a 560 in my GMATPrep.I have a strict a deadline to meet and that's 1 month.My target score is 720+ in a month.How to acheive this?

  • It won't be easy! It takes quite a bit of time and effort to achieve the score you're looking for, but here is my advice. If you use the right materials, you might just make it work. My recommendations:
    - Manhattan GMAT Number Properties and Word Translations
    - Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Official Guide (either review it or use the verbal/quant supplements).
    You have not mentioned what is your weakness. I'm assuming you're doing equally bad in both sections, so the above resources are balanced. But if you are doing much better in one section or the other, please remember that it's important for you to work more on your weakness!

  • Hi Dana,

    My target score is 730-750. In one of the recent Manhattan test given yesterday, I scored 530 (QA-44 , VA-18). Want to jump from this level to my target in a months time. Have my GMAT in a months time.
    I am referring to
    1. Manhattan SC
    2. Powerscore CR bible

    Though, I feel VA needs a real boost or else it will pull my score down.
    How do I improve on my QA score for realizing my target of 750. Also, HGow do i go about in VA?
    Please suggest.

    • In GMATprep I scored 560.

  • To be completely honest, it's very hard to go from a 530-560 to a 730-760 in a month's time. I've seen a couple of cases, but it is unusual - it just takes time for such an improvement. The two books you have are good, but you need to supplement them with something like OG 12 for practice. You should also check out some of the Manhattan guides for quant - I recommend the Number Properties and Word Translations books given how little time you have until your test.
    Good luck!

  • Hi Dana, I have again attempted the practise test on GMATPrep and I scored a 650.Looking to give my Gmat at the end of next month....What is the score I can expect if I practise regularly and what could be the best way forward...

  • Hey that's quite the improvement! You could hit 700+ in the next month or so if you use the materials I've mentioned before. Not sure what resources you're using right now, but just emphasize working on your weaknesses (i.e. practice more Sentence Correction if you consistently get those questions wrong) without neglecting your strengths.

  • Hi Dana,

    I just took the GMAT test today. I got really bad score of 470, Q 32 and V 22. I have been studying for the last 2 months using the Official Guide version 12 only. I also took prep class but the type of questions I encountered in the prep class were so much harder to the OG question. I did a lot of exercise with combination and permutation in the prep class whereas in the OG, those questions are very rare. Which one is the most reliable? The prep class or the OG? What is the best book to deal with quantitative?

    I also scored very low in the verbal. I ran out of time so I guessed the answers in the last 7 questions. I think I had difficulties in the Sentence Correction.

    I am working so I only have about 2-3 hours per day to study. Is that enough? Is it possible for me to get 650 scores in the next GMAT? I am planning to retake in March so I have 1 month and 3 weeks preparation.

    Looking forward to hear feedback from you!

  • You should always trust the OG vs. any other prep materials out there. The questions in the OG are actual, real questions that are now retired, but they're closest to what you'll see on test day.
    The problem is, you need a few books for the theoretical part as well. Given your limited time, I'd recommend the Kaplan Math Workbook. There are better books (like the Manhattan GMAT Number Properties and Word Translations), but I fear that you might not have enough time to go through them. For SC, I recommend the Manhattan GMAT SC guide. Supplement that with the Kaplan Verbal Workbook for CR and RC.
    Regarding your target score: don't want to bring you down, but you don't have that much time, unfortunately! Not sure if you can improve almost 200 points in less than 2 months. It is possible, but you must make sure that you're studying properly, i.e. taking notes, making flashcards, reviewing when necessary.

    • Wow thank you for the prompt feedback!

      With my time frame, do you think it is better to invest in Manhattan GMAT SC Guide and Kaplan Verbal Workbook for CR and RC or to buy the Veritas Prep & GMAT CR Bible?

      What do you think of GMAT princetown review? The questions are very hard there. 

      I will try to do my best. I really want to get score higher than 600!

  • Veritas Prep has several verbal books, I think 5 of them? Not sure if you have enough time to go through all of them, so I recommended the solution that's more condensed. The Princeton Review is not on my list of top books... They emphasize tricks instead of teaching you proper theory, which I believe doesn't work well in your favor. Ugh I also have to disagree that the questions in the Princeton Review are hard... They're actually some of the easiest in the business...

  • dude, what is the best way to go after a 600+ score in 1.5 to 2 months max.. +

  • How about following the plan outlined above? :) General strategy rules: work mostly on your weaknesses and practice from the Official Guide, but supplement that book with relevant theoretical books too.

  • Hi Dana,

    Only today I registered in this Website but I have reviewed this couple times in early January.I find this interesting so far and trying to get some help.

    I am not a native english speaker and I had to take Gmat in december. So after 2 week of studying and getting to know the exam for the first time I did my exam on 8th of december and scored 320 Q21,V13 and I got another chance from the unversity as they were waiting for me for the GMAT score and I took the exam in jan 12th..and my score was 330 Q23,V13. I did not brush up in my Verbal on my second time much even though I had one month I was not able to devote the whole month. I have to do it again I am so depressed. I don't know what to do and since I lost the opportunity  to enter for the Spring semester I like to apply for more universities and for that to get a good score. like 600+

    I don't know whether it will be possible for me to score that high. I have one and half month period to do it. I don't know how to start doing it and how to improve. One thing I noticed at the exam while I was doing it, I cannot do a simple math question that I know how to do. I felt like crying when I was trying to solve it. I know how to do it but I had no clue at the exam.

    Please let me know what should I do.  I used the Princeton review and for the second test I bought the Official Gmat but couldn't finish it. I know that I am so weak in my grammer and I bought the Kaplan Verbal Foundation today. From tomorrow I am planning to do my studies and I am trying to get some help from someone to show me a guide or way to do it.

    Please let me know what I am not doing right here and should do.


    • Thank you for the quick reply Dana, unfortunately I have to do it by then. I am not working and free the whole day which is bit hard to study sometimes. (I know it sounds wired)

      I will try my best...

  • Getting from a 330 to a 600+ in one month and a half is really unlikely, unfortunately. The issue here is that you need to give yourself more time and to use the right books. If you really want to hit 600, then you have two options:
    - use a tutor: there are obviously some deficiencies in your basics, if you scored a 320 and a 330
    - spend 3-4 months working on this test, using the full suite of Manhattan GMAT books (Foundations of Math, set of 8 guides) and the Official Guide.
    You also need to improve your knowledge of English by reading stuff in English every day. Go to reputable news outlets like cnn.com or WSJ and just spend 30 mins each day reading.
    I'm sorry, this is probably not what you want to hear, but there are no quick fixes...

    • Thank you for the quick reply Dana, unfortunately I have to do it by then. I am not working and free the whole day which is bit hard to study sometimes. (I know it sounds wired) at least I have to get around 550. ill try my best

  • Hi dana,

    Can u pls share anytips to make effective flashcard?
    Also how often we should take CATs tests?


  • Jktan, I think the most effective flashcards are short and contain just the smallest of pieces of info possible. One way to do them is to write down a concept on one side (i.e. "2 is the only even prime number") and write an example of a question testing that on the other side (i.e. "tested in OG DS 34").
    We also have our own flashcards here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/free-gmat-prep-flashcards

  • Hi Dana - how many hours a day or a week is this study plan? Also, I got a 500 on my last GMAT attempt - would it be possible to improve 100 points using this study plan? I'm not shooting for the stars, but want to get in the 80th percentile range for the schools I want to attend. What is strange is that I scored between a 680 - 540 on my various practice tests, but on test day scored 500! Very discouraging. Thank you!

  • This assumes you spend about 2 hours per weekday and about 6 hours per weekend day. Of course in the end, it's up to how fast you are as well! I think that yes, it is possible to improve 100 points in one month, but it won't be that easy. I highly recommend that you focus most of your time on your weaknesses for that. The scoring disparity can be explained by a few things, such as test day jitters, scoring disparities between different tests (nothing is as good as the real test) and not simulating test day conditions when you practice (i.e. taking long breaks or stuff like that).

  • Hi Danaj,

    Yesterday was a schocker for me. I attempted the GMAT twice before and scored 600 (Q 38 V 35) and 610 (Q 47 V 27) successively. Yesterday, I sat for the third time in an attempt to get an above 650 score. However, I scored 530 which was a big failure for me. Surprisingly, during the exam I felt that I was doing well and never expected to get that disappointing score, I got Q 39 and V 24. These scores are my least among all three attempts. Before taking the exam I advised you and you recommended to me to study the MGMAT quantitative set, Veritas RC, The Bible for CR and MGMAT SC guide. I have studied them all during the past two months, and did not solve a lot of MGMAT tests as I used to do to prepare for the previous exams; I just solved two exams a couple of days before the exam day and I scored 680 and 690 (i.e I solved these exams before but almost 2 months earlier).
    So I am in real despair and don't know what to do or what can be the best study strategy for my next attempt. I need to maintain a steady and consistent performance.
    Your advice is highly appreciated

  • Oh wow, sorry to hear about that! Could it have been test day stress? Did you feel tired or distracted during the test? Other than that, it might be the fact that you went through the books I recommended too fast, without taking notes or making flashcards. It takes a while for knowledge to stick. I've actually heard from seasoned instructors that after the first few weeks of study, your score might go down a bit because you have learned a lot, but have yet to feel comfortable putting that knowledge to use. It's like you have a library of concepts now, but need to figure out where each "book" is - it takes time and practice to do that.
    There's also a chance that the style of those books doesn't work for you. Did you feel frustrated/unsatisfied by them? Did you feel they didn't explain stuff properly? Maybe that's the reason for the score drop.

  • Well, I was not too stressed that day, I even tried to manage my temper and nerves. I had also a good 8 hour sleep and woke up fresh and ready for the test.
    Regarding, the study material, some materials were useful and elaborate, while others were not advance enough. The RC Veritas Prep and the Bible CR were not as useful as i though they would be. The bible has very long explanations with few examples and few tips or tricks that are helpful. Furthermore, the Veritas RC was disappointing for me as it contain a very small part for explanations and then the rest of the book (almost 80% of it) are reading comprehension passages and questions.
    However, during my 2 month study I did not solve any tests, except for 2 tests only before the exam day.
    So pls advise me how can I prepare for the exam within the next month?!

  • Akamal, I believe you will need to take longer than a month to prepare for the test. R2 deadlines have already passed, so I'm assuming you'll be applying next season. You have quite a bit of time ahead of you and I strongly advise you to take your time before you take the test again. Taking it a fifth time would be too much and would be seen as a negative by some schools, so you need to give it your all for the fourth try.
    Yes, you will need to take practice tests, but don't overdo it. Do not focus on practice tests, but focus on concepts and practice. Don't take more than one test per week, but do take one every two-three weeks. Ideally, you'd get some new tests, like the Veritas Prep ones.
    Coming back to books and resources: I'm a bit puzzled by your comment, to be completely honest. You say that the CR Bible had detailed explanations, but you disliked that, but then you say that the Veritas Prep RC book had fewer explanations and you disliked that too... Given this, I'm not sure what I should recommend. You really already have all the best resources available, so maybe the issue is how you approach study. Have you considered taking a few hours of tutoring with someone? If that's out of the question because of access/cost, then I highly recommend reading this article and following all the steps for self diagnostic of what's going wrong: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2011/12/19/studying-for-and-struggling-with-the-gmat

  • Hi Dana.. I have just begun my prep for GMAT and after the first Diagnostic test that i gave, i scored a 560 (Q-44 VA-22). I plan to take on GMAT exam by end of June. And i am cluless as to what to start and when. I am through with PS and DS of OG 12 and dont face much problems in PS but please guide me for DS. Any good books that can help me conquer this field??
    Also, I need your assistance in how to go about SC and CR. I am done with SC and CR from OG 12 but i am not really happy with my performance. please suggest what should i do because my target score is 750. Please help in my MISSION.. i need assistance regarding study material and tests that i should give for practice. Thanks a lot.

  • The problem is you've only just practiced from the OG so far and have not used a strategy guide to cover the theoretical part of the test. The OG has some theoretical bits, but they're insufficient.
    For DS, you can check out the Veritas Prep DS book. For more general quant, go for the Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides. For SC, check out the Manhattan GMAT SC guide. Finally, for CR, my favorite is the PowerScore CR Bible.

    • Thanks a lot for the information. Hope it helps me through my journey... Please also let me know that which test series should i prefer. I mean going by just the word of mouth, i have heard that tests of Kaplan are not on the platform that GMAT tests. Since i am a lay man and do not have much info about the test pattern, can you please guide which test series are a MUST so as to get a complete feel of GMAT.

  • You should definitely check out the free tests from mba.com, those are the best and most accurate. Also, if you purchase the Manhattan books, you get access to their CATs, widely considered second best in the industry.

  • Hi Dana,

    I have been following this post for a long time.
    I have scheduled my test for april 21st and I have been studying ON and OFF for last 4-5 months.

    I have given 4 MGMAT tests till now and by surprise except 1st one( which I gave 6 months back during my class), I got 590 in all of them. Verbal:
    480 - V19 Q38( Given during class)
    590 - V 28 Q 44
    590 - V30 Q 42
    590 - V29 Q 44( gave this today)

    During today's exam, In Quants I felt I was doing horrible and felt short of time, and felt confident in Verbal as compared to before( I was able to recognize errors).

    What would be best way to study to get score arnd 650 - 660. Please share your thoughts. I know Verbal is weak area and I have to focus in RC and SC.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  • You don't clearly mention which books you use. For verbal, I recommend the following:
    - Official Guide 12th edition + verbal supplement
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book
    It's also clear to me that the fact that you're not a native speaker is creating issues. I highly suggest that you start reading stuff in English every day to improve your general knowledge of the language.

    • Hi Dana,

      Thanks for your quick response. Yes, I use MGMAT for study and then OG for practice What do you suggest? DO I need to focus on Quants as well or just them in 80-20 with 20 being Quants.

      What should be my study plan for next 1 month?


    • Hmm... 80-20 is a bit drastic, since a 44 is 66th percentile in quant and 29 is 53rd percentile in verbal. Of course, you still need to spend more time on verbal, since whatever points you can nail in that section will pull your overall score higher than the points you'd earn in quant. You have the right books, now it's a question of using them properly. Keep an error log, make flashcards, review every single question whether you get it right or wrong (especially OG questions).

  • Hi dana,

    i'm using the kaplan math workbook along with official guide 12th edition and quant guide official. when i solve quant
    i feel like i'm cruising through and that i don't see any quant asked in 700+ level.i would like to know whether
    i should switch to some other material for i'm aiming for a 710+ score.

  • Have you checked out the Manhattan GMAT books? The Number Properties and Word Translations books are really good and have some challenging problems. They also released an Advanced Quant book that you could take a look at.

    • not yet. i will try that. thanks!

  • Buna Dana, 

    Chiar ma gandeam zilele trecute de ce nu gasesc romani pe'aci si uite ca te-am gasit. Felicitari pentru scorul tau, avem minti exceptionale in Romania, bravo. Incerc si eu sa ma pregatesc pentru test, din pacate insa nu prea'mi reuseste. Am toate materialele necesare, insa imi lipseste increderea in mine si mai apelez si la auto-handicapare. Oricum nu am fluenta ta in engleza si nici la matematica nu stralucesc. Nu mai stiu cum sa ma motivez, stiu doar ca vreau sa obtin un scor bunicel. 
    M'am ratacit un pic (ma plang cam mult), de fapt, voiam sa te intreb ceva. Dat fiind faptul ca nu prea am intalnit oameni ca tine, te intreb, cum faci de-ti reuseste? Cum te motivezi sa inveti? Stiu ca nu exista mari secrete, dar am nevoie de o incurajare acum si nu am la cine apela. Merci

  • Buna Ina,

    Suntem destui romani, numai ca eu sunt de departe cea mai activa. Multumesc pentru felicitari! Nu stiu ce sa zic precis cu motivarea... Vine de cand eram mica, bunica mea mereu ma lauda si ca sa primesc si mai multe laude, incercam sa fiu si mai buna :) Acum ca am crescut si a simple pat on the back nu mai ajunge sa ma motiveze, e vorba de dorinta de a fi buna sau foarte buna in ceea ce fac, de a nu face nimic cu jumatati de masura. Cum zicea o colega de-a mea, banuiesc ca overall asa ar trebui sa fie important pentru tine sa devii un profesionist in domeniul tau.
    Bine, in ceea ce priveste GMAT-ul, mie mi-a placut pentru ca e un test foarte logic, extrem de diferit de ce ai vedea in Romania la o facultate, unde cel mai adesea te pun sa reciti ce-ai invatat pe de rost. Motivatia ta cea mai mare ar fi, dupa mine, sa te vezi acolo la Harvard sau la Stanford sau la alta scoala mare, cu minti luminate in jurul tau, cu toate oportunitatile posibile la picioarele tale. Mi s-a zis ca getting an MBA is like pressing the reset button, asa ca daca ceva te nemultumeste la situatia ta actuala, clar poti sa pricepi ce spun :) Pana la urma, GMAT-ul nu e decat un mic pas, o chestie de care trebuie sa treci. Stii tu, keep your eyes on the big prize! Bafta!

  • hello dana, let me start by thanking thanking you for this free info and help.
    however i am a bit confused, in the article you recommend several book like kaplan verbal and math review. but, as i read through your posts you recommend manhattan books and dont mention the others. which ones should i get for this one month plan. i have already taken the gmat and got a 420 studying with kaplans online course... not successful was getting 560, 570, and 590 on their practice CATS and went through their recorded online seesions... so i thought i was in ok shape :( . I looking to get a 550-600... my verbal is not strong however it is alot better than my quant. which books should i get for each step of this 1 month of review the only ones that seem to be consistantely mentioned are the OG AND THE CR BIBLE. in other words which verbal and math books should i get Kaplan or other i already have the OG and will get the CR bible.

  • Hey ben2485,
    There are two main reasons I recommend different things. First off, this article was written before I had the chance to review the Manhattan books. Second, while Manhattan books are much more thorough, not everyone has the time (especially not in the one month time frame) to go through them, precisely because they're so thorough.
    I'm sorry to hear you didn't get the score you wanted! Seems like the Kaplan method isn't working for you though, so I'd recommend checking out the Manhattan books instead, especially the quant ones. Given your target score, I don't think it's necessary for you to go through the advanced parts of each book, so it might just be doable in a month's time. Good luck!

  •  which manhattan books do you think i should get instead of the kaplan math workbook and verbal. will  one for quant and one for verbal do ? and do they come with CAT'S. i can study 20 hours a week again my quant is weaker. thanks again for the tips. 

  • I think you should at least get the Number Properties and Word Translations for quant (potentially the Geometry one too). For verbal, the Sentence Correction one is really good. The PowerScore CR Bible will help with both CR and RC.

  • thanks for the quick response.. so you dont think i need to get all five guides for the quant will i be able to go through all them in a month if i do get them? and how would i break it down witht the studying using these guides and the OG IN THE ARTICLE you mention to use the kaplan guides as a supplement doing only 2-3 problems and the rest of the og should i do the same here how would i structure my studying using these guides?

  • I think you won't be able to go through all of them, which is why I recommended only the most important. You can give it a try, but no guarantees. Yup, use them instead of the Kaplan books.

  • do i have to buy the complete set of manhattan books to get their CAT'S? 

    • No, each book has an access code that can be used for that.

  • Hi Dana, I took the gmat in feb and scored a dismal 640 (41q 37v). I want to retake the test in mid may. What can I do to improve my score to hit 700? The targeted school I'm aiming for is the Baruch for the ms accounting program and since I have a low non businesss gpa (3.1) I need to get a high gmat score. Should I concentrate on the practice questions on the og? Please advise. Thanks

  • I think you need to use some other books for the theoretical part of the test. The OG is good for practice, but not enough for theory. You should probably buy some of the books I've mentioned before in my comments. Try these:
    - Manhattan GMAT Number Properties, Word Translations and Sentence Correction
    - PowerScore Critical Reasoning Bible

  • Hi Dana,
    I just took the GMAT prep test cold today with no prep and got a really low 390 (17Q, 25V, 2IR). I am taking the GMAT on may 26 and I am looking to set up a study plan. I work full time and my school's requirement is at least a 450, of course I would like to get higher than that (I was aiming for something in the 600's) Any ideas of where to start, books to get or any other advice? Also two of my coworkers are taking the exam, any suggestions for studying in groups? Thank you so much for your time and advice in advance.

  • If you didn't prep at all, then a very low score probably shouldn't come as a shock to you. Just use a couple of good resources to boost your score. Since you have just one month, I'd advise you to get the Kaplan Premier book and the Official Guide 12th or 13th edition for practice. I see you're weaker in quant than in verbal, so you could also supplement your quant prep with a couple of really good books like the Manhattan GMAT Number Properties or Word Translations books, but that's optional given the limited time and your target score. I've never been part of a GMAT study group before, so I can't give you any clear cut recommendations... Sorry!

  • Hi DANA, I am taking the GMAT on MAY 15th. am hardly left with a month preparation. THe 1st post done by you. is that enough for a score ranging between 600 - 625. Please advise

  • First off, please note that you can only score 620 or 630 - there's no such thing as a 625 score. Whether or not you can achieve this score in a month's time depends on your current level. If you are at 400, then getting to a 630 will be quite tough with just one month of prep. But if you're at 500, then it's more realistic to hope that you will hit 630 in one month. That's exactly why I recommend taking a practice test in the first few days of study, to figure out your weaknesses and if you'll be able to hit your target score.

  • Good evening Dana. Thanks for your previous reply and I found that useful. I have a question striking my mind. Since it is an high time fr me to take up the Gmat, is it advisable to fix the exam date and then prepare accordingly or the vice versa. Question might be simple, but it weighs more fr me. kindly let me know your thoughts

  • I think it's best to determine where you stand first and then determine when you should take the GMAT. You can take a practice test and give yourself some time, depending on the size of the improvement you're after. Usually a 2-3 month study time is best.

  • thanks dana

  • hey dana im taking the gmat in about 2 weeks i was wondering do you think i should take 2 cats over the next two weeks (1 per week) or just 1 cat a few days before the test. 

  • CATs are not a priority, but one a week seems fine. Unless of course you have more important stuff to do, like if you've identified a glaring weakness in your prep. If you're doing OK overall, it's fine to take two.

  • Hi Dana,
    My first attempt at GMAT was on 17th April 12'. I had completed the test and answered all questions and final scores read
    O - 460 with 23%
    Quant - 32 & Verbal - 22.
    I was disappointed with this scoreline especially when in MGMAT taken on just 12 days ago read O - 590, QA - 39 & VA- 32 and one taken in January read O-530, QA-44 & V-19.
    I expected my score to be at 590-600 range but rather in actual GMAT my score dropped by more than 100. I agree that on test day for verbal I was slow in solving the CR & RC questions and got a bit impatient seeing the long CR para & RC passages. I had prepared from Manhattan SC and solved most of the OG-11 questions. I also referred to Powerscore for CR but did not solve the entire book. For quant I did not practice much as I was comfortable in it as my scores in practice test showed a decent performance in quant.
    I want to retake GMAT. My target score now is 720-730. I want to take re-attempt in July 1st week and need your guidance about how do I go about getting to my target score. Also suggest which book to refer for the new IR section in new GMAT.
    My working background - I am working full time since last 5 years. So weekends are the days when i can study max to 6-7 hrs.
    Pl. suggest.

  • You definitely need to spend time on quant as well as review verbal. There's room for improvement in both areas. In fact I get the feeling you need to spend equal amounts of time on both. Here are my favorite resources for study (I know you already have MGMAT SC and the PowerScore Bible, but they're worth reviewing once more):
    - MGMAT set of 5 quant guides
    - MGMAT SC
    - Official guides (especially recommend verbal one) - CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book or MGMAT RC book (I prefer the Veritas one, but the MGMAT one might be easier to get).
    Other than that, you can get the MGMAT guide for IR that was just released and the new OG 13 (also just released).
    I also want to warn you about something: going froma 460 to a 730 will not be easy. If after studying on your own you don't get satisfactory results (I'd say take a practice test in about one month), i.e. you're at less than 600, then you might need the help of a tutor or course.

    • I scheduled for a GMAT Exam on May 31st two months ago. I could not prepare much due to sudden change in the personal front. Now, i am in a dilemma if I should re-schedule or give a try. If I give a try, by studying as per the blog, would it help me
      ? My target score is 700+. Please suggest

    • That really depends on where you stand right now. In one month, you can usually improve around 50-100 points, so if your current level is below 600, then a 700 it's probably not achievable. I advise you to use the diagnotic test from mba.com to determine where you stand right now and which areas are your main weaknesses.

  • Hi Dana J.. I have prepared for almost 2 months now. My average time per question has come to 1.5 to 2 minutes. But now I feel, may be am just preparing for the easy questions.
    I have completed Kaplan's Math Workbook, Princeton Math Workbook, Kaplan's 800 Advanced prep, and the Official Guide. But all these problems are looking easy. Am still skeptical to take the GMAT. My last score was 390, for which i prepared for 2 weeks. This time I need to score atleast a 650 plus.
    Can you suggest me some link, or site where I can find real tough GMAT problems. Also, my weak area is CR. Can you suggest me some links for the same?

  • Sorry but I can't recommend any websites for most things. For CR I can recommend checking out LSAT sets, they're really tough. You can probably find them pretty easily with a simple search.

  • Hi Dana, i must really commend your replies you've been giving to this post for the past 2 years, thumbs up!!
    I just found out that i have to write the GMAT by June 20th and i'm hoping to get my score in the late 600s and early 700s. Any effective books that can aid me to get my dream score? Thanks.

  • It really really depends on what your weaknesses are. Since you have about a month to study, you can't afford to spend too much time on topics you already know to some extent. I advise you to take a diagnostic test, figure out where you stand and then invest in the books you need. Here are my favorites overall, but I doubt you'd have time to go through all of them:
    - Official Guide 12th edition + verbal supplement
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Veritas Prep RC book
    - Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides

  • Hello Dana,

    Can you suggest something with lots of problems in math. I have reached a higher level in math, but i would like to solve more problems of multiple types, that explores all probabilities.


  • You can try the Advanced Quant book from Manhattan.

  • Hi Dana,

    I am taking GMAT test in August last week.

    I have the Manhattan 4th Edition Complete Series.I have also the Official Guide 12th Edition.But I am not able to judge whether that is enough for study.English is quite confusing and maths is little tricky at times.

    What all books are further required if I want to get good grasp of SC,CR and RC?Any books in maths for grasp of concepts and lot of practice in them?Should I take mock test now or after I have gone through all the material with me once?

    I am also planning to take Official Guide 13th Edition with Integrated Reasoning Book from Manhattan.Is it useful?

  • Yup, I believe you have enough resources for your study. If you feel the need to supplement your prep on the verbal side, you can try the verbal foundations book from MGMAT, although that really only applies if you're having trouble with the basics.

  • Hi Dana,

    1 more question.What all mock tests are needed to be taken and when?I mean has the mock tests to be taken initially and then study has to be done or first round of study can be done and then mock test can be taken?

  • I think you should first take a practice test to evaluate where you stand. This way you know which section to focus on before you actually start working. After that, don't take practice tests more often than once every week.

  • Hello Dana, 

    I was just wondering if their is much of a difference from MGAT and the real GMAT. My score I would like to hit is a 650 and I took my first MGAT test today and scored 580 (37Q, 32V and 2.33IR). My planned GMAT date is in September. I have not touched the IR material as of yet. 

    Please let me know. 

    Thank you! 

    • MGMAT tends to be a bit harder on the quant side versus the official thing. However, they are still quite accurate - second only to the official tests on mba.com.

  • Hi Dana. I have a month to prepare for my GMAT, my verbal is good but my quant is weak. I am using the OG and have finished solving the questions from the GMAT Quant Review. Any strategies you would know of how to improve my quant score?

  • I believe you should put off practice for the moment and focus on the theoretical side of things. I strongly recommend getting a theory review book or set of books, such as the MGMAT set of 5 quant guides.

  • Thank you Dana. I don't know what to do because a couple of days ago, I took a Knewton exam as well and I scored a dismissal 460. What would your take be on this situation. I did find the MGMAT exam a bit harder. 

    Thank you once again Dana!

  • Usually MGMAT tests are seen as a bit more reliable, but the verdict is clear: you are quite some way away from your target score, so you do need to focus on developing your skills. I really like the MGMAT books for that, coupled with the OG for practice.

  • Hello Dana!

    In regards to the verbal portion of the GMAT. I was wondering if you could possibly recommend any books for the RC part. SC and CR are both good when I take tests but I find RC really brings my score down. 


  • My personal favorite is the Veritas Prep RC book, although the MGMAT one is also pretty decent. I also liked the Kaplan Verbal Workbook on that section.

  • Thank you very much! I will be looking into these resources. 

  • Hi Dana J,
    I intend to give GMAT in 4 weeks time. Please confirm the latest edition of OG. Its 13th edition right ??

  • Yes, the 13th edition is the most recent one.

  • I am preparing to take the GMAT on Saturday September 29, giving me roughly 6 weeks to prepare. I have all  of the GMAT official review books by GMAC. I also have the Kaplan GMAT premier course book and the Princeton review cracking the new GMAT. I am also signed up for some on demand classes with Kaplan. I work 50+ hours a week for a mortgage company and usually have 2 to 4 hours each evening to study. My weekends are also usually free. Can you please provide advice on how to best study within 30 days and get a high score  in the 650-750 range? Thanks.

  • I believe you should follow the course from Kaplan right now, that should work relatively well for you. While Kaplan is not my first choice in terms of books, it's still fairly OK. I prefer the Manhattan GMAT books, but the extensiveness of those books makes it very unlikely you'd be able to finish them by the time you take your test. I would not look at the Princeton Review book too much - I feel it's too easy and emphasizes tricks instead of teaching you actual content. I would go through Kaplan first and then supplement that with practice from the OG, as those books have the best practice questions available.

    • Thank you Dana.

  • Hi Dana,
    I have limited time ie just 4-5 weeks to prepare and aiming for a 700+ score . Could you suggest something for RC and SC in English for concept ?? Then I will try completing Kaplan and OG questions . For CR, the CR bible has helped me improve effectively and I am practicing OG questions.


  • For RC, my top pick is the Veritas Prep RC guide. The Manhattan RC guide is also good, so it depends which one you can get your hands on. For SC, I think the Manhattan GMAT book is the best.

  • Congrats!
    I know this was made so long ago but I am hoping to take the GMAT in about a month just in case I may need to retake it before my application is due in March. I took the first practice GmatPrep test and I am so discouraged. Since then I have been trying to study and do about 50 problems every day but I just feel so behind. I bought the new OG as well as the quantitative review. I also bought the Kaplan book which I have not opened yet. I know I am struggling in the Q section but I don't know how to improve. For the first prep test I got a 400 I believe it was something like (q12,v27). Horrible, I know. I am a strong student but I am horrible when it comes to standardized tests...I have no idea why but I blank. Since the prep test I have been procrastinating because I feel like I am at a road block. Any advice is greatly appreciated :)

  • I think you're approaching the test in a wrong way. You shouldn't practice too much right now, you should strengthen your theoretical understanding of the issues tested before you go ahead and work on the OG. I strongly recommend picking up the Kaplan book right now and working on that as much as possible. Review all the strategy and theory in that book and only after you're done with that you can get back to the OG.

  • Hi DanaJ

    I scored a 350 on my GMAT. It was so brutal and I did not know how I can improve my
    scores. I was using Kaplan and OG 12th ed. Prior to my preparation I knew this website existed but never went in to look at the forums or anything as such. I have exactly one month for my second attempt. I have to score above 500 to get into a local university. And this is for spring 2013 and I do not have much time at all. I know I have improve both my quant and verbal sections. I want to do at least 6-8 hours of study per day. Please help me out here as to how I should start studying. I mean when should I take practice tests?

  • Practice tests are among the least important elements of your study plan. They don't really teach you that much, they just help with pacing and figuring out where you stand. You need to start working on the theory and apply it by practicing with some high quality questions. I advise you to try the Manhattan GMAT set. Skip the advanced portions for each book, you don't have time for that. Using those books should be enough to get you to 500 in one month.

    • Thank you Dana. After seeing your response I am much relieved. I will definitely start working with the Manhattan GMAT set. I have already started with the Manhattan GMAT- Word problems and Sentence correction. I will get the rest too and work on it. Thank you once again.

  • Hi Dana, I gave the GMAT on 28th Sept and scored 590(41 in Quant(73 percentile),25 in Verbal(30 percentile)).I had expected a 640-650 score which will enable a cutoff score as per last year in atleast 3-4 colleges if not more.I studied from Manhattan series for Verbal and Quantitative.Also had given 4 practice tests on Manhattan.On the exam,I found that Maths is basic and doesnt require much study.In fact study from Manhattan for Maths didnt help much as only few basic topics came in the exam.English was very confusing as in almost all answer choices seemed similar.Now i want to take GMAT again in 1 month time and get a 650 score which will enable me admission in Jan'13 session.Please advise as how to get going now.I am unable to plan as what all will help me increase my score in Verbal(get a 70-80 percentile).

  • I have a feeling you're a bit too confident about quant. I would first work on that, to bring your score up from a 73rd percentile to something like 85th percentile. Verbal takes a lot of time to improve, it doesn't just happen over night. I would take the books you have right now and review them, but do it properly, with a pen in hand, taking notes and making flashcards. Once you're done with that, practice using an error log, keeping track of your mistakes and reviewing them periodically. Again, the resources you have are good, but your approach might not be the best.

    • So Dana,how do you suggest I go about it? I have a month to give the GMAT again.Should I refer more books or stick to Manhattan?Also is a crash course required? I mean will it help in proper direction?How to improve English to bring it to a level that the GMAT requires?

    • I don't think you have the time for other books. I think the ones you have right now are good enough. A course may be interesting, especially if it's verbal-focused. Improving English is never easy in a short time frame. Normally I would recommend reading quality material in English every day for improvement, but I'm not sure how effective that will be given the short time. I would focus on the GMAT books you have right now for the moment.

  • Hi,
    I usually score from 31-35 in Quant, but want to take it upto 44-45. Will Manhattan GMAT Quant alongwith practice from OG-11 suffice? Do i need something more for quant? Pl. suggest. I have almost 50 days to go for GMAT.

    • The five books from MGMAT on quant should be enough together with the OG. They really teach you a lot, from the very basics to the harder stuff. Don't forget to keep an error log!

  • Hi Dana, I hope you are doing well!! I took the GMAT in late September- got a 540 (Q40 and V23) I was very suprised- all my MGAT practice tests have been above 600 - My average Math has been Q45 and my average verbal has been V35. On my first diagnostic test about 4 months ago- I scored really high on the verbal and really low on the math- so my studying was 80% math and 20% Verbal (I wasn't worried about the verbal as much, so even on my practice tests I went through it really fast and didn't care about my score...thinking it will be way higher on test day..lol). I need to score above a 700 (I plan on retaking the exam sometime at the end of October or 1st week in November). On my actual test day I had to guess on the last 10 Verbal questions (I got so caught up reading my 3 super boring RC passages and as such I lost track of time), I also got so tired mentally during the verbal section I just wanted to do it and get it over it with. So my question now is how can I improve in a month?- My math on the actual exam was lower than my practice tests, my Verbal was lower as well. I did all OG 11 problems (but this was my first month of studying and never went back to review it) I also studied the all guides of the MGMAT (Except CR and RC). I just purchased OG 13- really not sure what will help me at ths point...sigh....please let me know what you think. Thank you very much!!!

    • You have the right books, but you lack the right approach. It may be that you are going through things too fast, aren't taking enough notes, aren't keeping an error log... It's hard to say with limited info. I do expect your verbal score to increase once you actually work on it - RC and CR are two thirds of the test! Building stamina is about practicing a bit, I would recommend taking some practice tests in real, test-like conditions to train yourself. I wouldn't take more than one or max two practice tests per week though, they are really tiring!

  • Thank you so much Dana!! I definitely need to start keeping an error log...and I'll plan to take atleast 1 practice test per week in test-like conditions. Thank you for taking out the time to respond!!!!

  • Thank you Dana!!Will definitely try my best

  • HI Dana,From where I can practice for GMAT sort of questions?Do you know any link which can provide practice questions?

  • You can try our forums for some unstructured practice, but most people prefer buying books. There are also more expensive products out there, such as question banks from MGMAT, Magoosh etc.

  • Hi DanaJ,
    Thanks for the article. Can you please suggest an approach suitable for me ? I have been preparing for last 2-3 months but not in a very organized way. I got 530 in GMAT prep test 42 Q, 22 V, 3 IR. I have finished studying the OG 12 once and the Princeton review 2004. I am hoping for a 700+ score.
    I have taken 10 days leave to study for the final exam. Can you please suggest me some extra material to study, a good approach and some final golden pointers?

    Thanks in advance.

  • It's unlikely you will be able to go from a 530 to a 700 in just 10 days. It takes much more time. I recommend getting the Manhattan GMAT set of strategy books to cover the theory. The Princeton book doesn't go into depth on GMAT topics.

  • Hi Dana, I have my GMAT exam in next 45 days, My main area of concern is Quant where i'm really lacking. Kindly advice me how to prepare for Quant sec. Currently using Kaplan Premier for preparations

  • I think the Manhattan GMAT series of quant guides is the best resource for quant prep, I strongly recommend that you take a look at them.

  • Hi, 
    I'm scheduled to take the GMAT on Jan 28 and have one month to get a 500 -- how realistic is that? i've been out of school for quite some time and i'm even taking a prep class but feel like its not doing much for me. I will try to follow your 30 day plan -- but I need serious prayers! 

    I plan to take again to get a higher score, but i need a minimum of 500 -- i did a practice test and performed extremely poorly -- I got nervous and didnt finish the exam, then started guessing on a lot of problems...  

  • It's really hard to say with only this little information. With the books you have in this plan you do stand a chance at hitting 500, but it also depends whether or not you commit to at least 2-3 hours a day of study. Good luck!

  • Hi DanaJ,

    Its my first visit to beatthegmat & am  impressed with your commitment to questions & ur TAT. Big thanks for being there all through.

    I need to ask abt the right verbal material. I need to take GMAT in the next one month and i am fairly comfortable with verbal however I would like to know of a structured course material.
    Would you recommend eGMAT online course/PTR or any other?

    Thanks a lot ..

  • Sorry but I do not have experience with verbal courses. eGMAT has been discussed around the forums but my impression is that they focus on sentence correction. Princeton Review is not so good in my experience.

  • Hello DanaJ:
    Thank you so much for giving all the great great advice. 
    Last year, I had spent 2 months on studying GMAT (with the princeton book.) Almost 2.5 to 3 hours/day. However, I only got a bit more than 400. Q36 V13 (According to my knowledge.) After that I studied a bit more to improve my score to 500s, then I stopped studying for 6 months, and start a bit every week. My practice score right now is around 600s. (Q44, V 20s) I really hope to get above 670 on the actually test. 
    I don't know why, I spend like 2 hours everyday on studying Quantitative, but in the end the points only increase like 5 more points in every 10 days or so (very slow improvement.) Im not confident in my verbal at all, sometimes seems like I do understand the concepts, but not quite well get them. I tried to read and remember all the concepts on the GMAT books, but really I could't really get all of them. 

    I really hope that I can get from 600 to around 680 to 700 within one month. Could you please give me some suggestions? How many hours should I study a day? Is there any textbook I should really need to complete? Do you have any suggestions for the practice tests? (How often should I take them?) 

    Please help me! 

    Thank you so much DanaJ! 

    Kim Huynh

  • I'm having doubts over the materials you are using. I strongly recommend going through the Manhattan GMAT set of 8 guides and I am sure you'll see your score improve. If you need to get your score up in just one month though, I don't think you'll have the time to go through all 8 books. I think that given your verbal track record, using the three verbal books should work best.

  • Hi DanaJ,

    I've decided recently to take the exam for an amazing MBA program unfortunately the Deadline is March 15th for the full-time program. I know it might sound crazy but I want to score 700+. Im currently not working so I have a clear schedule and can plan and dedicate myself fully to make it happen. Since I also need time for getting the results and all of the paperwork ready, I want to take it at the end of february. What are the best books for both strategy and tests to be ready ??  I've never taken any Standardized tests so I do not know what to expect, but I want to make it happen!

    Thank you in advance DAnaJ


  • I would really take a practice test from mba.com before you set yourself onto this journey. It will be quite hard to achieve the score in the time you have left if you've never taken standardized tests and especially if you are not a native speaker. Give it a try and if the practice score is more than 80 points from your goal, you may need to think about applying later.

    • I will do it asap and let you know my results. 

      Thank you 


  • Hi DanaJ, I am gonna Re-take the GMAT , i scored 450 last july, now i have take the mock again and i have got 590, my target is to land around 600-650.I wanna take the GMAT by Feb end or March beginning. Need your suggestion on the test prep.

  • Manish, please see the above article for suggestions. Also, try searching on the forums if you have more questions. Overall it depends on your access to books.

  • Thank you Dana, for the prompt response and humble gesture !

  • Dear DanaJ,
    Thanks for your great suggestions & prompt reply to so many queries that even help readers who haven't posted queries.
    Looking at your earlier posts i do see an emphasis on how useful you found Powerscore CR bible & OG. However you also say that "allow more time for weaknesses. Mine was CR and I literally obsessed over it to the point that I had almost memorized some questions."
    I would just like to know for my reference that which were the questions where you saw these patters in CR. Am quite at loss in seeing some patterns at this stage of my preparation. Your answers would be of immense help like always :)

  • Unfortunately I cannot remember the exact question numbers... It has been a while since then!

    • Thanks for both the 1 month and the 3 month plans- I have used them to form a study plan that will hopefully lead to the land of +700

  • Dear Danaj

    I gave my exam today and got horrifying score of 390 (Q 36 & V 4) :-( even though I was not surprised.
    May be because in the CAT exam I was feeling so much stressed that I was unable to give me 100 %.
    I studied OG , kaplan and did some prep test also in which i scored 460.
    I am charged up now to get better marks but without direction .
    I really need to improve my verbal score and sentence correction make me feel that I am the dumbest person on the earth, I hardly get it right.
    Regarding comprehension passage , it depend on the passage and CR is ok ok .
    I have one month to prepare and I hope that when I retake my exam my fortune changes and I score above 600.I will study everyday for 3 hrs and hope for the best.
    Do you think I stand a chance to score  600+? Any additional guidance which can help me ?



  • I think it will be difficult for you to reach 600+ in just a month's time. Why the rush? The MBA season starts later :) My advice: take 3 solid months of study and you'll do well. I advise you to use the Manhattan GMAT set of guides and supplement those with the Fundamentals of Verbal from the same company. Don't forget to use the OG for practice!

  • Very good info. Lucky me I recently found your blog by chance
    (stumbleupon). I have saved as a favorite for later!

  • Hi Dana:

    I have been studying GMAT for almost 4 months, i ve studied Veritas books, then i took The Economist Tutor Adaptive course.
    Last Friday i tried a simulation exam from The Economist and i got 360 (Q 23, V 19) i got depressed and i don't know if there is a room to improve my score as i am looking for 650+.
    I ve done the OG12 diagnostic test after that and i got the following:
    PS: Average
    DS: Above Average
    SC: Average
    CR: Below Average
    RC: Average

    My plan now to practice using OG13 and to refine my basics in quant, for verbal i don't know how to improve my score as i am a non-native speaker.


  • Unfortunately I do not know how accurate The Economist GMAT is, so I can't say where you really stand. 360 seems a bit low compared to your OG experience... If 360 is your real score and you have been studying for 4 months constantly, then I would say that you are approaching materials the wrong way and may need a tutor. I think if you are at this level, then probably hold off on practice and focus more on getting the theory down right.

  • Thanks for this great post!
    I hope to make use of your advice and let you know how my prep is
    going. English is not my first lanuage and i never heard of the GMAT untill
    i enquired about my MBA program.
    Unfortunately, i have to order for all those materials listed so am set
    back by at least a month.

    But thanks again!

  • Hi DanaJ,

    I recently came across your blog and Beat the GMAT website. Really awesome stuff here, and really like the advice you share with everyone. I was wondering if you can help me with a doubt. I'm looking to go for a 2015 or later entry, but was thinking about giving the GMAT now and keeping the score ready. It's basically because I'm relatively free right now (work is light and i can manage studies on the side). Do you think it's a good idea to give the GMAT 2-3 years in advance? My concern is that universities might not accept a dated score and would ask me to write again - don't want to waste my effort right now if that's the case. Any perspectives on this?

  • I don't think that will be an issue, although it does make sense to check with the websites of the schools you're targeting. The GMAT is valid for 5 years for a reason. Many choose to take the test in their undergrad when they have more free time and apply with that score - which may also be my case this year :) I took the test in 2009 and the score is valid until May 2014. If I do decide to apply this year, then I will be using my score from then.

    • Makes sense. I'll check my shortlist of universities and their requisites on the test. Another question that comes to my mind is the timing of the test. I've heard people saying that it's better to give GMAT during the off season (like November to April) because the level of questions are easier (as compared to the level of questions i GMAT tests in the admission season). Is this a myth or is there some truth to it?

  • Most certainly a myth, together with other really silly myths such as "the test is harder in China/India." Take the test whenever you are ready and wherever is most convenient for you and disregard and voodoo GMAT techniques. The test makers are smarter than that.

  • Dana, I'm not sure if this has been mentioned already, but I was wondering how many practice questions did you do per day? I took the GMAT a few months ago and scored 600 (Q39, V33). I have alot of room for improvement on both quant and verbal and would like to get at least a 720+ on the GMAT. I've already reviewed the basics by going through OG's introductory review section and studying Manhattan's online flashcards. For the past week or so I've been practicing quant with the OG Quant Review book at about 10-20 per day (scoring myself 10 questions at a time) and getting around 7-8/10 questions correct on intermediate questions and around 5-6/10 on harder ones, although I haven't started to officially time myself during practice. I hope to consistently get 9-10/10 correct before I take the exam again. A lot of my errors are due to miscalculation and small things unrelated to solving the problem (careless errors), so foundationally I think I'm ok. My weaknesses are DS, probability and combinatorics. I would say on verbal my weaknesses are CR (strengthening and weakening argument) and reading comp (just because of the time pressure of dealing with such long and dry text). I purchased the Manhattan Advanced Quant book yesterday and will probably get the OG Verbal Guide today or tomorrow. Since I have limited time with the one-month study plan, should I focus more on advanced quant if my plan is for a 720+ score? What about verbal? Do I need to bump of my practice load? Is it beneficial to redo practice problems I've missed or stick exclusively to new ones? I've never been a great test taker, so did you feel very confident after studying for only one-month? Thanks!

  • It really depends on the stage of your prep. In the beginning you do fewer questions and focus more on theory, whereas towards the end when you already have the theory down you can start practicing more. DS and CR strengthening and weakening questions are unavoidable. I firmly believe DS is learnable, especially if you practice the question type a bit. With CR, I loved the PowerScore CR Bible for its recommendations - maybe something worth checking out. Long passages are unavoidable in RC and (as I've found out later) in life :) The job I have right now requires me to read hundreds of pages, some very dry... The trick is practice here as well: perhaps train your reading muscle by reading stuff on news outlets' websites like CNN, BBC, WSJ, FT? Or even reading a nice book helps, as long as you try it! Probability and combinatorics should be the least of your worries of the list you mention just because there aren't nearly as many questions on those topics on the GMAT. CR strengthening and weakening though - unavoidable.
    Increasing your score in verbal generally has a bigger impact on your overall score because people on average tend to perform worse on verbal. Difficult to say what you should focus on right now though... Maybe keep the Advanced Quant book for later, some of the stuff there is quite tough, especially since you're not yet there in terms of advanced problems. Yup, certainly review whatever you got wrong and track it!

    • Dana, Good to hear the GMAT RC skills can actually be of use even after school! I'll keep that in mind =). Are there certain things to consider while reading articles in the WSJ, CNN, BBC etc. (i.e. timing yourself, level of comprehension, being able to quickly summarize and identify the main ideas/points, etc.) that would be relevant to becoming better at GMAT RC questions? And is the one-month plan for people who have done no prior studying at all? I have been studying prior to my first exam, however I need to be a lot more structured and systematic. Is it reasonable for me to jump from 600 to 720+ in one month? If so, what intensity level, mind frame, or approach should I have toward my preparations to make it happen in such a short period of time? My schedule is a bit more flexible as I am able to work from home. So relatively speaking, I can devote more time to preparations. Thanks!

    • Ha I think you answered your own question about what to focus on when reading, even though I believe even just reading plainly should help. The one month plan is more geared to people who are just starting off, but I wouldn't dismiss it for someone who's take the test already either. You just review more vs. going from zero. If it's feasible... It really depends on the person. it is a bit of a stretch, to be honest, but I can't completely rule it out. If you are structured in your approach and use the right materials, it might happen.

  • hey, listen i took a test 5 days back before starting my preparation for gmat, and scored a 580 :( mainly bcoz i wasnt familiar with the integrated reasoning question pattern and completely screwed up that section. My date of exam is 15th july and i need a 700+ desperately! My verbal percentile was around 75 and QA around 65 in that mock. Can you please tell me how i should prepare with the limited amount of time i have? I dont mind working really hard, its just that I am kind of doing it all on my own

  • Sorry I couldn't answer your question earlier, but unfortunately it will be a stretch for you to go from 580 to 700+ in such little time. If you have to do it all on your own, it's a question about having the right books, i.e. the Manhattan GMAT series and the Official Guide. Don't worry so much about the integrated reasoning part, because it doesn't count towards your 580 score. Focus on quant and verbal and IR will seem much easier to you.

  • Hoe many hours per day did you study in the one month program?

  • My recommended "dose" is 2-3 hours during the weekdays and 5-6 during the weekends, but it really depends on your own rhythm, I feel. 

  • Hi Dana,

    I've read a number of posts on this forum and was wondering if you could give some feedback regarding my situation. My GMAT is scheduled on 5.2.2014, and I started today with the first prep test of the official GMAT guide. Scored a total of 640 on that one (Q: 44 and V:34). I want to secure a score of 600+, so how much time do you think I would need to invest to be sure that I can guarentee (to some extent of course) a score like that? Besides, how much time does it normally take to increase your starting score with 50/60 points (in my case aiming at 700).

    Thanks in advance!

  • Hey I think you're off to a really good start! Of course, the conditions are not the same when you go to the testing center (and your stress levels are sure to be higher), but scoring a 640 on an official GMAT mock test. Unfortunately, because of those different conditions, no one can really guarantee you a 600+, but I think if you score above 600 three times in a row you should be in good shape. I think the time you have right now (i.e. about two months) should be enough to push you over to a 700. If it helps in any way, you can check out our 60-day study guide here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/gmat-guide

    In the end though, it's more about the materials and the actual effort you put into prep versus having two months or three or four before you take it.

  • Thanks for the reply! Of course I understand no guarantees can be made in any situation. I will check out the 60-day study guide, that could for sure be helpfull!

  • Hi DanaJ..

    I scored a 600 (44Q & 29V) on my GMAT in august. I never scored less than 620 on my mock tests. I don't know how I screwed up my actual GMAT. I did OG 11,12 and 13. My weak points are RC's and Data sufficiency.  I am planning to take GMAT again in december end.  So I just have a month to prepare. How should I do it? I want to score a minimum of 680 now. How many hours a day should I study? As the article says, I have my essays lined up plus I have my work as well. So please guide me .

  • Actually, the GMAT has a 30-point confidence level, which means that if your true score ability is 620, then you may score between 590 and 650 on the real thing. In that sense, if the last test you took was a 620, then 600 is within the range of expected outcomes.
    There are a number of books out there that can help you prepare. Veritas has books on both RC and DS. Manhattan GMAT's quant books all contain references to DS questions, so they may be worth reviewing. The number of hours you put in is not as important as the quality of your study, but most people do 2 hours during weekdays and 4-6 during weekends.

  • Hi Dana,
    I have taken the GMAT once and received a 560 (Q: 47 and V: 21). I have a month to prepare for the 2nd test and I am sure I can do a whole lot better in verbal. I am aiming at a 700+ score. I have started reviewing Kaplan verbal workbook and Powerscore CR. In the GMATprep tests, I am doing better in SC but have problems in CR and RC. Please advise.

  • I think in the case of a verbal score of 21, you would need to work on all three verbal topics. If possible, get the Manhattan GMAT SC guide as well as a book for RC (Manhattan or Veritas). You could also benefit from spending c. 25%-30% of your time on quant, just to push that score 2-3 points higher, although definitely focus on verbal.

  • Hi!

    I have a question regarding the practice questions in the OG. In the GMAT improvement chart I downloaded from this site, you can fill in the answers regarding the different sections to see what the percentage is which you got right. How should I interpret these percentages: is for example a '80% good score' under average, average, or above average (with what kind of score can this be compared on the GMAT?).

    Thanks in advance!

  • Unfortunately there is no interpretation for that number - the real GMAT is adaptive, so no paper test can really compare. It's good for tracking your errors though!

  • Hi Dana, I am hoping to be ready to take the GMAT test in a month and came across this article. I noticed that this was written way back in 2009. Just want to know if you think it will still work to refer to the same study materials. Of course i will be using the latest editions of the books mentioned.  I've been out of college for 6 years now and it is a little stressful to go back to vigorous study. 

    Thanks in advance. 

  • Since writing this material, I've been recommending the Manhattan GMAT series more and more. I still feel the CR Bible is the best for CR and the Official Guides are great for practice though. On the quant side, the Manhattan books are much more detailed than other books like Kaplan.

  • Hello I still have 2 weeks before the GMAT and I would like to get some advice on how to review for the test 

  • I think your last two weeks before the test should be focused on reviewing questions from the Official Guide, and especially your last week before the test. If you've studied well so far, you now have an idea of the things you still need to brush up on. I would review those together with OG questions.

  • Hello Dana,

    I have just started preparing for GMAT. I have a little more than 4 months time to take the test. As mentioned in your article, i spent a considerable amount of time to get acquainted with the test format and other details first as i was completely unaware of the details. After getting these details, i have now moved to mastering the actual content that is going to be required in the test. Have not yet taken the exam date yet though. Will take it after a month or so of preparation. 
    I have bought the complete set of manhattan strategy guides and the official guide for practice. Let me tell you what all i have done till now
    1) the day i received my manhattan guides, i took one of their free CATs. I am working since last 10 years , so have completely lost touch with the high school maths and taking an exam was a tough deal. I was attempting quant questions seriously but i could tell that i was not doing well at them so by the time the maths section ended, i was bored. I just wanted to see my score in quant section , so i attempted the verbal section in real hurry. So much so that i attempted a lot of questions (most rc and data sufficiency) without even reading the question and selecting an answer option blindly and randomly. I am telling you this as because of this my score in the diagnostic test which was 570 cannot be treated as an accurate measure of my current state. 

    2) i am targeting a 750. A leap from 570 to 750 is a big one. So i really need your expert advise on how can i nail this. Considering that some of the questions i guessed got answered correctly and would have attributed to the score of 570. Actual store wud have been much lesser.

    3) after this, i made a rough plan of completing one quant book and one verbal book from the manhattan set per week. As this is the first week, i have picked up number properties And RC for this week. My plan is to study the whole week (maths in morning and verbal in evening), compelte the books by friday, and then practice these topics from OG over the weekend. Its been 3 days, and i have managed to stick to my plan successfully so far.

    4) i feel that my verbal shuould be stronger than quant. Especially data sufficiency is going to be the weakest area.

    Please advise on what should i do to score a 750. I dnt have time to take a retest as i have already taken very long to decide that i want to take gmat. So i have only this one chance and i dnt want to settle for anything less than 730. 

    Also please tell if my plan sounds good. After a month and half when i wud have competed the theory and weekly practice sessions, then i will attempt other gmat tests especially from the prepforgmat which you said are very close to the actual test. Do i need to buy any more books or these will b enough. Any other strategy related or good practices to share wud be helpful. Thanks

  • I think you might be moving slightly too fast if you keep doing 2 guides per week. That is a lot of information to process, store and have at hand when you take the real test. In my opinion, you should really evaluate if you are truly internalizing the information or if you're just reading through. Other than taking your time with the theoretical part, the books you have are the right ones - assuming you've also bought the Official Guide for practice at the very least. Please understand though that going from a 570 to a 750 is no easy task, although you do seem to have the time and motivation to make it work.

  • It's perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is
    time to be happy. I've read this post and if I could I desire to suggest
    you some interesting things or advice. Maybe you can write next articles referring to
    this article. I desire to read more things about it!

  • Hi,
    I have exactly 40 days for my prep. I am still confused where to start from. I aim for 730. I am very tensed and unable to begin my prep. Please help me with some tips and plan ideas which would atleast help me to put away my starting trouble and kickstart my prep. Wish me all the best too....

  • Hi Dana,

    Thanks alot for this post. I recently decided to pursue an MBA and the minimum GMAT score that I need to get is 600. I have never opened a GMAT book before and just started to get an understanding of the exam format.

    Now the good stuff. I hold an undergrad degree in Electrical Engineering, graduated in 2009, and therefore, I believe Maths won't be an issue at all.

    The deadline for me to get accepted in the MBA program is in exactly one month. Do you think I do have enough time to study for it ?


  • Menos mal que hay alguien que charla claro de este tema.... aveces se dan muchas vueltas para explicar cualquier g

  • Dana,

    I actually have exactly 2 months from now to go for my test. I have been studying for GMAT from past two months but its seems like I am landing nowhere. now I am totally in a panic state don't know what to do and how to do. Please Help. Thinking of going for Magoosh will it be feasible option at this stage.

  • hey Dana,
    i have 45 days left to prepare for my GMAT and i recently took a prep test in which i had a discouraging score (360). this killed my motivation to want to prepare for the test. i am a student who cannot afford e-mat or GMAT economics t lesson. i have OG 2016 but its not helpful. please what can i do to the beat the gmat (700+)

  • I tried Retriving a single path and your query didn’t worked. I changed ‘ORDER BY node.lft’ to ‘ORDER BY parent.lft’ and worked. My mysql is 5.6.19-1~exp1ubuntu2. Excellent work! thanks a lot.

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