When studying for the GMAT, one of the first steps you should take is to create a study schedule. Jumping from one topic to the next without structure can have a negative impact on your studying, so putting together a plan is essential to maximizing the effectiveness of the time you have to devote to the GMAT. To make your plan as successful as possible, you should follow a few basic guidelines.
Diagnose your strengths and weaknesses
First, it is a good idea to take a diagnostic test before you do anything else. While knowing the score at which you are starting is useful, it is not the main purpose of this test. You need to analyze the questions you answered incorrectly and look for any patterns in the types of problems and topics that you often miss. This will allow you to make the most of your study-time, as you will be focusing more on those areas you need to work on the most and less on those areas you already do well in.
Don’t overdo it—plan ahead reasonably
Next, make sure to be realistic. Do not plan to study ten hours a day seven days a week – you will most likely not be able to study this much, and, even if you do manage to, you will burn out before test day. Instead, look at how much time you have to work on the GMAT each week, and break that time down into manageable chunks. Even if you are planning to study for six hours a day, break it into two three-hour blocks and take one day off a week. Keeping your goals reasonable will help you not to feel too overwhelmed or discouraged either—if you always think you’ll get ten hours a day in, you’ll always be disappointed and struggle to ever feel you’ve made progress.
Be specific with each day’s study tasks
Finally, be specific when creating your schedule. Do not simply put “math” or verbal,” but rather specify a time and topic. For example, you might label a day as “11-2 reading comp, 4-7 assumption/strengthen/weaken critical reasoning questions.” This way you will both ensure you are working on your weaknesses and guarantee you will know exactly what to study when you sit down.
Putting together a study schedule is a great first step towards achieving a high score on the GMAT. As long as you follow through on your plans, you will be well on the way to the highest score possible.