It’s a new year, and many of you are working on establishing new routines and habits. Now is a perfect time to start (or re-start) a GMAT study schedule. We’ve got some advice to help get you on the right track.
Time management to help you study for the GMAT
Studying for the GMAT is a serious time commitment, usually requiring two to three months or more. While most aspiring MBAs prepping for Test Day know what to study, you probably have many questions about how to study—and more specifically, how to make the appropriate time commitment. Study schedules can vary depending on several variables, including your:
We at Kaplan have a long history of working with students and studying how you learn, which has allowed us to develop some general rules of thumb to keep in mind as you begin to form your personalized schedule to study for the GMAT.
Create a detailed study schedule
The first thing to know about studying for the GMAT is that this is not a test that you can cram for. Think of it more like preparing for a marathon. You want to build up to Test Day with a plan that gradually enhances your skills and stamina. Because the GMAT tests your critical thinking and analytical skills, you need to know how to think flexibly and logically about the material tested. These analytical and critical thinking skills require knowledge of the patterns in the GMAT material. Therefore, it is best to build this type of depth and flexibility in a gradual way.
Next, remember to be deliberate in your study schedule. Make dates on your calendar with your GMAT books and practice tests—and keep them! It’s easy to procrastinate when the deadline is weeks away, so find a way to stay accountable by setting a date reminder and/or having someone help you stay on track with your study schedule.
Along with deliberate practice times, be purposeful with your GMAT dates. Initially, when you are mapping out times in your calendar for GMAT studying, you may not know precisely what you’ll do during each study period. Each day, you can add specifics about the purpose of the next few days’ sessions; for instance, June 13th could be your night to spend some quality time with right triangles in geometry and subject-verb agreement in sentence correction. At the beginning, the purpose of your session should be aimed at mastery of specific topics. Closer to Test Day, start to incorporate pacing and mixed practice into the goal of your sessions.
How long does it take?
Remember, studying for the GMAT takes time. Plan to spend about two to three months and 100–120 hours reviewing material and practicing regularly. The top scorers on the GMAT spend 120+ hours, on average, studying for Test Day over a period of time. The length of each study session will vary based on your specific situation; however, most students aim for sessions between one and three hours in a sitting.
If you take the average 120 hours of studying for a top scorer and divide that over the course of the average ten weeks of studying, you get approximately 12 hours per week. This includes time spent in class sessions and tutoring sessions for the GMAT. If you spread those hours equally, it’s best to do about two to three hours per day, six days per week and to take one day off per week.
Once you’ve set up your rigorous study schedule, pencil in some free GMAT prep options and work towards a winning score.