How to Make a GMAT Study Plan: 4 Sample Schedules

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If you’ve reached this guide, you’re probably getting ready to commit to a study plan for the GMAT. If so, congratulations! Committing to a study plan for the GMAT is an important endeavor and can often require a significant investment of time, mental energy, and money. For many people just starting out, creating a GMAT study plan can also seem confusing or overwhelming.

In this guide, I’ll help ease your confusion by explaining how to use GMAT study plans to structure your test prep. First, I’ll talk about why creating a study plan is important. Next, I’ll talk about the top factors to consider when you’re creating your GMAT study schedule. Then, I’ll give four sample plans that are designed to fit different amounts of score improvement and lengths of time. Finally, I’ll talk about how you can create your own study plan if you’d rather create your own schedule.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have everything you need to craft a solid GMAT study plan.

 

Why Do You Need a Study Plan For the GMAT?

Studying for the GMAT requires a lot of time and effort. Why should you do it? Here are a few reasons why having and following a GMAT study schedule is important for your GMAT prep.

 

#1: A Study Plan Helps Keep You Organized

Studying for the GMAT takes a lot of time. As you’re preparing for the GMAT, you’re probably busy balancing a lot of other different things: work, school, completing applications, spending time with family and friends. Having a concrete study plan will help you know what you need to do and when. You’ll have specific goals and times for each day so that you can keep yourself on track and organized.

 

#2: A Study Plan Helps Make Sure You’re Covering All Needed Concepts

As I mentioned before, studying for the GMAT requires a lot of time and effort. Why? Well, the GMAT is a long and difficult test. It has four unique sections that test different skills and takes three and a half hours to complete. In order to do well on the GMAT, you’ll need to do well on all four of the sections on the test. How can you make sure you’re covering all the content you need to? Well, a study plan helps you think about all of the content you need to master and ensures that you’re devoting time to each section or concept so that you don’t reach test day and realize you’ve never looked at reading comprehension questions.

 

#3: A Study Plan Helps Track Your Progress Effectively

If you’re studying for the GMAT, you’re likely trying to achieve a certain goal score. Having a concrete study plan will help you track your progress effectively. You’ll start by developing a baseline score, and then continue by working targeted drills that’ll build your skills in needed areas. You’ll also use practice tests and question sets to see how you’re improving from week to week. Tracking your progress will give you a good idea of how likely you are to meet your goal score on test day.

 

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What to Consider in a Study Plan for GMAT Prep

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing or creating your own GMAT study plan. In this section, I’ll break down three of the most important factors to help you pick the study plan that’s right for you.

 

#1: How Much Do You Need to Improve Your Score?

The first factor to consider for your GMAT study plan is how much you want to improve your score: the more points you want to improve, the more time you’ll need to spend. Take a look at this chart that estimates how many hours you’ll need to study to improve a certain number of points:

  • 0 – 50 point improvement: 50 hours
  • 51 – 100 point improvement: 100 hours
  • 101 – 150 point improvement: 150 hours

These hour recommendations are a general guideline for first-time test-takers who haven’t done much prep.

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It’s easier to make improvements when you’re just starting out, because you’re covering material that’s new to you, so you can quickly make a lot of gains simply by learning concepts like test-taking strategies.

Generally, the more you’ve prepped, the more difficult it is to make improvements. If you’ve already studied for 50 hours, and are still looking to improve by over 100 points, you’ll need to put in more than 150 more hours or adjust your goals. It’s simply more difficult to improve by a lot of points the longer you’ve studied. On the other hand, test-takers who are able to quickly grasp new concepts or who just need general brush-ups on a few content areas may need fewer hours to improve their scores. A lot depends on your strengths and weaknesses as student.

 

#2: How Long Do You Have Before You Take the Test?

The next most important factor to consider is how long you have before you take the test. If you’re taking the test next month, you’ll obviously only want to use a one month study plan. If you don’t have a set test date, you may want to use a longer studying plan to improve more points.

You’ll also want to consider how many hours you have each week to dedicate to GMAT prep. You want to make sure that you’re optimizing your GMAT study schedule to fit your other commitments. Spending a few quality hours of study time free from distractions a couple times a week is better than trying to fit in two hours every night when you’re stressed and over-scheduled.

 

#3: What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses as a Student?

Finally, you’ll want to consider your own strengths and weaknesses as a student. Do you need to spend more time with a concept and see it several different times to grasp it? If so, you’ll probably want a more detailed plan that spends more hours on each topic. If you can master something after seeing it one or two times, you might get away with using a shorter plan.

 

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How to Use a Study Plan for GMAT

Below, I’ve included four sample plans that you can use to build your own GMAT study plan. Each is designed to cover a different length of time and boost your score a different number of points. All of these plans pre-suppose that you have access to a web-enabled device (I’d suggest using a computer if possible).

Before you start to study, follow these steps to make sure you have everything you need to begin.

 

Step 1: Gather Materials

Regardless of your exact GMAT study schedule, you’ll need to pull together a variety of resources that you can use to build your knowledge about each of the concepts covered on the GMAT. There are hundreds of different GMAT resources out there, both free and paid. What you purchase depends on your needs and budget. I suggest using the following resources:

  1. The GMAT Official Guide 2017
    • This guide comes with hundreds of official GMAT practice questions, as well as basic overviews of each of the sections of the test and the content covered on each. You’ll also get access to official practice tests. Using official practice questions is an extremely important part of your prep, because official practice questions are as close as you can get to the actual content you’ll see on test day. If you’re going to purchase any one resource, I’d suggest purchasing this one.
  2. GMATPrep Software
    • This free software gives you access to an online question bank and free practice tests, all of which use official, retired GMAT questions.
  3. A GMAT verbal resource
  4. A GMAT quantitative resource
    • Like with the verbal section, there are a number of different resources you can use to learn about the GMAT quant section. You can purchase a GMAT math book or you can use free resources, like our guides to data sufficiency and problem solving questions.
  5. A GMAT integrated reasoning and analytical writing assessment resource
    • You can either purchase a book that deals specifically with each section, or you can find free resources online to build your IR and AWA knowledge.
  6. Flashcards

 

Step 2: Make a Schedule

Once you’ve gathered your needed materials, used the suggested plans below to make your own personalized study schedule. Make sure you block off specific time periods each day for studying. When you schedule study sessions, you’re more likely to actually commit the time to do the work.

 

1-Month Study Plan for GMAT

This GMAT study plan is designed to cram a lot of prep into one month. You’ll pack 60 hours of prep into one month. While studying for at least three months is recommended to boost your score, this one month study plan will help you cover the basics if you’re taking a last-minute test.

 

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Days 1 – 2: Knowledge Building

Total Time: 5 hours

  1. Build your familiarity with the structure of the test. Learn about the test, how it’s scored, and to see an overview of the types of questions you’ll be asked. Make sure you register for MBA.com so you can download GMATPrep.
    • Time Suggested: 1 hour
  2. Take an official GMAT CAT on GMATPrep. Take the test in one sitting, with no interruptions. Taking the diagnostic test will help you get a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses
    • Time Suggested: 3 hours, 30 minutes.
  3. Review your results. Note which sections you did well on and which sections you struggled with. For the quant and verbal sections, identify three topics in each section that you struggled with (such as inequalities or subject-verb agreement). If you’d like, start to review some of the answer explanations for questions you got wrong.
    • Time Suggested: 30 minutes.

 

Days 3 – 7: Quantitative Focus

Total Time: 10 hours

  1. Familiarize yourself with the GMAT quant section. Start by visiting MBA.com and clicking around to learn about the quant section. Pay special attention to the types of math tested, as well as the length and structure of the section. For more information, read our in-depth GMAT Quant guide.
    • Time Suggested: 1 hour
  2. Review GMAT quant strategies, facts, and definitions. Check out our guide to the formulas you’ll need for the GMAT quant section.
    • Time Suggested: 1 hour
  3. Build your knowledge in algebra. Research algebra topics that you’ll see on the GMAT. Pick the three topics that you need the most work on, based on the results of your GMAT practice test. Work through the explanation, drills, and practice for each section.
    • Time Suggested: 2 hours
  4. Build your knowledge in geometry. Research geometry topics you’ll see on the GMAT. Pick the three topics that you need the most work on, based on the results of your GMAT practice test. Work through the explanation, drills, and practice for each section.
    • Time Suggested: 2 hours
  5. Build your knowledge in word problems. Research word problems you’ll see on the GMAT. Pick the three topics that you need the most work on, based on the results of your GMAT practice test. Work through the explanation, drills, and practice for each section.
    • Time Suggested: 2 hours
  6. Build your knowledge in number properties. Research number properties topics you’ll see on the GMAT. Pick the three topics that you need the most work on, based on the results of your GMAT practice test. Work through the explanation, drills, and practice for each section.
    • Time Suggested: 2 hours

 

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Days 8 – 12: Verbal Focus

Total Time: 8 hours

  1. Familiarize yourself with GMAT Verbal Section. Start by visiting MBA.com and clicking around to learn about the verbal section. Learn about the three types of questions and the content covered. Supplement this reading with our guide on mastering the GMAT verbal section.
    • Time Suggested: 2 hours
  2. Build your knowledge of sentence corrections. Practice questions and build a custom bank of sentence correction practice questions on GMATPrep.
    • Time Suggested: 4 hours
  3. Build your knowledge of GMAT reading. Read up on different GMAT reading strategies and find the one that works best for you. Familiarize yourself with the strategies and suggestions listed. Also, check out our guide on GMAT Tips and Strategies to learn more.
    • Time Suggested: 2 hours

 


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Day 13: Check Your Progress

Total Time: 4 hours

  1. Take practice test. Take the test in one sitting, with no interruptions. Taking this test will help you get a better understanding of where you are improving.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours, 30 minutes.
  2. Review practice test results. Make a note of any quantitative sections you would like to continue to practice with in the coming weeks.
    • Time suggested: 30 minutes.

 

Days 14 – 18: Quantitative Focus

Total Time: 10 hours

  1. Review and practice for data sufficiency. First, read our guide to the Data Sufficiency section, which breaks down data sufficiency questions and suggests strategies. Using the GMATPrep Software and any other question banks you have access to to create a data sufficiency question workout that you work on.
    • Time suggested: 4 hours
  2. Review and practice for problem solving. First, read our guide to the Problem Solving section. Using the GMATPrep Software and the online question bank that comes with The GMAT Official Guide, to create a data sufficiency question workout that you work on.
    • Time suggested: 4 hours
  3. Build your fluency with flashcards. During the week, use flashcards to practice and drill on different skills.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours

 

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Days: 19 – 23: Verbal Focus

Total Time: 12 hours

  1. Build your knowledge of reading comprehension questions. Read up on reading comprehension strategies. Practice reading comprehension questions.
    • Time Suggested: 4 hours
  2. Build your knowledge of critical reasoning questions. Practice critical reasoning questions and build a custom bank of critical reasoning practice questions on GMATPrep.
    • Time Suggested: 4 hours
  3. Practice GMAT verbal questions. Review the results of your prep over the last few days. What types of questions are you still struggling with? Build a practice bank that focuses more heavily on the questions you’re struggling with, while also letting you reinforce skills you feel confident about. Your ratio should be about 80% content you struggle with, 20% content you feel confident about.
    • Time Suggested: 2 hours
  4. Build your grammar fluency with flashcards. Use flashcards to review grammar concepts that you’re likely to see on the sentence correction section.
    • Time Suggested: 2 hours

 

Day 24: Check Your Progress

Total Time: 4 hours

  1. Take a practice test. Take the test in one sitting, with no interruptions. Taking this test will help you get a better understanding of where you are improving.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours, 30 minutes.
  2. Review practice test results. Make a note of any verbal skills you would like to continue to drill.
    • Time suggested: 30 minutes.

 

Day 25: Analytical Writing Assessment Focus

Total Time: 3 hours

  1. Review AWA strategies. Read the section on the Analytical Writing Assessment in the Official GMAT Guide 2017, as well as any supplemental resources you’ve found or purchased. Also, review strategies for the AWA on Beat the GMAT, GMAT Club, and MBA.com.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours
  2. Practice AWA prompts. Practice writing prompts for AWA. You can use prompts that come with your full-length practice tests OR you can purchase GMAT Write for $30, which gives you access to four auto-graded essays.
    • Time suggested: 1 hour

 

Day 26: Integrated Reasoning Focus

Total Time: 3 hours

  1. Learn about the Integrated Reasoning section. Read the GMAT Official Guide 2017’s chapter on the integrated reasoning section for tips and strategies. Visit MBA.com to learn about the IR questions and overall structure of the section.
    • Time suggested: 1 hour
  2. Practice real IR questions using the GMAT IR prep tool. If you’re looking for free unofficial resources, check out our guide to GMAT Integrated Reasoning practice for more information.

 

Day 27: Check Your Progress

Total Time: 4 hours

  1. Take practice test. Take the test in one sitting, with no interruptions. Taking this test will help you get a better understanding of where you are improving.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours, 30 minutes.
  2. Review practice test results. Make a note of any skills you would like to continue to work on over the next few days.
    • Time suggested: 30 minutes.

 

Days 28 – 30: Rest and Light Prep

Total Time: 5 hours

  1. As you prepare to take the test, I would recommend resting as much as possible. You’ve done a lot of studying over the last 30 days and last minute cramming won’t take you much further. Use the GMATPrep software and the Official GMAT Guide question bank to go over any question types that still give you trouble but mainly, rest up and prepare to show your hard work on test day.
    • Time suggested: 5 hours, maximum.

 

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3-Month GMAT Study Plan to Raise Your Score 100 Points

This GMAT study plan is designed for those of you looking to boost your score around 100 points. This 120 hour plan will give you a balanced way to make improvements towards your goal score while still maintaining other commitments.

 

Week 1: Build Your GMAT Foundation

Total Time: 6 hours

  1. Familiarize yourself with the GMAT. Learn about the test, how it’s scored, and get an overview of question types.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours
  2. Take an official GMAT CAT on GMATPrep. Take the test in one sitting with no interruptions.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  3. Review your results. Note which sections you did well on and which sections you struggled with. For the quant and verbal sections, identify question types that you struggled with so that you have a targeted area for growth over the next weeks.
    • Time suggested: 30 minutes

 

Week 2: Quantitative Focus

Total Time: 15 hours

  1. Familiarize yourself with the GMAT quant section by reading about it on MBA.com, as well as checking out our in-depth guide to the quant section.
    • Time suggested: 1 hour
  2. Review GMAT Math strategies, facts, definitions, and needed formulas.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours
  3. Build your knowledge in algebra. Work through several algebra drills and practice sets.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours
  4. Build your knowledge in geometry. Work through several geometry drills and practice sets.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours
  5. Build your knowledge in word problems. Work through several word problems drills and practice sets.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours
  6. Build your fluency by using a flash card set.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours

 

Week 3: Verbal Focus

Total Time: 15 hours

  1. Familiarize yourself with the GMAT verbal section by reading about it on MBA.com, as well as checking out our in-depth guide to the verbal section.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours
  2. Build your knowledge on sentence corrections.
    • Time suggested: 5 hours
  3. Build your knowledge of GMAT reading. Familiarize yourself with different GMAT reading strategies and find one that works for you.
    • Time suggested: 5 hours
  4. Practice your grammar fluency with flashcards.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours

 

Week 4: Check Your Progress

Total Time: 8 hours

  1. Take practice test. Take the test in one sitting, with no interruptions. Taking this test will help you get a better understanding of where you are improving.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours, 30 minutes.
  2. Review practice test results. Go over explanations to questions that you got wrong.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours
  3. Practice question types that you struggled with. Build problem sets using your GMAT online prep tools.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

 

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Week 5:  Quantitative Review

Total Time: 15 hours

  1. Build your knowledge in number properties. Work through practice and drills.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours
  2. Build your knowledge in sets. Work through practice and drills.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours
  3. Practice data sufficiency questions. Start by learning the format of data sufficiency questions by checking out MBA.com and reading our complete guide to Data Sufficiency to learn the unique format of this question type. Then, build problem sets using your GMAT online tools. Start with small problem sets (think 5 questions) to get a feel for the question type, before moving onto larger problem sets. Review all of your incorrect answers to see where you went wrong.
    • Time suggested: 4 hours
  4. Practice problem solving questions. Start by learning the format of problem solving questions by checking out MBA.com and reading our complete guide to mastering the GMAT quant section. Then, build problem sets using your GMAT online tools. Start with small problem sets (think 5 questions) to get a feel for the question type, before moving onto larger problem sets. Review all of your incorrect answers to see where you went wrong.
    • Time suggested: 4 hours
  5. Build your fluency by using a flash card set.
    • Time suggested: 1 hour

 

Week 6: Verbal Review

Total Time: 15 hours

  1. Build your knowledge of reading comprehension questions. Practice by building a custom bank of reading comprehension practice questions on GMATPrep.
    • Time Suggested: 5 hours
  2. Build your knowledge of critical reasoning questions. Practice by building a custom bank of critical reasoning practice questions on GMATPrep.
    • Time Suggested: 5 hours
  3. Practice GMAT verbal questions. Review the results of your prep over the last few days. What types of questions are you still struggling with? Build a practice bank that focuses more heavily on the questions you’re struggling with, while also letting you reinforce skills you feel confident about. Your ratio should be about 80% content you struggle with, 20% content you feel confident about.
    • Time Suggested: 5 hours

 

Week 7: Check Your Progress

Total Time: 8 hours

  1. Take practice test. Take the test in one sitting, with no interruptions. Taking this test will help you get a better understanding of where you are improving.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours, 30 minutes.
  2. Review practice test results. Go over explanations to questions that you got wrong.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours
  3. Practice question types that you struggled with.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

 

Week 8: Build Your AWA and IR Foundation

Total Time: 10 hours

  1. Review AWA strategies. Read the section on the Analytical Writing Assessment in the Official GMAT Guide 2017. Also, review strategies for the AWA on Beat the GMAT, GMAT Club, and MBA.com.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours
  2. Practice AWA prompts. Practice writing prompts for AWA. You can use prompts that come with your full-length practice tests OR you can purchase GMAT Write for $30, which gives you access to four auto-graded essays.
    • Time suggested: 3 hour
  3. Read the GMAT Official Guide 2017’s chapter on the integrated reasoning section for tips and strategies. Visit MBA.com to learn about the IR questions and overall structure of the section.
    • Time suggested: 1 hour
  4. Practice real IR questions using the GMAT IR prep tool. If you’re looking for free unofficial resources, check out our guide to GMAT Integrated Reasoning practice for more information.
    • Time suggested: 4 hours

 

Week 9: Review Quant and Verbal

Total Time: 10 hours

  1. Review needed verbal concepts based on your performance on recent practice tests and practice question sets.
    • Time suggested: 5 hours
  2. Review needed quant concepts based on your performance on recent practice tests and practice question sets.
    • Time suggested: 5 hours

 

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Week 10: Check Your Progress

Total Time: 8 hours

  1. Take practice test. Take the test in one sitting, with no interruptions. Taking this test will help you get a better understanding of where you are improving.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours, 30 minutes.
  2. Review practice test results. Go over explanations to questions that you got wrong.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours
  3. Practice verbal question types that you struggled with.
    • Time suggested: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

 

Week 11: Review Concepts As Needed

Total Time: 6 hours

  1. Review verbal concepts you’ve struggled with based on your performance on recent practice tests and practice question sets.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours
  2. Review quant concepts you’ve struggled with based on your performance on recent practice tests and practice question sets.
    • Time suggested: 3 hours

 

Week 12: Rest and Light Review

Total Time: 4 hours

  1. As you prepare to take the test, I would recommend resting as much as possible. You’ve done a lot of studying over the last 30 days and last minute cramming won’t take you much further. Use the GMATPrep software and the Official GMAT Guide question bank to go over any question types that still give you trouble but mainly, rest up and prepare to show your hard work on test day.
    • Time suggested: 5 hours, maximum.

 

3-Month GMAT Study Plan to Raise Your Score 150 Points

This GMAT study plan is designed for those of you looking to boost your score around 150 points. This 170 hour plan will give you a balanced way to make improvements towards your goal score while still maintaining other commitments. By adding 50 hours of studying from the 120 hour study, you’ll dive into greater depth with each topic so that you have a deeper understanding of each content area and question type. This deep dive is designed to raise your score 150 points and requires a serious commitment, as you’ll be putting in 20 hours of studying most week.

  Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
Month One Build Your GMAT Foundation

Learn test format and structure. (1 hr)

Take practice test. (3 hrs, 30 min)

Review practice test results. (30 min)

Quantitative Review

Learn about quant section format and test question types. (2 hrs)

Review GMAT quant strategies and tips. (3 hrs)

Build algebra knowledge. (4 hrs)

Build geometry knowledge. (4 hrs)

Build word problem knowledge. (4 hrs)

Practice fluency with flash cards. (3 hrs)

Verbal Review

Learn verbal section format and question types. (2 hrs)

Build sentence correction knowledge. (8 hrs)

Build GMAT reading strategy knowledge. (8 hrs)

Practice grammar fluency with flashcards. (2 hrs)

Check Your Progress and Review

Take a practice test. (3 hrs, 30 min)

Review results and look up explanations for questions you got wrong. (2 hrs, 30 min)

Practice question types you struggled with. (4 hours)

Month Two Quantitative Review

Build number properties knowledge. (4 hrs)

Build sets knowledge. (4 hrs)

Practice advanced quant skills. (2 hrs)

Practice data sufficiency questions. (5 hrs)

Practice problem solving questions. (5 hrs)

Verbal Review

Build reading comprehension knowledge. (8 hrs)

Build critical reasoning knowledge. (8 hrs)

Practice GMAT verbal questions. (4 hrs)

Check Your Progress and Review

Take a practice test. (3 hrs, 30 min)

Review results and look up explanations for questions you got wrong. (2 hrs, 30 min)

Practice question types you struggled with. (4 hours)

AWA and IR Review

Review AWA strategies. (2 hrs)

Practice AWA prompts. (3 hours)

Review IR strategies. (1 hr, 30 min)

Practice IR questions. (3 hrs, 30 min)

Month Three Review Quant and Verbal Concepts

Review needed quant concepts based on what you struggled with on your latest practice tests. (10 hrs)

Review needed verbal concepts based on what you struggled with on your latest practice tests. (10 hrs)

Check Your Progress and Review

Take a practice test. (3 hrs, 30 min)

Review results and look up explanations for questions you got wrong. (2 hrs, 30 min)

Practice question types you struggled with. (4 hours)

Review All Sections

Review needed concepts from all sections based on what you struggled with on your latest practice test. (10 hrs)

Rest and Light Review

Practice any question types you would like and rest up before test day.(5 hrs)

 

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6-Month GMAT Study Plan to Raise Your Score 150 Points or More

This GMAT study plan is designed for those of you looking to boost your score around 150 points. This 200 hour plan will give you plenty of time to raise your score while still leaving you with enough time to manage your work, school, and personal obligations. This plan works well for test-takers who are looking to make a serious improvement in their score and have a lot of time to study. Because you’ll be studying over a six month period of time, you’ll have a lighter study schedule each week.

Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
Month One Build Your GMAT Foundation

Learn the test format and structure. (2 hrs)

Take a Practice Test

Take a practice test and review results. (4 hrs)

Build Your Quant Foundation


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Learn about the quant section format and test question types. (2 hrs)

Review GMAT quant strategies and tips. (3 hrs)

Build Your Verbal Foundation

Learn section format and question types. (2 hrs)

Build sentence correction knowledge. (3 hrs)

Build GMAT reading strategy knowledge. (3 hrs)

Practice grammar fluency. (1 hrs)

Month Two Quant Review

Build algebra knowledge. (3 hrs)

Build geometry knowledge. (3 hrs)

Build word problem knowledge. (3 hrs)

Verbal Review

Build reading comprehension knowledge. (4 hrs)

Build critical reasoning knowledge. (4 hrs)

Quant Review

Build number properties knowledge. (3 hrs)

Build sets knowledge. (3 hrs)

Practice advanced quant skills. (2 hrs)

Practice fluency with flash cards. (1 hrs)

Take a Practice Test and Review

Take a practice test and review results to figure out where you still need work. (6 hrs)

Month Three Quant Review

Practice data sufficiency questions. (4 hrs)

Practice problem solving questions. (4 hrs)

Verbal Review

Practice verbal question types. (8 hrs)

Verbal and Quant Review

Practice verbal and quant question types you’ve been struggling with based on your latest practice test and prep results. (8 hrs)

Take a Practice Test and Review

Take a practice test and review results to figure out where you still need work. (5 hrs)

Month Four AWA Review

Review AWA strategies. (2 hrs)

Practice AWA prompts. (4 hrs)

IR Review

Review IR strategies. (2 hrs)

Practice IR questions. (4 hrs)

Review Quant and Verbal Concepts

Practice verbal and quant question types you’ve been struggling with based on your latest practice test and prep results. (8 hrs)

Take a Practice Test and Review

Take a practice test and review results to figure out where you still need work. (5 hrs)

Month Five Review Needed Quant Concepts

Review quant topics you’re struggling with based on your practice test. (6 hrs)

Review Needed Verbal Concepts

Review verbal topics you’re struggling with based on your practice test. (6 hrs)

Take a Practice Test and Review

Take a practice test and review results to figure out where you still need work. (5 hrs)

Review Needed IR and AWA Concepts

Review anything you need to in IR or AWA. (5 hrs)

Month Six Review Needed Quant Concepts

Review quant topics you’re struggling with based on your practice test. (6 hrs)

Review Needed Verbal Concepts

Review verbal topics you’re struggling with based on your practice test. (6 hrs)

Take a Practice Test and Review

Take a practice test and review results to figure out where you still need work. (5 hrs)

Light Prep and Review

Practice any question types you would like and rest up before test day. (4 hrs)

 

How to Create Your Own Study Plan for the GMAT

If you’d like to create your own study plan for the GMAT rather than following one of ours, make sure you follow these steps as you put together your plan.

 

Step 1: Set Your GMAT Goal Score

First, put together a list of all the business school programs that you’d like to attend. When you’re putting together your list, think about why you would like to attend each of these programs.

Next, research the average GMAT scores of the business schools that you want to apply to. You can find this information in a number of places. Most schools share this information on the program’s admissions page. You can also try calling the admissions department if you can’t find the info there. Other third party sources, like US News, also list the average GMAT scores of many schools.

Add the average GMAT scores for each school to your list of business school programs that you’re interested in. Find the highest average GMAT score of all the programs.

You want to set a score goal that’s about ten points higher than the highest average GMAT score. This helps make sure you’ll be above the acceptable score range for all of your programs.

 

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Step 2: Take a Diagnostic Test

Your next step is to take a GMAT practice test if you haven’t already done so. This helps you get an idea of where you’re currently scoring.

The best way to assess your progress is to download the free GMATPrep software so you can take an official practice test.

Try to replicate the exam day as closely as possible. So, make sure you’re taking the test timed, in one sitting, and in a quiet place with few interruptions. This helps ensure you get the most accurate practice score.

You’ll automatically receive your GMAT total score from the practice test. For more information about how this score is calculated, check out our guide to GMAT total scores.

 

Step 3: Figure Out How Many Hours You’ll Need to Study

Now that you’ve figured out your baseline score, compare that to your goal score and figure out how many points you are away from meeting your goal score.

I’ve included estimates of approximately how many hours you need to study in order to increase your score by a certain number of points. Note: these hour recommendations are guidelines only. Every test-taker is different. If you find that you master new concepts quickly, you may need less time than I’ve suggested here. If you find that you often need to see a topic more than once for it to fully sink in, you may need additional time.

  • 0 – 50 points: 50 hours
  • 51 – 100 points: 100 hours
  • 101 – 150 points: 150 hours

 

Step 4: Analyze Your Weaknesses

Before making a plan for what you need to study, take the time to understand your weaknesses and determine what you need to focus on in your GMAT prep plan.

Use your practice test scores to get a better picture of your strengths and weaknesses as a GMAT test taker. Try to identify patterns: did you miss every sentence correction question? Are you better at the Verbal section than the Quant section? Did you miss every single Integrated Reasoning question? Asking and answering these questions will help you focus your prep by highlighting the sections you need to spend the most time on.

 

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Step 5: Draft Your GMAT Study Schedule

The most important step of creating your GMAT study plan is to actually sit down and schedule your study sessions over the length of time you plan to be studying.

To do this, you’ll need to develop a study plan (either building your own from scratch or working off of one of the four I’ve provided above) and fit the GMAT prep tasks into your weekly schedule. For instance, you can block off four hours of studying every Monday or build in five hours of time to take a practice test and review your results every other Sunday.

Drafting your GMAT study plan and putting it on paper is extremely important. It’s really hard to stick to a study plan if you don’t have it written down. Putting your plan on paper will help you commit to it and remember to prioritize your study sessions.

 

Step 6: Learn the Format, Then the Content, Then the Strategies

Being organized about your prep is extremely important because it helps makes sure you cover all the topics you need to do to do well on the GMAT. Start by learning the format of the exam. You’ll want to know what the sections are, how long they are, and what content they cover.

Next, you’ll want to dig deeper into the content of the exam. Focus on the content covered on each section individually. Master the fundamentals of each section (such as the formulas you’ll need for the quant section or the grammar rules for sentence corrections).

Finally, move on to learning strategies for the exam. Each section has specific strategies, such as eliminating or memorizing certain kinds of answers, that will save you time and help you achieve your goal score.

 

Step 7: Track Your Progress

Taking regular practice GMATs is an important way to monitor your progress.

Compare your scores to your original test. What sections did you improve on? Did you do worse on any section? What section is slipping through the cracks of your study plan?

Adjust your goals as needed based on your progress on practice tests. Maybe you were doing great on sentence corrections one week, but started to struggle the next. You could add a goal to your study plan that’ll remind to focus on that topic.

 

What’s Next

An important part of getting ready for the GMAT is making sure you have all of the right materials to support your prep. There are a number of great choices out there and our guides will help you choose the resources that are right for you. Check out our reviews of the best GMAT books to get started.

Wanting to develop a better understanding of the verbal and quantitative sections of the GMAT? Each section contains unique question types that test different strengths and weaknesses. Using our guides to mastering the GMAT quantitative section and mastering the GMAT verbal section, you’ll be able to build a solid foundation of understanding as you go about your prep.

Wondering how to set a solid goal score? Setting a goal score is an extremely important part of your GMAT prep. By having a reasonable goal score, you’ll be able to track your progress and work towards an attainable target. For more information about setting a goal score, check out our guide to good GMAT scores.

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