5 STEPS GMAT STUDY PLAN TOWARDS
A PERFECT GMAT SCORE
Whether you are targeting a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) or a Master’s in Management (MiM) you’re probably going to have to take the GMAT. One of the most important parts of preparing for the GMAT is developing a structured, strategic GMAT study plan.
Here are five tips for building a customized GMAT preparation plan:
#1 Establish a GMAT score goal
Many people jump right into their GMAT preparation by purchasing a book and beginning to do some problems. But the right first step should be to review your career goals, background, and desired MBA or MiM programs and establish a target GMAT score. If you don’t have a target score, you won’t know how much or how long to study. Performance on the GMAT really does depend on how much attention and effort you put into studying. If you can score a 575 and get into your target program, your GMAT study plan can be much different than the plan you’d design to score a 725.
#2 Take a Practice Test or Diagnostic Exam Early in the Process
Once you have a target score, you should take a practice exam to establish your baseline score, strengths, and weaknesses. We recommend taking this exam after doing a bit of review of the material on the GMAT.
Your score will be artificially low if you’ve never encountered a data sufficiency problem or haven’t thought at all about the rules of triangles in a decade. So, do some light brushing up on what’s on the exam, and then take a diagnostic. The 100 question diagnostic in the Official Guide to the GMAT 2017 is what we use with our students.
While Manhattan GMAT and Princeton Review offer nice online practice exams, we recommend that students stick with official materials whenever possible.
#3 Choose Your GMAT Preparation Resources
For most students, the Official Guide to the GMAT 2017 bundle along with of the free and very lost cost materials on gmac.org represents more than enough content.
But Kaplan, Princeton Review, and Manhattan materials are also all helpful at the margin too. Certainly, though you should start with the official materials, which are “straight from the horse’s mouth” so to speak.
The key question is, should you self-study, take a course, or work with a tutor?
Your score goal, comfort with standardized tests, and diagnostic exam results should be your guide. Generally, a class or course works well if your GMAT score goal is between 550 and 650 and your diagnostic score is 500+. In this scenario, you are seeking an above average score, and have an average baseline of skills to start from. You’ll likely learn enough in a class to get where you need to go. Self-studying is also an option in this situation.
However, if your starting point is relatively low (i.e., your diagnostic showed clear weaknesses) or your target score is very high (700+) then a private GMAT tutor might be better for you.
Because if you are starting from a below average skill level OR seeking an above average score, a course is either going to move too fast or too slow for you, and you won’t get as much out of it.
#4 Write out a detailed study plan
Put pen to paper to write out your study plan. Preparing for the GMAT is a more difficult task than many realize. Generally, you are working full-time (or in school full time) and don’t have a lot of time.
But the test covers a lot of material, including some math concepts you may have never learned before. It takes effort and commitment. A good rule of thumb is that you’ll need to study for ~100 hours.
And, it’s important to be specific so you can hold yourself accountable. Plan out the days, times, and locations where you’ll study for, say, 12 weeks for 8-10 hours each week. Put it on paper, and hold yourself accountable.
#5 Customize your GMAT study plan
As you write out your study plan, you can start by organizing your time around the sections of the GMAT itself somewhat equally. But, if you’re already good at GMAT verbal, allocate more time to GMAT quant. And, perform this exercise again within sections of the GMAT.
If on your diagnostic, it’s clear that you struggle with world problems and algebra but performed well on geometry, don’t waste time by reviewing easy concepts you already know. Push yourself to levels of slight discomfort where you are struggling to understand. This will build your skills.
Take a practice test about once every two weeks to track your progress, and re-evaluate your time allocation across sections, concepts, and question types you’ll encounter on the GMAT based on your performance on these practice tests.
It often helps to build your customized GMAT study plan of a generic study plan, such as those offered by Magoosh GMAT.
Studying for the GMAT is not easy. If you don’t approach the process strategically and with a GMAT study plan in mind, you won’t get the results you’re hoping for.
About the Author
Mark Skoskiewicz founded MyGuru, a private tutoring company in Chicago, in 2009. He holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a B.S. from Indiana University.