How To Study For The GMAT In 1 Month

October 23, 2019 - Traci Hall

We recommend ideally 2-4 months of study time for the GMAT, depending on a student’s goal score. If you do not have the time to put in that amount of study, you can still increase your score by focusing more on strategies and covering your areas of greatest opportunity. In order for you to get a significant score improvement on the GMAT in only 30 days, you will need to use your time very efficiently. First, you need to know what your GMAT strengths and weaknesses are; then, you need to target your weaknesses while also building on your strengths. Because you only have one month until the test, try to dedicate at least 6.5 hours per week to studying. If you are looking for a top score (700+), dedicate at least 12 hours a week.

Step 1: Take A Free GMAT Practice Test

Before you start your prep, take a full-length, realistic practice test to find out where your Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning scores sit today. Ideally, take a test which will provide detailed information about the question types you did well on and which ones you found more difficult, as well as an overall score and a score per section. This information will help you build a study plan.

Sitting a practice test helps you become familiar with the exam’s format and timing, which is essential if you want to master the GMAT. During your preparation, you will learn how to use your new skills to ace test questions, therefore building your confidence and motivation.

Reviewing your practice test, and reading the explanations of every question, will reinforce your strengths and help you understand your weaker areas. Studies have shown that taking tests not only measures your performance, but actually helps you learn.

Make sure you take your practice tests under conditions similar to what you will experience on test day. This means a quiet space, without distractions or interruptions. Schedule 4 hours to take the test with the essay, and 3.5 hours if you skip the essay. Also, plan to devote at least 1.5 hours to reviewing the test, ideally later the same day.

You can get a free Kaplan practice test, which includes Kaplan’s Smart Reports; providing you with complete answers and explanations and a detailed breakdown of your strengths and opportunities for improvement.

You can also get two free practice tests through the GMAT testmaker, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC®).

If you are looking for a bit more study help, Kaplan offers an Adaptive QBank with over 2,300 practice questions and the ability to make your own quizzes.

Step 2: Set Your GMAT Study Schedule

Since you only have 30 days until your GMAT, try studying five days a week, for one and a half or two and a half hours a day, depending on your target score. We know that it seems like a lot of work, and it is! To help make it more manageable, you can break this down into smaller chunks of 30 minutes each to fit into your daily routine. This could mean downloading a flashcard app and going through questions during your morning commute. Make sure you also block out time to take two more full-length practice tests during your study period. Take one 2 weeks before and the final one the week before sitting the GMAT. Taking these practice tests helps measure your progress, so you can adjust your focus to different topics as needed. It also will help you become more familiar with the test’s timing and format, and build the mental endurance needed for an exam of this type. After each practice test, spend at least 1.5 hours on reviewing the answer explanations.

Schedule your study time and practice tests on your calendar and then keep to those times. The same way you show up for class or work on time, “show up” for your GMAT studying on time. All this will help you make significant progress improving your score.

Step 3: Create Your 1-month GMAT Study Plan

How to study:

The first call for many students studying for the GMAT is a GMAT Book or GMAT course to learn some key strategies or content, and then follow up by practicing what you just learned with practice questions. Applying what you learn right away to the types of questions you’ll see on Test Day will help you solidify your knowledge so it sticks with you. Kaplan’s GMAT Adaptive QBank comes with over 2,300 test-like practice questions and the ability to make your own quizzes. You can use it to target specific content areas and question types at the right difficulty level for you.

What to study:

That all depends on your practice test results! For the first three weeks, focus on the material that is difficult for you and the content that is most often tested. For example, on the Quantitative section you will see exponents and radicals appear often in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry questions. This means that if you are not confident working with these topics, you will have trouble throughout the section. You might find that questions containing sequences or standard deviation difficult as well, but these topics do not show up on the GMAT as often as exponents and radicals, so you should focus on the content that can give you the higher score payoff.

During the final week before your test, prioritise the material that focuses on your strengths. For example, if you get most Critical Reasoning questions correct, then practice that question type several times this week to boost your confidence and guarantee that you can rely on this skill.

Sample Study Plans For The GMAT

Before you begin, set your goals (i.e. what programs you want to apply to and the average GMAT score of those accepted). Set your target GMAT score.

Here are two sample 1-month study plans based on different score goals:

Week 1
  • Take a diagnostic practice test to get a baseline score to start your studies and see what areas you need to focus on. (4 hours)
  • Review answers and explanations for missed problems (1.5 hours),
  • Study 4 days x 1.5 hours/day (6 hours total)
Total study time: 11.5 hours
  • Take a diagnostic practice test to get a baseline score to start your studies and see what areas you need to focus on. (4 hours)
  • Review answers and explanations for missed problems (1.5 hours),
  • Study 4 days x 2.5 hours/day (10 hours total)
Total study time: 15.5 hours
Week 2
  • Study 5 days x 1.5 hours/day (7.5 hours total)
Total study time: 7.5 hours
  • Study 5 days x 2.5 hours/day (12.5 Hours)
Total study time: 12.5 hours
Week 3
  • Practice Test + Review (4 hours)
  • Review answers and explanations for missed problems (1.5 hours)
  • Study 4 days x 1.5 hours/day (6 hours total)
Total study time: 11.5 hours
  • Practice Test + Review (4 hours)
  • Review answers and explanations for missed problems (1.5 hours)
  • Study 4 days x 2.5 hours/day (10 hours total)
Total study time: 15.5 hours
Week 4
  • Practice Test + Review (4 hours)
  • Review answers and explanations for missed problems (1.5 hours)
  • Study 4 days x 1.5 hours/day (6 hours total)
Total study time: 11.5 hours
  • Practice Test + Review (4 hours)
  • Review answers and explanations for missed problems (1.5 hours)
  • Study 4 days x 2.5 hours/day (10 hours total)
Total study time: 15.5 hours
Day Before the Test

Nothing! Rest and relax

Total Study Time

42 Hours

59 Hours

Step 4: Ace the GMAT

If you are feeling nervous, remind yourself of all the hard work you’ve put in. Take that confidence into the test centre and rock that exam! You are ready for the GMAT.

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