How Long Should You Study for the GMAT™ Exam?

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“How long does it take to study for the GMAT exam?” is the most common question we receive—by far. And while we wish we had a magic answer, there’s not a formula or a one-size-fits-all solution for how long to study.

The amount of time you’ll need to study for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) varies from one person to the next. To figure out your answer to the big question, start by asking the right questions.

How do you stack up on standardized tests?

Does the idea of standardized tests make you sweat? Or do you tackle standardized tests with the best of them? Based on past experiences, most people have some idea of how they perform on these kinds of assessments. Get to know the structure of the GMAT and overall length, and be realistic about your past experience with exams like this.

If it’s been a stretch of time since your last standardized test (as is the case for many candidates), it’s worth taking an official GMAT practice test so you’re not in the dark on your test-taking ability.

What’s your target GMAT score?

Setting a goal score will help you determine how long it will take to study for the GMAT. Start by researching out average GMAT scores at the business schools using Program Finder.

While this should give you an idea of a goal to keep in mind, remember: your GMAT score isn’t the be-all and end-all of your acceptance to any program. Admissions committees look at your entire applicant package, and there are many ways to make your application stand out.

That said, you want to give it your best and having a goal will motivate you to keep up solid study habits. Once you’ve established a target score, take a practice test to figure out your baseline score. This will indicate how much you need to improve your score, help you to develop a more targeted study plan and complete your very-own recommended study time goals.

What are your weakest sections of the GMAT?

Students commonly make the mistake of spending too much time preparing in areas where they are already strong. While honing your strengths is important, you should focus the majority of your GMAT study time on the areas that need it most. Ask yourself how your math and verbal skills are, and take a practice test to assess your GMAT strengths and weaknesses.

Are there types of questions that you typically struggle with? A little self-reflection is a great place to start, but don’t forget to take a practice test to back up your hunches, identify new challenge areas and guide your efforts. Figuring out where to dedicate your precious time is half the battle.

What’s a realistic amount of GMAT study time?

Let’s face it, time is a limited resource. Know what kind of timeline you’re up against, consider what else you’re juggling, and determine what is a realistic amount of time to dedicate to studying for the GMAT each week. You don’t want to study forever and at some point, you’ll have to just take the test.

Setting a realistic timeline will help to ensure you stick to a study plan so you’re ready for the test when the time comes. Schedule a test date and mark it on the calendar to hold yourself accountable. For perspective, 64 percent of test takers prepare for over four weeks.

Estimate the time you think you’ll need

Need help estimating how much time you’ll need? Use our interactive tool to get an indication of how much time it’ll take you to study for the GMAT.

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