Explore our resources to learn how to reach your career goals with a graduate business degree.

How Long Should You Study for the GMAT™ Exam?

Image not found

Among GMAT test takers surveyed in 2020, the median total number of test prep hours was 80. But keep in mind, as you can see in the graphic below, there’s a pretty clear relationship between test takers self-reported total prep time and GMAT score. Those with a self-reported score of less than 500 had a median total prep time of 50 hours, versus a median of 100 hours for those with a self-reported score of 700 or higher.

how long should you study 1 

Another element of time is knowing how far in advance of your test date to get started on prep. As you might imagine, the survey data shows that test takers who start their prep further in advance tend to accumulate more total prep hours. Overall, 21 percent of 2020 survey respondents say they started prep 10 or more weeks in advance. About the same share began seven to nine weeks in advance (20%), and 29 percent started four to six weeks in advance.

how long should you study 2 

How long should you study for the GMAT exam? 4 questions to ask yourself

The fact of the matter is, the amount of time needed to study for the GMAT exam varies from one person to the next.

To figure out what’s right for you, start by asking yourself these four questions.

1. What’s your comfort level with standardized tests?

Does the idea of standardized tests make you sweat, or do you tackle standardized tests with the best of them? Most people have some idea of how they perform on these kinds of assessments based on past experiences.

Become an mba.com Insider

Create your free account to access exclusive content, application resources, free Official GMAT™ prep, and more!

Reflect on your history with tests, get to know the GMAT’s format and structure, and continue to assess your confidence level as you get deeper into your prep. The more time you spend preparing, the more your confidence will grow. You can do this!

😟 Feeling anxious? Check out our tips for making your GMAT prep worry-free.

2. What’s your target GMAT score?

Having a clear target score in mind will help you determine how long you should study for the GMAT exam. Start by researching average GMAT scores at the programs you’re targeting for your applications 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.

📗 Get your free copy: Your Complete Full-Time MBA Application Guide

That said, you want to earn your best possible GMAT exam score and having a target in mind will help keep you motivated and on track.

GMAT Prep offers a number of free resources for you to establish a performance baseline to grow from. Get started with the GMAT Mini Quiz for an instant estimated score range.

3. What are your weakest sections of the GMAT?

Another question to ask yourself to get a sense of how much time you need to devote to prep is “what are my strengths and weaknesses?”

First time test takers often make the misstep of spending too much time preparing in areas where they are already strong. While honing your strengths is important, you should consider targeting your GMAT study time on the areas that need it most. This is where you’ll get the best return on your time investment.

Are there types of questions that you typically struggle with? A little self-reflection is a great place to start but spending time with GMATTM Official Prep materials at the beginning of your prep with the specific goal of understanding your strengths and weaknesses is a best practice.

Use the Free Starter Kit + Practice Exams 1 & 2 to establish a time and score baseline and pinpoint weak areas. From there, use the GMAT™ Official Guide to create custom practice sets and target those improvement areas. Aiming for an elite score? Up your game with Advanced Questions.

4. Realistically, how much time can you commit to GMAT prep?

Face it: time is a limited resource. Being honest with yourself about how much time and energy you can devote to prep per week is critical to setting a study plan that makes sense for you and your goals. Keeping your expectations attainable is essential. If you set too lofty a goal for your time you’ll quickly get off track and get frustrated. Be kind to yourself!

Committing to a realistic timeline will help to ensure you stick to a study plan and are ready for the test when the time comes. For perspective, about half (48%) of test takers with a self-report GMAT score of 700 or higher started their prep seven or more weeks in advance.

Use our 8-week Study Planner as a point of reference as you make your plans. Then, schedule a test date and mark it on the calendar to hold yourself accountable.

Following the recommendations and tips above for GMAT prep, you’ll be on your way to bringing your best effort on test day.

Estimate the time you think you’ll need

Need more help estimating how much time you’ll need? Use our interactive tool to get customized advice on how much time it’ll take you to study for the GMAT.

One size does not fit all when it comes to GMAT exam prep. In less than a minute, find out which GMAT Official prep fits your personal study style and exam score goals by taking our personalized GMAT prep quiz.


Article Sponsored by