GMAT Study Schedules for Various Needs, Time Frames and Budgets

Whether you've got one day or one month to prepare for the GMAT, try to set priorities. On this page are four realistic GMAT study schedules, which vary according to how much time you have until your test date. Choose Plan A if you have 2 days, Plan B if you have one week, Plan C if you have 2 weeks, or Plan D if you have 3-4 weeks.


Plan A (2 Days)

Have you scheduled a GMAT testing appointment for tomorrow or the next day but put off any GMAT study until now? Assuming you don't want to (or can't) reschedule your test, here's what you need to do:
  1. Read the GMAT information, testing tips, and tutorials at this site, and then try your hand at all the multiple-choice questions here. Then, compose a practice GMAT essay under a strict 30-minute time limit. (Select any essay prompt from the samples provided at this site's AWA area, or pick two prompts from the complete list provided at the official GMAT website.)

  2. At the official GMAT website, review the general test-taking strategies, and attempt the sample multiple-choice questions. Be sure to read the analysis for each question.

  3. Download the free GMAT-preparation software available at the official GMAT website. Review all the available test-taking tips, and attempt all available multiple-choice practice questions, preferably under timed conditions. Be sure to read the analysis for each question you answer incorrectly so that you learn not to commit similar errors during your actual GMAT exam.

Plan B (1 Week)

After carrying out Plan A, if you have at least a few more days before exam day, here's what you should do (in order of priority):

  1. Take at least TWO full-length practice tests (all sections) under timed conditions. Why are practice tests such a high priority? When it comes to the GMAT, building up endurance and finding your optimal pace is half the battle. After each test, review the explanations for the questions you answered incorrectly, but don't dwell on your scores. (Better yet, don't even compute them.)

  2. Download the official GMAT essay questions. (One of these questions will appear on your GMAT.) Then, as time permits, implement these strategies for GMAT-essay preparation.

  3. If you have more time, concentrate on your weak areas. If your Quantitative skills are weak, search the Web for additional additional free math review. Or if English is your second language, study the Sentence Correction and AWA lessons at other GMAT-prep websites.
 

Plan C (2 Weeks)

Two weeks is enough time for comprehensive GMAT prep. Spend the first day or two carrying out Plan A, then augment Plan B as follows:

  1. Work through the lesson materials in a comprehensive GMAT prep book. Find a book that provides skill-building lessons, and not just practice test questions. Pace yourself so that you complete the lesson materials at least 3-4 days before exam day.

  2. In tandem with performing step 1, take at least four full-length practice tests (all sections) under timed conditions. (Remember: building up endurance and finding your optimal pace is half the battle.) Take one practice test every 2 or 3 days, but not more often; full-length testing day after day can very quickly result in burnout. After every test, review the explanations for the questions you answered incorrectly, but don't dwell on your scores. (Better yet, don't even compute them!)

  3. The day before the exam, unwind. If possible, spend the day engaged in relaxing leisure activities. Don't talk about the GMAT; in fact, try not to even think about it.

Here's a sensible 2-week GMAT prep schedule:

Day 1: Review this site's GMAT practice questions and test-taking tips.
Day 2: Full-length practice test #1 (and review)
Day 3: Self-study: Quantitative section (lessons and practice questions)
Day 4: Self-study: Verbal section (lessons and practice questions)
Day 5: Full-length practice test #2 (and review)
Day 6: Download the official GMAT essay questions
Self-study: Analytical Writing
Practice writing two essays
Day 7: Self-study: Integrated Reasoning (lessons and practice questions)
Day 8: Full-length practice test #3 (and review)
Day 9: Self-study: Quantitative section (lessons and practice questions)
Day 10: Self-study: Verbal section (lessons and practice questions)
Day 11: Full-length practice test #4 (and review)
Day 12: Self-study: Integrated Reasoning (lessons and practice questions)
Day 13: Full-length practice test #5 (and review)
Day 14: Take the day off
 

Plan D (3-4 Weeks)

If you have more than two weeks to prepare for the GMAT, expand the 2-week study schedule to fit your time frame, budget, and needs. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Augment your study materials with workbooks aimed specifically at your weakest areas.

  2. Take additional full-length practice tests. (Be sure to stagger them evenly over your 3-4 week prep period.)

  3. Follow the 2-week study plan, but take more days off (perhaps one of every three days).

Widely recommended for GMAT prep:

GMAT book    The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 13th edition
Graduate Management Admission Council

From the test makers (GMAC), this book provides over 900 questions used on actual GMAT exams and keyed Web access to 50 exam questions for the new Integrated Reasoning section.