Smart GMAT Study Tips

January 25, 2013

General

What are the best GMAT study tips you’ve read recently? What’s the best way to study for the exam? What’s the trick to reaching that elusive high score?

The truth is there is magic trick or huge secret, though there might be a special formula. The most effective GMAT study tips I’ve seen are planning, preparation, more planning, and devoting that crucial time to learning the exam and becoming familiar with all its sections.

How much time, exactly, does that mean? A post at the official GMAT blog about the best way to study for your best GMAT score ever discusses this topic. They compiled information on over 8000 test takers. They found out that “49% of test takers spend at least 51 hours prepping for the exam, and those who do better on the GMAT tend to spend more time studying for it.”

Moreover, they found that those who spent an average of 84 hours studying scored in the 600s, and those who averaged 96 study hours made a 700 or higher. Even keeping in mind that the information was self-reported, and that studying for 96 hours will not guarantee you a 700, it is information worth considering.

The post goes on to offer more GMAT study tips to help you determine how much time you need to fully prepare and to do your best. You want your score to reflect your true ability and not just your knowledge (or lack thereof) about the test itself. The first tips are not so much GMAT study tips as tips to help you prepare yourself. All the information here is taken from that post; make sure to check it out for full details and important links.

  1. Gather information about your target programs: This includes learning everything you need about the schools you want to apply to, including their deadlines.
  2. Register for the GMAT exam and develop a study plan: Give yourself enough time to take the exam more than once if things don’t work out the first time around. Of course, the further out you register, the more opportunity you give yourself to retake. Also use this time to create a study plan that doesn’t just list when you will study, but also what you will study.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the test structure, format, and types of questions you will face: This includes preparing for the new Integrated Reasoning (IR) section. The official GMAT blog offers free prep software with free questions and practice tests, as well as a handbook.
  4. Establish a baseline: Use the first practice test to see which areas you most need to work on. Make sure that you take these practice tests as you would take the actual test—paying attention to time (after all, one of your critical areas may be time management), and not using a calculator or other study materials.
  5. Start studying: This might be one of the most important GMAT study tips, obviously, because it’s during this time that you will become comfortable with the question formats and timing.
  6. Assess your progress: After spending time studying, take the second practice test to see how you are progressing. Are there other areas you need to work on? Are you running out of time? What’s improved? From here, direct the rest of your studies (but don’t forget to keep reviewing what you have done well with).

We’ve posted here before about reading comprehension study tips, but what are some of the best general GMAT study tips you’ve encountered as you prepare to apply to Virginia business schools? Have you found any great study guides or other posts? Let us know!

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