Magoosh experts explain management students how they can prepare for the GMAT test.

The length of time you’ll need to prepare adequately for the GMAT depends on a variety of factors. There’s just isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to studying for the GMAT. That said, there is a recommended amount of time to study that applies to most GMAT students, as well as some handy factors to consider when deciding how much time you’ll need to study versus other students.

Let’s take a look some different GMAT study time frames and some decision points to help you choose the right amount of time for you. Keep in mind that what works for someone else may not work for you, so don’t be afraid to do what feels right for you even if it’s a little different.

Minimum Study Time for the GMAT

You should try to do the recommended amount of studying for the GMAT listed below, but sometimes life makes that impossible. Maybe you’ve got a month off from school or work, and now is the perfect time to cram in your GMAT studying. Or, you’ve waited until the last minute, and your applications are due so soon that you have to take the GMAT in a month. If this is the case, then it is possible to study for the GMAT in one month.

If you decide to (or have to) study for the GMAT in one month, then you need to be prepared to set aside 3-4 hours every day to study. First, be sure to quickly familiarize yourself with the GMAT exam, by reading GMAT guides and other GMAT resources. You need to wrap your head around the exam you’re going to take in a month so you can study efficiently. You’ve only got one month to get your goal GMAT score!

Once you’re familiar with the GMAT and feel confident that you can prepare adequately in one month, draw out your study schedule and cancel all other plans for the next four weeks. To study for the GMAT in one month you’ll have to prioritize the GMAT above everything else. If you make the GMAT your top priority for the next month and stick to your study schedule, you’ll be just fine. However, if you do find yourself with more time to study or if after one month your score still isn’t what you’d like it to be, you’ll probably want to follow the recommended approach below.

How long to study for GMAT in blog 1

Recommended Amount of Time for GMAT Study

While some students will have to study for the GMAT in one month, the recommended approach is to study for two or three months. Ideally, you’ll study for the GMAT a couple of hours at least five days a week for two to three months. This amount of time will allow you to study GMAT tips and strategies, take plenty of practice problems and three to four full length GMAT practice tests.  To find full length GMAT practice exams and other practice materials, check out these free GMAT practice test resources.

Two to three months of preparation will allow you to really internalize the GMAT strategies and become familiar with how the GMAT is different from other exams you’ve taken. By answering lots of practice questions and taking full length practice tests, you’ll be very confident on the day of the GMAT and will do the best that you can do. Without these weeks of practice and study, you likely won’t perform at the level that you are capable of on the actual GMAT.  I’d recommend doing whatever you can to set aside at least two if not three months to study for the GMAT.

Maximum Amount of GMAT Study Time

You may think that the more practice the better applies to the GMAT. It does not. Eventually, your score will plateau (or worse, go down) because there simply won’t be any more that you can learn and you’ll be exhausted. I would not recommend that any student study for the GMAT for longer than six months. And six months would only be recommended if you could only study for a few hours a week or if your goal score is quite far from your current practice scores.

While you can improve your GMAT score with lots of studies, there is a limit on how much you can improve your score. So, if you’re currently scoring very low, it is unlikely that a year of studying will get you to a 700 on the GMAT. You should be aware of how much your score is likely to increase with studying and set realistic goals for your study time. That said, many students do see high jumps in their score, so definitely set lofty, just not impossible, score goals for yourself.  

Takeaway

The amount of time you need to study for the GMAT depends on the score increase that you are looking for and the amount of time you can set aside each week to study. Ideally, you would set aside at least two months to adequately prepare for the GMAT. However, if you can only study for a few hours a week, two months will not be long enough—you’ll need to set aside four to six months.

Sit down, take a practice test and see how far away you are from your goal score. Then, look at your calendar for the upcoming months and determine how much time you’ll have each week to study for the exam. Once you know these two factors, you’ll be able to decide how much time you’ll need to prepare for the GMAT. And remember, you really can do anything you set your mind to—set a goal for yourself, schedule your study time, and you’ll have that target GMAT score in hand before you know it!