So, finally you have decided to make the next move in your career and decided to earn an MBA degree. Congrats! The first step is to take the GMAT. You have researched all about it from mba.com and other forums, you know all about the sections and the question types that are tested, but what you do not know is “How much time do I actually need for GMAT Preparation?”
This is a common question that we hear from all the students who start preparing for the GMAT. Well, to be frank, there are a lot of available answers , with the most popular ones being:
1. It depends … (on your current ability)
2. The longer you prepare the better it is …
But, we know that none of these answers would satisfy you. So, we have tried to answer this question statistically.
Here are some statistics that tells us about the time duration for which students study and the corresponding scores they get. Keep in mind that this is an average and confining yourself in these time intervals might not necessarily yield the same results.
You can find the full study here
Now that you know the statistics, you must know the answer. But alas, you still do not get anything concrete to tell you actually how many months/hours you need to put in to prepare for the GMAT.
If you want a number badly, we would say anything between 8 – 12 weeks with approximately 15-18 hours/week and a few off days.
But this calculation is not so simple. You need to consider the following factors when creating a study plan:
1. What is your target score?List down the B-Schools that interest you. Do not blindly follow the ranking tables. Choose the schools that fit your specific goals, needs and interest. Once you have the list, find out the average/median scores of the schools. This is pretty easy as all the data about the current class is available on the schools’ websites. Pick the one which has the highest score and set it as your target score.
2. Where are you right now and how much more you need to prepare?The next step is to find out your current standing. The best way is to take a full length mock CAT including the AWA and the IR sections. There are various mock CATs available in the market that closely mimic the GMAT, but the best results are obtained from the GMAT Prep CATs. You can download 2 free CATs from mba.com. This would tell you how far you need to go.
3. What are your strengths and weaknesses? After the test, you need to analyze the test thoroughly to have a fair idea about the areas that need more focus. Give more time to the weaker areas and try to dig down deep into the sub sections and the topics. The first bifurcation should be based on the Sections: Quant and Verbal and then on the problem types: DS, PS for Quants and RC, CR and SC for the Verbal section. An error log is essential to analyze this.
4. What is the deadline for you to take the test? You need to figure this out by planning backwards. Typically, you should leave 1 – 2 months for application process and 1 month for a retake in case things do not go well and hence a gap of 3 months between your GMAT date and the application deadline is ideal.
5. What is your work schedule?Do you work full time? Can you study on the weekdays? Can you take mock CATs on the weekends? Based on these, try to figure out how much time you can devote towards your preparation. We feel that 1.5 – 2 hours on a weekday and 4 hours on each day of a weekend should be enough to keep you on track to achieve your target score.
If you can find this much time, good. If not, do not fret much. You can adjust your schedule accordingly. Fewer hours each day would mean that your preparation will last longer.
However, please do not try to put in more hours than required. If you are putting in 5 – 6 hours a day continuously, it would mean the following things:
- You might face a burn out soon and might have to stop your preparation.
- There is a high probability that out of those 5 hours, the last 1.5 – 2 hours will not be as fruitful.
If you have less than a month to prepare for the GMAT, first things first. This is not the ideal time frame needed for GMAT preparation. In such case, you will have to put in longer hours with sustained focus each day and still the results might not be favorable.
If you have even less time available with you, then 1. Either you are gifted and know for sure that you are going to crack the test or 2. You are not taking the test seriously. If you fall in the first category, then all the best; go for the kill, but if you fall in the second category, you should not expect a miracle. This is the first step towards your MBA and there is no reason you should not take is seriously. Make sure you put in the required effort and prepare well for the test.
This is an overview of how long you should plan on your GMAT Preparation. We recommend a 3 months study schedule whether with a preparatory course or with a book.
If you are facing any other problem in making a study schedule for your preparation, write to us at email@example.com and we will be happy to help!
All the best!