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Study For The GMAT: 4 Things To Take Into Consideration Before You Start

Before you rush in on study for the GMAT, here are a few things we recommend to do before you start. This guideline will make the process more efficient for you.

1. Get to know the exam 

Each of the four sections of the exam represent a different percentage in your final score, so it is important to dedicate time to come up with the best study process for you. A good place to get to know the exam is by visiting the official website gmac.com. Make an account and read about test-taking strategy and prep tools. 

2. Take a mock exam 

The diagnostic test should be as similar as possible to the GMAT (full length, timed and computer adaptive) and give you a complete score report, including the amount of time spent on each question. Really simulate this exam: don’t pause it in the middle of sections, don’t check your phone during it, and follow the instructions. This will give you the best idea of where your base level is. We recommend that you make an account through gmac.com and take exam 1 from the GMAC Prep. The account and the exam are free.

3. Get an idea of where you stand

Once you have taken the exam, it is important that you go over your score report and identify your strengths and weaknesses across question categories. Find patterns, common mistakes, question types and concepts that might need special attention. This will let you know where you are standing now and what you need to work on. It will be helpful for planning your GMAT study process.

4. Consider options for study plans

The best option is to schedule regular study sessions. It is recommended to start focusing on your biggest weaknesses in the sections of the exam that represent the highest percentage in the overall score.  Also, do not “cram” a lot of concepts in one study session, focus on one or two at a time and then set some time aside for a review and a quizz. 

There is not a standard amount of time you need to prepare before taking the GMAT. Some people can knock out the exam in a month, others in four months. It depends on the person. Our advice is to start studying 5 to 8 months before the exam. For example, if you wanted to go to business school that has their first round in September, a good plan would be to start preparing in January of that same year, so you can take the exam in May and still have additional time in case you need to retake it. This way, you have completed the GMAT by June and can focus on the admissions process, so that you have finished your applications by early September. 

The start of your GMAT study plan and the regularity of your sessions will depend on your availability, so dedicating some time to plan this ahead is essential to make the most out of it.

If you need help with the GMAT or the admissions process we can help.  For more information on our different GMAT products see:

  • GMAT private classes – see the stories of Will, Teddy, Jessica and Nico and how they approached their GMAT journey with Merchant.
  • Merchant Academy – a GMAT teaching innovation that makes taking the GMAT, like an MBA. Click to find out more about the Merchant Academy format.
  • Merchant GMAT Hall of Fame – a gallery of some of our clients over the last eight years.

For admissions help see some of the client stories on our admissions page.

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Tim Jackson

Director of Student Success

- "Preparing for the GMAT and applying for an MBA requires a tremendous commitment, and that doesn’t take into consideration the personal challenges our students must face when deciding if they want to leave their friends, families, and native cultures behind to advance their careers abroad. An MBA is not for everyone and that’s precisely what makes this advanced degree so valuable. 

For these reasons, we at Merchant only work with students we are confident have what it takes to succeed throughout the preparation and application processes.

Given an increased demand in our services, we do not have the ability to offer free consultation services to unserious applicants. If you are interested in learning more about Merchant, please fill out this form. After reviewing your LinkedIn profile, our team will be in touch with you if we feel you are a good fit for our services."