How to study for the GMAT in 1 month

How to Study for the GMAT in 1 Month

To achieve a significant score improvement on the GMAT in 30 days, you will need to use your time very efficiently. First, you need to know what your GMAT strengths and weaknesses are. Then, you need to target your weaknesses while also building on your strengths.

[RELATED: GMAT 2-Month Study Plan or GMAT 3-Month Study Plan]

GMAT Study Essentials

Before you begin prepping for the GMAT in one month, you’ll need to identify and gather your study materials.

  • GMAT Handbook

    The GMAT Handbook includes all essential test information, including how to register, how to prepare, what to expect on GMAT test day, etc. This is a great place to get started on your GMAT prep.

  • Full-Length Practice Tests

    Taking full-length practice tests is the best way to assess your readiness for the GMAT. The free GMAT Starter Kit includes one free practice test and the entire Foundations of Math program to get on track for exam day.

    Additionally, you can take one free GMAT Practice Test with Manhattan Prep Powered by Kaplan, or purchase the full set of six exams.  Each practice test includes an assessment report to help you identify which areas of the test you should focus on.

  • Practice Questions

    Manhattan Prep Powered by Kaplan’s complete set of topic-specific GMAT Qbanks is a great tool to drill your weaknesses as you progress in your studies. With in-depth explanations, you’ll learn from your mistakes and raise your score.

  • Online calendar

    Building an online calendar using Google Calendar or Outlook can be a great tool for keeping track of and accessing your personal study plan from anywhere. Plus, you can share your calendar with others so they know your schedule and can help you stay on track.

  • Take a class

    If the idea of studying and making a schedule completely on your own seems daunting, consider signing up for a free GMAT class—a set schedule and instruction from expert teachers can help you stay focused and keep you accountable.

    In-Person Classes

    If you learn best in person, consider enrolling in a Manhattan Prep Powered by Kaplan In-Person GMAT class, currently offered in select cities. All Manhattan Prep instructors scored in the top 1% of GMAT test takers. Class sizes are kept small to achieve the right balance of individual attention and active participation.

    Live Online Classes

    For a bit more flexible experience, you can attend class from anywhere you have wifi in Manhattan Prep Powered by Kaplan’s Live Online GMAT courses. Learn in an interactive, online class with a 99th-percentile instructor who is there to engage you, keep you on track, and even answer 1-on-1 questions.

    Self-Paced Classes

    If you’re looking for expert instruction that is completely on your own time, consider working with an expert tutor who can curate your study plan to fit your specific needs or enrolling in a Self-Paced course, which will allow you to prep on your own schedule.

  • Bootcamps

    If you haven’t done any studying, but are able to absorb material quickly, look at joining a GMAT Bootcamp. Bootcamps are great if you have a lot of time to dedicate to studying over a short period of time, and you have a little flexibility in your target exam date.

GMAT Study Essentials Step 1: Take a Free GMAT Practice Test

Take a full-length, realistic GMAT practice test to find out what your Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning scores are now. Your Manhattan Prep practice test results will include not just your scores but also information about what types of questions you did well on and which ones gave you trouble. This information will help you design your study plan.

Another benefit of taking a GMAT practice test is that you will become familiar with the test’s format and timing. Then as you study, you will know exactly how you’ll use what you’re learning to ace test questions. This is highly motivating!

You will also be able to review the test, and reading the explanations of every question will reinforce what you did right and help you understand your mistakes. Research shows that being tested on material not only measures your performance but actually helps you learn. After each practice test, you’ll know what to focus on in your studies, and you’ll be able to keep track of your progress as you get closer to test day.

Take GMAT practice tests under conditions as similar as possible to those you will experience on Test Day, without distractions or interruptions. Schedule 4 hours to take the test if you write the essay and 3.5 hours if you choose to skip the essay. Also plan to invest at least 1.5 hours in reviewing the test later the same day or in the next day or two.

The GMAT test maker, the Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®), offers two free GMAT practice tests with its GMATPrep™® software at mba.com. Manhattan Prep Powered by Kaplan offers one free online practice test, which includes detailed breakdowns of your strengths and opportunities for improvement, as well as comprehensive answer explanations.

GMAT Study Essentials Step 2: Set Your GMAT Study Schedule

Studying most days of the week will improve your score more than studying one or two days a week. Many students find that studying 5 days a week in three 30-minute segments, for an hour and a half each day, helps them make significant progress. Because your test is in 30 days, try to study for five 30-minute segments, or two and a half hours a day, to maximize your score gain. 

In addition, if math facts and/or grammar are areas you have targeted for improvement, using a GMAT mobile app to work gives you flexibility and convenience to improve on those areas throughout the day.

[GMAT CONTENT APPS: Apple App Store or Google Play]

Block out time to take two more full-length practice tests, 2 weeks and 1 week before the GMAT. Take practice tests to measure your progress, become more familiar with the test’s timing and format, and build your mental endurance. After each test, invest at least 1.5 hours in reviewing the answer explanations.

Schedule your study time and practice tests on your calendar and then keep those appointments with yourself. The same way you show up for class or work on time, you are going to “show up” for GMAT studying on time.

GMAT Study Essentials Step 3: Develop Your 1-Month GMAT Study Plan

How should you study? An effective approach is to first use a resource such as a GMAT book or GMAT course to learn some strategies or content and then follow up by practicing what you just learned with test-like questions. Applying what you learn right away to the types of questions you’ll see on Test Day will help you solidify your knowledge so it sticks with you.

What should you study? That depends on the results of your practice test. For the next three weeks, focus on material that is

  • difficult for you
  • most often tested

In the Quantitative section, for example, exponents and radicals appear in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry questions. So, if you are not sure how to work with these numbers, you will have trouble throughout the section. Questions dealing with sequences or standard deviation may be tough for you, too, but these topics do not appear on the test nearly as often as exponents and radicals, so you should focus on the content with the higher payoff.

During the last week before your test, emphasize your strengths. For example, if you get most Reading Comprehension questions correct, then practice Reading Comp several times this week to boost your confidence and ensure that you can count on this skill.

Sample Study Plans for the GMAT

One study plan for Christopher and one study plan for Ashley.

Future MBAChristopherAshley
GoalsPlans to earn an MBA while working full-time as a product manager and wants to attend the best-ranked program in his city. His target score is a 600.Will take leave from her engineering job to earn an MBA from a school with a top national ranking. Her target score is a 720.
Diagnostic ScoreDiagnostic score: 540Diagnostic score: 610
Week 1Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Study 4 days x 1.5 hours/day (6 Hours)Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Class 2 days x 3 hours (6 hours), Study 2 days x 1.5 hours/day (3 Hours)
Week 25 days x 1.5 hours/day (7.5 Hours)Class 2 days x 3 hours (6 hours), Study 3 days x 1.5 hours/day (4.5 Hours)
Week 3Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Study 4 days x 1.5 hours/day (6 Hours)Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Class 2 days x 3 hours (6 hours), Study 3 days x 1.5 hours/day (4.5 Hours)
Week 4Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Study 4 days x 1.5 hours/day (6 Hours)Practice Test + Review (6.5 Hours), Class 2 days x 3 hours (6 hours), Study 3 days x 1.5 hours/day (4.5 Hours)
Day Before the TestNothing!Nothing!
Total45 Hours60 Hours

GMAT Study Essentials Step 4: Practice Time Management

The GMAT gets scored differently than a traditional exam, so time management is an important strategy to develop on the GMAT.  Because the exam is not based on the number of problems you get right, spending too much time on every problem will almost certainly result in you falling behind on time.

If you are planning on taking the GMAT in a testing center, you can develop special note-taking techniques using a GMAT test simulation booklet. This preparation tool can help you become comfortable with the laminated scratch paper that you’ll use on an Official GMAT administered in a testing center. If you are planning on taking the GMAT Online exam, you can use both a digital and a physical whiteboard for your scratch work. Having a plan for when to use each type can help you optimize your question times.

GMAT Study Essentials Step 5: Rock the GMAT!

Feeling nervous? Just remind yourself that because of all the hard work you’ve put into studying, you are ready for the GMAT.