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How to Prepare for GMAT Exam: Easy Self Study Plan

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Yocket Editorial Team
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Looking to ace the GMAT from the comfort of home? Cracking this critical exam is possible with the right preparation strategy. Learn insider techniques to self-study effectively, from setting a routine to mastering concepts and taking mock tests. Unlock tips on time management, test psychology, and more from top GMAT scorers. 

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Table of Contents

What is the GMAT Exam?

The GMAT or it's full form "Graduate Management Admission Test" is a standardized exam created to evaluate the preparedness of individuals aspiring to pursue graduate management education, especially in global business schools. This exam is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The GMAT plays a pivotal role in the admissions process for MBA and other graduate management programs. This exam evaluates candidates across four distinct sections:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA): This segment evaluates the test-takers ability to analyze an argument and effectively communicate ideas through written responses.
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR): Focused on assessing analytical skills, this section measures the ability to interpret and synthesize information from various sources.
  • Quantitative Section: This portion evaluates mathematical and quantitative reasoning skills, covering topics such as algebra, geometry, and data interpretation.
  • Verbal Section: Testing language proficiency and reasoning abilities; this section includes reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction questions.

The GMAT is renowned for its computer-adaptive nature, where the difficulty level of subsequent questions adapts based on the test-taker’s performance. Scores range from 200 to 800, with the verbal and quantitative sections contributing to the overall score. Business schools leverage GMAT scores, along with other application components, to assess a candidate’s academic aptitude and potential for success in a demanding graduate management program.

Preparation for the GMAT typically involves a combination of self-study, practice exams, and strategic planning to address the specific demands of each section. Achieving a competitive GMAT score can significantly enhance an applicant’s prospects of gaining admission to the business school of their choice.

How to Study or Prepare for GMAT Exam?

Once you decide to take the GMAT, you will have to get started with your GMAT exam preparation with a well-planned GMAT study plan and an effective GMAT preparation strategy. The reason is that without a solid GMAT preparation strategy, you might not be able to crack the exam most tactfully. 

Therefore, here’s a GMAT self study at home plan to guide you:  

1. Before You Start: Recognize Where You Stand

The best way to initiate your GMAT preparation is by knowing where you presently stand and how far you want to reach. Arriving at your desired score might get foggy if you are unaware of your current abilities. So take a practice test and understand the GMAT paper, your strengths, and your weaknesses. 

Tip: A few candidates tend to get a low score on their first attempt. Don’t sink into sorrow over something you aren’t prepared for. Remember to take the practice test only as a lesson, not a test.

Suggested: A Deep Dive into your GMAT Scores! 

2. Understand the Exam

Begin by gaining a thorough understanding of the GMAT format, sections, and question types. This foundational knowledge sets the stage for a targeted and efficient study plan.

3. Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Take a diagnostic test to pinpoint your areas of strength and weakness. This self-assessment serves as a strategic tool to tailor your study plan to address specific needs.

4. Create a Study Plan

Develop a realistic and detailed study schedule that spans the entire range of GMAT topics. A well-organized plan ensures comprehensive coverage and steady progress leading up to the exam.

5. Select Study Materials

Choose reputable study materials, including GMAT prep books, online resources, and practice tests. Official GMAT guides should be a cornerstone of your study materials for an accurate representation of exam content.

6. Focus on Fundamentals

Strengthen your foundational skills in mathematics and English. A review of basic concepts in algebra, geometry, grammar, and critical reasoning lays solid groundwork for more advanced study.

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10 Most Important GMAT Exam Preparation Tips

It's natural to be skeptical about how to start GMAT preparation from scratch. But here are some of the tips that will get you through your GMAT preparation:

  • Answer all the questions
  • Plan the pattern of your choice
  • Practice using the whiteboard and online answer system
  • Focus on paper
  • Watch the clock
  • Thoroughly study the basics
  • Learn to read and understand the GMAT paper
  • Practice speed reading
  • Learn to read graphs, charts, tables, etc
  • Amplify learning with tools

Let's have a closer look at each of these.

1. Answer all the questions:

To achieve a high score, the best GMAT strategy to apply is to answer all the questions. Aspirants lose penalty points for missing out on questions. By taking the complete GMAT, you have a higher chance of achieving a good score. 

2. Plan the pattern of your choice:

Test-takers tailor their paper. You have the merit of choosing your own GMAT paper pattern. Choose to start with the sections you’re comfortable with. This will help you gain confidence and keep your test time on track. 

Tip: Strategize your GMAT exam preparation in the same fashion as your GMAT paper-pattern preference. 

3. Practice using the whiteboard and online answer system:

The GMAT is an online examination. While preparing for the GMAT, prepare yourself to use the tools available to you online during the exam. Also, practice typing your essays on your computer. 

Tip: Candidates lose marks due to a lack of practice in typing. Make sure you get used to speed-typing before your GMAT test. 

4. Stay focused on the paper:

It is easy to be distracted during the exam. Avoid getting lost in lengthy passages. Don’t engage in excessive digging wherever it is unnecessary. Solving problems correctly in the least amount of time is your motto. 

5. Watch the clock:

Time management is the key to success. Timing yourself per question, per section, and throughout the paper, even during your practicetests,s is a habit you must inculcate in yourself. 

6. Thoroughly study the basics:

As mentioned, the GMAT examines your real-life application skills. Hence, familiarize yourself with concepts and the basics of English and math. Pursuing clarity and application of these life skills will help you ace your test.  

7. Learn to read and understand the GMAT paper:

As you begin your GMAT preparation from scratch, you need to include reading, evaluating, and understanding in the process. GMAT is all about textual passages, graphs, charts, numerals, and more. Study a variety of passages and data during your preparation. 

8. Practice speed reading:

Inculcate the habit of speed reading. The faster you’ll be able to read and understand the passage in the Verbal Reasoning section, the sooner you will be able to answer. 

9. Learn to read graphs, charts, and tables:

Reading and understanding different types of graphs, charts, etc. is an important requirement to solve the Integrated Reasoning section of GMAT. Thoroughly prepare yourself with these essentials.

10. Amplify learning with tools:

Using tools to expand your vocabulary helps you enhance your learning experience. By doing this, you will keep engagingly preparing yourself. Use tools such as Yocket Flashcards, GMAT Quantitative Flashcards, Vocabulary Builder, etc. to tackle the Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing sections. Following these tips is the best way to prepare for the GMAT.

Best Books for GMAT Exam Preparation in 2024 


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How Much Time Do You Need to Prepare for GMAT?

One of the all-time dilemmas test takers have while choosing their test date is, how much time to prepare for GMAT. Well, there isn’t any ground rule for this. However, preparation for the GMAT is important. Test-takers suggest about eight weeks to six months of preparation time for the GMAT test

Remember, preparation is a personal act. Some might take three months to grasp concepts while others might require some more. Assess yourself to plan your test date accordingly.

Candidates are suggested to dedicate about 1.5 hours every day on average for at least four months during a workweek to prepare for the GMAT.

Your GMAT preparation varies based on how much time you have to prepare. Students have the time to engage in a focused study schedule. Whereas, working professionals need to fix a perfect study schedule amidst their tight working schedules. Here are some tips you could use as a professional to ace the test.

Suggested: How many hours a day should one study for a GMAT 750 score?

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How to Prepare for GMAT as a Working Professional?

Many working professionals struggle to prepare for the GMAT test. Pursuing a master’s is a dream they would love to achieve but a job comes with its responsibilities. Juggling the two might be challenging. But, isn’t impossible.

You can change the course of these challenges to a fruitful balanced journey of learning. Follow these simple GMAT preparation tips to achieve a good score

  • Have a fixed study schedule before or after work.
  • Get busy throwing words out of Yocket Flashcards in your office pantry during lunch.
  • Update yourself with the latest news. Read newspapers.
  • Engage in discussions and look at how people pose their arguments.
  • Observe and pick up on qualities that will help you align with the right point of view for the GMAT test.
  • Break your preparation time between language practice and mathematical solving. 
  • Set an hour aside to solve math problems.
  • Take a practice test every weekend.
  • Schedule a free counseling session with Yocket counselors to help you make the best university pick.
  • Invest a minimum of 2 hours for at least 3 months every day as your GMAT preparation time.

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How to Prepare for GMAT as a Student?

As a student, you are equipped with time, energy, and focus. Use these to your advantage to be at the forefront of the lot. 

  • Spend at least 3-4 hours per day to prepare.
  • Engage in discussions and group studies online with fellow students preparing for GMAT.
  • Use Yocket Flashcards to polish your vocabulary.
  • Solve mathematical problems for at least an hour every day.
  • Test yourself every week.
  • Record your progress and check if you’re closer to your goal score.
  • Check with your mentors for expert guidance.
  • Schedule a free counseling session with Yocket counselors to help you make the best university pick.

GMAT preparation can be stress-free and extremely effective if it’s well-planned. Consistency is more important than intensity during your GMAT exam preparation. Whether you are a student or a working professional while preparing for the GMAT, you will achieve better results by dedicating yourself to practice every day. Rather than focusing on solving intensively difficult problems once a week, solve all kinds of problems regularly. Discipline in your study plan is the MasterCard you have to ace the test.

Advantages of Self-Studying for the GMAT Exam

The following are the advantages of opting for self-study in GMAT exam preparation:

  • Flexibility

Engaging in self-study allows candidates to craft a personalized schedule that accommodates their daily commitments, providing the flexibility to balance work, personal life, and GMAT preparation effectively.

  • Customized Pace

Self-study empowers individuals to progress through study materials at their own pace, dedicating more time to challenging concepts while advancing swiftly through areas of proficiency.

  • Cost-Efficiency

By bypassing the need for expensive preparatory courses, self-study emerges as a more economically viable option, particularly appealing to those seeking GMAT readiness without a substantial financial outlay.

  • Individualised Focus

Self-study enables a concentrated focus on personal weaknesses and areas requiring improvement, tailoring the preparation process to address specific learning needs.

  • Ownership of Learning

Taking control of one's GMAT preparation cultivates a heightened sense of ownership and accountability, fostering increased motivation and dedication to the learning journey.

  • Tailored Resources

The ability to choose study materials aligning with individual learning preferences ensures a more engaging and targeted preparation experience.

  • Development of Time Management Skills

Self-study instills robust time management skills, crucial for navigating the timed nature of the GMAT exam successfully.

  • RealWorld Applicability

The autonomy inherent in self-study mirrors the self-directed approach often required in professional settings, imparting skills with broader applications beyond exam preparation, extending into future career pursuits.

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Disadvantages of Self-Studying for the GMAT Exam

The following are the disadvantages of self-study for GMAT exam preparation:

  • Lack of External Guidance

Self-study may lack the structured guidance provided by instructors in traditional prep courses, potentially leading to misconceptions or gaps in understanding.

  • Limited Accountability

Without external deadlines or accountability measures, some individuals may struggle to maintain consistent study habits, risking procrastination or irregular preparation.

  • Isolation

The solitary nature of self-study might lead to feelings of isolation, depriving candidates of the benefits of collaborative learning and peer support.

  • Potential Overlooking of Weak Areas

Without expert guidance, there's a risk of overlooking specific weak areas or misconceptions, which might impact overall performance on the GMAT.

  • Variability in Resource Quality

Relying on self-selected study materials may expose candidates to variable quality, and they may encounter challenges in discerning reputable sources from less reliable ones.

  • Need for Strong Self-Motivation

Successful self-study demands a high level of self-motivation, and those who struggle with discipline may find it challenging to stay on track without external encouragement.

  • Limited Exposure to Diverse Strategies

Lack of exposure to diverse strategies and insights from instructors or peers in a self-study setting may limit the breadth of approaches considered in GMAT problem-solving.

  • Potential for Burnout

Self-study, if not balanced properly, may lead to burnout due to the absence of external guidance in managing study intensity and breaks effectively.

For a better understanding and good grasp of every section of GMAT, efficiently bifurcate your preparation across all the sections, namely, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Preparation guides, tips, tricks, and preparation videos will help you achieve a better understanding of each of these sections. Prepare thoroughly, prepare well and ace the test! Don't forget to share your experiences in the comments below. We want to help you and many like you for a better future!

From the Desk of Yocket

In conclusion, mastering the GMAT is pivotal for aspiring business leaders, and a well-structured study plan is the key to success. Understanding the exam format, assessing strengths and weaknesses, and creating a tailored study schedule are crucial steps. Whether you're a student or a working professional, consistency in preparation is paramount. Self-study offers flexibility and cost efficiency but requires strong self-motivation and disciplined time management. As you embark on your GMAT journey, focus on holistic preparation, utilizing resources wisely, and aiming for a balance between intensity and sustainability. Your dedication and strategic approach will pave the way for success in the competitive world of business education.

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