An average GMAT study plan is 2 to 5 months long

A good GMAT study plan breaks down a target score into small, achievable tasks.

In this post I will:

  1. Describe the essential milestones a GMAT study plan must include.
  2. Walk you through a standard GMAT study plan that takes about 2 to 5 months to complete.
  3. Help you determine whether the standard GMAT study plan is enough or you need a longer one.

GMAT study plan must haves and words of CAUTION

Have a specific target score.Not identifying the necessary tasks required to achieve it
Be realistic based on your application deadline.Losing motivation and not planning your application properly
Be based on your strengths and weaknesses.Not making the most out of the time you have available
Aim for an average of 10 hours of study time per week.Not doing enough to make the change required
Breaks down the target score into clear, specific study sessions.Becoming overwhelmed with the workload
Relies on official GMAT study materialsNot ‘calibrating’ your mind for the real test
Describes how and when to use GMAT study resourcesWasting valuable and limited official resources
Use the offiical mock tests with prudenceWasting a valuable tool to measure progress

I will start off by listing the resources you need to prepare, and will highlight all the official material you need.

GMAT study plan prep material

Official GMAT resources

Non-official GMAT resources

Step 1: Determine your starting point (1 week)

There are two reasons you need to determine your starting point

  1. Your score on your first gmat mock test helps you estimate the time required to complete a the gmat study plan outlined in here.
  2. Allows you to estimate the time required to reach your target score.

Two reasons students delay their first GMAT mock test:

  • Fear of bad news. 
  • Ego: many hope for a high score to get bragging rights. 

This is a waste of your time. The sooner you determine your current level the faster you can set deadlines and make your plan to take the test and to organise your MBA applications, which is after all the main objective.

Step 2: Review the main GMAT concepts (2 to 6 weeks)

GMAT Quantitative reasoning topics

Value, Order, Factors

Numbers and the number line
Factors, Multiples, Divisibility, and Remainders
Decimals and Place Value
Properties of Operation

Ratios, Rates, Percents

Ratio and Proportion
Converting decimals, fractions, and percents
Working with decimals, fractions, and percents
Rate, Work, and Mixture problems

Algebra, Equalities, and Inequalities

Algebraic Expressions and Equations
Linear Equations
Factoring and Quadratic Equations
Formulas and Measurement Conversion

Statistics, Sets, Counting, and Probability

Counting Methods
Sequences and Series

GMAT Verbal reasoning topics

Critical reasoning

Introduction to Argumentation
Bold Statements

Reading Comprehension

Reading Strategy
Question types: Main point, inference, function, and detail questions

Step 3: Solve the GMAT official guide (4 to 8 weeks)

This will require that you go through the GMAT official guide at least twice. Ideally, here is what you should do.

First: Solve only easy + medium problems by GMAT topic

I recommend that you work under timed conditions early on in your study plan.

For the first few sessions, you may assign 3 minutes per question. Do this for 1 or 2 weeks. The idea is to experience the pressure of time but allow yourself some time to get accustomed to the urgency of making a time bound decision.

When you have committed to doing this for a few study sessions, begin to assign 2 minutes per question on average. Note that on average 2 minutes means that you may spend more than 2 on some questions but you will have to be faster on others. Deciding when to spend more time instead of guessing is an essential skill you must rehearse early on as such decisions must be made intuitively during the exam.

There is not time to waste on managing time on a question by question basis, so you must work on developing your intuition for time management early on.


A baseline level of math and reading is required to solve under timed conditions. If you are inexperienced in math and reading, then it is best you acquire this level before you solve the official guide.

Second: Solve all hard problems from the guide

Continue to solve from the hardcopy or e-book version of the official guide:

Now solve the hard problems, but still by topic. This gives you the opportunity to focus on applying what you learned so far on hard problems. I do advise to do this per topic as the focus allows you to develop confidence per question type faster.

Third: Solve all problems, or only medium+difficult online through

Now that you have understood the concepts and you want to improve execution under timed conditions. You will  access the official guide through the platform to create timed quizzes. Some questions will be repeated and others will be new.

This will allow you to review a lot of problems and solve new ones. Since some time will have passed, you will have forgotten some questions and will probably face obstacles on the same problems. 

If you are confident with material, you may choose to skip the easy problems, and only solve medium + hard questions.

For this phase, you can use the official guide solution resource from your toolkit to review solutions and strategies per question in detail. Questions have been indexed by the first few words of the question to be usable by more than one official guide edition. In the filter, select the official guide edition you are using and then search questions either by number or first few words. 

Step 4: GMAT Mock test #2

If you see some progress

If you see that you have made good progress and you are approaching your goal, then you may be ready to book your exam a few weeks out.

Step 5: Solve the extra review guides

Now you can use the following extra guides:
1. Quantitative review

2. Verbal review

3. Data Insights review

The goal in this phase is more about improving efficiency and working towards a consistent performance.

Step 6: GMAT mock test #3

Take mock test #3. If you repeat the score, then book the exam and take it within a week. During that week, review all the medium and hard problems you had solved in all resources you used, clearly solving them again under timed conditions first.

GMAT study plan Recap steps 1 to 6

Step 7: Take the real test

Hopefully you will be done. But most often, you will have to take the exam again. If you score lower than your mock tests, which is common, consult with a gmat tutor to identify possible causes.

A word of CAUTION:
DO NOT use all the mock tests during this GMAT study plan. Leave at least two for a second or third real test attempt.

Keep in mind that in general, you will have to take the real GMAT test at least twice.

Enter video 5.

You need a longer GMAT study plan if:

⁃ You score less than 500 on a mock test.

This will add more time to your plan, but will be essential if you want to improve your score. If you are someone who has been studying for a long time with little or no progress, this may be the reason:

You’re foundations of math and reading comprehension are not strong enough and need reinforcement – this requires at least 2 or 3 months to be added to your gmat study plan.

GMAT study plan – Add ons

Because the official gmat resources available are not many, you may find yourself in a spot where you need more high quality material to drill enough problems and see progress.

If you have run out of material and made little or no progress, or are starting off from a low score, feel free to reach out and ask how where you can find more high quality material and how to use it.