GMAT Study Schedules: How to Build Your GMAT Study Plan

Good GMAT study is planned GMAT study. It really is important to plan ahead for what you’ll need to study and how you’ll study for the GMAT. You need to gather a good set of prep materials and a well-organized timeline for how to make the most of them. So whether you have one month or six months to study, one of the plans we’ve outlined below can help you study more effectively for the GMAT. Keep reading to learn how to start preparing for the GMAT and which GMAT study schedule may be right for you!

Open book with pen representing a GMAT study guide
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

How do I create a GMAT study plan?

1. Know Your Goals

First of all, it’s time to set your target score for the exam. This doesn’t have to be the precise number of verbal questions you want to get right, your exact verbal score, or an exact score on problem-solving quant problems. But it’s important to know what you’re aiming for, in terms of your overall score range for the test itself.

Wondering what your aim should be? Check out what a good GMAT score is, as well as our video on average scores by school.

2. Plan to Keep Yourself Motivated.

Part of this is practical, part of it is inspirational! In terms of practicality, plan on scheduling your studying around your life–not the other way around. In other words, before you plan your study schedule, first look at your calendar between now and the test day. Mark off any dates that you have plans–whether this is work, school, vacation, or just a day when you know you won’t study! Now, count what’s left. That’s how much study time you actually have!

Remember: if you stop letting yourself meet your work and family commitments–and also to relax and have fun–you won’t be able to maintain momentum, as GMAT study will feel like a slog. As Cara Skikne, MBA admissions expert, explains, this momentum is crucial:

The best test takers have a sense of curiosity about the test and enjoy the challenge. Your attitude is important. You have to keep practising and keep up the momentum to see those gradual improvements that might not show up straight away. It takes a lot of mental and emotional stamina and resilience to keep going. Remember that your mental health is important. The GMAT is a marathon, not a sprint.

In terms of inspiration: I recommend writing down your goals and keeping them somewhere visible — on the fridge, the mirror, or out on your desk. When you’re feeling discouraged or especially tired, look back to your goals to reinvigorate you and remind you of why you’re putting yourself through this.

In the meantime, check out these tips for keeping yourself positive throughout your GMAT study from Magoosh’s expert, Kevin!

3. Test Your (Current) Skills

Before you choose (or start building!) your GMAT study schedule, you’ll need to get squared away with a couple initial steps. Namely, you’ll need to get a baseline read of your current skills. diagnostic tests. If you haven’t had all that fun yet, take about an hour and complete both the quantitative and verbal diagnostic tests.

Next, download the GMAT Cheat Sheet (AKA the Free GMAT Study Guide How-To) to get a primer for the test! This guide will give you an overview of everything you need to know for test-day success.

4. Map Out Your Timeframe!

Now that you know your goal score, your current knowledge base, and your other commitments, you’re ready to pick out (or create!) your own GMAT schedule. Count up how many “months” (28-day groupings) you have before your test, and navigate to our 1-, 2-, or 3-month schedules below!

Have more or less time to study? Need to focus on one section in particular? Keep scrolling for more GMAT schedule options, including the opportunity to build your own study plan!

Most Popular GMAT Study Guides

One-Month Daily Schedule

[printable version]

You’re a test taker — perhaps a business school hopeful — starting from Square One. Or perhaps you just registered for next month’s GMAT exam. You haven’t studied for this test before, and you want a step-by-step GMAT study guide to help you plan out the next few weeks. It’s not very much time, but you want to make the most of what you have, with a guide for GMAT prep to match. Then this Daily 1-Month GMAT Study Schedule is for you!

Sample Week 1 from the 1 Month GMAT Study Schedule

DayFocus
1
  • Orientation

  • Quant: Introduction to question types and strategies

  • Verbal: Introduction to question types and strategies
2
  • Quant: Data Sufficiency, number properties

  • Intro to AWA

3
  • Quant: Number properties, fractions, decimals

  • Verbal: Parts of speech, grammar overview
4
  • Quant: Word problems, percents, ratios

  • Verbal: Clauses, phrases, verbs
5
  • Quant: Ratios, percents, number properties

  • Verbal: Verbs and verb tenses
6Full-length GMAT practice test!
7OFF

Two-Month Daily Schedule

Your test is coming up soon. You haven’t started prepping yet, and you need to know how to maximize your available time. Not to worry! Two months can be long enough to prepare for the GMAT–if you know how to allocate your study hours and get the right resources. If you’re looking for a guide that will help you get the most out of two months of GMAT prep, then this 2 Month GMAT Study Schedule is for you!

Sample Week 1 from the 2 Month GMAT Study Schedule

DayFocus
1
  • Orientation

  • Quant: Diagnostic test, introduction to section and strategies

  • Verbal: Introduction to Sentence Correction and strategies
2
  • Quant: Techniques and mental math

  • Intro to AWA

3
  • Quant: Data Sufficiency, methods

  • Intro to AWA (cont'd)

4
  • Quant: Data sufficiency, number properties

  • AWA: Argument Essay
5
  • Quant: Order of operations, decimals, fractions

  • Verbal: Parts of speech, nouns, verbs, adjectives
6Full-length GMAT practice test!
7OFF

Three-Month Daily Schedule

[printable version]

You have more time to prep than the above GMAT study schedules. You’re ready to dedicate 3 months to GMAT test prep. However, you’re still starting from scratch and want to feel organized about this endeavor. (After all, this is your MBA or graduate management future we’re talking about!) If the test intimidates you, or you just want to start fresh, then this Beginner’s 3 Month GMAT Study Schedule will be your best friend. If you think you’re further along than a beginner, then keep scrolling down to explore our other GMAT study schedules.

Sample Week 1 from the 3-Month GMAT Study Schedule for Beginners

DayFocus
1
  • Orientation

2
  • Quant: Overview and breakdown

  • Verbal: Overview and breakdown

3
  • Quant: Mental math and number sense
4
  • AWA: Introduction and the Argument Essay
5
  • Quant: Data sufficiency and techniques
6Practice AWA Argument Essay
7OFF

 

Additional GMAT Study Schedules

Whether you’re attempting to cram or are taking your time to study leisurely for the GMAT, it always helps to have a more structured GMAT study guide to keep you on track and help you attain a good GMAT score. Whatever your timeline, we have a GMAT study guide for you.

Below are our regularly-updated, expert-designed GMAT study schedules that include lists of suggested resources and checklists of specific tasks and goals for every day. Let us know how you like them! 🙂
 

Weekly 1-Month GMAT Study Schedule

In the words of our very own Chris Lele, “do you have what it takes – namely time – to commit yourself to GMAT prep?” If your answer is a resounding “YES!” then you’re ready for this Weekly 1-Month GMAT Study Schedule. It includes the Official Guide and Magoosh product, just like the others. However, this is a much broader study guide than the one above. But perhaps you already have a rough idea of how you’d like to allocate your time to study, or maybe you’re starting to prepare for a GMAT retake and know where you’d like to focus the most amount of time. If you want more guidance, go with the Daily 1-Month GMAT Study Schedule. If you want to just better understand the top priorities and goals week-by-week then this weekly breakdown is for you!
 

Math-Focused 3-Month GMAT Study Schedule

Maybe you’re a beginner, or maybe you just want to concentrate more on math review than verbal. In other words you’d rather go over data sufficiency sample questions than the sentence correction type of question. This Math-Focused 3 Month GMAT Study Schedule is for you! Although this plan covers Magoosh lessons on all topics, it focuses more heavily on the math problems so you can concentrate on strengthening your weaknesses. Oh, you’re a math whiz, you say? You want to concentrate more heavily on verbal GMAT questions? Then keep scrolling down to the next prep plan…
 

Verbal-Focused 3-Month GMAT Study Schedule

You have a strong math background, so you want to concentrate your GMAT practice questions to focus more on verbal during your GMAT prep. More critical reasoning section practice; less data sufficiency section. A little sentence correction and a bit of reading comprehension section; not so much GMAT quantitative section. You still have 3 months to study, but want to dedicate the majority of that time to improving your verbal skills (while still getting a good amount of GMAT math prep in). It sounds like the Verbal-Focused GMAT Study Guide Schedule is the study schedule for you! This study guide will cover all of Magoosh’s verbal problems twice and a substantial amount of reading practice as well. Ready to get started? Then let the wise Mike McGarry lead you through this awesome 3-month GMAT self-preparation guide!
 

3-Month GMAT Study Schedule for Advanced Students

If you had real GMAT test dates scheduled for this week, you would receive exam scores that you’re happy with (but why you would take “a few” in one week, we aren’t so sure). That’s all just to say that you feel comfortable with your level of preparation. Your hard work and efficient study habits have paid off. However, you want to get a great score: you’re aiming for the upper 700s. To do this, you want to refine your studying to aim for top-tier results. Then, the 3-Month GMAT Study Schedule for Advanced Students should be your go-to study guide. By following this study plan, you will cover all the information needed to attain an elite GMAT score. Fear not; practice questions and practice tests are still included. Score higher, score smarter, and have fun studying with our 3-Month GMAT Study Schedule for Advanced Students.
 

6-Month GMAT Study Schedule

You have more time than that allotted in the 1- and 3-month study guides. You’re starting early and giving yourself ample time to prepare for the GMAT. But you still want to work hard and diligently each week to score high on everything from the analytical writing section to the quantitative section. The 6-Month GMAT Study Schedule is the right GMAT review for you, then! If you’re determined to stay organized over the next 6 months, but need a little help doing so, then use this study guide as your rubric and guide.

Build Your Own GMAT Self Study Schedule

After you’ve completed your diagnostic, just take this brief quiz and then we’ll recommend a template of your study schedule to get started with!

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Not sure how to start preparing for the GMAT or which GMAT study plan is right for you? Take the Magoosh GMAT Diagnostic Test. Interested in adapting one of these schedules to meet your needs? Check out this blog post for adjustment tips.
 

A Final Word on How to Study for the GMAT

As you can see, there are a lot of GMAT study plans. But remember, every plan should have some individual “twists.” Feel free to modify our study guide, adding and changing activities as needed.

The study schedules we offered really show you how to study for the GMAT, both in terms of what to study and the best ways to schedule your study. Be sure to study official GMAT materials and reliable third-party materials. And above all, discipline is key. Daily GMAT preparation is needed for the Verbal Section and the Quant section, and you should prep for IR and AWA on at least a weekly basis.

Ready to get an awesome GMAT score? Start here.

Most Popular Resources

Author

  • Mike MᶜGarry

    Mike served as a GMAT Expert at Magoosh, helping create hundreds of lesson videos and practice questions to help guide GMAT students to success. He was also featured as "member of the month" for over two years at GMAT Club. Mike holds an A.B. in Physics (graduating magna cum laude) and an M.T.S. in Religions of the World, both from Harvard. Beyond standardized testing, Mike has over 20 years of both private and public high school teaching experience specializing in math and physics. In his free time, Mike likes smashing foosballs into orbit, and despite having no obvious cranial deficiency, he insists on rooting for the NY Mets. Learn more about the GMAT through Mike's Youtube video explanations and resources like What is a Good GMAT Score? and the GMAT Diagnostic Test.