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How to Study for the GMAT in a Month

Posted in Test Prep on November 30, 2010 by

Prepping for the GMAT in one month is possible, but it will be hectic. While there is a lot you can do in 30 days, you will likely feel rushed if you try to fit all the work necessary to significantly improve your score. At the very least, you’ll have a very full schedule leading up to test day. (If you are trying to prep for the GMAT in one month and you find that you have a lot of time to kill, you might be doing something wrong!)

If you can, we recommend setting aside at least 3 months for GMAT preparation. But if you only have a month (hey, it happens), here’s a straightforward way to organize your studies and make the most of your time:

Week 1: Diagnosis and Practice

Take a practice test and carefully go over your wrong answers. Look for patterns. You want to see if there is one particular section or problem type that is hurting you more than all others. Do additional practice problems if the practice test yields inconclusive information. Read explanations for wrong answers and map out three to five consistent weaknesses. You will focus on these in the next week.

Week 2: Focused Study

Now is the time to deal with your weaknesses. Depending on how many you identified, you will want to spend 1 – 2 days focusing on each. If strengthening arguments questions are your Kryptonite, put a night or two of studying into that. If data sufficiency algebra is killing you, spend an afternoon reading strategies and explanations related to it. You should spend this week doing a combination of practice problems and content coursework about math and English. Take super-concise notes that you can review later.

The goal during this period is work only on things that have a high probability of improving your score.

Week 3: Comprehensive Practice and Strategy

After working on all of your weak spots, you should shift to a broader, whole-test focus. Try to complete entire verbal and quant sections. Time yourself (75 minutes for each section) and evaluate how well you are able to manage your time. Identify which sections are slowing you down, and come up with strategies for maintaining a good pace. Now is also a good time to practice question type-specific strategies, as these too can help you save precious minutes.

Week 4: Review and Retest

This last week should combine whole-test and targeted practice. Spend a lot of time with your notes to review what you worked on during week 2. Also be sure to take one more complete practice test to see if you have made progress or are still getting tripped up in the same areas. If you are not seeing a lot of improvement, DO NOT PANIC. Go back to your notes, read through answer explanations, and determine whether you are making all new mistakes or the same ones from week 1. If the latter is the case, spend a day reviewing your notes and weak spots.

Final Days

A few days before the test is a good time to review timing strategies and some basic content. The day before, be sure to get a lot of rest and avoid practice problems. Reduce test-day stress by getting all the logistics in place the night before the test. Look up directions to the test center and have everything you need packed and ready to go.

Good luck! And remember, if you have more time, be sure to check out our more comprehensive 3-month study plan.