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How to Study for the GMAT in 2 Weeks

Posted in Test Prep on December 9, 2010 by

Let me begin with a disclaimer: Try not to do do this! Seriously. Prepping for the GMAT in two weeks is, to put it mildly, a less than ideal approach. You won’t have time to cover every topic comprehensively, nor will you be able to master as many new concepts and test-taking strategies as you would in a month or longer.

That said, sometimes circumstances require a bit of cramming. Maybe you are planning to take the test multiple times. Maybe you need to make a deadline. Whatever the reason, if you only have two weeks to get ready, then you are going to need to be as efficient as possible.

Here is a breakdown of how to organize your time:

Day 1 – Diagnosis: Take a practice test. This will likely be your one and only assessment. If you score evenly on both sections, then you will need a more comprehensive study plan. If you ace verbal but bomb the quant, then you know to focus your attention there.

Days 2 to 4 – Prime the Pump: After you take an official practice test,  spend the next few days going through as many practice problems as possible. If you have an Official Guide, make certain you read the explanations for all of the questions you answer incorrectly. Try to focus on the specific question types that are reducing your score the most.

Be sure to pace yourself too; most people hit diminishing returns in their studies after two hours of continuous work. Keep it under four hours each night and be sure to take breaks and review material constantly.

Days 5 to 6 – Make Your Notes: By now you should have a good idea where you need to focus. The goal here is to make a couple of pages of short, simple notes and reminders about the question types that hurt you the most. If Sentence Correction is your weak point, make a few reminder pages about grammar rules and idioms. If Data Sufficiency is killing you, jot down a few strategies and critical math concepts. This exercise is also worthwhile because it will help you remember your mistakes.

Days 6 to 11 – Targeted Practice: The scope of your practice during this time will depend on your diagnostic test. You may choose to focus only on Critical Reasoning questions during this time, or you may focus on a mixture of verbal and quant question types. Whatever you set as your range, you want to focus on questions related to your notes. Complete a few dozen questions in one sitting and try to relate all of the questions you get wrong to information in your notes.

Days 12 to 13 – Comprehensive Practice: Now is the time to think about test-taking strategies and pacing. You need to know beforehand how you will deal with confusing quant questions that will eat up your time on test day. If you have the energy, you may want to take a complete practice test, minus the essay section.

Day 14 – Zero Hour: The night / day before the test is the time to review your notes. Do NOT stay up late doing practice problems. You still want to get a good night sleep and have a peaceful morning the day of the test to get your mind ready.