GMAT how long to study
Posted on
17
Feb 2022

How Long Should You Study For The GMAT

So you want to go to business school. An MBA is an elite degree which not everyone can successfully achieve. The fact that you want to go on this journey means that you are a high achiever and willing to better yourself academically and professionally. We here at ApexGMAT are in the business of helping people achieve an elite GMAT score. We often work with clients who are unsure where to begin their preparation and for how long to study for the GMAT. For those GMAT test-takers we recommend the following: 

    • Establish your goal ahead of time
    • Be aware of your personal and private schedule
    • Structure your plan
    • Follow through 

Before figuring out how long you should study for the GMAT, we recommend getting acquainted with the exam and learning the best practices for studying

Know your Goal

Before you can know how long to study for the GMAT, you need to know your ultimate goal. Why do you want to earn an MBA and What impact will your MBA have on your future goals professionally and personally. Your GMAT and MBA goals can have a huge impact on your GMAT prep. For example, if you are hoping to attend a top business school, work at a top consultancy firm, and make 6-figures a year, then your GMAT prep plan will look different from someone who is earning an MBA to achieve a promotion at their current place of work.

For starters, if you want to earn a top MBA there is a good chance that you are aiming for a 700+ GMAT score. This will mean more hours spent studying and perhaps hiring a private GMAT tutor to get you closer to your goal. Regardless of what your goals are, you still need to establish a GMAT prep plan that works with your professional and personal schedule. 

Know your schedule

Do you have a family? Are you currently a student? Are you working full-time? Whatever is happening in your life outside of your GMAT prep will hugely impact how much time you can devote to your GMAT study plan. We recommend a 3-month study plan, however, you may need to expand or shrink this plan depending on what is happening in your life. If you are busy beyond a 9-5 work schedule, then it would be best to begin studying for the GMAT beyond 3-months. This will give you more hours to commit yourself to the GMAT study process. If you are a student, or only working part-time, then you likely have more time to commit to studying for the GMAT. Reflect on where your life is at the moment and establish your prep schedule around that. 

Structure your GMAT plan

Step one to structuring your GMAT prep plan is to figure out what day you will take the exam. Do not schedule the exam towards the end of the application deadline to your MBA program of choice. Rather, give yourself at least a few weeks of flexibility where you can retake the exam if necessary. Once you establish what day you want to take the exam, you then count back by three months. Of course, give or take a month or two depending on how busy your life is at the moment. After counting backwards from the date of your exam, you can establish your plan structure. Grab a calendar and write in the weeks, days, and hours that you plan on studying. 

Execute your GMAT plan 

So, you know how long to study for the GMAT. You have your test day. You have structured your plan. Now, you need to execute your plan. Your GMAT test day will come whether you are ready or not. It is important that you stick to your study plan if you want to succeed on test day. Regardless of your study plan, be sure to make time for stress-relief and personal activities. Studying for the GMAT should not take up 100% of your time, in fact, if you allow the GMAT study process to consume you, it will most likely hinder your ability to excel on the test. 

So, how long should you study for the GMAT? 

While 3 months is a good benchmark for most test-takers, it is not perfect for everyone. Consider your other responsibilities and what is expected of you during this time. Make room for your GMAT studying but don’t let the process consume you. Be ready to make mistakes and be prepared for needing a retake. Consider everything that can ‘go wrong’ during the GMAT process and prepare for these scenarios. The GMAT study process from beginning to end should last as long as you need it to. If you are interested in professional help during your GMAT prep, we offer 30-minute complimentary consultation calls with a top-scoring instructor.

 

Contributor: Dana Coggio

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Successful GMAT Prep - 5 Things You Need To Know
Posted on
09
Nov 2021

Successful GMAT Prep – 5 Things You Need to Know To Ace The GMAT

By: ApexGMAT
Date: October 28, 2021

The GMAT is one of the greatest challenges that many people face on the road to their MBA acceptance, but it doesn’t have to be. For many, the anxiety surrounding the GMAT is due to it being a largely misunderstood challenge. Contrary to what you might think, the GMAT represents an opportunity to illustrate your creativity and improve your critical and creative thinking skills, not just revise your knowledge of high school math and grammar. When properly preparing for the exam you’ll develop:

  • new ways to approach solving problems of all sorts
  • novel techniques for organizing and characterizing information
  • the ability to curate your own thought process to become a more effective thinker

With this in mind, I’d like to discuss five key points to help you get into the correct mindset for a successful (read: transformative) and low-stress GMAT preparation experience.

1. You are not your GMAT.

Many people use their GMAT score to define their abilities across a range of fields, their value as an applicant, or, even more insidiously, in a greater self-esteem context.

You are not your GMAT!

Your GMAT score doesn’t represent how smart you are or how capable you are as a person, student, or professional. It certainly doesn’t deliver the distinct mix of characteristics that make you, well, you. What admissions committees are seeking when they look at your GMAT score is a set of skills that are valuable in a number of ways (more on this later), but tying your self-worth up in a number is perilous, to say the least.

Putting the self-esteem aspect aside for a moment, identifying yourself with your GMAT means that you are giving short shrift to who you are as a person outside of a testing environment – you know who I’m talking about, the badass who has already achieved so much and is on track for so much more. There is no need to put additional pressure on yourself to perform well on the GMAT to prove to yourself, or to your family, friends, or an admissions committee how “valuable” you are, how smart you are, or how capable you are.

From our perspective as teachers, we also see this occur frequently in the other direction, with tutors who apply to work with us. They define themselves by their GMAT success rather than their ability as educators. We reject many potential tutors out of hand, despite their having a 770+ score, because a score is simply a number on a piece of paper; we seek people who understand others, are strong communicators, and who are always growing as educators.

Takeaway: By focusing on your score, rather than developing stronger critical and creative thinking skills, you’re missing the point of the GMAT.

2. The GMAT is both easier and harder than you think.

I know this sounds counterintuitive, but bear with me.

The stigma of the GMAT – that it’s a terribly difficult exam – affects the performance of most test takers. This hyperbole can cause you to freeze up and underperform. The people who make the GMAT out to be more difficult than it is, in the end, hold themselves back by placing it on a pedestal and treating it with too much reverence.

The GMAT is certainly an exceptionally challenging exam that will push you to your limits. There is no mistaking that. Further, it compares you to your peers – people who have similar levels of skill and experience, hence gaining a competitive edge seems nearly impossible without working harder. However, because most people make it out to be harder than it is, they end up holding themselves back.

Conversely, the GMAT is easier than you think because it rewards informality and creative thinking, especially on the math side. A successful GMATter can use intuition and clear, logical reasoning in order to solve the most intractable problems.

Because of this seeming dichotomy, test takers bring to the exam a paradigm of thought that is very restrictive. By not looking for an accessible or intuitive answer – the most efficient answer of methodology to solve a problem – they restrict their options and make their task all the more challenging.

Once you free yourself of the academic restraints that come from the burden of too formal an education, whether with math or language, and utilize your intuitive reasoning mind, all of a sudden GMAT problems become much more simple and straightforward.

Let’s look at an example:

Since implementing new work protocols at the start of 2020, every employee’s efficiency in the factory has increased by 33%, leading to layoffs of 25% of the workforce. Assuming no other changes, and that each worker has the same level of productivity, if the factory produced $20 m worth of widgets in 2019, what value of widgets did it produce in 2020?

  1. $10 m
  2. $13.3 m
  3. $16.75 m
  4. $20 m
  5. $33.25 m

It’s very easy to dive into doing a lot of math here, but the real skill is finding what’s important, and realizing that there’s little math to be done.

First, focus on only the important information: Efficiency +33% and Workforce -25%.

Second, realize that you’re not constrained to using percentages: Efficiency +⅓ and Workforce -1/4.

Finally, understand that these changes are built upon the existing base. Efficiency 4/3 as much and Workforce ¾ as much. These changes cancel out! The more problems you do, the more sensitive you become to the ways that simple truths can be communicated in unnecessarily complex ways, but if you just keep hitting the math you’ll never get there.

Takeaway: The most challenging part of the GMAT is dehabituating the solutions paths that you’ve locked in through your training at school and allowing yourself the mental flexibility to really explore, be creative, and go with your gut.

3. Don’t force it. It’s not a knowledge test.

There is a great misconception that the GMAT is just about knowing how to solve every problem that they might throw at you, and knowing how to do so before you’re actually sitting in the exam.

In fact, while you need to know all the concepts that are being tested, the exam is not testing your knowledge of these mechanics. Rather, the exam tests your depth of knowledge. The contextual relationship between the rules and the correct answer is often hidden in the space between two concepts, as in the example above. Examining how those rules can be bent, or broken, or how they relate to other rules, can lead to new insights that you wouldn’t think were otherwise there.

Takeaway: It’s a conversation, not a play. There is no script. Being prepared means being able to handle the unknown challenges that will come your way, not knowing exactly what to say in advance. You’ll never be totally prepared, because you’ll never know what the other person will say.

4. Most performance issues are not intellectual.

Many high achievers come to the GMAT and find themselves plateauing in the mid-upper 600s or low 700s. They think that a lack of fluency or a deeper understanding of the material is what’s holding them back.

True GMAT success is governed by the recognition that it is a test of acuity, confidence, and temperament. For example, being comfortable in uncertainty, making decisions quickly, and finding out of the box solutions are all highly rewarded skills in this exam.

A general understanding of the dynamics of a problem, rather than a precise answer, are often the characteristics that allow people to truly excel, especially on the most challenging questions. So much of success on the GMAT at the highest levels is about managing the emotional and behavioural stresses, not the intellectual challenge. Being able to regulate your anxiety, self-confidence/questioning, and overall comfort can impact your GMAT score significantly once you’re past 700, where each second and every unique approach can mean extra points.

Takeaway: Once you’re in the upper 600s, improvement comes from focusing on non-intellectual elements. Preparing for these challenges from the start is what makes for the most rapid, fluid, and meaningful preparation.

5. Most people don’t do it alone

The dirty little secret that no one talks about is that nearly every high-achiever seeks assistance to obtain a great GMAT score. This is all the more true in those places where the smartest people congregate. People don’t speak about getting help because they are usually in environments, whether academic or professional, where they are valued for their intellectual ability and feel that it is a mark of shame to not be able to “go it alone.”

We have so many clients that come to us from McKinsey and BCG, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanely, Google, Apple, et cetera, who are not comfortable sharing with their peers or family the fact that they have sought help. This is because they fear that their admission will in some way diminish their achievements or their cachet in the eyes of those they respect most.

There is no shame in seeking help, even if it is the first time you’ve ever needed to (for many of our top performing clients, we’re the first tutor they’ve ever needed in their lives). You may have found yourself at a great school or already landed your first job and thus consider yourself exceptionally successful. But the GMAT is pitting you against those who are of a similar ilk and so going it alone is fraught with difficulties. One of these difficulties being the ability to gain a competitive edge after being homogenized for so long in academic or corporate environments.

This can often lead to frustration, sadness, and sometimes missing the boat entirely on the next stage of your life. It is important to recognize that everyone, all those people that you respect and admire most, at one point or another, have needed help, and have had to ask for help.

Takeaway: Don’t hesitate to ask for help. That’s what strong people do. It’s what leaders do. It’s what those who are the most successful do. Never go it alone. 

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