Through this article, I hope to share my GMAT preparation process: the timeline, the resources used, and my approach to studying for the GMAT. Before we dive in, remember that there can be multiple equally valid and effective study approaches. The process I share here has led me to other standardized tests, including the SAT (1600/1600) and Oxford TSA. Feel free to customize it to meet your personal learning needs.
Personally, my GMAT scores are compiled from The Official GMAT Guide, Manhattan Guides, Princeton's Cracking the GMAT, and other sources. Hopefully this will give you a boost in your preparations, especially if your schedule is tight.You can access and buy them here.
The article consists of the following sections:
- The Metrics: Breakdown of My GMAT Score
- Select the ideal date for the exam
- Internalize the testing framework
- Build a solid foundation of content knowledge
- timed practice
- Practice reports and bug logs
- put it all together
- Additional tips
Integrated Thinking: 7/8
Analytical writing: 6.0/6.0
The GMAT is unique in that it is generally offered throughout the year. In this way, you can choose the best date for you, taking into account your other commitments. You want to make sure you have plenty of time to prepare and that there are little to no distractions in the days leading up to the exam.
Now to address the elephant in the room, who the heck would take the GMAT in their 20s before starting their college career? My decision to do this was in the spirit of choosing the "sweet spot." I hope that sharing my process for choosing the GMAT date can help you in choosing the test date. If you already have a confirmed test date, feel free to skip this section.
In June 2020 I scheduled my GMAT for October 2020 for the following reasons:
- construction time: That would give me 4 months of preparation time (in hindsight, that's too much). I didn't want to feel pressured or stressed and deliberately gave myself a huge advantage. This schedule gave me a lot of slack: during this time, there were back-to-back weeks where I studied little or no GMAT due to other commitments. You can opt for a few weeks of intensive study of the GMAT. However, this leaves you open to unexpected interruptions, and I find that learning and applying concepts over time is more effective than intensive content.
- It conforms to the 5-year validity period of the GMAT:Choose a date based on the approximate year in which you would like to do your master's degree. You don't want to be in a situation where your excellent GMAT score expires before you can use it for applications. I have a scholarship that would finance my master's degree only on the condition that it be done right after I graduate (in 2024). Therefore, it is not too early to take the GMAT in October 2020.
- Consider other dates: Preferably choose a date when you are less busy. I hear that life at Oxford is quite difficult academically. To make my future life easier, I decided to take the GMAT before studying. I also chose a date near the end of my military service, when I hoped to have more free time for the final round of preparation and review.
If you know your enemies and yourself, you will not be in danger in a hundred battles - Sun Tzu, The Art of War
For any standardized test, the first thing I would do is read and become familiar with the structure of the test. In addition to the general framework (verbal, quantitative, integrated reasoning, and analytical writing assessment), you should be familiar with all the different types of questions in each section.
For example, in the verbal part, there are three broad categories of questions: sentence correction, reading comprehension, and critical thinking. Each of them can be divided into different types of questions. Some examples of types of critical thinking questions are: identify assumptions, identify conclusions, identify failure in reasoning, find evidence that strongly strengthens or weakens reasoning, resolve or explain an apparent contradiction, etc.
Knowing the structure of the test inside and out is an important first step in navigating the GMAT and identifying areas or types of questions that you are having difficulty with.
Here are some steps you can take to get started:
- Carefully read the structure in theOfficial site.
- Read the Official Guide "What is the GMAT exam?" Section.
- Familiarize yourself with the GMAT interface using yourinteractive exam tutorial
- Take a timed diagnostic test or a full practice test. This exposes you to many types of questions you would encounter on the GMAT exam, allows you to roughly gauge where you started in the preparation process, and gives you an idea of the time constraints of the exam.
Once you are familiar with the structure of the test, you must ensure that you have all the necessary knowledge of the content. There are two main areas of GMAT content knowledge: grammar rules for the sentence correction questions in the verbal part and mathematical concepts for the quantitative part.
Grammar rules are perhaps the most important qualifications you need for the GMAT. Even for native English speakers like me, the GMAT Sentence Correction questions can be quite difficult, especially with time constraints. It is much more effective and faster to eliminate options and choose answers based on the grammar rules you have learned, rather than relying on your hearing and "feel" for the sentence.
By now, the math concepts tested are fairly simple and most of us should have learned them in school. However, you may be rusty or have forgotten many concepts, and it's a good idea to prepare a short notes page for proven concepts that you're less familiar with.
During my preparation, I gathered notes from the Manhattan Guides, Princeton Review's Cracking the GMAT, and the Official Guides. For the grammar rules, I also used my SAT grammar scores as a supplement. In addition to content knowledge, I have also noted common mistakes, strategies, and tricks from these sources in my notes. CanAccess and shop my personal GMAT scores here.
Once you have defined your conceptual bases and strategies, it is time to put them into practice. Here are some helpful resources to get you started*:
- Official GMAT Starter Kit (Free): 15 questions PS, 15 DS, 15 CR, 15 CR, 15 SC; 2 full practice tests
- Official GMAT Guide**: 1 diagnostic test, 230 PS, 174 DS, 139 RC, 124 CR, 140 SC questions
- Verbal review of the official GMAT guide**: questions 105 RC, 188 CR, 301 SC
- Quantitative review of the Official GMAT Guide**: 176 PS, 300 DS questions
- Cracking the Princeton Review GMAT: 104 Quant, 73 Verbal, 24 IR (2 games); comes with6 Complete Online Practice Tests
- Manhattan Online (Free Account): 1 complete practice test
- Veritas Prep (free account): 2 complete practice tests
- Global Experts (Free Account): 1 free training trial
- Kaplan (free account): 1 free training trial
*PD = Troubleshooting; DS = data sufficiency; RC = reading comprehension; CR = critical thinking; SC = block correction; IR = integrated thinking
**These figures are based on the 2019 edition.
Please note that some of these free accounts (Veritas Prep) can only be accessed by logging intoClube tun GMATRegistration process.
When practicing, I tried to simulate the test conditions as much as possible. Here are some best practices to follow:
- track your progress: I've set up an excel spreadsheet that shows all the exercise resources I have access to, my completion rate for each resource, my scores, the number/type of errors for each exercise, etc.
- Time for each exercise:This allows you to practice speed and accuracy. It also helps you learn to judge when to give up and make an intelligent guess when a problem is taking too long to solve. Time is extremely important for the GMAT, as every question left unanswered carries severe penalties.
- Complete the full practice tests:This is useful for increasing stamina. Taking a full 3-hour test is very different than taking six 30-minute tests separated by work, food, and rest.
- Keep the order of test sections consistent:Select and complete an order. This way you can practice "switching" between the individual sections. Personally, I chose order two: Verbal, Quantitative, and Integrated Thinking, then AWA. I chose this because it was similar to the SATs I took a year ago (Oct 2019) and my desire was to clear the most difficult sections (verbally and quantitatively) first.
- Exceptions to the full practice test rule:The number of practice tests you have access to is limited and this should not be the limiting factor in the amount of practice you complete. The Official GMAT Guide, Official Quantitative Review, and Official Verbal Review provide a database of questions with explanations of answers, broken down by question category. This allows you to gain additional practice in areas where you are weak. However, these exercises should still be timed by hand and performed in sets of similar duration to the GMAT sections as much as possible. For example, answer 36 verbal practice questions in 65 minutes.
Here are some numbers that can help you practice time management during testing:
- Verbal section: answer 6 questions every 10 minutes (leave a margin of 5 minutes)
- Quantitative part: exactly 2 minutes per question (no buffering)
- Embedded Thinking: Answer 4 questions every 10 minutes (no buffering)
Practice after practice can be useless if you don't check your mistakes. To get the most benefit from each practice session, notice which questions you got wrong, understand why you got it wrong, and think about how to avoid making similar mistakes in the future. Here are some corrective actions you can take depending on the cause of a bad question:
- A careless mistake:Take a mental note and try not to be careless with such questions in the future. If you find yourself making similar careless mistakes all the time, write them down and review them before you practice in the future (for example, confusing the percentage greater than "x" with the percentage of "x").
- A substantial knowledge gap:Learn new grammar or math rules and add them to your notes. Check it out and internalize it.
- Lack of experience in applying a known concept:You may have already written and revised the grammar rule tested in the question, but couldn't pinpoint the error while practicing. It just means that he needs more practice and revision to strengthen his knowledge base.
For error types 2 and 3, I also keep a log of errors, sorted by question type and category (one document for sentence correction in the verbal part, another for data sufficiency questions in the quantitative part, etc.) . The error logs include a screenshot of the question, the correct answer, and a brief explanation of why other options are incorrect.
Error logs are useful in two ways. First, by reviewing these error logs, you can avoid making similar errors in the future. Second, they allow you to identify and adjust your future exercise efforts to focus on your weakest areas.
How do all of these tips fit together chronologically? My build process looks like this:
The preparation process is quite iterative. After preparing and reviewing my initial notes, I began timed exercises and went over mistakes. This allowed me to identify gaps in knowledge. I would then update my personal notes and revise them based on any mistakes I made. After that, I would do more timed practice: more practice tests or practice questions that would focus on my weakest areas. The process is then repeated.
- Save an official practice test for the day before test day
- Be prepared if it's physiological: This tip may be a bit of a stretch, but I'm doing it just in case. The test centers do not allow the entry of water. Therefore, on your timed practice tests, limit your access to water and bathroom breaks to the 2 scheduled breaks designated on the test. Please also note that you will not use the full 8 minute break, as there will be some processing time before you return to the exam room. Since I took my test during the Covid19 period, I had to wear a mask during the entire test. To acclimatize, I wore my mask while completing my last two practice tests before test day.
- Get familiar with the on-screen timer:In all of my practice tests, I relied on my stopwatch to keep track of time instead of using the on-screen stopwatch. However, I was informed that I was not allowed to enter the examination room on the day of the examination. Since my timer counted up instead of down, this unfamiliarity caused me some time management issues during the test.
- Make all decisions well in advance of test day.: what order of sections would you choose, to which 5 schools would you send your results and under what scenario would you cancel your results.
- arrives early: Plan your route before the day of the test and take into account the estimated travel time. The GMAT requires you to arrive 30 minutes early, and in my experience, the test center allows you to take the test up to 30 minutes before your scheduled time. I planned to arrive 45 minutes early to give myself time to go to the bathroom, calm my nerves, and have some reserve time in case there are traffic delays.
Here it isone last plug for my notes. Happy GMAT!
I try to share smart content and maximize the signal to noise ratio. Find me on the following platforms: linktr.ee/gideon.tay.
A 770 is in the 99th percentile. The 99th percentile starts at 760 so technically a 770 is 99th%+ but the GMAT only provides integer percentiles. The LSAT actually digs into the decimals so you can get a 99.9 percentile LSAT score.How many people get 770 on GMAT? ›
|GMAT score||GMAT percentile|
It required 99 hours of prep and these 9 steps. GMAT preparation, test strategy, and test-day-performance are deeply linked, and this guide walks you through a strategy to get your dream score. Using this strategy I have scored 99th percentiles on the SAT, TOEFL, and the GMAT, and I hope it helps you too.How hard is it to get a 780 on GMAT? ›
GMAT 780 represents the 99th percentile. That means if you score a 780 on the GMAT, you are amongst the top 1 percent of the test takers.What is an 80% on the GMAT? ›
Your percentile for each section of the GMAT represents the percentage of applicants who you outperformed on that section. So, for example, if you score in the 80th percentile on the Verbal section, you did better than 80% of all other test takers on that section.How many questions can you get wrong to get a 750 on the GMAT? ›
In Summary: How to Score 750+ on the GMAT
We've seen that, to score 750 or higher on the GMAT, you can do the following: Plan to get at least 21 to 25 counted Quant questions and at least 23 to 26 counted Verbal questions correct.
Each of your five GMAT scores includes a percentile ranking, which indicates the percent of test takers that you performed better than. For example, a ranking of 75% means that 25% of test takers performed as well or better than you, and 75% did not do as well.How rare is a perfect GMAT score? ›
So, we can see why, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, fewer than 50 people out of the over 200,000 people who take the GMAT each year score a perfect 800. Getting all the questions on the GMAT correct is not easy. At the same time, with the right mindset, it is doable.What is the average GMAT score for first time test takers? ›
A 550 is a solid initial CAT score (the average score on the Official GMAT hovers around 540-550 most years).Is 3 months enough for GMAT? ›
Yes, if you follow the right steps and guidance, you can crack the GMAT in 3 months. Are 2 months enough for GMAT preparation? 2 months is not enough for GMAT preparation, especially if you are giving it for the first time. At least 3 to 6 months of preparation is required to get a good GMAT score.
Remember, studying for the GMAT takes time. Plan to spend about two to three months and 100–120 hours reviewing material and practicing regularly. The top scorers on the GMAT spend 120+ hours, on average, studying for Test Day over a period of time.Is 4 months enough for GMAT? ›
Whether you're a college student or working professional, the average GMAT student can expect to spend 100-170 hours studying, over the course of 2-3 months before your test date. The very top scorers on the GMAT often spend more than 170 hours, with study plans lasting up to 6 months.Can I crack GMAT without coaching? ›
Ans. Yes, it is possible to crack the GMAT exam without any professional coaching. You need to follow a study schedule that helps you to improve on your shortcomings and to focus on your strengths.Can I get into Harvard with 780 GMAT score? ›
INSEAD only score r an average GMAT score of 708, while Harvard accepted scores ranging from 590 to 790, with a median GMAT score of 730.What is a mediocre GMAT score? ›
The average GMAT score was 658 in 2021, but you may need at least a 720 for some top MBA programs.What GMAT score do you need for top business schools? ›
So, Is 700 a good GMAT score? According to most MBA experts, a score above 700 is considered great, while anything over 650 is good. A 700+ GMAT score for top MBA programmes is usually the norm, but having a GMAT score below 700 doesn't mean you don't stand a chance of getting into the top business schools.What GMAT score do I need for Harvard? ›
Harvard reports its class median, rather than average, GMAT score. Harvard's median GMAT is 730. This gives you an idea of where you are, at least in terms of your competitiveness around the GMAT. Broken down by GMAT Quant and Verbal sections, Harvard's median quant score is 49 and Harvard's median verbal score is 41.What is a satisfactory GMAT score? ›
Some standardized tests penalize students for guessing, but the GMAT is not among them. In fact, not only are students not penalized for guessing, on the multiple-choice sections of the test they are penalized for not guessing. Unanswered questions adversely affect scores more than incorrect answers.Why is my GMAT score not improving? ›
For example, if you see your GMAT Quant score not improving, it could be that the Quant strategies provided by your prep resources are too gimmicky to work reliably. If the resources you're using recommend such strategies, your Quant section score could plateau at a level well below your goal.
Plan on putting in 60-100 hours of total work for your GMAT prep. This breaks down into 15 hours of work per week for four to seven weeks.How hard is the GMAT 700+? ›
It's likely that around 20 percent of GMAT test-takers score 700+. Some people who have studied math or verbal topics before preparing for the GMAT find the GMAT Quant or Verbal section relatively easy. Scoring 700+ on the GMAT is not easy, but it's reasonably straightforward to do with effective preparation.How many questions can you get wrong on GMAT quant? ›
So, for our strong Quant scenario, you can miss 4 Quant questions and 10 Verbal questions and score 700 on the GMAT, with a total of 14 questions wrong. In percentage terms, you'd get 24/28, or 86%, of the counted Quant questions correct and 20/30, or 67%, of the counted Verbal questions correct.What is a good verbal score on GMAT? ›
If you're going for a 700 or higher on the GMAT exam, you'll likely need at least a 38 in your verbal score and a 40, if you're aiming for a 720+ score. 38 and 40 are both really high verbal scores.What is the lowest GMAT score ever? ›
What is the lowest acceptable GMAT score? Regarding the GMAT score for MBA, the lowest possible GMAT score is 200, and the highest possible GMAT score for MBA is 800.What is the minimum GMAT score for MBA in USA? ›
You must have to get a minimum score of 556.5 to secure a seat in the GMAT accepting colleges in USA. However, some of the business schools in the USA may also accept a GMAT score of around 500 while others can consider a score that is over 600.How rare is a 760 GMAT? ›
A GMAT 760 or above will put you in the 99th percentile, a GMAT 700 in the 88th percentile, and a GMAT 600 in the 53rd percentile. Scores above 700 are generally considered strong and those below 600 are considered very weak.Are the first questions worth more on GMAT? ›
And yes, experiments with the official GMAT mock tests have shown that answering only the first 10 questions correctly yields a higher score than answer only the last 10 questions correctly.What is a good unofficial GMAT score? ›
A good GMAT score is over 640 (around the 70 percentile) and an excellent score is 700+ (around the 90 percentile) as per the standard norms set by GMAC.How many people pass GMAT? ›
GMAT is taken by more than 200,000 people annually, and only 6% of the total takers score 720 or more.
Now, if you're looking forward to applying to the fall intake of the business school, you should give the GMAT around August of the previous year. Similarly, if you wish to take admission to the spring intake of the business school, it is best to give the GMAT in February of the previous year.Is 30 days enough for GMAT? ›
Is it possible to achieve my target GMAT score in less than 30 days? Yes, it is possible to achieve your target score in less than 30 days if you follow the right strategy. By setting a realistic goal and putting in a good number of hours into study, you can achieve your target score.Can I study for GMAT in 1 month? ›
A complete one-month study plan preparation for GMAT takes about 200 hours on average, i.e., at least 7 hours per day. Ensure that these 7 hours are the most productive hours of your day. Any other activity that could take more time should ideally be rescheduled or skipped.What is the average GMAT score without studying? ›
The mean GMAT score without studying is around 575 – 40 = 535. The median GMAT score without studying is around 600 – 40 = 560.Does the GMAT get progressively harder? ›
The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test (CAT), meaning the difficulty changes depending on the answers you give. If you're doing well on the exam, the questions become more challenging as you go. Conversely, follow-up questions become easier for those struggling with the test.How many hours required to score 700 GMAT? ›
Indeed, for most people to raise his or her score by 100 points they'll need approximately 200 to 250 hours of study time. That is, if your initial test score comes in at 550, you would need something in the order of 300 to 350 hours of study time to reach the 700 level.How far in advance should I take my GMAT? ›
Try to take the GMAT about a year prior to your expected entrance into Business School—preferably any time during the summer or early fall. The deadline for taking the GMAT will vary dramatically depending on the admission procedures of each school to which you apply, and the term in which you are planning to enroll.How much can you improve GMAT in a month? ›
If you work really hard, you can improve your score between 0 and 100 points in one month of GMAT prep, depending on how much time you have to study and how much you're looking to improve. If you have the time, I'd recommend studying for three months before the GMAT.How can I study for GMAT on my own? ›
- Develop a GMAT study plan early. ...
- Know the test sections and consider them in your study plan. ...
- Pick your GMAT prep materials wisely. ...
- Identify your GMAT weaknesses (and work on them) ...
- Keep track of time as part of your GMAT prep. ...
- Don't stay stuck on a GMAT question.
There is no minimum GMAT or GRE to apply and we do not have a preference toward one test or the other.
A good GMAT self-study plan helps you to allocate time to every section so that you don't have to worry about not having enough time or becoming complacent with your preparation efforts. It is essential that you ensure you prepare your GMAT study plan based on the amount of time you have until your exam date.Can I get into MBA without GMAT? ›
Look into standardized test requirements.
Still, 93 ranked online MBA programs reported that they require neither a GMAT nor a GRE test score from applicants, and 96 said they don't consider test scores when evaluating candidates.
There is no minimum GMAT or GRE to apply and we do not have a preference toward one test or the other.Can I get into Stanford with a 700 GMAT? ›
There is no minimum GMAT score requirement for Stanford. 590 is the lowest score to have been accepted in recent years, but technically you could do worse than that and still get in.How many people get 780 in GMAT? ›
|GMAT score||GMAT percentile|
Strong GMAT or GRE scores
Start working towards acing the exam. Scoring high on your GMAT/GRE is essential since it makes your application stronger. Members of many admission committees have agreed that a low GPA can be overcome with a high GMAT or GRE score.
GPA is actually just one of the factors of assessing the entire application. Other factors are your GMAT Score, Essays, Recommendations, Strong CV, and Work Experience. A low GPA can not stop you from taking admission to a business school if your GMAT Scores are high enough to compensate.How rare is an 800 GMAT? ›
So, we can see why, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, fewer than 50 people out of the over 200,000 people who take the GMAT each year score a perfect 800.How hard is it to get above 700 on GMAT? ›
It's likely that around 20 percent of GMAT test-takers score 700+. Some people who have studied math or verbal topics before preparing for the GMAT find the GMAT Quant or Verbal section relatively easy. Scoring 700+ on the GMAT is not easy, but it's reasonably straightforward to do with effective preparation.Can I get 790 in GMAT? ›
You will need to put in the effort to go through it in full, but if you do, a 790 is definitely possible for many.
1. Safe Zone (above 99 percentile): 760-800. If your scores are in this range, as long as your work experience, GPA, resume and recommendations are on track with the average Harvard hopeful, you stand a very decent chance, though you must understand that even an 800 on GMAT does not guarantee admission to Harvard.How many people fail GMAT? ›
GMAT is taken by more than 200,000 people annually, and only 6% of the total takers score 720 or more.Will an 800 GMAT get me into Harvard? ›
GMAT is crucial for acceptance into the Harvard business school's MBA program. A score between the range of 750 and 800 will set you on the right track for acceptance into Harvard.How many hours to study for GMAT 750? ›
It would require ~130 hours of quality study time using online video-based resources to reach the target score of 750.How many mistakes are there in GMAT 700? ›
So, for our balanced scenario, you can miss 8 Quant questions and 8 Verbal questions to score 700 on the GMAT, with a total of 16 questions wrong. In percentage terms, you'd get 20/28, or 71%, of the counted Quant questions correct and 22/30, or 74%, of the counted Verbal questions correct.What is a reasonable GMAT score? ›
Generally, a good GMAT score is between 700 and 740, and a score of 740+ is an excellent score. The average GMAT score for the top 30 business schools in the US in 2022 is 711. It ranges from 665 – 733. Similarly, the average score for the top business schools in Europe is 676, ranging between 638-709.