How long do I need to prepare for the GMAT?

GMAT, TOEFL, and other tests
  • Posted by Thomas on 10/15/10 12:16am

    The GMAT seems to be a beast. How much time in advance should I invest in the test preparation? A year? 3 months? Some weeks?


    • Posted by Thomas Graf on 10/17/10 9:57pm

      Hi Waldixx,

      the answer to your question depends on your specific situation and your "learning type".

      I know from many Asian people that they start to prepare for the GMAT about a year in advance whereas Europeans or US-Americans seem to prepare only for some months. Maybe that#s the reason that (as far as I know) Chinese people achieve the highest results on average.

      Speaking from my own experience, I started about 5 or 6 weeks in advance. Part of that time I kept on working fulltime in a company so that I prepared the GMAT effectively in the evening, on the weekends, and in the bus on the way to work. Part of that time, however, I had holidays so that I could use these days to prepare a bit more.

      My result was 590 points. Then I prepared another 4 weeks and took the test again: 660.

      In general, I recommend to start about 2.5 or 3 months in advance if you work fulltime for your job. And about 1 month if you can use the whole day (or let's say about 6 hours per day) to prepare for the GMAT,

      But again, this is highly subjective.


    • Posted by haferbratling on 07/12/11 7:13pm

      Hi, i have a question related to this topic. Without ANY preparation i got 590 at the official GMAT preparation test. Do you think it is possible for me to get 700 with enough preparation, if yes, how long do you need to practice.

    • Posted by Thomas Graf on 07/12/11 7:54pm

      Hi Haferbratling,

      tell me your detailed scores:

      • analytical part
      • text part
      • essays


    • Posted by haferbratling on 07/12/11 9:29pm

      Analytical part: 37 questions 17 incorrect
      Verbal part: 41 questions 13 incorrect

      Infortunately i can't find the score in percentiles anymore. I didn't do the essaypart, because i just wanted to see at which level of score I am at the moment.

      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 07/13/11 12:29am

        Well, my experience in general is that the analytical part offers you the highest potential to improve. The reason is simply because in one or two months you may learn the tricks to pass most of the analytical questions. In contrast, you may not improve your English in such a short time.

        Now, your scores seem to confirm this analysis. I am sure that you can improve a lot in this part once you buy two relevant books and train yourself in getting the analytical questions done. Please understand that the problem is not in the questions. You may solve all of them if you have enough time. The problem is the time, just 2 min on average. You can only beat the GMAT if you FORGET about what you learnt at school. Forget about calculating the stuff. Instead, try to deduct the right answer using some techniques. You learn these techniques through the books. For example, do you want to calculate a problem such as "Take 3 litres of water, 2 litres of wine, and 4.5 litres of beer - how much whiskey do you need to add so that the final relation is 2:4:4:3?" - no way, you need a framework to that stuff in 1 minute.

        As for the language part, you will also be able to improve. There are some sentence correction questions that are pretty anlytical and you improve simply but practicing them. I have, however, doubts if you can improve a lot when it comes to the big reports where you need to find the "best" answer out of five "right" answers. You may learn some techniques to read the articles faster however (e.g. by reading only the first and last sentence of each paragraph etc.). So, my guess will be that you will improve twice as much in the analytical part as in the language part. This means, concentrate on the analytical part but don't neglect the language part.

        Bottom line: I am sure that you will improve a lot - minimum 650, maybe even 700 or more by practicing 1 or 2 month more.

        Good luck and let me know about your experiences

    • Posted by haferbratling on 07/13/11 12:33pm

      Thank you very much! I have to do the GMAT within December, January and from August i'll study in Denmark for five month (teaching language english), so I hope to improve also my english.
      Compliments also for the whole page, it is very useful! Once made the GMAT, i'll let you know!

      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 07/13/11 1:32pm

        Thanks a lot for your feedback. If you like our page, please help us making the world know about it. Let your friends and colleagues know and inform busienss schools omnce you see a chance for that.

        Thank you in advance and good luck for your GMAT.


    • Posted by haferbratling on 12/10/11 8:13pm

      Hi Thomas,

      I have another question: which books do you consider? Until now i only have the official guide for GMAT review and I am at page 183, i d'like to take the test in mid january.

      Best regards,

      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 12/10/11 10:27pm


        I PERSONALLY prefer a lot the material from Manhattan Review. I don't get commission for saying this (maybe i should...) but their books were very good.

        Basically I recommend to take one of the general books that you can buy in any bookstore (Official Guide to the GMAT, Kaplan, etc.) - and then work through the Manhattan Review material. You get it at amazon.


    • Posted by haferbratling on 12/13/11 5:02pm

      Thank you very much!

    • Posted by haferbratling on 02/02/12 9:31am

      Hi Thomas,

      on tuesday (31.01.2012) I took the GMAT. Till ~ 15th december I went through the quantitative questions of the GMAT review and partly through the verbal questions. For example, as i saw that I solve nearly all questions of critical reasoning right without practice, I skipped them.
      ~At the 15th December I started with the Manhattan Strategy Guide (8 books). I went through the quantitative ones and redid the quantitative questios of the GMAT review to whose the book refered.

      Final result:
      Quantitiative: 45 (71 Percentile)
      Verbal: 41 (92 Percentile)
      Total: 710 (92 Percentile)

      In conclusion, the Manhattan books were really good and I should have started right from the beginning with them. I did not even nearly go to all quantitative exercises in the books. I think it would have been possibile to get a way higher score at the quantitative part.
      I made nearly all mistakes at the verbal part at the sentence correction part, with practicing I think there are also possibilities to improve.

      My suggestion:

      1. Buy the Manhattan books and the Official Review.
      2. Take one day to become familiar with the question types.
      3. Make an official prep test. See if you have to focus on the quantitative or on the verbal part. As i saw that I am weak at the quantitative part and already good at the verbal part. I focused totally on the quantitative part. That was a good strategy.
      4. The practice tests are a really good indicator of the actual score you will get, unless you can cope well with stress.

      For plenty of informations on the GMAT:

      Best regards,

      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 02/02/12 10:54am

        WELL DONE!!!

        I made a similiar experience - only that I had to takle two tests.

        In the first one I relied on an usual GMAT book and some additional tips from a trainer: 590 points.
        In the second test, 4 weeks later, I worked with Manhattan Review an concentrated in the Analytic Part - this is wgere you can improve fastly: 660 points.

        But you bet me :):):)

        All the best

    • Posted by mikajla8 on 10/06/12 7:37pm

      Hi there,

      Could you please specify Manhatton book for GMAT test , I have found various books relating to this test.

      Thank you

      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 10/09/12 8:10pm

        Hi there,

        I did my GMAT many years ago - so the editions may have changed. But I am sure that the general idea of the MR books are the same. One special book for each part of the GMAT - and additionally books on style or how to approach the GMAT.

        In general, I recommend starting with those books that focus on the separate parts of the GMAT.

        best wishes

    • Posted by KaneA on 09/04/13 10:37am

      Hi, I am on my way to GMAT so this topic is very interesting for me. I recently found this video about preparation for it, what do you think? Should I follow their advices?


      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 09/04/13 12:23pm

        Hi there,

        the video is from GMAC - the organization that invented and produces the GMAT. Hence, I would always listen to their advices carefully.

        Best wishes

        • Posted by taras on 09/04/13 4:41pm

          Hai Thomas,

          I would like to know if I am to prepare with Kaplan premier,og,verbal review,and manhattan strategy guides,how should my approach be like.Should I start with the strategy guides's each topic first at a time and finish kaplan..then OG...then verbal review????Is that the best strategy?For ex,If I finish boldface part of manhattan first...then follows it up with the same type questions of kaplan...verbal review...and OG?Is that the best thing to do?Or should I complete the entire CR section of manhattan..then accrdingly the other books?Hope you are getting my view.
          Any suggestions would be appreciated,


    • Posted by taras on 09/04/13 4:45pm

      Also while preparing for the verbal part I am getting 3 out of every 5 questions incorrect for boldface.It's worrying me a lot.How should I improve my verbal skills actually?I am targetting a 700+ score by nov end,do you have any idea of improving my scores in the verbal part?Also should I prepare quants simultanously with the verbal now itself?

      Thank You,

    • Posted by chriz on 09/05/13 8:57pm

      Hi Sarat,

      I don't think that there is THE book out there everyone should prepare with. Check out some of them, and then decide which one suits you best (you can also mix several books, e. g. book 1 for math, book 2 for critical reasoning etc.). I did not use neither the Manhattan strategy guides nor Kaplan, even if they are good. I preferred the official guides and Manhattan Review books (older editions, but the content is timeless, isn't it?). Also, I did an online 120 hours course with lectures, homework, tests etc. Plus I did almost every free online course I could get access to.

      In my opinion, it is a good strategy to go through the theory first, but then you should at once start doing exercises. I would thus not recommend to study one area in all books, except if you study one book, do exercises and then recognize that you still have problems with one section. Then it can be a good strategy to go into theory by using another book/course.

      As for the verbal part, it is quite trickier than one might assume. If you have problems with RC, CR or SC as a whole, then go into theory again. If you have problems with one part of CR or SC, you should not worry too much. You get 37 verbal questions, so your weak area should not be tested very often. Again, the online course I did helped me a lot to get a better idea of what the GMAC is testing you and to understand the logic behind the questions.

      The GMAT is difficult, but repetitive. If you understand why and how they are testing things, and if you do as much exercises as possible, you should do fine.

      As everything can happen on the day of your test (bad sleep, broken pen, loud pouring rain etc.), it is always good to have enough time to repeat the test before you have to hand in your application.

      Good luck!

      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 09/06/13 1:49am

        Thanks Chris!

        • Posted by taras on 09/06/13 9:09am

          Thanks Chris..that was helpful!!!