Pass the GMAT with This Tried & True Roadmap for Success

GMAT Study Tips and GuideCongrats! You’ve decided to take the next step in your educational career and get your MBA!  Now, your first step toward achieving that goal lies in taking the GMAT.

Check out these simple and effective tips for creating your GMAT study plan, and you’ll see that if you put the time and effort into prepping for the exam, you will succeed on your first step toward getting your MBA!

Studying Does Actually Pay Off

The real key to doing well on one of the most thorough and well-respected entrance exams in the world is simply the amount of time you put into your GMAT study plan. Studies have shown that students who dedicate 100+ hours of studying over a long, steady period of time – rather than weekend cramming sessions – results in a much higher score on the GMAT. This is great news! This means that if you commit to finding a suitable study spot, and you log in the hours practicing for the exam, your efforts will pay off and you will do well on the exam.

So, find your favorite study spot, open those books, and get comfortable. You are on your way to GMAT success!

All the Tools You Need

All the tools you need to study for every section are simply your hand, a writing implement, and scratch paper. As many studies like this one from Northwestern University suggest, if you train yourself to write down your GMAT notes by hand, this will tattoo what you need to know upon your memory much more effectively.

Give Yourself Some Credit

The most important thing to remember is that if you are fresh out of an Undergraduate program, you probably already know at least 90% of the answers on the GMAT. The reason this test is so challenging is not because of the questions and information, but rather the format of the exam. It’s a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), and it limits the time you have for each section. The hardest questions are the rate/speed word problems because they take the longest to read. These, however, are nothing a deep breath and a relaxed state of mind can’t manage.  Remember, in the real world of business, the former and the latter are both vital keys to success, so you’re on your way to practicing principles for business school already!

Know the Basics

First, you should be aware of the basics of the test, how it’s organized, and how it’s administered. You will only be allowed to take the GMAT test once every 31 days, and it costs $250 each time you take it. It is crucial that you give yourself enough time for regular study before you take the GMAT, but don’t wait too long to take the exam because you don’t want to lose the knowledge and skills that are fresh in your mind. Bottom line— sign up for the GMAT at least a month in advance.

  • The CAT System

The GMAT is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), which measures each answer using an algorithm to pose harder, or easier questions depending on how many correct answers you input. The CAT system will not allow you to go back to a question that you have skipped. Many students lose points by simply forgetting this one critical aspect of the exam.

  • The Laminated Sketchpad

Calculators are not allowed during the GMAT. A majority of test centers will give you a laminated sketchpad that you can use with an overhead marker for making notes on math problems.  Learning to use the marker and erasable pad will be invaluable when you actually sit down to take the GMAT.

GMAT Sections

The GMAT test is broken up into four different sections to test your ability in areas that MBA students are expected to be proficient in. Pin these four sections to your notebooks and materials to keep them all in mind.

GMAT Test Section

# of Questions

Question Types


Analytical Writing Assessment

1 Topic

Analysis of Argument

30 Minutes

Integrated Reasoning

12 Questions

Multi-Source Reasoning
Graphics Interpretation
Two-Two Part Analysis
Table Analysis

30 Minutes


37 Questions

Data Sufficiency
Problem Solving

75 Minutes


41 Questions

Reading Comprehension
Critical Reasoning
Sentence Correction

75 Minutes

Total Exam Time:

3 hours, 30 minutes

  • Analytical Writing Assessment

This 30-minute section poses a single argument, and is intended to test your critical thinking skills and your ability to communicate by analyzing the reasoning behind the posed argument and formulating a critique of that argument. Because the topic is random, your GMAT study plan should incorporate practice tests to learn how to best critique an argument in a short amount of time.

  • Integrated Reasoning

This is the newest section added to the GMAT. It is a 30-minute section posing 12 questions that test your ability to evaluate information from multiple sources, and in multiple formats. It challenges your ability to analyze data, as it’s presented in the world of multimedia. To prepare, get comfortable with graphic interpretations like charts, information tables, and other forms of data through a GMAT practice test, and challenge yourself to learn more about technology daily.

  • Quantitative

This is the 75-minute math section, which may be the most daunting section for some. However, the math skills you need to know are not beyond the algebra and statistics you should already be familiar with. The questions in the quantitative section test your problem-solving skills and your ability to assess data by drawing reasoned conclusions. You can use the laminated sketchpad and marker to do this. Getting familiar with this section using GMAT practice tests and honing your ability to save time by eliminating incorrect answers and focusing on the possible correct ones are the keys to doing well in this section.

  • Verbal Assessment

This final 75-minute section tests all of your skills and measures your ability to read and comprehend written materials. The 41 questions posed focus on critical reasoning, comprehension, and knowledge of grammatical sentence structure. You will be asked to evaluate arguments, read and comprehend written material, and be able to correct sentence structures to conform to standard written English.

Extra Resources

A majority of sites dedicated to the GMAT will link to this site. This a comprehensive website that focuses on providing tools for students taking the GMAT including free downloadable GMAT Practice Test software, and a complete inexpensive Guide to the GMAT. You can also use it to search for testing centers and test dates to sign up for the GMAT test.

Here are some additional links that may come in handy:

 Follow this GMAT study plan, and you will be on your way to a 700+ score on the GMAT!


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 Photo by Kaplan International English

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