How to prepare for GMAT ?

13 mins

The GMAT preparation journey is a big step for those who want to study advanced business degrees. The GMAT test is really important for getting into top business schools all around the world. In this guide on How to prepare for GMAT, we will delve into key aspects of the exam and outline the best practices for successful GMAT preparation.

Understanding the Importance of GMAT

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is more than just an entrance exam—it measures an individual's potential to succeed in the challenging business school environment. Preparing for the GMAT also allows individuals to hone skills that will be of great use during their MBA program and beyond in their professional careers.

Thus, it's essential to take how to prepare for GMAT seriously to ensure a strong score, opening up a world of opportunities in the competitive field of business. 

  • Credibility: The GMAT is recognized worldwide by universities and colleges offering postgraduate business degrees. Therefore, a strong score can greatly enhance an application's credibility.
  • Access to Top Business Schools: Most top-ranked business schools worldwide require applicants' GMAT scores. A high GMAT score increases applicants' chances of securing admission to these prestigious institutions.
  • Scholarships and Funding: Many institutions consider GMAT scores when deciding on scholarships and other types of funding. A high score can help secure financial assistance, reducing the burden of postgraduate study.
  • Career Prospects: Companies, especially consulting and investment firms, often consider a candidate's GMAT scores during recruitment. Therefore, a good GMAT score can open up job opportunities in top-tier companies.
  • Skills Evaluation: The GMAT tests a range of skills, including analytical writing, problem-solving, reasoning, and critical thinking, which are vital for success in a business school environment and in business itself.
  • Benchmarking Tool: Given the GMAT's global acceptance, it serves as a benchmarking tool, allowing schools to compare applicants from different countries, educational backgrounds, and work experiences.

Deconstructing the GMAT Exam 

Once your GMAT preparation is complete, the test serves as a comprehensive evaluation of analytical, logical, quantitative, and linguistic aptitudes crucial for success in a business management program.

It is imperative to comprehend the intricacies of the GMAT exam structure and scoring system to optimize your preparation efforts and enhance performance on test day. In this exploration of the How to prepare for GMAT journey, we'll delve into the nuances of the exam's composition and scoring mechanics.

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA): In this section, you'll need to write an essay that critiques a given argument. The AWA measures your ability to think critically and to communicate your ideas. This section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6.
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR): This section tests your ability to evaluate information presented in multiple formats and from multiple sources. The skills tested in this section are important for data analysis and decision-making in a business context. The IR section contains 12 questions and is scored on a scale of 1 to 8.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: This section assesses your ability to analyze data and draw conclusions using reasoning skills. It contains two types of questions: Problem-Solving and Data Sufficiency. Each question requires knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. This section is scored on a scale of 6 to 51.
  • Verbal Reasoning: This section measures your ability to read and understand written material, evaluate arguments, and correct written material to conform to standard written English. It includes three types of questions: Reading.

How Are GMAT Scores Calculated?

The GMAT comprises four distinct sections, yielding candidates five different scores. While this may initially seem intricate, breaking it down into simpler components is a key strategy in your GMAT preparation. Each candidate receives a score for every section, and subsequently, a total score is derived by amalgamating the scores from the quantitative and verbal sections.

Understanding this scoring process is vital on your How to prepare for GMAT journey. The resulting scores provide a comprehensive evaluation of a candidate's performance across the various facets of the exam.

  • Analytical writing assessment: on a scale of 0-6
  • Integrated reasoning: on a scale of 1-8
  • Quant: 0-60
  • Verbal: 0-60

Total score (Verbal+Quantitative score): on a scale of 200-800

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

In the Analytical writing assessment, grades are given after the analysis of the argument essay. The essay is scored by a computer software program and a human scorer, and then the average of the two scores provided becomes the final AWA score. In case the scores provided by the human examiner and the software program differ by more than a point, another expert examiner (human) grades the essay and provides the final score. The essay is graded on the following points:

  • Quality of the ideas and the candidate's ability to organize, develop, and express them in the essay.
  • The supporting reasons and arguments
  • The Candidate's ability to control the quality of written English.

As the assessment of this section is done by human raters, candidates can't get their GMAT scores on the same day of giving the examination.

ScorePercentile Ranking

Integrated Reasoning (IR)

Most Integrated reasoning questions contain more than one part in the question, hence a point is given for successfully answering all the portions of the question accurately. Out of the 12 questions in the IR section, 3 are experimental and do not account for the final scoring after GMAT preparation.

But as students won't know which question is experimental or not, it is advised to do well in answering all the questions accurately. Similarly to other sections, the scoring provided doesn't reflect the number of questions answered correctly but rather a number from 1-8 that accounts for both the number of correct answers and the difficulty of the questions.

For example: If one answers 5 out of 9 non-experimental questions accurately, then their raw score would be 5, and their scaled score would be 4 or 5 depending on the level of difficulty of the questions answered.

ScorePercentile Ranking

Verbal and Quantative Reasoning - Separate

The verbal and quantitative section scores are item adaptive, meaning each response provided to a question affects the next question presented in the exam. The verbal and quantitative sections are scored separately. As they measure separate elements, their scores should be compared with each other.

A score of 46 on quant reflects a very different percentile than a score of 46 on the verbal section. Remember the scores in these sections are based on three factors for GMAT preparation:

  • A number of questions were answered.
  • Difficulty and other parameters of the questions answered
  • Number of correct answers

Verbal Reasoning

ScorePercentile Ranking

Quantative Reasoning 

ScorePercentile Ranking

Verbal and Quantative Reasoning - Cumulative

The scores from both verbal and quantitative sections make up the total score of the examination. They are based on the calculated performance before the individual scores are given. The raw scores are then converted to a number in the total score range, which ranges from 200 to 800. A good GMAT score is one above 640, while a score beyond 700 falls into the excellent category.

ScoresPercentile ranking

How to Prepare for GMAT

Cracking the GMAT is undoubtedly a formidable task, particularly due to its scaled scoring system that reflects percentiles rather than a simple pass/fail outcome. This characteristic adds an extra layer of complexity to the preparation process.

However, with a well-structured and detailed study plan, candidates can not only navigate the exam challenges but also effectively manage other aspects of their lives, such as applications, work commitments, and daily chores.

A meticulously crafted GMAT study plan is an indispensable tool in preparing for GMAT arsenal. It fosters organisation and ensures comprehensive coverage of all essential concepts while providing a means to track your progress systematically.

How to make GMAT Preparation Schedule?

How to Prepare for GMAT? The time taken for GMAT preparation is subjective to each individual. GMAT is a test of aptitude and capabilities, hence there is no definite time period for learning all the concepts and preparing for the exam. But with a proper GMAT prep guide, on average, it takes a minimum of 3 months of study to prepare for the exam. It can take even less if you are already proficient in the aptitudes being tested.

Depending on the variable aptitudes and capabilities of each student, there is no set time limit for the preparation of the GMAT. But each study plan starts with the following steps:

  • Figure out your target score: A target score would help you focus better on the exam and would give you a clear goal to chase after. It’ll help you focus on the material that is especially hard for you to understand.
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses: Identifying your strong and weak points would give you a clear idea on what aspects you need to focus on more and what aspects you’d be able to handle without a lot of difficulties.
  • Gather study material and Resources: Before making a study plan, it is important to gather all the material and resources that you need to cover and go through.
  • Figure out the time constraints: Another important factor is to figure out how much time you can actually put towards your prep. With so many responsibilities and aspects to work on, it is important to set realistic time goals.

GMAT Study Materials and Resources

Achieving effective preparation for the GMAT entails harnessing a diverse array of study materials and tapping into GMAT free resources. By strategically utilizing the right materials, aspirants can thoroughly address all areas tested by the GMAT, spanning from analytical writing to integrated reasoning and from quantitative reasoning to verbal reasoning.

A pivotal component of successful GMAT preparation is the incorporation of mock tests. These tests emulate actual exam conditions, providing invaluable insights into progress on the How to prepare for GMAT journey while serving as an essential tool in gauging overall readiness.

  • GMAT Official Guide: Published by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the official body that conducts the GMAT, this guide is an essential resource. It provides an overview of the sections, a wide range of practice questions, and answers with detailed explanations.
  • GMAT Prep Software: GMAC provides two full-length practice tests with the purchase of the GMAT Official Guide. The software also allows you to customize your practice sessions by question type.
  • Preparation Books: There are several books from reputable publishers like Manhattan Prep, Kaplan, and Princeton Review that offer in-depth strategies, practice questions, and tests.
  • Online Courses: Companies like e-GMAT, Magoosh, and Veritas Prep offer comprehensive online courses. These usually include video lessons, practice questions, full-length tests, and sometimes even one-on-one tutoring for GMAT preparation.

Value of Mock Tests

  • Familiarity with Test Format: Mock tests help students become familiar with the GMAT's format, timing, and interface, reducing anxiety and confusion on test day.
  • Performance Tracking: By taking mock tests at regular intervals, students can track their performance, identify strengths and weaknesses, and adjust their study plan accordingly.
  • Time Management: With mock tests, students can practice managing their time effectively across different sections, an essential skill for the actual exam, where each section is strictly timed.

Using a blend of different study resources and regularly taking mock tests can significantly enhance GMAT preparation. While the study resources offer comprehensive material for learning and practice, mock tests provide a realistic simulation of the exam, helping test-takers understand the exam's demands, manage their time effectively, and build the stamina required for success on the GMAT with proper GMAT preparation.

Structuring Your GMAT Preparation Timeline 

Presenting a comprehensive 3-month GMAT preparation guide that students can seamlessly follow while managing their other commitments is an integral aspect of the How to prepare for GMAT journey. This structured plan is designed to provide a strategic approach, ensuring effective preparation for the GMAT within a reasonable timeframe.

A 3-Month Intensive Study Plan 

Preparing for the GMAT requires a systematic approach to time management. By breaking down your preparation time into different phases, you can effectively cover all the necessary content and practice while also refining your test-taking strategies. 

Week 1: Build your GMAT Foundation (6 hours)

Familiarize yourself with the foundations of GMAT. Learn about the test and how it’s scored, and get an overview of the types of questions the exam comprises. If you wish to learn more about your current aptitude in the exam, you can take a CAT Prep exam in the standard exam setting. This would help you assess your current knowledge and how much you need to improve in order to achieve your target score.

Week 2: Quantitative Focus (15 Hours)

Familiarize yourself with the GMAT Quant section by reading about it in various guides and test preps. In accordance with your performance in the earlier test prep, review math strategies, formulas, facts and definitions. Build your knowledge in the math concepts such as Algebra, Geometry and Word Problems. Build your fluency in the concepts using flashcards.

Week 3: Verbal Focus (15 hours)

Familiarize yourself with the GMAT Verbal section. Build your knowledge of sentence correction, structures and GMAT Reading. Practice your grammar fluency using flashcards.

Week 4: Check your Progress (8 hours)

Take a practice test to check your understanding and progress in the verbal and quantitative sections. Review the practice test results and figure out the concepts that you struggled with the most. You can further improve upon those concepts later.

Week 5: Quantitative Review (15 hours)

After the review exam of the concepts, focus on building knowledge of number properties, sets, questions and concepts you struggled with last time. Practice data-sufficiency questions and problem-solving questions. Improve your fluency and time management skills using flashcards.

Week 6: Verbal Review (15 Hours)

Build your knowledge of reading comprehension questions and critical reasoning questions. Work on the problems you struggled with in the first review test. Practise GMAT verbal questions.

Week 7: Check your progress (8 hours)

Take and review practice test results. Practice question types you struggled with the most.

Week 8: Build IR and AWA Foundation (10 hours)

Review and practise AWA strategies and prompts. Practice IR questions by reviewing and learning their tips and strategies.

Week 9: Review Quant and verbal (10 Hours)

Review the Quant and verbal concepts as needed. Always follow the technique of active recollection of concepts, it’ll make it easier for you to retain the information and retreat it during the exam.

Week 10: Check your progress (8 hours)

Take a practice test that mimics the actual GMAT exam. Take the test in one sitting without interruptions. It’ll help you figure out the areas where you have improved and areas that still need improvement. Review the test results and focus on the questions that you got wrong.

Week 11: Review concepts as needed (6 hours)

Based on the test results of the latest review test, review and revise the concepts you especially struggled with during the entire course of your preparation. Practise as many questions as you can and build upon your active retrieval of knowledge and speed of answering the questions.

Week 12: Rest and Light Review (4 hours)

As you are getting ready to take the exam, it is important to be well-rested. If you are worried about the performance, then review some questions and revise lightly. It is recommended to rest as much as possible.

Free GMAT Practice Test Preparation Resources

preparing for the GMAT, prospective test-takers can leverage a variety of free practice test resources to enhance their readiness. These resources present a valuable opportunity to simulate the GMAT experience, offering a thorough assessment of strengths and areas for improvement.

Free GMAT preparation practice tests, accessible through diverse online platforms, serve as an essential component of How to prepare for GMAT strategies. They enable individuals to familiarize themselves with the test format, question types, and time constraints, contributing significantly to a comprehensive and effective GMAT preparation plan. is an official GMAT website created for GMAT information itself. It has a lot of free resources, prep guides, simulation tests and up-to-date, relevant information that students can access for free. The software includes a comprehensive GMAT Quant review, a customizable set of practice questions, and two full-length practice tests

Sample Materials

There are certain blogs that provide sample questions and practice tests that one can find in an official GMAT preparation course. Students can access them at the Manhattan GMAT blog, Kaplan GMAT blog, Kaplan GMAT question-a-day, Manhattan GMAT Practice test and Kaplan GMAT Practice test.


GMAT preparation journey is a transformative experience that holds the key to unlocking doors to advanced education and promising career opportunities. The dedication and effort invested in mastering analytical, verbal, and quantitative skills become pivotal for success in this endeavor.

Through strategic planning, diligent study, and consistent practice—integral elements of the How to prepare for GMAT approach—test-takers can effectively navigate and conquer the challenges posed by the GMAT.

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