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Starting Your GMAT Prep: Here’s What to Do First
You’ve decided the GMAT is the right test for you. Maybe you’ve even registered for the test. So now what? If you are just beginning your GMAT prep journey, it can be daunting to decide where and how to begin your studies. We’ve written before about beginning strategically with Quant. But there are also more general steps to take as you prepare for the marathon of GMAT preparation. Here’s how to get started so you maintain your momentum and reach your goals.
Count Backwards for Your Timeline
The “when” of the GMAT timeline is just as important as the “how.” You want to take your GMAT exam at least 2 months before your business school application deadline. After you have completed the test, GMAC sends your score report to the schools you select on test day 20 days later. Additional reports take an extra week. So to be on the safe side, begin your GMAT studies about 5-6 months before application deadlines. This gives you 3-4 months of study time, followed by plenty of time for your scores to arrive.
Set Aside Blocks of Time for GMAT Prep
Don’t rely on stolen moments here and there to prepare for the GMAT exam. Instead, mark your study times on your calendar as you would any other appointment or obligation. Your most successful study times will likely be in blocks of 1-2 uninterrupted hours. Penciling in about 10-12 hours of study a week ensures that you protect those hours for GMAT prep. Don’t worry if your first few study periods are frustrating and disorganized. Soon you will acclimate to the program and find yourself in a good rhythm.
Choose Your Tools Wisely
There are hundreds of free or paid GMAT prep resources out there. It’s tempting to try to use them all. However, your study will be far more successful if you focus on a comprehensive program. In this way, you will ensure that you are not missing important components. For example, at EMPOWERgmat we use all real GMAT questions and offer all of the official practice tests. This ensures that the hours you spend studying are targeted and effective.
Study the GMAT Before You Study for the GMAT
Familiarizing yourself with how the GMAT works and what material it covers will go a long way toward preparing you for the exam. Read up about the sections of the exam, how long you have to take them, and what sorts of questions you face. At the same time, take your first practice test. This will show you what areas of the GMAT are more challenging for you. By targeting your weaknesses, you can invest time in strengthening your overall performance.
Remember that no matter how good your study plan looks at the beginning, there’s no way to know if it will be what you need. It’s essential that you flex with any changes or challenges that come your way. Your schedule, your health, your family, or even your long-term plan can easily change over the course of 6 months. Take regular time to evaluate your GMAT prep to ensure it is still meeting your needs, and change it as needed.
Deciding to take the GMAT is a big commitment. At the same time, a series of small, intentional steps makes all the difference in your success. By following these suggestions as you begin your GMAT journey, you establish a serious and effective study plan that will see you to the finish line. Be sure to check out EMPOWERgmat’s GMAT prep course. It will equip you with everything you need to reach your GMAT score goals. We guarantee it!