How to Study for the GMAT

Written by Kelly Granson. Posted in How to...

GMAT score is one of the criteria considered by B schools when selecting their future students. For those of you who wish to get into a top business school, GMAT preparation is therefore an important component of your application process. Effective GMAT preparation consists of three components:

  • Study
  • Practice
  • Analysis

None of these three GMAT prep components alone ensures success, but a combination of the three together with some hard work will improve your GMAT score dramatically.


There are certain approaches, tricks, and elimination strategies that can help you answer some questions correctly without knowing specific formulas and rules, but "some" questions will not do it. Even the most strategic approach will not guarantee a high GMAT score unless it is supported by secure knowledge of theoretical material. The most important part of your GMAT prep process is learning the theory you will need on the test.

The Quantitative section of the GMAT tests mostly math concepts that you all learned in high school or college, so your GMAT preparation for math may boil down to simply refreshing those rules and formulas. Of course, if you did not do well in high school and college math classes, preparation for GMAT Quantitative section can be a real challenge. Make sure you learn all the relevant formulas, especially those relating to topics you don't like very much. (Usually, the reason you don't like a topic is because you don't understand it.) For example, if you hate to see coordinate geometry, review those formulas with special care. Do not simply hope that you won't get any questions about a subject you don't like; learn all the relevant theory, and make that subject an essential part of your math GMAT prep process.

The Verbal section, on the other hand, tests theory that is not necessarily included in high school or college programs. It may be new to you unless you majored in English or took a logic class. For most native English speakers, preparation for GMAT Verbal section does not require as much effort as math preparation, but you should make sure you are aware of grammar and logic rules; formal English grammar (the kind tested on the GMAT) can be quite different from the kind of English you use in your daily life. For non-native English speakers, verbal GMAT preparation can be a real challenge, requiring lots of time and energy. Make sure you know the grammar rules tested in Sentence Correction questions and that you can understand complex Reading Comprehension passages.


The second part of your GMAT preparation is practice. Try to answer as many GMAT practice questions as you can to get familiar with all the GMAT question types and the tricks and traps that appear in GMAT questions. The more you practice, the more you will get used to GMAT questions and the less time you will need to answer them. Time your GMAT practice sessions whenever possible, since you should get used to answering questions under time pressure. It's best if you use online practice tests so that you get used to answering questions on the computer screen, as you will on the GMAT.


The last but not least important step in your GMAT preparation is analysis. Make sure you take some time to review all your practice tests, paying close attention to explanations of the questions you got wrong. Analyze your mistakes and review all the relevant theory to avoid repeating those mistakes.

For the Verbal section, try to understand not only why the correct answer is correct but also why wrong answer choices are wrong. This will help you learn to eliminate answer choices and will increase your guessing odds even when you are not sure what the correct answer is.

For the Quantitative section, read explanations even for the questions you answered correctly, in case there is a faster or easier approach that will help you save time on similar questions in the future.

Overall, GMAT prep is not difficult, and if you organize it correctly, your score will improve significantly. Self-guided preparation is possible, but we recommend that you use GoGMAT Online, which contains all the theory, practice, and analysis tools you will need for your GMAT preparation. However you choose to prepare, make sure you have all the theory you need and sufficient practice.

Good luck!

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