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How Many Hours to Study For GMAT? Shoot for Score 720+!

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How Many Hours to Study For GMAT?

How many hours to study for GMAT depends on individual progress. I always usually disregard the suggested “industry standard” of 100-120 hours and would go further and further in preparation. Just by doing that you already can jump ahead of many other test takers who followed industry standard. 


For example, lawyers have to bill 1800 hours per year. Compare to that, 100-120 seems like too little, frankly. Whether it takes you 300 or 500 hours to prepare for GMAT – it is your time, your life, and your career which are at stake. Read on. 


The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a systematized test whose aim is to test your academic ability as a prospective MBA (Masters in Business Administration) student. 


The GMAT test score is a vital part of applying for business school. It is considered in addition to your academic record, work experience, and supporting testimonials. The GMAT is made by GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council). Top schools use GMAT for MBA admissions. 


The council determines the types of skills that the GMAT test should test and the method of testing these skills. In this article, we shall have a thorough overview of the time you can study for GMAT and a few other tricks. 

How is the GMAT structured?

The GMAT is a multi-choice, adaptive (CAT-Computer Adaptive Test) test that adjusts to your performance as you take it. As you write the correct answers, the computer generates harder questions and maximizes its estimate of your ability, and the opposite is exact. 


GMAT is computer-based and is offered in certain locations. The test takes roughly three and a half hours to complete, inclusive of the test-taking time and breaks. 


The test is split into four divisions. Each testing a varied skill, and you can take them in your order of choice: analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and integrated reasoning. These four skills appear in 4 sections on the test. The GMAT test candidate is free to decide the order of the parts. 


Every section gets a distinct scaled score:


  • The Analytical writing assessment section is on a scale of 0 to 6 
  • The Integrated Reasoning section is on a scale of 1 to 8
  • The Quantitative and Verbal sections are on a scale of 0 to 60 each. 

They are later combined to generate an overall score of a 200-800 scale.


The GMAT final score shows the extent of difficulty of the questions the test candidates answered correctly through an unshared GMAC algorithm.

How much will the GMAT test cost me?

Taking the GMAT test will cost USD 250 and is inclusive of sending your score reports to up to five most preferred programs. Therefore, it’s wise to take the GMAT when the time is fit for you and to select the proper prep course as they minimize the chances of requiring to retake the exam.

Creating a practical GMAT study schedule when setting hours to study for GMAT

Studying for the GMAT is a thorough time commitment that typically needs between two and three months. But it could take longer than that. 

While most prospective MBAs preparing for Test Day are aware of what to study, they probably have a lot of questions about how to study-and more pointedly, how to make the right time commitment. 


Study schedules can differ depending on several factors, which include you’re:


  • Starting score
  • Goal score
  • School schedule
  • Work schedule
  • Family obligations

What schedule do I need to study for GMAT?

The first thing candidates need to know while studying for the GMAT is that it is not a test that they can cram for. Test takers need to think of it more similar to preparing for a marathon. You want to gradually come to Test Day with a strategy that continuously improves your stamina as well as skills. 


As the GMAT examines your analytical as well as critical thinking abilities, you require to think flexibly and rationally of the material examined. These skills call for knowledge of the patterns as they are in the GMAT material. So, it is wise to build this kind of flexibility and depth gradually.


Again, be sure to be deliberate in your study schedule. Make dates on your calendar with your GMAT materials and be true to them! It’s effortless to delay when the deadline is some weeks away. Therefore, look for a way to keep accountable by setting a date reminder or having someone to keep you on track. 


In addition to deliberate practice times, remain purposeful with your GMAT dates. Originally, when you are outlining times in your calendar for GMAT studying, you may not know exactly what to do during each study period. 


Every day, you can add details concerning the purpose of the next few days’ sessions; for example, August 17could be your evening to take some good time on subject-verb agreement in sentence revision and right triangles in geometry. 


Initially, the purpose of your session should aim at the mastery of certain topics. Near Test Day, start incorporating mixed and pacing practice into your sessions’ goal.

How many hours do I need to study for GMAT?

Studying for the GMAT takes time. Prepare to spend approximately two to three months and between 100 to 120 hours reviewing the GMAT material and practicing frequently. Top scorers in the GMAT spend 120 or more hours, on average, studying for the Test Day for some time. 


Each study session’s length will vary according to your particular situation; however, a majority of candidates go for sessions lasting between one and three hours per sitting.


 NOTE: I wrote a separate article about my bulletproof common-sense method to study for GMAT to increase score by 200 points (or any other test). You can read it here. I suggest you at least read it and incorporate some of the techniques I described. Otherwise, read below.


If you take the standard 120 hours of studying for a top scorer and divide it over the average ten weeks of study, you get roughly 12 hours each week. 


This is inclusive of time that goes into tutoring sessions and class sessions for the GMAT. If you divide the hours equally, it’s best to do roughly two to three hours every day, six days per week, and take a day off every week.


The above is general industry advice about how many hours to study for GMAT. My advice – take 15-20 hours per week, if you can. And continue to study for as long as you see improvement. 

Finding GMAT study time

“It’s hard for me to find the time to fit in all of the studying I have to do” is a ubiquitous statement among most students. The first mistake a lot of test candidates make is attempting to find too much time. 


Like other tasks, such as working out and chores, waiting until you find a lot of free time is the same as not getting enough preparation time into your week.


Use whatever time you have. You have half an hour on the bus during your morning commute? Use flashcards to memorize math formulas. You have a coffee pause you can use calmly at your table? Have a look at methods of undertaking Analytical Rationalizing questions. Or, another way around. 


How many hours to study fir GMAT should not be the issue – issue is to find as many hours as possible during the week. I studied economics on the bus and got the top grade in my MBA econ class. Well, I also studied it in the bathroom and while cooking and eating, but that is totally another story…


Online prep tools give you straightforward practice when you have a brief break or are on the move. It is wise to use offline materials during the daytime when you fit prep into your workday. Old-school book prep is still vital for mastering the skills relevant for the GMAT.


On weekdays, practice in the evening with test-like online questions in whatever study time is available. Any candidate studying for the GMAT can access the GMAC’s online practice resources. Answering test-like questions on a computer are essential, even when you only have half an hour each time. 


Be sure to have break time when studying for GMAT. I suggest short portions. 15-20 minutes of study followed by 5-10 minutes of break. Give your mind enough breaks to digest the material. 


When planning for these evening study sessions, include break time. Regardless of whether you have half an hour, try a quiz, then take a one-to-three-minute break before revisiting your answers as well as explanations. 


Tackling an eight-question quiz will take you approximately 16 minutes, your break will be about three minutes long, and your review will take probably ten minutes. If you have a whole hour of study time, be sure to take a one-minute break to stretch and repeat the cycle.


This is a valid bit of practice that maintains you using the GMAT parts of your brain. If you delay too long practicing waiting to have time for a complete practice test, you lose the routine GMAT brain exercise.

Plan for constant GMAT practice tests.

It is necessary to set aside time to tackle GMAT practice tests regularly; it is impractical to complete a practice test in segments of 30 minutes! We advise candidates to plan to do a practice test every Saturday or Sunday morning, depending on their religion. 

However, just as taking a planned break is vital throughout weekday preparations, taking similar mid-test breaks as you wish on Test Day is essential as well. 

Additionally, you have to take a break between tackling the test and reviewing it. Most students review their practice tests a few hours after attempting them, or, even better, they wait until the following day.

Taking a practice test during the weekend allows you to put into practice all you’ve learned throughout the past week, and reviewing it the following day will enable you to identify the areas you need to practice on in the coming week.

However, the time one spends studying for the GMAT varies from one person to the other. While most people take between 100 to 120 hours studying for the GMAT, others might take as long as 300+ or even 500+ hours. 

Top scorers, however, have been known to study for longer. 

Studying for long is essential. However, studying for longer is not all that it takes to succeed in the exams. It is actually about how smart you study and how focused you are. Be sure to study smart. 

Do all you can with all the time you have to get to the list of GMAT top scorers. It is also essential to know your weak and strong areas. Be wise in determining the amount of time you spend on these areas. 

As I said, I recommend studying regularly, continuously, for as long as you see improvement. 

For suggestions about when your diagnostic score plateaus and other suggestions read my 200-point increase GMAT study method article

If you are serious about getting a high score on GMAT I strongly suggest taking the GMAT preparation course. Here are three that I suggest.

Magoosh (top 5 test prep company in the wold) – easy to digest self-paced course – great for starters.

Target Test – the new kid on the block with intense GMAT preparation to push you to your limits.

PrepScholar – another good test prep company with good courses and also they provide additional suggested services like solid personalized tutoring and guidance form top-scoring instructors. 

All the best, and good luck!