8 Best Study Tips for GMAT Preparation

5 min read

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized exam that serves as a critical component of the business school application process. As a benchmark for assessing the aptitude of prospective students, a strong GMAT score can open doors to top-tier MBA programs and significantly impact your future career trajectory.

The guide that follows will explore GMAT tips and best practices for test preparation, providing you with an in-depth roadmap for success as you embark on your journey to business school.

GMAT Preparation: Best Practices to Boost Your Score

Mastering how to study for the GMAT is essential to achieving your target score; these best practices will help you put your best foot forward.

Tip #1: Create Your Study Plan Early

Beginning your GMAT preparation journey requires foresight and planning. Start by assessing your study options, from online courses or in-person classes to hiring a tutor or self-study. A few popular resources include Magoosh, Veritas Prep, Manhattan Prep, Kaplan, Princeton Review and GMAT Club.

Creating a study plan early enables you to:

  • Set realistic goals and track your progress
  • Allocate ample time to each section of the GMAT
  • Identify and address your weaknesses
  • Schedule regular study sessions and avoid cramming
  • Include time for practice tests and review

Remember that consistency is key — ensure that your study plan is manageable and sustainable over several months.

Tip #2: Practice on a Computer

Since the GMAT is administered on a computer, it’s recommended that you practice in a similar environment. Familiarizing yourself with the digital format will help you:

  • Navigate the test more efficiently
  • Reduce test-day anxiety
  • Improve your typing speed for the Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Familiarize yourself with computer-adaptive testing

Consider using official GMAT practice software, such as the GMATPrep Software, to simulate the test-taking experience as closely as possible.

Tip #3: Understand the Sections and How They’re Scored

To optimize your GMAT score, develop tailored strategies for each section and familiarize yourself with the scoring system. Invest time learning the underlying concepts, techniques and question types for each section.

1. Quantitative:

To give yourself the best shot at earning a top score on this portion of the test:

  • Strengthen your foundation in arithmetic, algebra, geometry and word problems.
  • Familiarize yourself with common question types, including problem-solving and data sufficiency.
  • Practice mental math to increase speed and accuracy.
  • Learn to recognize patterns and shortcuts in solving problems.
  • Allocate time to both easier and more challenging topics to maintain balance.

2. Verbal:

Focus on the following to perform well on the verbal section of the GMAT:

  • Develop a strong understanding of grammar rules and sentence structure.
  • Enhance your reading comprehension skills by practicing on diverse topics.
  • Learn to identify the logical structure of arguments in critical reasoning questions.
  • Practice paraphrasing complex sentences to improve understanding.
  • Familiarize yourself with common wrong answer traps, such as extreme language or out-of-scope choices.

3. Integrated Reasoning:

When preparing for this section of the exam, it’s important to:

  • Build skills in interpreting and analyzing data from various sources, such as tables, graphs and text passages.
  • Practice solving multi-step problems with multiple data points.
  • Strengthen your ability to identify relationships and trends in data.
  • Learn to manage your time effectively, as this section has a shorter duration.
  • Familiarize yourself with the four question types: multi-source reasoning, graphics interpretation, two-part analysis and table analysis.

4. Analytical Writing Assessment:

Boost your writing assessment score with the following tips:

  • Develop a clear and concise writing style focusing on structure and organization.
  • Practice outlining your thoughts before writing to ensure a logical flow of ideas.
  • Strengthen your ability to analyze an argument and identify its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Develop a repertoire of examples and evidence to support your claims.
  • Review sample high-scoring essays to understand the qualities that make them successful.

GMAT Sections At a Glance:

Knowing how to study for the GMAT involves understanding the exam’s sections and their scoring methods. The GMAT is divided into four sections, each with a unique scoring scale:

SectionQuestion TypeNumber of QuestionsDuration (minutes)Score RangeHow the Score Is Calculated
QuantitativeProblem Solving, Data Sufficiency31620–60, reported in 1-point incrementsBased on: The number of questions you get right Levels of difficulty for questions you get right The number of questions you answer
VerbalReading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction36650–60, reported in 1-point incrementsBased on: The number of questions you get right Levels of difficulty for questions you get right The number of questions you answer
Integrated ReasoningMulti-Source Reasoning, Graphics Interpretation, Two-Part Analysis, Table Analysis12301–8, reported in 1-point incrementsBased on the number of questions answered correctly
Analytical Writing AssessmentEssay (Argument Analysis)1300–6, reported in half-point incrementsAverage of scores assigned by two readers
All Sections80187200–800, reported in 10-point incrementsBased on Math and Verbal section results

According to the Princeton Review, the average total score for all test-takers from 2017–2019 was 564.84.

Tip #4: Use the Process of Elimination

Among the most effective GMAT tips is becoming proficient in using the process of elimination to identify wrong answers. This strategy can drastically improve your chances of selecting the right answer. In fact, it’s often easier to eliminate wrong answers than to choose the correct one. By narrowing down your options, you can make more informed decisions and save valuable time during the exam.

Strategies for using the process of elimination effectively include:

  • Identifying clearly incorrect choices
  • Spotting choices that are outside the scope of the question
  • Recognizing extreme or absolute statements
  • Comparing remaining choices for subtle differences

Practice using these techniques during your study sessions to refine your skills and increase your accuracy on test day.

Tip #5: Learn When to Skip

Knowing when to skip a question is vital for effective time management. On the GMAT, you may encounter questions that are too difficult or time-consuming to solve. In these instances, it’s best to quickly recognize the issue and move on, making a strategic guess if necessary. Remember, the GMAT is question-adaptive, so it’s crucial to strike a balance between accuracy and pacing.

To determine when to skip a question:

  • Set a time limit for each question (approximately 2 minutes).
  • Recognize when a question requires advanced skills or knowledge beyond your capabilities.
  • Identify questions that will consume too much time with diminishing returns.

Tip #6: Be Prepared for Wrong Answers

As an adaptive test, the GMAT increases in difficulty as you answer questions correctly. Consequently, you will inevitably face challenging questions that may result in wrong answers. Embrace these moments as opportunities for growth and learning and maintain a positive attitude throughout the exam.

To effectively handle wrong answers:

  • Learn from your mistakes during practice sessions.
  • Develop a growth mindset and view challenges as opportunities to improve.
  • Avoid dwelling on incorrect answers during the test.

Tip #7: Take Practice Tests

Practice tests are an invaluable resource for gauging your progress and identifying areas for improvement. Utilize free tests from reputable sources such as GMAT Official, Kaplan, Manhattan Prep and Veritas Prep.

To maximize the effectiveness of practice tests:

  • Simulate the test-day experience by adhering to the time constraints and taking the tests in a quiet, distraction-free environment.
  • Review your results to identify trends, weaknesses and areas for improvement.
  • Incorporate practice tests into your study plan at regular intervals.
  • Use your practice test scores to adjust your study plan and focus on areas that require additional attention.

Tip #8: Plan to Take the Test (at Least) Twice

Mentally prepare yourself for the possibility of taking the GMAT at least twice. This mindset alleviates some of the pressure associated with achieving your target score in one attempt. You can take the test up to five times in a 12-month period and a maximum of eight times in your lifetime, allowing you ample opportunities to improve your score.

Benefits of planning for multiple attempts include:

  • Reduced test-day anxiety and pressure
  • The opportunity to learn from your first attempt and make adjustments
  • Increased familiarity with the test format and environment
  • Improved time management and test-taking strategies

Don’t Wait — Begin Your GMAT Preparation Today

Preparing for the GMAT is an important step toward achieving your academic and professional goals. A strong GMAT score not only enhances your business school application but also demonstrates your dedication and aptitude for success in today’s competitive business landscape. By investing time and effort in a comprehensive preparation strategy, you are laying the foundation for a rewarding future in the world of business.

To support your journey and expand your knowledge, we encourage you to download our eBook, The 4 Ways to Break Into a Career in Tech (Plus the 8 Lucrative Tech Careers to Pursue). As you prepare for the GMAT and explore potential MBA programs, it’s essential to consider the opportunities available in the technology sector. This resource will provide valuable insights into the industry and equip you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your career path.