How much time do you need for GMAT preparation?

How much time do you need for GMAT preparation

Determining when to start studying for the GMAT exam might be the most crucial decision in the GMAT preparation process. While someone might need only 20 days of preparation to get a 760 score, others with a full-time job might need 20 months to get the same score. Now the question that remains is how long should you prepare for the GMAT exam?

The answer to this question is unique to every individual! There are a lot of aspects to consider and assess. If you have just begun your GMAT preparation journey, this blog will cover all the factors you should consider in estimating the time required for this exam preparation.

Factors determining GMAT preparation time

Before you calculate the time required to prepare for the GMAT, you should know the factors affecting the preparation span. To do so, consider the following points:

  1. The current level of preparation
  2. The target GMAT score
  3. Resources to utilize for the preparation

The current level of preparation

As with any expedition, the time you take to achieve your goal depends upon where you stand presently. Thus, the foremost step to be taken is to estimate your present level of preparation.

If this is your first attempt at the GMAT, use any of the following methods to evaluate your readiness:

  1. GMAT Official mock tests
  2. GMAT Official Guide diagnostic quiz

Next, let us assess the pros and cons of each of the methods and suggest the most accurate approach that combines both resources.

GMAT Prep mock tests: GMAC delivers the official GMAT starter kit that contains 90 questions along with two practice exams. These practice exams have past-year questions with the same scoring algorithm as the actual GMAT tests.

For best results, use the following strategy to get the most accurate assessment of your current level of GMAT preparation:

  1. Attempt OG diagnostic test
  2. Review attempt to determine weak areas
  3. Review concepts related to weak areas
  4. Attempt mock test

OG Diagnostics: The GMAT Official Guide prepared by the GMAC includes a diagnostic test available both in printed and online versions. The test serves as guidance in understanding the strengths and weaknesses and helps prioritize the focus areas while creating the study plan. But it is not a perfect measure of how you are likely to perform on the formal test. It contains 52 Verbal and 48 Quantitative questions.

However, there are a few caveats that you must be aware of:

  • Non-adaptive: The diagnostic test is not adaptive; thus, you have the freedom to go back and forth between questions, something that is not possible on the actual test.
  • No raw score: The diagnostic test does not give you a final score like the actual GMAT exam

For re-attempt – How to estimate preparation using Enhanced Score Report (ESR)? If you have already taken the GMAT, learn to use your GMAT Enhanced Score Report. You can order and access your GMAT ESR up to five years from your test date. The accuracy of your current estimate will play a crucial role in determining the preparation duration for the GMAT.

Target GMAT score

A good target GMAT score helps you stand out from the candidate pool.

Generally, aim for 20 points higher than the school’s/program’s average where you will be applying. However, if you belong to an overrepresented demographic pool, you should aim for 30+ points more than the median score of your target school/program.

Resources to utilize

Whether you use books, video lessons, instructor-led classroom coaching, or take GMAT coaching online, the time required may differ. Most students approach their GMAT preparation with dedication, are consistent, use a data-driven online course, and need approximately 7 hours of study for every 10-point Improvement (on a scale of 800) in their total GMAT score. However, if you use books, you would require approximately 12 hours per 10-point improvement (on a scale of 800).

The above figures are evaluated, assuming the following about your preparation:

  1. You study consistently without taking long breaks between your preparation
  2. You prepare using one resource.
  3. You don’t frequently change your study plan

Besides the time required for learning the concepts tested in the GMAT, you also must account for the time for taking mock tests for conditioning and fine-tuning preparation strategy. Thus, choosing the right resources for GMAT preparation would reduce the time it takes.

Now that you have understood the factors which determine the time it takes to prepare for the GMAT. Utilize these factors during the preparation and hit your target score.


The more accurate answers you have to the above factors, the more precisely you will be able to predict the time needed for GMAT preparation. Ultimately, how wise you study matters, not just how long. Form a study plan that includes when and what to learn. Think about the best preparation practices, given your discipline, motivation, and personal preferences (e.g., self-study, one-to-one tutoring, study groups, and classes).

We at LilacBuds, offer personalized mentoring and test preparation to our students who wish to apply to the top B-schools worldwide. So, feel free to set up a diagnostic call with our mentors or reach out for any queries that you may have about preparing for the GMAT.


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