Studying for the GMAT in just one month is nobody’s idea of a party, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. If you’re locked in to your test date and need to make the best of a bad situation, wipe that perspiration off your brow and take a deep breath: it is possible to significantly improve your score in one month! In fact, depending on your latent test-taking, grammar, algebra, number properties, time management, and general cool-as-a-cucumber skills, you probably already have a LOT of the needed requirements found in a 700+ scoring GMAT test-taker. Here’s some quick tips to conquer content, strategy, and pacing in only 4 weeks.
1. Study every day.
Start with the GMAT Official Guide to get a broad overview, and try to work on it consistently; even if you don’t complete it (you should use a variety of resources). Even if you’re working full time, you’ll need at least a couple hours in the morning and evening. Make sure you’re sleeping, but if you can take time off work, do. Don’t cram on the weekends only – that might work if you had 6 months, but with only one month to study, you’ll need to do at least some GMAT every single day.
2. Identify weaknesses immediately.
So, what do you really need to focus on? Math skills super rusty? No idea how to approach Critical Reasoning? The sooner you see your strengths and weaknesses objectively, the faster you can begin to modify your study plan.
3. Study in short blocks, rotating concepts.
The biggest danger in your Month of GMAT Hell is the risk of complete burn out. If you study only Quant for 7 hours on 4 hours of sleep, you will definitely fry your brain. Try to “hit” at least 3 different question-types each day. Maybe you do 1.5 hours of Reading, then 2 hours of Quant earlier in the day, take a break for a few hours, and come back to do 2 hours of Sentence Correction. I’d avoid spending more than 2+ hours on any one concept. It makes it harder for your brain to retain information.
4. Review more than you think you need to.
Use the 40/60 rule. 40% maximum of your time should be spent actually answering questions. At minimum, 60% of your time should be spent reviewing incorrect questions, analyzing your strategies, reading up on Sentence Correction grammar, watching instructional Math videos, etc. Just because you answer 1 million questions doesn’t guarantee you a 750.
5. Take at least 1 GMAT practice test per week.
You should plan to take a minimum of 4 full length practice tests, including your diagnostic exam. Feel free to skip the IR and AWA sections if you’re short on time. You’ll really need to “feel out” the pacing for the Verbal and Quant sections. It can be brutal, so don’t be surprised if you don’t finish one or both of them your first couple attempts.
Finally, stay positive. Recognize that what you’re undertaking is (1) massive, and (2) admirable. Let yourself off the hook. Sometimes your studying may feel like three steps forward, two steps back, but now with 30-days, you can give it your best shot!
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Vivian Kerr is a regular contributor to the Veritas Prep blog, providing advice to help students better prepare for the GMAT and the SAT.