Ultimate guide to effectively prepare for GMAT from scratch

The GMAT Exam is held across the year for candidates who are looking to gain admission in Business Schools across the globe. It opens the doors to over 2300 colleges and 7000 courses. Candidates who wish to pursue master’s from a reputed b-school worldwide should know how to prepare for GMAT in the right manner. The preparation part can be divided into four segments I.e., Writing, Reasoning, Verbal and Quantitative skills. Being a universal exam, GMAT attracts a huge amount of competition. It is because of this competition that the candidate must properly execute the GMAT preparation strategy. This article is a step-by-step guide for GMAT aspirants to spruce themselves to 'How to prepare for GMAT?

Without any further ado, let us combat the GMAT!

How to prepare for GMAT: Three Steps to the Right Beginning

GMAT preparation is mostly under the same umbrella as that of CAT Preparation. Contradictory to the manner in which students delve right into the preparation flames, making it the topmost priority, GMAT Preparation should be slow and steady. Consistency and effective effort is the name of the game. Here is how you should start your GMAT preparation off the right foot!

1. Be well versed in GMAT Preparation: The GMAT preparation needs to be concise and GMAT syllabus and GMAT Exam Pattern restricted. Mistaking it as “nothing but an English Proficiency Paper, there is a possibility that you go overboard with excessive focus on grammar and not pay attention to other sections which are equally important. This will affect your GMAT preparation graph drastically and might make u feel under confident on the day of the exam. Refrain from this practice and stick to syllabus-wise topics for GMAT.

2. Be careful regarding the college deadline: Usually, most of the top international b-schools have fixed deadlines. You should make it a point to structure your GMAT schema almost 120 days before the application deadlines of your choicest b-school. Keep in mind that GMAT is no child’s play. One needs to properly codify latest notifications of b-schools involved in your target outline and ensure to cognitively work on your college applications in an organized manner alongside GMAT preparation.

3. Scrub the preparation stone: It is advisable to kill two birds with one arrow I.e alternating between GMAT sections. On an average, 45 min to 1 hour of your time can be easily devoted towards each section of GMAT to allow long time retention of content.

what should be the correct approach to tackle GMAT sections

If you honestly deliver 1.5- 2 hours a day towards rigorous preparation regardless of the mode of study, the situation is a win-win in all aspects. As a token for better acknowledgement and understanding, CL experts have drafted the below mentioned strategy to give u rough idea as to how you should give substance to your preparation. This technique based on some common trends practiced by GMAT experts over the years.

How to prepare for GMAT: The Tabular Approach

As stated above, it is mandatory for you to study and understand the latest GMAT exam pattern and syllabus properly in the first week. Before knowing the basic GMAT organs, it is impossible to take a step further in the preparation. To start off, here are some important points regarding GMAT verbal that would aid in the formation of a robust prep strategy:

Reading Comprehension

Critical Reasoning

Sentence Correction Questions

Practice short unseen passages I.e. 350 to 400 words long).

Practice 8-10 CR questions every day to strengthen your argument evaluation.

Practice the basics of parts of speech of English grammar.

Make sure you complete at least 3-4 passages in a day.

Pay attention to questions related to assertive reasoning and statement and assumption.

Practice a set of 20 sentence correction problems.

Practice active reading I.e noting down the main points of each paragraph of passage and connecting them to form overall main point.

Switch to newsletters, oxford learner’s dictionaries or online vocabulary enhancers.

While selecting the answer, look for the option that makes the most sense.

Target specific content areas of the passage I.e., the centralized paragraph and the concluding paragraph to find answers of most of the questions.

Eliminate the distortions in the answer options contrasting the centralized idea of the argument.

Focus on your error-detection skills in a sentence.

Practice different types of comprehension passages I.e informative, persuasive, analytical, negative, scientific, dialogue, poem etc.


Ignore the sketchy math in the CR questions I.e percent, numbers, rate and relationships.

Make sure your answers have no grammatical, syntactical or diction errors.

More tips for GMAT Verbal: The Continued Tabular Approach

Here is how to effectively prepare for GMAT Verbal during this time.

Reading Comprehension

Critical Reasoning

Sentence Correction

Focus on passages related to scientific facts, social science, business etc. which present questions based on conclusion.

Focus on the passage pattern. Difficult passages have easy questions and easy passages have difficult inference-based or opposing the main idea type questions.

Focus on correcting the sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Rather than speed reading, focus on reading slowly. Understand and visualize the incidents as you read.

For “strengthen” or “weaken the argument” questions, understand which option will either support or completely negate the question. Go with that option.

Look out for eliminating options which change the overall meaning of sentence.

Try to focus on author’s tenor and main prerogative for writing the passage.

For an answer based on the final conclusion, go with the option which highlights the central theme of the passage.

Compare the answer options to figure out the strengthening argument and weakening arguments

Imply methods like educated guessing (going with your instincts) or process of elimination to find the correct option.

Make sure your answer contains a logical extension to the presented argument

Read newspapers, newsletters, journals, periodicals etc. to sharpen vocabulary, sentence-type understanding and grammar.

Look out for the answer options before reading the passage.

Practice through mocks.

Make sure you know at least 500 difficult words, Idioms and phrases.

Read in Detail: GMAT Reading Comprehension Strategy

How to prepare for GMAT: Expert Tips on Quantitative Ability

GMAT quantitative ability mainly focuses on calculation speed of the aspirant. Achieving success in this section comes with rigorous practice. You need to prepare for QA the same way you prepare for the GMAT Verbal section. As the QA questions are also computer adaptive in nature, it is advised to know in advance which set you can do correctly. Even if you answer some of them right, your work is complete. This might take some time, but you will get better with practice.

Here is how to effectively prepare for GMAT Quantitative Ability.

  • Practice 8-10th std mathematical topics properly.

  • Focus on basics of every quant topic, mainly algebra, arithmetic and mensuration.

  • Memorize the important identities and corollaries related to important topics and prepare a cheat sheet of them.

  • Take advantage of rough sheet. Use it to draw diagrams, make calculations and jot down relevant formulas.

  • As there is no usage of keyboard for this section, remove it and make more room for hand calculations.

  • Make sure you cover the “concept review” questions before proceeding to actual exercises.

  • When it comes to geometry, do not assume what is not given in a question. If two lines intersect each other at a right angle, this does not mean that the figure around them will always be a square.

  • Learn to eliminate senseless answer options.

  • Focus on building accuracy. Do not haste.

  • Review the diagrams, graph and table-based questions where pictorial representations are enough to solve a question.

  • Now is the time for you to indulge in mock screening. Start by taking 1 mock per week to record your progress.

The following video further exemplifies six well-defined tips for GMAT Quantitative Ability

How to prepare for GMAT: Expert Tips on Integrated Reasoning

This particular section is the core assessment of your data interpretation skills. As the majority of renowned b-schools all over the world scavenge for heighted analytical and core development skills in a candidate. This can ascertain the candidate can handle complex business problems which include large amounts of data and follow an effective decision-making process. It also evaluates your ability to breakdown the pictorial, numerical and textual information and extract relevant elements from different sources for further manipulation and problem solving.

Here is how you can win over the IR section in GMAT:

  • Take your time with each case study and focus on building accuracy.

  • Focus on the basics of reasoning concepts.

  • Play crossword games or puzzles like sudoku, boatload etc to increase your analytical thinking and calculative instincts.

  • In the multi reasoning section, Jot down important points from each tab and compile it all to answer the question.

  • Write down the important data elements of each question before solving it.

  • For table analysis questions, straightaway refer to the table provided to you. It contains the exact amount of information you wish to know.

  • Try to evoke the habit of reading while solving questions.

  • Interpret statements provided to you in the question correctly.

  • For graphics interpretation questions, try to read the answer options first.

  •  Look at the values of the x-axis and the y-axis before trying to include them in your calculation.

  • Use the on-screen calculator to save time and increase accuracy.

Pro Tip, for faster preparation, Switch to old GMAT IR practice questions by retired GMAT experts to gain insights on how the concepts are derived.

How to prepare for GMAT: Analytical writing assessment

Here is how one can win over the GMAT AWA section:

  • Practice your writing skills. Take a related topic off the internet and frame it in your own words. Then after, note down the main idea behind writing the passage and a title for each paragraph.

  • Include an introduction, essay body and completing paragraph.

  • Be accurate with statements that back your opinion.

  • Express your individual opinion while framing your essay.

  • Look out for contextual errors in the end and rectify them wherever possible.

  • Refer to exemplary AWA templates by GMAC.

  • Once you are familiar with concepts, check frequently asked AWA topics and frame your answers.

  • Check out AWA examples online. Widen your thought process by having an analytical approach while framing your arguments.

  • Read articles related to business management and corporate trends from around the world using INshorts app.

  • Read the Hindu editorial which contains a plethora of articles highlighting a unique issue.

  • Revise what you have studied and make your list of “common do’s” based on your practice. This will help you create your own AWA answer model.

  • Start writing on topics having the newly constructed argumentative approach in mind.

6 Effortless Tips to make it through GMAT Exam Day:

You would want to get into a lot of running around looking for your necessary set of documents or stationery items on the d-day. Gearing up before the examination can help you de-stress and take your paper with a relaxed tone. Here is the lowdown of necessary activities you should perform to ensure success which always follows the lead of a calm and composed mind: 

  • Mark your presence at least 30 minutes before the scheduled exam time.

  • Remember to bring your passport and all the important documents required.

  • Do not skip on your breakfast. Have a light refreshment.

  • Start with a few easy verbal questions to gain a bit of motivation.

  • Look at the brighter side. Even if you attempt a few difficult questions, you will have an edge over someone who solved more easy questions than difficult questions.

  • Do not let any question dull your rhythm.

Why is it important to attempt all the GMAT questions?

GMAT Exam penalizes candidates who do not complete a section. Therefore, the GMAT Preparation has to take this factor into account to ensure that this eventuality is avoided.

GMAT Preparation has to include timed Mock practices as well. It is never a good idea to charge head-on into a situation without getting an idea about it first. This basic concept applies to the GMAT Exam as well. Practicing Mocks is an essential part of the GMAT Preparation to ensure that the knowledge gained during the GMAT Preparation is adequately applied in the GMAT Exam.

Not sure how to start? No worries. We're here to help you at every stage of your entrance preparation.

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How is the GMAT score calculated?

The overall GMAT Score is calculated according to the score of the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Sections only. While there is no agreed-upon weightage of the other two sections, many colleges consider the score of only the last two sections only. So, going with this logic, the primary focus of your GMAT preparation strategy should be on the last two sections. However, many institutions consider the score of all the four sections, so you shouldn't neglect the AWA and IR sections. Read more

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