How To Prepare For Gmat

Author: Nomi | Published on:January 9, 2019, 5:30 P.M. (IST)

The GMAT Exam is held across the year for candidate who are looking to gain admission in Business Schools across the globe. It opens the doors to over 2300 colleges and 7000 courses. Being a universal course, it attracts a huge amount of competition. It is because of this competition that the candidate has to be properly plan about how to prepare for GMAT.

Mechanics of the GMAT Exam

The GMAT Exam consists of 4 sections:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (QR)
  • Verbal Reasoning (VR).

These sections have their own individual time limits which adds to the difficulty of the GMAT Exam. The GMAT Exam scores ranges from 200 to 800 and is completely relative in nature.

The GMAT Exam is a computer adaptive test. What this means is that the GMAT Exam Paper is not constant for every student.

  • The level of difficulty of each question depends on the candidate's responses to the previous questions.
  • If the candidate answered the previous question correctly, it is likely that the next question would be more difficult.
  • On the other hand, if the candidate answers the question incorrectly, it is likely that the next question would be easier.
  • While this is general trend, there are some questions (known as experiment questions) which are added into the mix with variable difficulty and the responses of the previous questions do not matter in these types of questions.
  • An added difficulty in the GMAT Exam is the fact that the candidate is not allowed to skip questions in the exam.

Therefore to learn about how to prepare for the GMAT Exam, it is important for the candidate to solve questions of all difficulty rather than picking and choosing questions like in CAT.

How to Prepare for GMAT Exam: Gathering Information

In order to understand how to prepare for the GMAT Exam, it is important to lay the groundwork first. Initially, it is important for the candidate to learn as much about the GMAT Exam as possible. This includes the GMAT Syllabus, GMAT Exam Pattern, and the GMAT Exam Dates. While there are quite a few other things that one should be aware of in order to understand how to prepare for GMAT, these are the basic necessities.

GMAT Exam Pattern

Understanding and adapting to the basic structure of the GMAT syllabus sections, the duration, the number of questions, the scoring system, and more, gives you a crystal clearance of the exam's mechanism. This way, there will be no room for basic errors.

As far as the GMAT Exam Pattern goes, the GMAT Exam is composed of 4 sections:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment - 1 Essay type Question (30 Minutes)
  • Integrated Reasoning - 12 Non-MCQs (30 Minutes)
  • Quantitative Reasoning - 31 MCQs (62 Minutes)
  • Verbal Reasoning - 36 MCQs (65 Minutes)

The GMAT Exam has a total duration of 3 Hours and 7 Minutes and also has 2 eight minutes optional breaks.

In the GMAT Score, it is the Verbal Reasoning and the Quantitative Reasoning section which is counted. The other two sectional scores are given to the college to use but are not added to the GMAT Score.

More information about the GMAT Exam Pattern is available on this page

GMAT Syllabus

The GMAT Syllabus makes it very difficult for candidates to decide on how to prepare for GMAT Exam. A major reason for this is that there is no specific boundary on the syllabus since the GMAT Exam is designed to test the candidates on their analytical and reasoning skills.

  • Analytical Writing Assessment: Consists of a paragraph which contains an argument. The candidate is expected to analyze the argument and present their views in the form of an essay.
  • Integrated Reasoning: Consists of questions in the form of graphs, charts or word problems. Candidates are expected to solve the questions based on their interpretation of the data given.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: Consists of two types of questions in the form of data sufficiency questions and problem solving questions.
  • Verbal Reasoning: Consists of 3 different types of questions including Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction.

A more detailed look at the GMAT Syllabus is available on this page.

GMAT Exam Dates

The GMAT Exam Date is one of the more unique aspect of the GMAT Exam. The reason for this is that the candidate is given the power to choose the GMAT Exam as long as it is available at the particular center chosen.

In addition to this, the GMAT Exam can be given 5 times by a student per year with a cap of 8 times in total. The only catch is that the GMAT Exam cannot be retaken within 16 days of the previous attempt. Apart from this, the GMAT Exam also gives the candidate the flexibility of rescheduling their GMAT Exam in case of emergencies.

Therefore the candidate should be able to dictate their plan on how to prepare for GMAT according to their decided date.

How to Prepare for GMAT: Preparation Plan

Once the relevant information has been gathered, the candidates can go about building their action plan for their GMAT Preparation. The steps for the GMAT Preparation is given below:

Starting With Quantitative And Verbal Sections

One of the first thing that candidates need to do when deciding on how to prepare for GMAT is to focus on the Quantitative and Verbal Sections. The Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning Section are the only two sections whose scores are counted in the overall GMAT Score. Therefore it is advisable to focus on these sections as much as possible so that the candidate is able to stand a good chance of getting at least a call from their target Business School.

Strong Basic Foundation For Quantitative Section

How to Prepare for GMAT begins with the Quantitative section. This is the section that most candidates concentrate upon to score since they feel that the Verbal section would likely reduce their score. In order to understand how to prepare for GMAT Quantitative Section, the following steps should be followed.

Begin with basic quantitative concepts. Try to tackle each topic concept wise which will allow the candidate to solve questions of all difficulty levels as long as the candidate applies the concepts learnt. GMAC provides a very valuable resource in this aspect in the form of the GMAT Official Guide. The GMAT Official Guide would allow the candidate to solve questions built in the same way as the actual GMAT Exam Questions.

Take personal GMAT mock tests from GMAT Official Guide, and most importantly, time the test in accordance to the official exam time. In this manner, not only will you able to manage time but also sharpen your GMAT preparation and keep track of your mistakes.

One Topic At A Time For Verbal Section

The GMAT Exam Pattern gives almost equal weightage to both the Verbal Section and the Quantitative Reasoning Section. Therefore it logically follows that this section would require just as much time and effort as the Quantitative Section when the candidate takes the decision on how to prepare for GMAT.

When it comes to GMAT verbal section, the best way to proceed is keeping the focus on one area and one concept at one time. Trying to touch every part at once, such as sentence correction or critical reasoning or reading comprehension, will only pave way for confusion and shallow grasping. Concentrating on only one topic at a time will give a deeper grip on said topic and thereby result in proper long run progress.

While tackling a particular section of verbal, it is important to pick a certain area of the section for you begin with. For example, go with argument evaluation for Critical Reasoning or any other topic that you are comfortable with to start off. And once you're fairly familiar with it, proceed with the same strategy for the rest of verbal sections. The keystone to remember here is one step at a time. Keep going back to keep the study fresh, and once you've covered it all, jump on to practice sets with jumbled sets. This is the way in which the GMAT Preparation for the Verbal Section can be carried out.

Test Practice On A Computer

Because of its computer adaptive nature, GMAT preparation is best done on a computer. While the old school method of studying by writing on a book, making notes, etc., are helpful for other platforms, with GMAT preparation, the computer is definitely the way to go.

Preparation Quality, Not Quantity

It's tempting to be overwhelmed due to a vast syllabus but the main thing to understand is: follow a smart GMAT preparation strategy. It isn't so much about the quantity but rather quality. Being selective and focusing sharply on targeted topics. And this is why, as mentioned earlier, understanding the basic exam structure, past GMAT trends, time management and setting the foundation right is crucially mandatory.


Knowing how to prepare for GMAT is half the battle in cracking the GMAT Exam. The steps given above give you a general guideline on how to prepare for GMAT however there are still several details that have to be taken care. One of the most important decisions that the candidate takes regarding their GMAT Preparation is whether they wish to pursue the GMAT Preparation on their own or with the help of Coaching Institutes.

While taking a time off to sit and prepare for GMAT exam is an option for some, most candidates do not have the leverage or luxury for that. There is nothing wrong with having a day job and keeping the MBA dream alive at the same time. In these types of situations, it is generally advisable for the candidate to reach out to a Coaching Institute for their GMAT Preparation. This method of preparation is ideal for candidates who are currently working.

For candidates who are freshers or have very low work experience, the GMAT Exam remains a good opportunity because the GMAT Score is valid for 5 years which gives the candidates time to gain enough work experience such that they stand a good chance of getting into their dream colleges. For these candidates, both self study and Coaching Institutes are an option and depends on their ability to stick to the GMAT Preparation plan set.

GMAT opens a world of endless fortuity for both students and working professionals. It is a gateway to international opportunities. Wishing you the best of luck!

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