How Long Does It Take to Study for GMAT?

An MBA degree can do wonders for your career, opening doors to so many opportunities for professional growth. However, you’ll first need to get into a good business school which means taking the GMAT and getting a good score.

While your GMAT score isn’t the only factor that determines your admission, it’s still one of the primary factors that business school admission offices consider when approving applications. Therefore, it’s crucial to prepare well for the exam so that you can get the highest score possible.

Nonetheless, preparing for the GMAT can be an arduous and time-consuming process, often taking several months.

In this article, you’ll learn everything about preparing for the GMAT – from how long it usually takes to what you need to do to prepare well for the exam.

Average Preparation Time for the GMAT

As mentioned, setting aside enough time to study and prepare for the GMAT is crucial to getting a good score

On average, many test-takers spend around 50 hours, distributed over the course of 2 to 3 months, studying and preparing for the exam. Additionally, most students who spent at least 50 to 60 hours studying for the GMAT received scores in the 500 range.

However, for those aiming to get into the country’s top business schools, they will need longer than that. This is because the top business schools in the country often require a score of 700 or higher if you want your application to be considered.

GMAT Score Study Hours
700 or higher At least 90 hours
600 to 690 Around 80 hours
500 to 590 Around 50 hours
Less than 500 Around 45 hours or less

With that said, students who scored at least a 700 on the GMAT often dedicated at least 90 hours of their time to studying and preparing. Still, of course, these are just estimates, and the results will vary from student to student. 

Studying longer doesn’t necessarily guarantee a high score. However, some studies have shown that there’s a positive correlation between the number of hours spent on studying and their exam scores.

How Long Should You Study for the GMAT?

Again, there’s a positive correlation between the number of hours you studied and the score you get on exams. The same concept applies when preparing for the GMAT, wherein it’s usually a good idea to spend more time preparing for it.

So, how long should you study for the GMAT if you want to get a good score? Generally, a good rule to follow is to take at least 3 to 6 months preparing for the GMAT. This duration is usually enough to keep a steady pace necessary to prepare for the exam adequately.

It leaves enough time for you to cover all the relevant topics as well as work on your weak points so that you can perform better during the actual GMAT.

Dragging out the time you need to study won’t necessarily mean a higher score, mainly since the GMAT is focused on gauging your practical skills rather than theoretical knowledge.

Still, preparing for the GMAT can be incredibly demanding and hectic, even more so when you have a full-time job you need to balance alongside it. Quitting your job isn’t an option, so proper time management is crucial.

Preparing for the GMAT: Benefits of a Study Schedule

Whether you’re balancing a full-time work schedule with your GMAT preparation or studying full-time, it’s still vital that you manage your time appropriately. One of the ways you can do so is by creating a study schedule.

Still, how can a study schedule help you prepare for the GMAT?

  • Make everything more manageable.

A study schedule can help you break down everything you need to study into smaller, more manageable chunks. By doing so, you can pace yourself and ensure you’re covering everything you need to for the exam. 

Breaking everything down into smaller pieces can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information you need to absorb. This can also help prevent you from suffering from burnout which can impact your exam performance.

  • Plan your studying accordingly.

Creating a study schedule can also help you identify how long you need to spend on specific topics, particularly your weak points. A study schedule can help you break down your remaining prep time properly.

With a study schedule, the chances of spending too much time on topics you already know are reduced, giving you more time to improve on the other areas you need help with.

  • Keep everything organized.

Lastly, a study plan can also be a great way of keeping everything organized. You don’t have to worry about how to squeeze into your schedule the other aspects of your life with one. 

With a solid study plan, you’ll have enough time to prepare for the GMAT as well as other areas in y our life, such as work, family, and personal time. A study plan can help you keep your life’s balance, preventing you from biting off more than you can chew.

Tips for Creating a GMAT Study Schedule

As you now know, a study schedule can be incredibly beneficial if you want to perform and score well on the GMAT. Still, not everyone’s schedules are the same, so what might work for others might not work for you.

So, how do you create your own GMAT study schedule? Check out these tips to learn more.

  • Consider how much you need to get your target score.

Before creating a study plan, you’ll first need to identify where you are now in terms of the extent of your knowledge and score. By learning where you stand, you can create a more effective study schedule.

For this, you can take a practice test online to see what score you’ll get with your current level of knowledge. Once you have your baseline, you’ll know just how much more you need to reach your goal.

For example, if you need more than 50 points to achieve your target score, you’ll need approximately 100 hours to get 51 to 100 points more on the exam.

This is a crucial step before you have begun preparing for the exam. This is because, generally, it’s much easier to improve your performance when you’re still at the beginning of the process. 

This is because most of the material is new to you so that any adjustments can be easily incorporated. 

The further you are in the preparation process, the more challenging it would be to adjust your pace and accommodate the improvements you need to make.

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Another strategy for studying smart but still being sufficiently prepared is to know what your strengths and weaknesses are as a student. These are essential to know because you don’t want to spend too much time studying the material you’re already familiar with.

Ideally, it’s best to create a study plan that dedicates more time to your weaknesses than your strengths as a student. 

By doing so, you’ll have enough space in your schedule in case you run into problems while studying topics you often struggle with and still have time to cover the topics you already know.

In this regard, taking a practice test can also come in handy. It can show you the areas you have already mastered and those you still have to work on if you want to score higher. 

  • Know how much time you have left before the exam date.

Once you know how much you need for your target score and what your weak points are, the next thing you need to identify is how much time you have left before the actual exam date. As mentioned, it’s ideal to allocate 3 to 6 months in your schedule when studying for the GMAT.

However, if you have less than that time left, you’ll have to adjust your schedule accordingly. You’ll also need to consider how many hours you can dedicate to studying per week so that you can divide your time accordingly.

Your study schedule should be as optimized as possible, so you will still have enough time for your other commitments in life. Keep in mind that it’s better to dedicate a few distraction-free hours every week to studying than forcing 2 hours of studying into your daily schedule.

Still, if you can, choose an exam date that’s at least three months away from when you plan to study. This can give you ample time to prepare for the GMAT without the need to cram at the last minute.

  • Don’t forget to include breaks.

When preparing for an exam like the GMAT, dedicating enough time to studying is crucial if you want to perform well. Still, pacing yourself when you study is key to better performance. This means it’s essential to also take breaks in between studying and your other commitments.

By including breaks in your study schedule, you can have enough time to recharge yourself and have enough energy to continue studying later on.

It might seem counter-productive to take breaks, especially if you have a short prep time. Still, they’re crucial if you want to optimize your study sessions for the best possible outcome.

GMAT Study Plan: Breaking It Down

If you aim to get a score of 700 or higher on the GMAT, the ideal number of hours you need to dedicate to studying is around at least 90 hours. However, it can be challenging for those with busy schedules to fit in that 90 hours in a short period.

Ideally, it’s best to dedicate only an hour or two to studying per day with small breaks in between. So, if you have three months to prepare for the GMAT, you can dedicate anywhere from 10 to 15 hours to studying per week. Those 10 to 15 hours can be divided accordingly every day. 

For example, suppose you plan to dedicate 15 hours every week to study. In that case, you can break that time down into 1 to 2-hour increments daily. If you want to take a day off, you can spend around 2 hours studying for four workdays then divide the remaining 7 hours during the weekends.

Day Number of Hours
Monday 2 hours
Tuesday 2 hours
Wednesday 2 hours
Thursday 2 hours
Friday Day off
Saturday 3 hours
Sunday 4 hours
Total Hours: 15 hours


You also need to schedule just how many weeks it will take to cover all the topics and materials. For example, if you plan to take three months for GMAT prep, you can break it down accordingly:

  • Foundations of GMAT Quant and Verbal: 1 to 2 weeks
  • Advanced GMAT Topics: 9 to 10 weeks
  • Practice Tests and Other Review Materials: 1 to 2 weeks

Again, these are just examples, and your own study schedule should be tailored according to your own strengths and weaknesses as a student and test-taker.

Final Thoughts

Getting into an MBA program in a good business school would mean scoring well on the GMAT, especially if you’re aiming to get into schools like Harvard or Wharton. Nevertheless, the preparation period can be time-consuming and difficult, particularly for those with packed schedules.

Planning your study schedule accordingly can be an excellent way to keep everything organized as well as ensure you have enough time to cover everything you need for the exam.

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