7 Step Plan for Your GMAT Preparation


When studying for the GMAT exam, having a GMAT prep strategy and study plan is essential. Too many people start their GMAT preparation by merely purchasing a book, enrolling in a prep class, or downloading an app. The better method is to first properly examine your specific situation: comprehend where you are and where you want to go, and then figure out the best way to get there.

Putting effort in upfront analysis and preparation can result in a substantially higher GMAT score and a far more efficient GMAT prep process. When it comes to GMAT preparation, I recommend starting with a “phase 0.” In phase 0, you just want to identify the optimal frame of reference for the nature of the test for which you are preparing.

The GMAT exam is not an IQ test, nor is it simply a test of English, verbal, and mathematical aptitude. While an English major is likely to perform well on the sentence correction section of the exam, your academic background is likely to be less beneficial (or less of a problem) than you may imagine.

The following 7 step plan is going to give you a smooth and discernible start towards your GMAT preparation:


Step 1: Get Familiar with the Test Pattern

1-Test Pattern

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a 3.5-hour long Computer Adaptive Test. It tests us on the fundamental concepts of Quantitative – Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and maybe a bit on Probability, Statistics, and Permutations & Combinations. On the Verbal – Basic Grammar rules, logical reasoning, reading and comprehension skills and Analytical skills are tested. It also tests the Writing ability through an Essay task. The test is divided into 4 sections which can be taken in specific orders.

The Argument Essay: 1 topic (30 minutes)

Integrated Reasoning: 12 questions (30 minutes)

Quantitative: 31 questions (62 minutes)

Verbal: 36 questions (65 minutes)


The composite score you get is in the range of 200 – 800. The Verbal and Quant score each range on a 6-51 scale.


Step 2: Target a Score

2-Target a Score

You have to explore quite a bit to know which university you need to apply to and that depends on the score you attain. A 700+ score can get you to the top 10 universities abroad, 20 less can still get you to top 20 B-schools, and if you are content with even a top 50 schools but you need the exposure, a 650-670 would suffice. With whatever diagnostic score you have at hand after taking the mock test, you should easily be able to soar up 150-200 points with your preparation.

Related Blog Post: For how long is my GMAT score valid?


Step 3: Analysis of the Diagnostic Test

3-Analysis of the Diagnostic Test

You have your diagnostic score report in front of you. You have a target score to achieve. Scores on the Verbal and Quant come with percentiles. If you have a 35 on the Verbal and say just a 40 on the Quant, you are barely on a 600 score which is just a 54th percentile! The Math and Verbal work differently as per percentile. It might be easier to score a 40 on the Quantitative, however, a 40 on the Verbal is a Herculean task! So you must know where your strengths lie between Math and Verbal first. Additionally, what are your strengths and weaknesses on the individual components of Math and Verbal? Understanding this will pave the way to further enhance your GMAT preparation.

The Quantitative section tests you by way of two question types:

  • Problem Solving
  • Data Sufficiency

Whether it be Geometry, Algebra, Word problems, Statistics, or Arithmetic, all of these are tested broadly via Problem Solving or Data Sufficiency question format.

The Verbal components tested are:

Sentence Correction, which is to do with Grammar principles;

  • Critical Reasoning, which is all about arguments and logical reasoning.
  • Reading Comprehension, which is a test to your reading and comprehension skills.

Students usually find themselves lost in the world of grammar and find passages most dreadful too! Yet, some might be good at the same, hence the diagnostic score helps you assess yourself and plan your GMAT preparation.


Step 4: Choosing a Course to Guide You

4-Choosing a Course

Now that you have taken a GMAT mock test, you need to decide whether you are on a score that you can do self-preparation and improve on or you need tutoring. Know about GMAT Preparation that can be customized to your need.

Courses are available both as online courses and offline ones. A dedicated study plan is what comes next in line to your starting your GMAT preparation with the course books and online material available. It will do good to recap all the necessary basic Math and Grammar before you delve into the nitty gritties of the questions. Courses are structured to give you a means to conquering this time-tested exam with strategies and techniques bound to help answer questions in the stipulated time. Just learning concepts and strategies is not going to help. You need to implement these learnings via practice tests frequently to watch your progress. Your score graph has to be on an upward trend consistently. Do your practice in bite-sized pieces. You can’t swallow all the techniques in one go. You have to experiment, make mistakes, sharpen your performance, and gain more confidence.

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Step 5: Error Analysis

5-Error Analysis

With maybe a month or two left till the exam date, there will be a volley of practice tests that you will have to take to keep tracking your progress. But make sure that you do not make test series your goal. An important part of test-taking is the Error Analysis. Check out your wrongs in every test both in Quant and Verbal. Know that the GMAT is scored on how many questions you get right and the difficulty level of the questions answered correctly. So, to maximize your correct answers, you need to know where your mistakes happen on a regular basis. Errors can be categorized as-

Quant Score:

Number of incorrect answers, how many errors were concept errors, how many were careless errors, how many were serious blunders, and how many were incorrect due to time constraints.
How many errors in the first 10 questions, how many in the next 10 questions, and how many in the subsequent 11 questions. Time remaining on the last few questions and the number of questions guessed.

Verbal Score:

Number of incorrect answers, how many errors were concept errors, how many were careless errors, how many were serious blunders, and how many were incorrect due to time constraints.
How many errors in the first 10 questions, how many in the next 2 set of 10 questions, and how many in the last 6 questions. Time remaining on the last few questions and the number of questions guessed.

Composite Score:

How was the composite score impacted due to the error? What is the impact on the percentile scores?
This Error Analysis sheet has to be a ready reckoner of your evaluation of your tests. Obviously, the whole point of taking as many practice tests as possible is to gradually reduce the number of errors and do a judicious assessment of questions you can get right versus questions you need to guess on if at all. Also, you must review your performance with your tutor to get those extra tips to crack questions faster and to help guide you with your pacing during the test.

Related Blog Post: Best way to prep for the GMAT verbal section


Step 6: Seek A Way to Excel in Your Performance With Every Test

6-Excel in Your Performance

The test taking procedure should be such that it enables you to discern your mistakes and work on them to avoid repeating the mistakes. Hone the skills and approaches in each of the question types. If it is passages, are you able to skim a passage comfortably, be it any topic? Do you understand the different ways a question may be asked? If it is Sentence Correction, are you getting overwhelmed with too much of grammar rules that you actually don’t need? If it is Critical Reasoning, are you able to understand the 8 question types correctly and are you able to distinguish the approach to one from the other? If it is Data sufficiency, are you able to segregate what is needed and what is sufficient?

An in-depth analysis of the concepts will get you to higher levels of difficulty and thus boost up your score.


Step 7: Exposure to A Variety of Full-Length Tests From Various Sources

7-Variety of Full-Length Tests

Practice makes perfect. Yes, but let your practice be of different tests from varied sources. After all, you need consistency. So if you get tuned to just one type of test, you are restricting your performance. To believe in the strategies and approaches to questions, the more you put them to test in different scenarios, the more versatile you become in test taking. You should give shots at Princeton tests, Kaplan, Veritas, MGMAT, E GMAT, and of course, do not forget the 2 GMAT Official Practice tests in mba.com. Consistency in your performances will surely contribute to the confidence needed to go for the actual GMAT.

So, here’s wishing you success in your GMAT and a Top score to get you to the most esteemed of B-Schools!




Ques.1 Will I be able to prepare for GMAT in three months?

Of course, you will be able to. But that needs regular hours of daily study and focused test-taking and reviews

Ques.2 Do I need grammar books like Wren & Martin for my preparation?

Although a good number of questions asked on the Sentence Correction is from Grammar, one does not need the ocean of Grammar present in books such as Wren & Martin. GMAT tests very specific rules of Grammar.

Ques.3 When should I decide on the section order selection of my GMAT test?

You are asked for the section order right before your actual test. So it is necessary that you get familiar with the section order that you will finally opt for when you are in the practice stages.

Ques.4 How many questions do I need to get correct to reach a 700 on the GMAT?

There is no hard and fast rule regarding the number of corrects you need for the 700. It is more to do with the difficulty level you reach with the number of correct answers on the whole.

Ques.5 Can I get a high score even if I make mistakes in the first 5 questions?

Well, if you are able to make a come-back with getting almost all questions right after the first 5 wrongs, it might still be possible to be at a higher score. But remember, the initial dip in the difficulty level is so steep that it might not be easy to make a comeback so smooth. So the advice is to avoid early errors.

Ques.6 Can I take the GMAT at a stretch without breaks?

You can take the GMAT without the breaks at a stretch, but you need time to energize and focus after every grilling hour of questions. So to perform better, please do avail of the breaks.

Ques.7 Can I get to a reasonably good B-School with a 600 on the GMAT?

Yes, it is possible to get to an average B-School even with a 600. But make sure you have a decent profile otherwise both in academics and on the job front.


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