GMAT Study Plan for Working Professionals | Balancing Work & GMAT


Preparing for the GMAT exam while juggling work can be tiresome and challenging. As a working professional, there is much to consider before you decide to tread that path. Balancing GMAT prep simultaneously alongside a high-pressure high-profile job can be a tricky affair, to say the least. However, a combination of the right guidance and top-notch time management skills can be just what the doctor ordered.

Whether you are a newbie to the whole GMAT saga or are just looking to improve your previous score, we have got you covered. It’s time to jump in and add another dimension to your GMAT prep.

GMAT Exam Structure and Scoring Pattern

As the old Chinese saying goes – “Knowing your enemy is half the battle.” Nothing truer can be said when it comes to the GMAT exam.

Before you jump into the whole affair head first, you need to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the entire GMAT exam, structure, and syllabus. How many sections are there in the exam? What are those various sections – the various question types and what exactly is being tested? What’s the scoring range? What’s an adaptive test? How does it play out in the GMAT exam?

You need to have a great understanding and a good response to the aforementioned questions. Since the primary focus of this blog is on the strategic side of the GMAT prep, we won’t go into those particulars presently. However, if you’re keen to know about all things GMAT Focus edition, please refer to the blogs mentioned below for those minutiae/details:

Preliminary Self-Assessment

Once you are well acquainted with all things GMAT, it’s time for a reality check. Any prep must start with an unbiased dispassionate self-evaluation. Putting your best foot forward will save time and a whole lotta heartache.

Knowing where you are now will help you to build a more effective GMAT study plan. It is essential that you take a mock/practice/diagnostic test before you embark on your test prep journey. Go to mba.com and make a free account to take GMAT Official Focus Practice Test 1. Or you can check out tests from other reputed test prep companies such as The Princeton Review. All the best test prep companies have at least one free mock test available.

The reasons for starting the prep with a diagnostic test are manifold:

  1. You will get to have the test experience albeit a simulated one.
  2. You will understand your current abilities in various sections and question types.
  3. You will know exactly what it’s like to take an adaptive test.
  4. You will get to know your weak areas and in turn can personalize your GMAT study plan.
  5. And it will help you set realistic targets.

Define Your Target

Once you know where you stand, you have to figure out where you want to be. When and how you reach your destination is contingent upon where you are on the journey. Instead of picking a target GMAT score that is considered par or above par, you need to know the average GMAT score of the preceding intake of the possible business schools that you are targeting. Align your preparations accordingly. You should also consider the possibility that to get into any school, GMAT scores are the be-all and end-all. Having said that, a great GMAT score can separate you from the herd.

When the ride is arduous, it is imperative that you divide the entire GMAT prep journey into manageable milestones. Establish a timeline especially if there is a huge chasm between your diagnostic test scores and your target test scores. Instead of thinking about the final GMAT score, think of improving at every stage. Hit those milestones consistently.

Strategic GMAT Study Plan

GMAT Strategy

Time management is absolutely crucial for any working professional who wishes to ace this exam. In this section, we will walk you through the entire process of creating an effective GMAT study plan in a way that will fit your daily routine and help you to stay motivated throughout the preparation process.

  1. Assess your availability: First of all, to schedule your GMAT prep, you should analyze your daily and weekly schedule. Mark out slots of time intended specifically for study. These should match your energy level and reduce distraction. Choose early mornings or early evenings, when you usually don’t feel tired. For example, if you feel more creative during lunch times, consider doing it then.
  2. Prioritize your study goals: Write down your target GMAT score and the date you plan to take the exam. Put both of these on your vision board. Break down the preparation into smaller milestones and designate enough time for various sections of the exam. Most test takers allot a set number of study hours in a day or week, and when they surpass it they feel that they are on the right track. That’s a rookie mistake. Your entire GMAT study plan should revolve around various topics or concepts. Instead of hours spent studying, make lessons your goal.
  3. Create a study calendar: Make use of a digital calendar or a planner to chart your study schedule. Plan your study sessions by establishing clear study goals for each one and allocating specific time periods within which you will work on different GMAT areas and question types.
  4. Balance your workload: Your study schedule should take into account such things as work obligations and people responsibilities you need to cover while studying. Create your timetable around your work schedule. Watch out for those periods of time when the work gets hectic and plan for lighter sessions accordingly. 
  5. Flexibility is key: Life is unpredictable, both personal and professional. You should take that into account while preparing your GMAT study plan should any extenuating circumstances occur. 
  6. Break it down:  You do not wanna spend an entire day at the library nor should you split the study sessions into days. On the contrary, divide your studying period into easier parts, where you feel able to set focus on a particular topic or section each day. This option keeps the mind from getting bored and helps with understanding and information retention.
  7. Take Breaks: Ensure to have short breaks in your study routines to an extent that your mind can recover. For some minutes, every now and then, step away from your books and computer to recharge and refresh to be more productive.
  8. Stay motivated: Instead of setting unrealistic goals, start out small. Every goal that you hit will give you a sense of accomplishment. This is going to be crucial to keep yourself motivated. Celebrate little victories which, in turn, will keep your spirits up.
  9. Track your progress: Studying and prepping may not be enough if you are lost in the wilderness. If you don’t know where you are going, you may not end up at the right place. Take tests at regular intervals to gauge your progress. Identify the areas that you need to improve.
  10. Eliminate time wasters: Identify and avoid activities that take up a lot of your time without adding any significant value to your quality of life. Stay off the grid. Limit distractions such as social media or web surfing.
  11. Utilize commute time: Use GMAT audiobook lessons, flashcards, and other resources to review GMAT content during your daily commute. It gives you the opportunity to exploit the non-productive time thus embracing even the time which would otherwise remain stagnant.

More importantly, keep in mind that people are different and what works for someone else may not work for you. Everyone has his/her own learning style and philosophy. Try new study timetable types and routines to find the patterns that will be the most productive for you. Commit to planning in advance how you will use the given amount of time for this purpose, and also stick to your routine to achieve the desired outcomes.

Select the Right Resources

GMAT Resources

There is a plethora of alleged GMAT prep materials available both online and offline. You must be careful about what you choose. There is an old Indian saying, and I hope it translates into English. Anyway,  it goes something like ‘Wise men learn from someone else’s mistakes, smart people learn from their own mistakes, and then there are idiots who never learn.’ You would wanna be in the former two categories of people.

GMAT test prep material includes but is not limited to, practice tests, study guides (for concepts and fundamentals), and question banks (so that you are never out of practice). 

When you’re just starting, stay within the more conventional resources. Official Guide and the various section-wise Review Books (Verbal, Quantitative, and Data Insights) are very reliable sources. There are also two free practice tests available on the GMAC official website, along with the paid ones. You should definitely check out those.

But apart from the official resources, there are many test prep companies such as The Princeton Review that have been in this realm for a very long time and are very much trusted for their content. If you have time and money, you should refer to those.

If you’re a little light on the budget, then there are several community blogs and websites that are entirely dedicated to the GMAT prep. Among them, the GMAT Club is one of the more popular ones.


  • A goal-driven approach to GMAT preparation is necessary to provide work-life balance and also allow you to achieve your goals.
  • Understand the structure and scoring system of the GMAT prior to building a study plan.
  • Take a diagnostic GMAT test to accurately assess your score and know what to improve.
  • Come up with reasonable goals and outline the deadline so as to be engaged and goal-oriented throughout the GMAT preparation period.
  • Learn how to manage your time in such a way that you can create a GMAT study plan that fits in with your work commitments.
Sharing is caring:
Book your Free Counselling Session now!


I wonder if my schedule is going to allow me to make time for the GMAT prep while working full-time.

Yes, work and preparation can be harmonized. Implementing a comprehensive GMAT study plan and applying efficient time management techniques will allow you to reach your goals for the GMAT and balance your work.

How and where do I begin my GMAT prep?

Knowing the format and structure of the GMAT test is the initial step toward following a successful preparation plan. Acquaint yourself with each part, the types of questions, and how you are scored in order to heighten your knowledge base of the subject.

How do I set ambitious but realistic mileposts for my GMAT study schedule?

Setting achievable goals is surely as important as maintaining your motivation along the GMAT studying process. Determine what GMAT score you should aim for, break it down into small milestones, and try to adapt your study schedule around your work availability.

How do I manage work and GMAT prep without physical and mental exhaustion?

A successful implementation of work duties and preparation for the GMAT can be tiresome, keep in mind, that it is necessary to have the right work-life balance. Put self-care first, give yourself much more than is necessary, and perfect your time-management skills so as to minimize burnout and maintain the motivation for success.

How do effective study tips work in preparation for the GMAT?

Learning and retention can also be greatly enhanced by implementing good study techniques. Experiment with involved learning methods including problem resolution, doing group study, and applying flashcards to have the best GMAT preparation.

Planning to study abroad?
Get free 1-on-1 counselling with our experts

Subscribe to this blog