Every GMAT student is different, and therefore everyone will have different study habits and needs. Regardless of whether you take a course or self-study over a period of one month or 10, there are several key elements like a needs assessment, a regular study break, and more than one preparatory GMAT practice test that should be included in every GMAT study calendar.
1. Needs assessment
The first step to any study calendar should be a needs assessment. How can you plan your study without knowing what you need to learn? In order to perform a needs assessment, you should take a GMAT practice test and analyze your results to see how far you are from your goal score and what your weaknesses are. You can then create your GMAT study calendar to strategically tackle your needs assessment.
2. Study break
The GMAT is not a test you can cram for, hence the study calendar. You need time to absorb all the information and strategies that you are learning. That is why a regular study break is an essential component of any study plan. Make sure to plan a study break of one day off a week, so that you can return to the material refreshed and relaxed. It is also vital to take it easy the last few days before the exam, especially the day before. Take a complete study break that day and try to do something relaxing and fun. There is no amount of studying that you can do that will outweigh the benefits of showing up rejuvenated on test day.
3. Learning the Strategies and Content
A big portion of studying for the GMAT is learning how to take the test. There are certain strategies that help you navigate through the test more quickly, for example, grouping answer choices for sentence correction. It is important to learn these early on.
There will also be a lot of content to learn, especially for the quant and sentence correction questions, which require you to memorize a lot of rules. You can do this through a course or books. Either way, it is important to take notes. Studies have shown that people are more likely to remember and understand concepts when they write them down.
Once you have learned the basic strategies and concepts, it is then time to practice implementing them. You can start by creating practice quizzes for specific topics then diversifying. It is also important to get good pacing, which is your balance between speed and accuracy. Start by doing your practice quizzes without timing yourself then as your accuracy level builds, start working to build your speed.
5. Build Mental Endurance: GMAT practice test
The final step in your study plan should be to build your mental endurance moving from quizzes to a GMAT practice test. 3.5 hours is a long time to concentrate, and it doesn’t come easily. It takes more than one practice test to be able to do this well, which means you will have to take a full-length GMAT practice test several times to train your brain to do this.
This post originally appeared on topmba.com.