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Suggested GMAT Study Time

“How long does it take to study for the GMAT?”

That’s a question I often get from my perspective students. The answer, of course, varies from student to student and depends on a number of factors including the score you’re ultimately trying to get, your base knowledge in the major GMAT content areas, and the efficiency with which you’ll be able to move through your GMAT preparation material.

My philosophy when I created Dominate the GMAT was that the number of hours you put in isn’t nearly as important as the quality of those hours. A number of GMAT prep companies brag about how many classroom hours you get when you buy their course, but at the end of the day, if you could learn how to get more right answers in less time on your own flexible schedule by focusing on the concepts, strategies, and shortcuts that will actually help you to improve your score rather than studying hours and hours of obscure material that won’t really help you on test day, which would you prefer?

With that said, knowing some industry averages can help serve as a useful benchmark as you begin thinking about how much time you should set aside for your GMAT study plan.

Number of Weeks of GMAT Study Time

On average, 65% of GMAT test-takers spend more than a month studying for the GMAT. As you see in the chart below, almost half (48%) of students spend between 4 and 9 weeks preparing for the GMAT.* I would actually expect these numbers to go up slightly in the coming years with the addition of the new GMAT Integrated Reasoning section, which will require extra preparation time for students.

* Note: Our comprehensive online GMAT preparation course is designed around an 8-week syllabus. With 23 hours of instructional videos, homework problems from two textbooks, worksheets, weekly live online sessions, and five full-length practice tests, our students can expect to spend 6-8 hours per week over those 8 weeks for a total study time of approximately 48-64 hours.

Number of Hours of GMAT Study Time

Interestingly, despite the moderate number of weeks the average person studies for the GMAT, he/she squeezes a bunch of study hours into those weeks! In fact, as you can see below, 44% of GMAT test-takers study more than 50 hours with 20% putting in 101 hours or more.

Now, do more study hours necessarily translate into a higher GMAT score? The bar graph below suggests that “yes,” there is a positive correlation between study hours and GMAT score. In fact, if you want to score a 600 or higher on the GMAT, you may want to mentally prepare to study upwards of 100 hours for the GMAT! (note: there’s only so much content you need to learn for the GMAT, so a large percentage of those 100 hours should be spend working practice problems from the GMAT Review Official Guide and taking full-length computer-adaptive GMAT practice tests).

As you create your GMAT study plan, take this information into consideration but at the end of the day, you need to stay true to your lifestyle and time availability. Cramming for a test may have worked in college, but it won’t work for the GMAT. The best approach is to consistently put in a few hours each week learning the material, sprinkling in a few practice tests to hone your time management skills, and work as many practice problems as you can before test day. With that, I have no doubt that you’ll be able to go out and dominate the GMAT!