3 Month GMAT Study Schedule for Beginners

By - Feb 21, 19:15 PM Comments [0]

OK, you are starting more or less from scratch, and you want to prepare for the GMAT in three months.  You need a strategic plan to organize yourself.  I designed four different versions of the Three Month Plan, and I need you to start with a little self-diagnosis.  Which sounds most like you?

  • Version A (For Beginners): Help!  Math and verbal both scare the living bejeebers out of me!  I need all the help and support I can get!  Help!
  • Version B (Math Focused): I have a natural affinity with the verbal, but the math is far less intuitive for me.  I would like to focus more there.
  • Version C (Verbal Focused): Me a math nerd. Me think all math easy. Me have big verbal problems.  One day, me will talk good.
  • Version D (For Advanced Students): I actually feel reasonably comfortable with math & verbal; if I took the test today, I'd get around 600-650.  I'm interested in refining my understanding, and getting into the upper 700s region in the next twelve weeks.

 

3 Month Study Schedule Version A

 

Resources to have:

1) the GMAC Office Guide to the GMAT (OG).  All page numbers here are from the 12th edition.  (Don't write in the book: write everything on separate paper so you can go back and do problems again with a fresh start.)

2) a Premium subscription to Magoosh

3) a journal or notebook (yes, a physical hard copy item)

4) the two online forums:

(a) GMAT Club

(b) Beat the GMAT

These are great places to ask questions about anything GMAT related, or simply to check out the discussions and see how others are preparing

5) a good 1-2 hours a day, for five days a week, and then a good 3-4 stint on the weekend ("Day Six") --- with a day off on the weekend as well. If you would rather free up some week nights, and move some of the material into the other weekend day, you are welcome to do that.

 

Abbreviations:

OG = the GMAC Official Guide

PS = Problem Solving, the multiple-choice math questions

DS = Data Sufficiency math questions

RC = Reading Comprehensionverbal question

SC = Sentence Correctionverbal question

CR = Critical Reasoning verbal question

AWA = the Analytical Writing Assessment, the essay-writing section

 

Notes:

Notice, this is a twelve-week plan.  Three calendar months are typically closer to 13 weeks, so if you actually have threecalendar months to prepare, that's great.  If you have a wedding or a camping trip or something in the middle, you could just skip a few days, and do them later.  Alternately, it would leave you more time for the concentrated review I recommend at the end of the twelve weeks.

Also, as much as possible, get enough sleep during this three month period.  REM sleep plays an important role in encoding long term memory, and in an eight hour period of sleep, the last hour has the most REM.  If you are getting 7 hours/night instead of 8 hours/night, you are depriving your brain of one of its most powerful systems for learning and remembering.  Caffeine and energy drinks will keep you feeling awake if you don't get enough sleep, but they don't do bupkis to replace the lost opportunity to encode more information into long term memory.

 

Week One, Day One

1) Go to http://www.mba.com/the-gmat/test-structure-and-overview.aspx, and read about the structure of the GMAT.  Click on each subsection on that page, to read about the individual sections.

2) In the OG, pp. 20-44, take the Diagnostic Test.  Grade it, but you don't have to read through all the explanations today.  If you did much much better than you expected in either math or verbal, you may choose to re-evaluate which version (A, B, C, D) you are following.

 

Week One, Day Two

1) For the Diagnostic test you took yesterday, go over the explanations (OG, pp. 46-106).  For questions you got right, simply skim the explanation to verify that you go the question right for the right reason.  If you got the question wrong, read the explanation carefully, writing in your journal any math/verbal concept you didn't know or understand, as well as anything about the question type that you didn't understand.  (If you got many questions wrong on the Diagnostic, you may have to spread this step out over the next few nights)

2) Watch Magoosh lesson videos:

Math: the five "General Math Strategies" videos

3) In the OG

Read pp. 149-150, and do 10 PS

Read pp. 353-357, do 1 RC passage with all its questions

Whenever you do OG questions, always check your answers right afterwards, and read the explanation of anything you got wrong.

 

Week One, Day Three

1) In the OG, read the Math Review, pp. 108-118, taking notes in your journal on anything new, rusty, or unfamiliar

2) Watch Magoosh lesson videos:

Math: the first four "Data Sufficiency" videos

3) In the OG

Read pp. 267-270, and do 10 DS questions

Read pp. 483-485, and do 12 CR questions

Read pp. 651-657, and do 13 SC questions

 

Week One, Day Four

1) In the OG, read the Math Review, pp. 118-127, taking notes in your journal on anything new, rusty, or unfamiliar

2) Watch Magoosh lesson videos:

Math: under "Data Sufficiency" videos, up to "Useful Contradictions"

3) In the OG

Do 11 PS questions

Do 6 DS questions

Do 1 RC passage with all its questions

4) In Magoosh

Do 13 DS questions

Whenever you do Magoosh questions, if you get a question wrong, watch the video right then, and take notes in your journal about what concepts tripped you up.

 

Week One, Day Five

1) In the OG, read the Math Review, pp. 127-139, taking notes in your journal on anything new, rusty, or unfamiliar

2) Watch Magoosh lesson videos:

Math: under "Data Sufficiency" videos, the last six videos of that section

3) In Magoosh

Do 15 PS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week One, Day Six

1) In the OG, read the Math Review, pp. 140-146, taking notes in your journal on anything new, rusty, or unfamiliar

2) Watch Magoosh lesson videos:

Math: under "Integer Properties" videos, the first five videos of that section

Verbal: under RC videos: the first three videos of that section

Verbal: under SC videos: the first three videos of that section

Verbal: under CR videos: the first three videos of that section

3) In Magoosh

Do 15 PS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

4) In the OG

Read pp. 759-768 & 790-795; skim the question prompts to get a sense of the variety

 

Week Two, Day One

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Integer Properties" videos, up to "GCD LCM Formula"

2) In Magoosh

Do 30 PR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Two, Day Two

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Integer Properties" videos, the last five videos in that section

2) In OG

Do 16 DS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

 

Week Two, Day Three

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Arithmetic, Percent, Ratio" videos, the first five videos in that section

2) In Magoosh

Do 13 DS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Week Two, Day Four

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Arithmetic, Percent, Ratio" videos, up to "Fraction Properties – II"

2) In OG

Do 21 PS questions

Do 13 SC questions

 

Week Two, Day Five

1) Watch Magoosh

AWA: watch all 8 videos

2) In Magoosh

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

3) In OG

Do 12 CR questions

 

Week Two, Day Six

1) Today, you are going to write four essays, half an hour each.  In OG, pp. 769-789, pick two Issue sample prompts at random (or have someone pick them for you), and for each, take 30 minutes to write an essay on a computer.  You can write in any word processing program.  Then, in OG, pp. 796-827, pick two Argument sample prompts at random (or have someone pick them for you), and for each, take 30 minutes to write an essay.

Now that you have these essays, what do you do with them?  If you have a friend or mentor who is a gifted writer, see if they would read the essays for you an critique them. If they are willing, you can show them the assessment criteria in the OG, and ask them to follow it.  Alternately, you can upload your essays in the online forms and ask for feedback.

 

Week Three, Day One

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Arithmetic, Percent, Ratio" videos, up to "Percent Increases and Decreases"

2) In Magoosh

Do 30 PR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Three, Day Two

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under SC videos, up to "Parts of Speech - Clauses"

2) In OG

Do 16 DS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

 

Week Three, Day Three

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Arithmetic, Percent, Ratio" videos, the last four videos in that section

2) In Magoosh

Do 13 DS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Week Three, Day Four

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under SC videos, up to "Subject-Verb Agreement - II"

2) In OG

Do 21 PS questions

Do 13 SC questions

 

Week Three, Day Five

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Algebra, Equations, Inequalities" videos, the first four videos

2) In Magoosh

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

3) In OG

Do 12 CR questions

 

Week Three, Day Six

1)Go to http://www.mba.com/the-gmat/download-free-test-preparation-software.aspx, download the free software.

2) Take one full length GMAT on the GMAC software.  Go through the entire solution after you are done, taking notes in your journal on anything you got wrong.

For the two essay questions in the software, do not write the essays in that program.  Write down the two prompts, exit the software, and take 30 minutes to write the essays in a word processing program. These essays you will either share with a trusted friend or mentor, or post in the online forums asking for feedback.

As much as possible, try to mimic the GMAT conditions.  Give yourself relatively short breaks in between sections.  Only eat the kinds of snacks that you are planning to bring to the real GMAT.  Note how your sleep the night before affects your work.  Note how what you had for dinner the previous night and what you had to eat earlier that day affects your energy level and concentration.   Write any observations in your journal.

 

Week Four, Day One

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Algebra etc." videos, the five "Factoring" videos

2) In Magoosh

Do 30 PR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Four, Day Two

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under RC videos, up to "Identifying the Main Idea"

2) In OG

Do 16 DS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

 

Week Four, Day Three

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Algebra etc." videos, up to "Number of Solutions"

2) In Magoosh

Do 13 DS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Week Four, Day Four

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under SC videos, up to "Modifiers – IV"

2) In OG

Do 21 PS questions

Do 13 SC questions

 

Week Four, Day Five

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Algebra etc." videos, up to "Function Notation"

2) In Magoosh

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

3) In OG

Do 11 CR questions

 

Week Four, Day Six

1) Today, you are going to write four essays, half an hour each.  In OG, pp. 769-789, pick two Issue sample prompts at random (or have someone pick them for you), and for each, take 30 minutes to write an essay on a computer.  You can write in any word processing program.  Then, in OG, pp. 796-827, pick two Argument sample prompts at random (or have someone pick them for you), and for each, take 30 minutes to write an essay.

These essays you will either share with a trusted friend or mentor, or post in the online forums asking for feedback.

 

Week Five, Day One

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Algebra etc." videos, up to "Inequalities and Absolute Value"

2) In Magoosh

Do 30 PR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Five, Day Two

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under RC videos, the last four videos in that action

Math: under "Algebra etc." videos, the last two videos in that action

2) In OG

Do 16 DS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

 

Week Five, Day Three

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Word Problems" videos, up to "Number of Variables"

2) In Magoosh

Do 13 DS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Week Five, Day Four

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under SC videos, up to "Parallelism – IV"

2) In OG

Do 21 PS questions

Do 13 SC questions

 

Week Five, Day Five

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Word Problems" videos, up to "Shrinking and Expanding Gaps"

2) In Magoosh

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

3) In OG

Do 11 CR questions

 

Week Five, Day Six

1) Take another full length GMAT on the GMAC software.  Go through the entire solution after you are done, taking notes in your journal on anything you got wrong.

For the two essay questions in the software, do not write the essays in that program.  Write down the two prompts, exit the software, and take 30 minutes to write the essays in a word processing program. These essays you will either share with a trusted friend or mentor, or post in the online forums asking for feedback.

As much as possible, try to mimic the GMAT conditions.  Give yourself relatively short breaks in between sections.  Only eat the kinds of snacks that you are planning to bring to the real GMAT.  Note how your sleep the night before affects your work.  Note how what you had for dinner the previous night and what you had to eat earlier that day affects your energy level and concentration.   Write any observations in your journal

Week Six, Day One

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Word Problems" videos, up to "Three Criteria Venn Diagrams"

Verbal: under SC videos, the three "Comparisons" videos

2) In Magoosh

Do 30 PR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Six, Day Two

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Word Problems" videos, up to "Mixture Questions"

2) In OG

Do 16 DS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

 

Week Six, Day Three

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under CR videos, up to "Conclusion and Inference"

2) In Magoosh

Do 13 DS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Week Six, Day Four

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Word Problems" videos, the last three videos in the section

Math: under "Coordinate Geometry" videos, the first two videos in that section

2) In OG

Do 21 PS questions

Do 13 SC questions

 

Week Six, Day Five

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Coordinate Geometry" videos, up to "Writing Equations of Lines"

2) In Magoosh

Do 1 RC passage with its associated questions

3) In OG

Do 11 CR questions

 

Week Six, Day Six

1) Today, you are going to write four essays, half an hour each.  In OG, pp. 769-789, pick two Issue sample prompts at random (or have someone pick them for you), and for each, take 30 minutes to write an essay on a computer.  You can write in any word processing program.  Then, in OG, pp. 796-827, pick two Issue sample prompts at random (or have someone pick them for you), and for each, take 30 minutes to write an essay.

These essays you will either share with a trusted friend or mentor, or post in the online forums asking for feedback.

 

Week Seven, Day One

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Coordinate Geometry" videos, the last video "Graphs of Quadratics"

Math: under "Geometry" videos, the first four

2) In Magoosh

Do 30 PR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Seven, Day Two

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Geometry" videos, up to "Polygons"

2) In OG

Do 16 DS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

 

Week Seven, Day Three

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under SC videos, up to "Conditionals"

2) In Magoosh

Do 13 DS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Week Seven, Day Four

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Geometry" videos, up to "Circle Properties"

2) In OG

Do 21 PS questions

Do 13 SC questions

 

Week Seven, Day Five

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Geometry" videos, the last three videos

2) In Magoosh

Do 1 RC passage with its associated questions

3) In OG

Do 11 CR questions

 

Week Seven, Day Six

1) Take another full length GMAT on the GMAC software (You can do each test in the software three times).  Go through the entire solution after you are done, taking notes in your journal on anything you got wrong.

For the two essay questions in the software, do not write the essays in that program.  Write down the two prompts, exit the software, and take 30 minutes to write the essays in a word processing program. These essays you will either share with a trusted friend or mentor, or post in the online forums asking for feedback.

As much as possible, try to mimic the GMAT conditions.  Give yourself relatively short breaks in between sections.  Only eat the kinds of snacks that you are planning to bring to the real GMAT.  Note how your sleep the night before affects your work.  Note how what you had for dinner the previous night and what you had to eat earlier that day affects your energy level and concentration.   Write any observations in your journal

Week Eight, Day One

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Power and Roots" videos, up to "Exponent Laws - I"

2) In Magoosh

Do 30 PR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Eight, Day Two

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Power and Roots" videos, up to "Square Roots"

2) In OG

Do 16 DS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

 

Week Eight, Day Three

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under SC videos, up to "Word Choice – III"

2) In Magoosh

Do 13 DS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Week Eight, Day Four

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Power and Roots" videos, up to "Operations with Roots"

2) In OG

Do 21 PS questions

Do 13 SC questions

 

Week Eight, Day Five

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Power and Roots" videos, the last three videos in that section

2) In Magoosh

Do 1 RC passage with its associated questions

3) In OG

Do 11 CR questions

 

Week Eight, Day Six

1) Today, you are going to write four essays, half an hour each.  In OG, pp. 769-789, pick two Issue sample prompts at random (or have someone pick them for you), and for each, take 30 minutes to write an essay on a computer.  You can write in any word processing program.  Then, in OG, pp. 796-827, pick two Argument sample prompts at random (or have someone pick them for you), and for each, take 30 minutes to write an essay.

These essays you will either share with a trusted friend or mentor, or post in the online forums asking for feedback.

Week Nine, Day One

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Statistics" videos, all five videosin that section

2) In Magoosh

Do 30 PR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Nine, Day Two

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Counting" videos, the first three videosin that section

2) In OG

Do 16 DS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

 

Week Nine, Day Three

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under CR videos, the last five videosin that section

2) In Magoosh

Do 13 DS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Week Nine, Day Four

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Counting" videos, up to "The MISSISSIPPI rule"

2) In OG

Do 21 PS questions

Do 13 SC questions

 

Week Nine, Day Five

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Counting" videos, the last four videos in that section

2) In Magoosh

Do 1 RC passage with its associated questions

3) In OG

Do 11 CR questions

 

Week Nine, Day Six

1) Take another full length GMAT on the GMAC software (You can do each test in the software three times).  Go through the entire solution after you are done, taking notes in your journal on anything you got wrong.

For the two essay questions in the software, do not write the essays in that program.  Write down the two prompts, exit the software, and take 30 minutes to write the essays in a word processing program. These essays you will either share with a trusted friend or mentor, or post in the online forums asking for feedback.

As much as possible, try to mimic the GMAT conditions.  Give yourself relatively short breaks in between sections.  Only eat the kinds of snacks that you are planning to bring to the real GMAT.  Note how your sleep the night before affects your work.  Note how what you had for dinner the previous night and what you had to eat earlier that day affects your energy level and concentration.   Write any observations in your journal

Week Ten, Day One

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Probability" videos, the first three videos in that section

2) In Magoosh

Do 30 PR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Ten, Day Two

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Probability" videos, up to "Probability of Event A AND Event B"

2) In OG

Do 16 DS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

 

Week Ten, Day Three

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under SC videos, the last two videos in that section

2) In Magoosh

Do 13 DS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Week Ten, Day Four

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Probability" videos, up to "Rewriting Questions"

2) In OG

Do 21 PS questions

Do 13 SC questions

 

Week Ten, Day Five

1) Watch Magoosh

Math: under "Probability" videos, the last three videos in that section

2) In Magoosh

Do 1 RC passage with its associated questions

3) In OG

Do 11 CR questions

 

Week Ten, Day Six

1) Today is the last time you are going to write four essays, half an hour each.  In OG, pp. 769-789, pick two Issue sample prompts at random (or have someone pick them for you), and for each, take 30 minutes to write an essay on a computer.  You can write in any word processing program.  Then, in OG, pp. 796-827, pick two Argument sample prompts at random (or have someone pick them for you), and for each, take 30 minutes to write an essay.

These essays you will either share with a trusted friend or mentor, or post in the online forums asking for feedback.

 

Week Eleven

At this point, you have seen every the Magoosh at least once.  Judge for yourself, based on which questions/concepts you have been finding difficult, which videos you should watch again.  Keep a pace of watching five Magoosh lesson videos a day.

In this week, you will be finishing up all the questions in Magoosh and all the questions in the OG.

 

Week Eleven, Day One

1) Watch five Magoosh lesson videos an additional time

2) In Magoosh

Do 27 PR questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Eleven, Day Two

1) Watch five Magoosh lesson videos an additional time

2) In OG

Do 14 DS questions

Do 2 RC passages with all the associated questions

 

Week Eleven, Day Three

1) Watch Magoosh

Verbal: under CR videos, the last five videosin that section

2) In Magoosh

Do 10 DS questions

Do 13 CR questions

Week Eleven, Day Four

1) Watch five Magoosh lesson videos an additional time

2) In OG

Do 20 PS questions

Do 10 SC questions

 

Week Eleven, Day Five

1) Watch five Magoosh lesson videos an additional time

2) In Magoosh

Do 1 RC passage with its associated questions

3) In OG

Do 11 CR questions

 

Week Eleven, Day Six

1) Take another full length GMAT on the GMAC software (You can do each test in the software three times).  Go through the entire solution after you are done, taking notes in your journal on anything you got wrong.

For the two essay questions in the software, do not write the essays in that program.  Write down the two prompts, exit the software, and take 30 minutes to write the essays in a word processing program. These essays you will either share with a trusted friend or mentor, or post in the online forums asking for feedback.

As much as possible, try to mimic the GMAT conditions.  Give yourself relatively short breaks in between sections.  Only eat the kinds of snacks that you are planning to bring to the real GMAT.  Note how your sleep the night before affects your work.  Note how what you had for dinner the previous night and what you had to eat earlier that day affects your energy level and concentration.   Write any observations in your journal

 

Week 12 & After: Concentrated Review


At this point, if you have been following the schedule, you should have done every question in both Magoosh and in the OG at least once.  For the days of this week, and remaining days of the test, keep up work on GMAT math and verbal.  Some suggestions for what to do:

1) Go back to OG questions you did a while ago, and do them again.  (This is why it was important not to write in the book)

2) Through selecting question type & difficulty on the "Dashboard", do Magoosh problems over again, and see how you do a second time.

3) Keep watching for a second time 5 Magoosh lesson videos a day, on whatever topics you feel you need to review

4) Go to the online forums, looking for challenging questions that folks are asking.

5) An online search will always turn up additional batches of questions to practice.

6) If you feel you need it, devote one more evening to writing two more practice essays, from the topics listed in the OG

7) If you have a weekend day that is more than a couple days for the real GMAT, then take one final practice GMAT from the GMAT software, as on Week Eleven, Day Six.

 

Day before the test:

1) No GMAT preparation all day

2) Eat a large, healthy, leisurely dinner – no alcohol!

3) Go to bed earlier than usual.

 

Day of test:

1) ABSOLUTELY NO LAST MINUTE GMAT PREPARATION!

2) Eat a large breakfast, full of protein

3) Do relaxing, fun activities to pass time until the test

 

Bring to the test:

1) A liter of water

2) Healthy energy-packed snacks (nuts, protein bar, etc.)

3) On breaks, make sure to get up, move & stretch – moving & stretching the large muscles of the body (legs & torso) will get oxygen flowing throughout, which will help keep you awake and keep you thinking clearly.

For relaxation tips, see this post.

 

Any questions on this plan?  Just leave us a comment!

 

This post was originally written by Mike McGarry, GMAT Expert at Magoosh GMAT, and originally posted here.

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