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GMAT Exam Preparation: How to Start Preparing For GMAT

Updated on 13 April, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

gmat exam preparation

GMAT or Graduate Management Admission Test is a standardized entrance exam students take to get admission in international Business schools for management programs. It is a compulsory test required for entry into MBA programs worldwide. The 3 hours 7 minutes duration test evaluates management aptitude and critical/logical skills to be a leader.  The GMAT examination comprises four test sections: analytical writing assessment, integrated reasoning, quantitative aptitude, and verbal reasoning.

GMAT examination is conducted across the year, and students can appear for the examination 5 times in a year and a total of 8 times in their lifetime. The difficulty level of the GMAT examination is very high. Therefore, students need to prepare well to get a good score. A GMAT score above 750 makes the students eligible to apply to the top globally ranked business schools. A good GMAT score makes an applicant suitable to study in the top 10 globally ranked universities and get scholarship opportunities.

Section-wise GMAT preparation tips

Applicants need to start preparing for GMAT at least 6 months before the test date. Here are some important test guidelines and tips for a good GMAT score: 

GMAT Exam Preparation Tips: Integrated Reasoning Section

● The section has 12 questions with a time duration of 30 minutes. Ideally, an applicant should always complete the test section within 25 minutes and keep the last 5 minutes for proofreading and revising.

● Make sure you cover all the topics and questions. Whether you have got a table analysis question or graphical representation, you should attempt all the questions.

GMAT Exam Preparation Tips: Quantitative Section

● The quantitative section includes 31 questions with a time duration of 62 minutes. 

● It is easy to score in data sufficiency and problem-solving questions. 

● Try to complete all the 31 questions in 55 minutes and save the last few minutes from revising and proofreading the answers. 

● Practice tricky and simple questions in this section covering the GMAT syllabus

● Aim to remember mathematical formulas for these topics to enhance the score.

GMAT Exam Preparation Tips: Verbal Section

● The verbal section includes 36 questions for a time duration of 65 minutes. It is essential to manage your time accordingly. 

● The section evaluates English language proficiency and skills. Applicants need to focus on improving grammar and pronunciation. Regularly reading newspapers can help one prepare for the verbal section. 

● This section consists of mixed questions from topics of general interest like synonyms and antonyms, reasoning and idioms, subject-verb, and sentence correction. 

● Use different books to prepare for this section that evaluates the analytical and reasoning skills.

GMAT Exam Preparation Tips: Analytical Writing Assessment

● The analytical writing section has a time duration of 30 minutes. 

● The writing assignment can be completed in 25 minutes and spare the remaining 5 minutes for proofreading the writing content. 

● Develop the habit of reading and writing on various topics of general interest and issues.

● Read many English language articles and newspapers to prepare for the writing section. 

● Read multiple articles based on topics of general interest and highlighted cases. 

● Highlight argumentative points to write an effective essay and writing tests. 

● Manage time by increasing your writing speed.

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Important Tips/Guidelines for GMAT Examination Preparation

● Applicants need to understand the entire GMAT exam pattern of the GMAT syllabus. Start preparing 6 months before the test and create a study plan or strategy to prepare well for the GMAT examination. When you prepare according to the exam pattern, it will be easy to ace the GMAT score

● Aspirants should have a clear and defined preparation plan.

● Make a personal GMAT examination study plan that helps you set various tips, guidelines, tools, and objectives to prepare for the GMAT examination. Review every section carefully in the GMAT syllabus. Take 4 sections of the GMAT examination seriously and give time for each section simultaneously. 

● Prepare for GMAT only using authentic GMAT study material. The study material for GMAT includes books, previous year's questions, and preparation materials for better preparation. 

● Manage your time well. Practice each section carefully according to the time duration allotted to each of the test sections. It is crucial to complete the test sections within the allotted time. 

● Review basic math formulae to enhance your GMAT quant skills. The quantitative section is scoring, and you need to work on the entire syllabus. Mental math saves a lot of time. Hence, it would help if you prepared well for the mental math section as you cannot use a calculator. 

● Complete the section by attempting the questions that you are entirely sure about. Devote the last few minutes to solve the difficult ones. 

● Listen to podcasts in English, read newspapers, articles, and grammar books for language. When you devote time and prepare for English language skills, it helps in increasing the possibility of acing your GMAT score. 

● Practice on your weak areas. If you are weak in any particular area, you need to devote more time and attention to that specific section. 

● Push your limit with advanced questions. It is essential to raise the standard of questions that you practice for the GMAT examination. Do not focus on only simple questions. Focus on tricky and advanced questions to ace the GMAT score. 

● Choose the right examination date. It takes at least 6 months to prepare for the GMAT examination. Therefore, choose the GMAT date wisely. Take time for preparation and then select a suitable date, as GMAT examinations are conducted around the year. 

● Take a retest if you feel that you have not scored well enough for admission to top B schools. Plan and practice on the areas where you have scored less. 

● Answer all the questions in all the sections. There is no negative marking. Do not leave any questions. It increases the probability and chances to improve your GMAT score. 

● It is vital to understand the GMAT syllabus. Every year there are some changes in the syllabus; it is important to note them. 

● Practice makes you perfect. Solve mock papers and previous year's questions papers to understand the types of questions and how well you are prepared to take the test. 

● Pay attention to graphical representation and statistics. Learn to read graphs, charts, tables, and visual representation. The Quant skills play a vital role in acing up the GMAT score. 

● Practice reading to ace up your reading speed and skills. It will help you maintain time and answer all your questions within the test duration. 

● Build a good proficiency and stronghold over vocabulary and grammar. A stronghold over vocabulary will help you draft good writing answers in the writing test. Learn new and useful words under lexical resources and avoid using the terms that are commonly used for communicating. 

● Be sure about the spellings that you use in the GMAT examination. Use short and crisp words if you are unsure about the long, complicated terms. It is better to avoid complex words rather than making spelling mistakes. 

● Keep the last few minutes for revision and proofreading for every test section. You will come across multiple small and big mistakes. There are possibilities that you may have missed out on attempting a particular question, which you can answer. 


The GMAT examination needs months of rigorous preparation and dedication with the right strategy. For most people, it can take 6 months, while some may take more than a year to complete the GMAT preparation. Try to scale up your preparation using suitable study materials and helpful tips mentioned above. Get in touch with the experts of upGrad Abroad to create the right exam strategy to ace up your GMAT score.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to prepare for the GMAT exam?

Preparing for the GMAT takes time. Students must plan to spend about two to three months before the test. They must spend at least 100–120 hours reviewing material and practicing regularly. However, on average, the top scorers on the GMAT spend 120+ hours studying for test day over a while.

How to start preparing for the GMAT exam?

Given below are a few tips and tricks to prepare for the GMAT exam:

  •  Understand the entire exam pattern and the GMAT syllabus.
  • Get hold of all preparation materials through online & offline resources.
  • Practice makes you perfect. Try solving mock papers and previous year's question papers to understand the types of questions. 
  • Practice reading to enhance your reading speed and skills.

What are the best strategies for preparing for the GMAT?

 To Ace the GMAT exam, students must develop a perfect plan with all the strategies needed to excel in the GMAT. As we all know, the GMAT is an exam that requires immense preparation. Students preparing for the GMAT need at least three months of prep. To achieve the best score on the GMAT, here is a list of the strategies you can use to prepare.

  1. Get familiar with the GMAT structure and pattern.
  2. Mentorship is needed at every stage of the GMAT preparation
  3. Search for the best resources, stay updated, and follow the guidelines provided by the GMAC
  4. Manage time and practice more.

I am a working professional. How can I prepare for the GMAT?

 For working professionals, it is recommended to prepare for GMAT online. Enrolling in an online GMAT course will help you learn the concepts clearly and crack the GMAT while doing a job.

Given below is the list of a few strategies that a working professional can follow while preparing for a GMAT

  • Commit to Your Prep and Be Proactive.
  • Chart a Realistic Course of Study.
  • Make Time Each Weekday Morning to Study.
  • Study Right After Work.
  • Study While You Commute.
  • Study During Lunch.
  • Update yourself with the latest news. Read newspapers.
  • Use the Evening to Reinforce Knowledge.

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.