You spent months studying for the GMAT, only to find out that your score was less impressive than you had hoped. As the average student takes the GMAT about 3 times, there’s nothing wrong with taking the exam a second, third, or even fourth time.
Of course, you’re not going to absorb the test material via osmosis. This doesn’t mean that you need to spend the month studying for the GMAT like it’s a full-time job, but you do need to be extremely strategic in your approach to the study process.
Below is one way to break up your month.
Don’t do as many students do and simply select the soonest available test date. Think carefully about your next few weeks and what might get in the way of your study process. The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) limits you to one test per month and no more than five tests per year. But that doesn’t mean that January 1st is the best day to retake the GMAT. Nor is a 9 a.m. appointment best for someone who is decidedly *not* a morning person.
Obviously, this is the time to look at your GMAT score and decide where you need to improve. For many students, their weakest area is glaringly obvious. Those with more a uniform GMAT score breakdown may need to take a more general approach, or consider the areas where they have the most potential to improve.
It’s generally advisable to move through the GMAT by mastering one concept at a time. It’s far better to be able to say “I mastered coordinate geometry today,” than it is to be able to say that you answered 100+ quant questions. Rough out which topics you’re going to focus on and for how long.
Block out at least four hours to take the test and analyze your results. Hopefully, you’re already starting to see improvement and see the places where you could easily improve.
If you felt like the practice test was a much better measure of your abilities, or feel as though you panicked during the GMAT exam, you might need to modify your study strategy to better represent the test-taking conditions. Now that you’ve taken the exam once, you know a bit more about the exam setting and the materials available to you.
Students often feel as though they ran out of time on their first GMAT. Whether it’s a question of focus, reading speed, or rushed mental math, monitoring your time position can be a huge help.
Spend your study time working on new topics and concepts, though don’t forget to devote plenty of time to review. Some students find that short quizzes during study sessions can reinforce past topics.
You’re nearing the halfway point and hopefully seeing more improvement. If you haven’t done so already, try one of the official GMAT practice test.
If two weeks of verbal studying hasn’t improved your grasp of sentence correction, it’s time to get creative. Do your own research and try to find creative ways to improve your skills rather than continuing to employ brute force and plowing through practice questions.
Depending on how many specific weak points you can find, this might be the time to move into more general review. Again, this doesn’t mean that you start answering every practice question in your test prep book. But if you believe that you’ve mastered the concepts, start answering high-level questions and reinforcing the things you studied before your first GMAT exam.
You can choose to take another practice exam before Test Day, but don’t overdo it or put too much faith in the practice exam scores. We recommend that your last practice exam be another official GMAT practice test. Take detailed notes on questions that you get wrong.
Review the list of topics you’ve covered in the past month and try to find practice questions to test yourself. When you get a question wrong, take the time to review the concept. Make sure that you’ve grasped the concepts that you particularly struggled with during the first GMAT exam.
The night before the exam, don’t think about the GMAT. Eat a healthy meal, go about your normal routine, and get plenty of sleep. You will perform better on the GMAT if you don’t try to cram another week’s worth of studying into the day before the exam.