Can You Study for the GMAT in One Week?

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Let's get the short answer out of the way up front. No, you can't effectively prepare for the GMAT in a week. Two weeks really isn't good enough, either. I generally recommend setting aside 8-12 weeks.

That said, I know that many people don't have the time, or don't plan far enough in advance. While you cannot adequately prepare for the GMAT in one week, there are some tactics you can use to maximize your score without sufficienct preparation.

Familiarity First

Your first order of business is to get acquainted with the test. You can accomplish this with some reading, and much of it can be done at this site. You can start with the Beginner's Guide to the GMAT, which will only take an hour or two to read in its entirety.

Next, focus on aspects of the GMAT that you probably aren't accustomed to. The two question types that pose the most problems for newcomers are Data Sufficiency and Sentence Correction, especially the former. Again, you can read up on those topics at this site to learn some techniques to help you internalize the question type and pick up a few more points on test day.

GMAT Math in One Week

If you haven't done any math in ten years, or you have never been very good at it, taking the GMAT with only a week of preparation is a particularly bad idea for you. On the other hand, if you can handle quantitative topics, again, familiarity is the key.

I generally recommend that users of my book, Total GMAT Math, devote 50 to 100 hours to read every chapter and do all (or at least most) of the exercises. There isn't that much time in one week unless you do absolutely nothing else. But you can still benefit from the book.

Instead of carefully going through every topic, you'll want to skim the content chapters. Again, the goal is to get a sense of what will be on the exam so that you'll discover as few surprises as possible on the test. As you go through these topics, you'll probably find a few of them that are completely unfamiliar. Pick out 5-10 such topics and study those carefully.

GMAT Verbal in One Week

One you've read through the Beginner's Guide and have a sense of the types of questions you'll face on the GMAT Verbal section, the key words are practice and timing.

No matter how much you read, you'll have a hard time with GMAT Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning until you spend a few hours doing some problems. Even though you won't have time to go through more than a few dozen questions, look for underlying patterns in the passage structures and question types.

Just as importantly, time yourself while doing those questions. Make sure you are getting through a Reading Comprehension passage in four minutes or less, and that you are spending no more than three minutes per question on Critical Reasoning. Here's an article I wrote on GMAT Verbal time management.

You Can Do It, but...

The goal of this one-week approach is to get you feeling as comfortable with the exam as possible in a short period of time. You'll probably be overwhelmed trying to internalize so much information in so little time, but better that than sitting down on test day and having no idea what you're doing.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

Total GMAT Verbal

The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Verbal section. Recognize, dissect, and master every question type you'll face on the test. Everything you need, all in one place, including 100+ realistic practice questions.
Click to read more.