Allocating GMAT Prep: Math vs Verbal Study Time

April 18, 2011
Bret Ruber

If you have a limited amount of time to study for the GMAT, you are probably unsure of how to divide your time between the math and verbal sections.  In determining how to split up your study time, there are a few factors that you should consider.

Above all else, you should consider your relative strengths and weaknesses.  Make this assessment based on recent practice.  This means that your first step should be to take a diagnostic GMAT exam, which you can analyze to determine your strengths and weaknesses.  Many students expect to be stronger in math than verbal, based on their experience in high school and are surprised when this is no longer the case.  In order to ensure you accurately assess your trouble areas, you must take a diagnostic exam with GMAT style questions.

Once you have made this assessment you will know in which section to spend more time, however, you must also remember that this does not mean you should study your trouble areas exclusively.  If you want to achieve the highest score possible, you need to study everything that is tested on the GMAT.  Just because you are better in one area, does not mean you should ignore it.  Even if you made no errors in a particular part of the exam, you need to reinforce that strength, to ensure you do not regress.  This means that even the student with the most lopsided score, for example someone in the 95th percentile in verbal and the 30th percentile in math, should spend at least 20% of their time on their strength to make sure it remains a strength.  Finally, it is a good idea to mix up your study sessions regularly, as opposed to going days or even weeks focused on just math or just verbal, so that you keep up your skills in both sections.

Bret Ruber Bret has been teaching for Kaplan since 2005, and has helped over 1000 students with their GMAT preparation. He spent three years teaching in Manhattan, where he served as an Elite Teacher and a full-time instructor, before moving to London, where he is now the GMAT Master Teacher for Kaplan’s London Center. As the GMAT Master Teacher, Bret trains, observes and mentors teachers, in addition to continuing his own teaching and tutoring, and has taught courses across Europe, including Italy, Ireland, and Germany. Bret contributes to Kaplan’s GMAT curriculum on an on-going basis, and was also a contributor to Kaplan's 2010 GMAT course.

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