Have more time to study? Suggestions for maxing out.

Most people coming in the door at Atlantic looking for a GMAT tutor are working full time but we do have a contingent that is still doing undergrad or is in between jobs and has more time to study.

Today we’re going to have a quick debrief discussing at what point there is too much of a good thing and what you can do to make the best use of your GMAT study time.

So here’s the scenario:

  1. You have a lot of time on your hands
  2. You want to knock out the GMAT as quickly as possible (maybe because you will be starting a new job or something else soon and want to take advantage of this extra time while you have it)

That all makes sense.

So now you’ve bought a heap of books, online question banks, and practice tests and even signed up for a video on demand course to help give the whole thing some structure.

It’s a lot.

But then you’ve got a lot of time for GMAT prep and this is your main focus.

And you’re off!

Hour after hour. Day after day. Throwing yourself into learning GMAT content.

Grueling through practice questions. Eyeing those practice tests as you want to see how much progress you’ve made with all this studying.

Let’s set some boundaries

There can be too much of a good thing.

You need to rest. You need space between study sessions to let your brain sort some things out.

Even if you have 100% of your time to study it is best to limit studying to about 5 hours per day.

It’s even OK to do less.

But keep the top limit to about 5 hours.

After that it’s unlikely that you are going to be very productive and you are better off focusing on something else.

Cook a nice meal.

Go for a jog.

Meet a friend for a coffee.

Consistency and quality are the key components here not volume.

With that in mind let’s remind ourselves about what should be taking a great portion of your time and attention:


If you are going full-time GMAT then you will need to spend an even greater proportion of your time than normal reviewing.

10 hours of studying in one day isn’t worth the same as 2 hours per day studying over 5 days. The latter tends to be far more efficient/effective.

So when you are piling on the hours you have to be extra careful that those hours are filled with high quality studying (studying that results in you learning concepts that will eventually help you improve your GMAT score).

That’s what matters. You can’t cash in the time spent or energy expended for a GMAT score.

It is about being effective.

In order to make that happen you will need tons of reviewing.

Redoing questions that you got wrong on past study days. Looking up explanations. Finding the best explanation for you.

For a regular preparation we aim for about 40-50% of the study time focused on review.

But for a high volume/condensed preparation that number could be more in the 60-70% range for a good part of the preparation.

Of course: it depends.

If you are scoring 780s then there probably isn’s as much to review as if you are scoring 580s.

So if you are going for a quick, intense, condensed GMAT prep then:

  1. Keep studying to an amazing 5 hours per day
  2. Expect to spend at least half of that time reviewing, redoing, and looking up explanations.
  3. Remember to rest. Relax. Exercise. Eat well. Get some sun and fresh air… These things are not trivial.

To get things turned around quickly but still have the potential to take a couple of official GMATs consider doing a quick retake. 

Good luck with the preparation and follow up with any questions or comments!