Commitment, Priorities, and the GMAT

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Every once in a while, I meet with a student who is about to start studying for the GMAT. As we discuss a study plan--often a commitment of six weeks, eight weeks, or more--he or she is visibly excited about the idea, ready to take on the challenge for as long as it takes.

Then, over the first few weeks, I watch that commitment wane. Homework assignments aren't completed, enthusiasm flags, and progress slows. A student can tell just as well as I can that their improvement is slowing or stopped, and that just makes the situation worse.

The GMAT, and Only the GMAT

For the vast majority of test-takers, the GMAT is not easy. Getting the score you want can't be accomplished in a couple weeks of casual study. The only alternative is to work hard, and that will happen most effectively if you sustain the commitment over several weeks, often studying every single day.

If you're working a full-time job, that means you can't do much else. Your social life will be constrained and you probably won't watch very much television.

Just as importantly, you can't multi-task business school applications. If you're studying for the GMAT every two or three days and working on your application essays on other days, you are giving both activities the short shrift.

Prioritize What's Important

If you want a good GMAT score, you'll have to invest the time. You'll have to put off other things. You must study for the GMAT almost daily right up until test day. There's no guarantee of success, but if you don't do those things, you can almost guarantee the opposite.

If you don't know where to start, read up on the GMAT Study Schedule I recommend. Or if you're ready to attack a specific section of the test, purchase a copy of Total GMAT Math or Total GMAT Verbal. Both are structured in exactly the way you should study them--one or two chapters per day is a great way to get yourself ready for the test.

Honestly, it's more important that you have a plan than that you have any specific plan. Stick to the commitment, prioritize what matters to you, and get the best GMAT score you possibly can.



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.

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