Should I quit my job to focus on the GMAT?

Should I quit my job and focus on the GMAT for the next 8 months of my life?

Gmatbuddy client and MBA hopeful

Now this is different from taking 2 or 3 weeks off to zero in on your GMAT chops and get into zen mode as the test day draws near.

I am talking about quitting your job and putting your life on hold for the GMAT.

My response to that student was to ask the following:

  1. Can you really survive for a year without working?
  2. What are the things you care about in life?

For which he answered

Yes and


Should I quit my job to study for the GMAT?

in that order.

If you have other projects you want to pursue then do that in addition to preparing for the GMAT. Do not quit and dedicate your life only for the GMAT.

So now that issue is clear, here’s my answer to whether to quit your job for the GMAT is:


  1. It will be hard to stay motivated and you will probably be less effcient.
  2. It’s a waste of time.

Will quitting my job hurt my MBA application?

I think it won’t if you are creative in framing the time you spend as a positive experience that strengthens your profile. You have to be very clear about what business schools look for.

What do business schools want in applicants?

Through the years I have narrowed it down to

A track record of getting things done and purpose.

Moreover, business schools favor candidates who are employable after the MBA and will easily get a job within 3 months of graduation. (Very important for stats in rankings).

As such, if you take the year off to only study for the GMAT, your application will not be as strong as it could be if you also pursue other projects or learning experiences that ultimately enhance the MBA experience.

You really can do anything you want if:

You already have an interesting career that includes getting things done and a track record of progress. The story you tell to the admissions committee will be a lot more credible.

If you have been floating around for the past 5 years and decide to travel for a year and prepare for the GMAT to make your profile more interesting then it probably won’t work.


You need a cake before you get the icing.

Should I quit my job to study for the GMAT?

The GMAT can be a frustrating exam. You don’t want to spend eight months preparing and have little to show for it in the end. Make it one of your side projects if you do decide to take the year off.

So, should I quit my job to focus on the GMAT?

No. Instead, make sure you pursue other meaningful projects, such that if your attempt to overcome the GMAT and become admitted does not materialise, you have something to show for (to yourself).

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