GMAT frustration and why not to give up

Tell yourself this before you quit on the GMAT: It is not an IQ test and you can improve. 

All you need is a lot of patience and a good plan. People quit on the GMAT when they set unrealistic goals and compare themselves to others. If you start an intense gym schedule in May, and the last time you did a sit-up was in 2008, I am sorry, but your 6-pack will have to wait another year. Some things in life you can’t cram for, and one of them is the GMAT. You need to understand where you stand.

For example, take this quiz to test your foundations:

The downward spiral study plan

Typically, one would put 700 as their objective, sign up for a course, and begin working hard for 1 or 2 months, expecting that their target score is pretty much guaranteed. The common belief is that “if I do this study program, I will get the score”, which very often is not the case. 90% of time to be precise because most set 700 as their target score.

Some achieve their target scores, but, most don’t. They try 1 or 2 more times: same score. Eventually, they quit because the sting of repeated disappointment is hard to take, and because (and very wrongly so), they begin to think that the test is an IQ test.It is not.

Remember that there are two types of people who “begin” studying for the GMAT. Those who are already prepared and those who are not. An engineer that has been doing algebra for more than half their life on almost a daily basis is already prepared. A lawyer that has been reading complicated legal documents or preparing for trial is already prepared. A consultant solving complex problems for 10 hours on a daily basis for 3 or 4 years straight is already prepared. They’ve already done the heavy lifting.

The GMAT tests your ability to think logically and critically to make inferences. That is a skill that is developed through consistent practice. If you have already put in the time, the GMAT prep phase will be a breeze. If you haven’t been putting in the hours, you will have to now. That’s it.

Most 1 or 2 month prep courses are designed with candidates who are already prepared in mind. All they need is a review to remember little details and some practice because the real work has already been done. It is extremely difficult to learn how to solve problems in 2 months or to change your thinking habits in a short period of time. An analogy would be learning a new language. It’s not something that you can cram for. You must be patient and take your time.

There is no list of formulas or “tricks” that you can memorize to be ready, or a number of practice tests that you can take to be prepared. If you have been struggling with the GMAT, you need to drastically alter your thinking style, and that takes time.

Take an official practice test. If you’re scoring less than 550, it means that you need to work on your foundations: basic maths and reading comprehension. You have at least 6-7 months of consistent daily work ahead of you because that score means that you need to fundamentally change the way you solve problems.

Forget what your friend, sister, brother or some other person scored on the GMAT. Forget that person “who studied for a week and scored a 700 on the first try”. Their story doesn’t matter. What matters is your story, and what you need to do to get the score you need. If there is a long way ahead of you, then so be it. It is time to play catch up. Be humble in accepting that others have already put in the time and that now you must put in yours – there are no shortcuts.

Give yourself the time and measure yourself only against yourself. Nobody else matters.

1 thought on “GMAT frustration and why not to give up”

  1. This is really true. I have been very inconsistent in my studies and always try to take out 2 weeks to exam date to do a crash program, never worked for me. Now, after a couple failures, I’m happy to learn the slow and steady way.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.