Spring is upon us…well, upon some of us anyways. But wherever you live, you are probably feeling the desire to step out from winter hibernation and enjoy the fresh air. Unfortunately, we are moving into prime season for B-School applications and that means studying for the GMAT. There’s no escaping the GMAT requirement for most schools and you certainly don’t want to take the test twice, so it’s best to buckle down for the next 30 days, study hard, and get it out of the way. And studying for this test doesn’t have to be all bad. Here are a few ways that you can turn your GMAT studying experience into a beneficial one.
1) The median age for business school students is about 27. If you are one of these typical students, you have probably been out of college for about five years and that means you are out of the habit of studying. Getting back into a good academic routine can be more difficult than you think, especially if you plan to join a PMBA or EMBA program and work while you study, or if you have a family. Use your GMAT preparation experience to establish good habits now. Set aside a specific time of the day to study and commit to turning off your phone and email during that time. Let the people you live with know that you should be disturbed during that time, or, even better, go to the local library or a coffee house.
2) Along with the first point, another consequence of having been out of school for awhile is that you may have forgotten many of the basic quantitative skills you need to succeed in B-School. The GMAT gives you the chance to refresh those skills before you are in a classroom environment where the pressure will be on. Don’t gloss over all the fundamental math concept review in the Official Guide; read it carefully and master it. This is especially important for applicants who do not have an undergraduate background in business or math and might be required to take some fundamental quantitative courses before they are granted full admission to an MBA program.
3) Use your GMAT preparation as an opportunity to begin networking. If you take a class, you will meet other classmates that you may even end up in school with. If you study on your own, you can join a study group or participate in online forums. That way, you have other people to ask questions when you don’t understand GMAT problems, review application essays with, and possibly connect with in useful ways later on in your career.
4) Embrace the competitive spirit! B-School isn’t going to be easy. There are scholarship applications, case competitions, and many opportunities to show how you can shine above your classmates. Look at the GMAT as that first challenge. Rather than viewing it as a cumbersome obstacle, view it as a way to demonstrate your mental prowess. Then you will be in the right frame of mind to impress your professors, get great recommendations, and land an amazing job.
Remember that the GMAT is just one step in obtaining your MBA, but it can be a very important step. Make the most of your study time and you will see very real benefit come from it. And don’t worry about missing out on that lovely spring breeze – you can always study outside!
Image courtesy of iskir with Creative Commons License