Stress And The GMAT, Part I

by on September 20th, 2009

As if life weren’t stressful enough:

  1. Student Loans
  2. Securing an impressive job
  3. Networking with friends
  4. Attempting to date in the Facebook world…

You get the idea. Now, you want to go to business school and all the admissions individuals and literature is talking about how important the GMAT is for successful applications.  Did you need any more stress?

Stress can be a good thing: Stress produces adrenaline which can help increase concentration as well as focus your mind. On the other end of this, however, adrenaline can cause an increase in anxiety, sweaty palms, nervous ticks, and nausea. You are going to have adrenaline when you take the test – you MUST learn to control and use it to increase your score.

Think about building a stress mitigation strategy early on. There are two ways to think about stress: Pre-test stress (anticipation) and test day stress (performance). Let’s look at these two stress drivers and ways to reduce them:

Anticipation Stress

When you pull out your GMAT books to start studying, does your mind wander? Do you start to day-dream? Do you think that you’ll never be able to get into your target school? We need to stop thinking these thoughts. The primary lever to reduce this sort of stress is creating a specific, targeted studying schedule. Work backwards from your planned test day (hopefully more than a month away) and pull out a blank sheet of paper. Build a quick calendar and place your current appoints (classes, work, community service, etc.) – things that you can’t skip – into the calendar.

From this standpoint, build in time (possibly everyday) to plan to study for the GMAT. Ensure that you work every subject area. The key to this study schedule is to ensure you are constantly in the material. Think of this test like training for a marathon – if on Saturday you go out and run 10 miles and don’t run at any other time during the week, you won’t complete the marathon. If you run a couple of miles every day or every other day (with a big run once a week), you will finish the marathon.

Studying all topics several times a week according to a pre-defined schedule will ensure your Anticipation Stress is reduced.

The mere act of planning your GMAT preparation and engaging in a trusted, proven program can greatly reduce anticipation stress and help you get down to the business of raising your score.

In a future article, we’ll talk about another form of GMAT stress, performance stress.

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