Piecing together the time to study for the GMAT can be challenging. In today’s blog, I’m going to talk about three students (whose names I’m changing to protect their identities). Each had a major obstacle to studying, and each overcame it in a different way. I hope these students’ examples can help some of you reach your GMAT and MBA goals.
Case Study 1: Vincent, the Entrepreneur
The Challenge: Vincent was a busy man when I was tutoring him. His schedule was very flexible—his main source of income was a business that he started and ran himself—but he was distracted at all hours by emails and phone calls related to his work.
The Solution: Vincent needed a time and place where he could study in peace.
Because of his flexible work schedule, it was easier for Vincent to find time than it is for some other students. He dedicated a daily block of time to studying, and had the discipline to stick with it—though as his tutor, I was standing by ready to make sure he stuck with it if he got distracted!
Vincent had a harder time finding the space he needed to study. Local coffee shops were noisy, and didn’t have reliable internet connections for his CATs. But fortunately, there was a quiet study space regularly available in the local public library. Not only did that let him work in peace, but it also forced him to turn off his cell phone and disconnect from the world.
Ultimately, Vincent got a 700—though he didn’t quite reach his goal, he significantly improved his score, posting a result that combined with his entrepreneurial experience to make a top-tier-worthy application.
Case Study 2: Brandon, the Financier
The Challenge: Brandon had a lot of things to cope with. He was a long time out of college, so his writing and grammar skills were rusty (especially since he was a non-native, though fluent, speaker of English). Moreover, though he worked with numbers quite a bit in his job at a bank,the GMAT quantitative section proved challenging since he seldom had to do algebra, let alone geometry or probability.
Brandon had a relatively easy work schedule and a strong work ethic, and he was able to make consistent, steady progress across the board. But after 4 weeks and 60 points of improvement, he was exhausted and burnt out.
The Solution: Brandon and I sat down to start working on his applications.
This was something that had to get done, so it was a good use of time—but for Brandon, it was also a welcome relief from the constant effort of GMAT studying, especially when rusty fundamentals meant nothing was coming easily Working on the applications boosted his confidence, since seeing awesome application essays reminded him that he was a strong candidate already, and his test score was just the final piece of the puzzle. And finally, writing application essays with questions like “What are your goals at business school?” restored his focus on why he was studying for the test in the first place!
After spending a few days writing and revising application material, Brandon was ready and energized to get back to GMAT studying—and his practice test scores kept rising.
Case Study 3: Sally, the Management Consultant
The Challenge: Sally was working as a consultant while taking my class. She worked 70-80 hours/week during her busy periods and 50 hours/week at slower times. She spent most of her work week away from home. And perhaps most frustrating of all, Sally’s subordinates were studying for the GMAT on every train ride to and from their work site. She wanted to study with them, but didn’t think she’d be able maintain the respect necessary to manage them—especially since some of them were outscoring her on practice tests!
The result: Sally decided not to take the test.
I realize this might not seem like an inspiring outcome, but it’s actually quite brilliant. The GMAT is not something that fits everyone’s schedule at any given time—it’s a major commitment. Forcing yourself to take a test you’re not ready for is just going to put a mediocre score on your record for the next five years. And more importantly, there is more than one path to success. Sally’s hard work has earned her a raise to a pay grade normally reserved for MBA’s! She’s hoping that with a few more years of such progress, she’ll be able to achieve her long-term career goals through an executive MBA program, which will be a better fit for her busy, hardworking lifestyle. I look forward to helping her again when that time comes.