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Preparing for a high stakes test like the GMAT is inherently stressful for many people.
So much is riding on your success—getting into a top business school, fulfilling your career ambitions, proving you can do it—it’s completely normal to experience anxiety.
In fact, some degree of stress is actually beneficial. It will push you to get serious about your GMAT test prep, work hard to strengthen your skills, and stay focussed on exam day.
However, there’s often a fine line between stress that motivates, and anxiety that feels paralyzing. Every year, countless would-be GMAT contenders back out of the exam because the pressure is too great.
Many give up before even starting test prep. Are you among them?
Is concern about your math or verbal skills “talking you out of” taking the test?
Think you’ll never get a high enough score, so why bother?
Hold on! Before you walk away from your dreams—and sell yourself short!—take a moment to consider these 4 stress-lowering GMAT tips.
Follow these steps and you’ll realize the GMAT is far more doable than you thought, and you definitely have the capacity to earn a competitive score. Let’s get started.
1. Clarify What the GMAT Actually Tests
Step number one. Push aside all the horror stories and dramatic anecdotes, and figure out what this exam actually tests.
You might be surprised to learn that the GMAT only evaluates math and verbal skills at the middle and high school levels. Some concepts are first introduced in elementary school!
There’s nothing on the test you haven’t seen before—although it’s probably been a while.
Do yourself an enormous favor, and attend a free GMAT information session. These events are offered free of charge, at many business schools in Ontario. Quantum runs several of them every month.
You’ll get a complete breakdown of how the exam works: every section, every question-type, every math and verbal topic.
These sessions are led by expert GMAT instructors, so it’s a great chance to de-bunk GMAT myths, and get all your preliminary questions answered.
There’s no doubt about it: getting a handle on the facts is a tremendous stress-reliever.
2. Do a Mock Exam Before You Start GMAT Test Prep
Already tried a few GMAT practice questions and did worse than you imagined? So concerned about your grammar or math skills that you’d rather study a bit before attempting a formal practice test?
This strategy is a recipe for rising anxiety.
It makes far more sense to know what you’re up against, right from day one. That means doing a mock exam before you begin any kind of GMAT test prep.
Mock exams are totally free, and provide essential data on your individual strengths and weaknesses. You’ll determine your baseline score, and be in an excellent position to map out a truly targeted study plan.
If you don’t know where you’re at, in terms of quant and verbal skills, you won’t know what topics to focus on, which techniques to study, or how to measure your progress!
You’ll lose time running in circles, and see your stress levels sky-rocket. Take a smarter approach: sign up for a mock exam first thing.
3. Map out a Personalized GMAT Study Plan
Trying to model your test prep on someone else’s approach? Listening to a lot of advice from other test-takers on what worked for them? Cut through the noise, and focus instead on your needs and goals.
Once you’ve done the mock exam, you’ll be eligible for a free assessment and study planning session with a GMAT instructor. Many test prep companies (the same people who host the mock exam) offer this complimentary service.
Your mock exam results will tell you exactly which topic areas to focus on most. You’ll be able to set a realistic score goal, and figure out exactly how many hours of prep it will take to achieve it.
Your free assessment should also include access to trustworthy GMAT prep resources, tips, and study guides. Instant stress reliever.
4. Book Yourself Into Free GMAT Workshops
Need a confidence booster in fundamental math or verbal concepts? Want expert advice to guide your prep in a particularly tricky topic—but can’t afford a comprehensive GMAT course?
No problem. Ease your mind by taking advantage of the many free GMAT workshops that happen every month, in cities across the country. Toronto and Montreal, for example, offer a range of GMAT Math, Verbal, and IR workshops, on an ongoing basis.
Get your questions answered, learn problem-solving techniques, and connect with like-minded peers. No charge; no stress.
Final takeaway: Follow these 4 steps and take the guesswork—and therefore, much of the anxiety—out of GMAT test prep.
These are all completely free tools and services that are available to students—so get out there, take full advantage, and crush GMAT stress like a boss!