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Are You Truly Ready for an MBA? 4 Things to Consider before Starting GMAT Prep

GMAT prep

Read time: 4 minutes

We speak to a lot of prospective MBA students who want to apply to business school, and are checking out their GMAT prep options.

For the most part, they’re looking for practical information, like what kinds of GMAT courses we offer, how much we can help boost their scores, scheduling options, special discounts, etc.

But every once in a while, we get calls from people who seem far less certain about their next move.

For example, when we ask which business schools they’re planning to apply to, they say they haven’t really investigated their options.

And when we ask about when they’re thinking of applying to MBA programs, it turns out they haven’t thought about a start date either.

The MBA is still a hazy, far-off dream—something they feel they should be aiming for, but haven’t fully committed to pursuing.

At this point, the conversation takes a different turn. We usually suggest putting off GMAT prep for now, until the business school plan becomes more focussed.

Studying for the GMAT, and successfully challenging the exam, is no small feat. It takes dedication, perseverance, time, and money. If you’re ambivalent about an MBA, is this something you should be investing in, right now?

In this post, we break down 4 clear signs that you’re truly serious about, and ready to pursue an MBA. Take a moment to consider whether you’re thinking along these same lines.

1.  You want more respect, responsibility & advancement options at work

Feeling “stuck” in your current professional position? Aren’t eligible for promotion without an advanced degree? Want to switch fields, but don’t have the training it takes to make a new start?

These are some of the most common reasons people reach for an MBA. They’re looking to bolster their resume and professional persona with cutting-edge skills, greater confidence, and globally recognized credentials.

A master in business administration is the first step toward more respect, authority, and opportunities at work.

If you want this badly enough, you’ll have the fuel it takes to power through GMAT prep, the admission process, and of course, the rigors of an MBA.

2. You’re passionate about starting a career in business

Always envisioned yourself becoming a business leader? Dream of starting your own company? Feel most at home when you’re connecting with like-minded, ambitious professionals?

Successful business people come from all walks of life, and every corner of the planet.

Some are creative visionaries; others are analytical problem-solvers. Some come from quant backgrounds; others were humanities majors.

But what all serious MBA applicants have in common is their passion for the unpredictable, dynamic, opportunity-rich world of business.

GMAT prep
Committed MBA applicants are determined to fulfill their potential as business leaders & change-makers

Even if you’re not certain what specific field you’re aiming for—marketing, finance, sales, accounting, entrepreneurship, not-for-profit—a strong affinity for business management makes you a good candidate for an MBA.

Business school is where you’ll finally find your “tribe”; individuals who are truly passionate about fulfilling their potential as leaders.

3.  You understand the commitment required to earn an MBA

Earning an MBA is a serious undertaking. Perhaps you’ll be studying while you work, and fitting courses in on evenings and weekends.

Or, maybe you’ll go full tilt with an accelerated MBA, and earn your degree in just one year.

Whether it takes you 12 months or 5 years, this journey requires total commitment, and very hard work.

On the plus side, you’ll get tremendous energy from the people you meet, the projects you tackle, the professors you admire, and the new confidence you feel.

Not to mention, the career opportunities and job offers that materialize for some MBA students before they’ve even graduated!

But rest assured, earning an MBA will involve making some sacrifices, which will impact your social life, partner, kids, family, etc.

Have you talked things over with those closest to you, and thought about how you’ll manage the increased workload?

GMAT prep
Many MBA students juggle school, work, and family. Consider how you’ll manage a busier workload.

4. You’re investigating prospective MBA programs & admissions requirements

Serious MBA applicants already have a target school in mind, or are busy narrowing down their options, by investigating prospective schools.

They’re attending information sessions, setting up advising appointments, and determining their eligibility for different MBA programs.

They have a timeline sketched out for completing the degree, and are looking into upcoming start dates for their top schools.

In short, there is a working plan in place, and the application checklist is taking shape.

GMAT prep
Meet with an admission advisor to discuss your eligibility for an MBA & application requirements

Is this about where you’re at? Let’s do a quick re-cap. You’re ready for the next step if you:

  • have identified a clear need for an MBA
  • feel passionate about pursuing the degree
  • understand the required commitment
  • are actively formulating an admissions action plan

OK! Now you’re ready for GMAT prep.

At this point, it definitely makes sense to look into a GMAT course, or start organizing your self-study plan.

A competitive GMAT score is a key component of your MBA application package—so it’s worth putting in the time, and aiming high.

Looking for your next step? We strongly recommend attending a free GMAT information session, or taking a mock exam to gauge your baseline quant and verbal score.

Click below to find links to these, and several other, free GMAT classes. Or, just give us a call, and we’ll find a GMAT prep program that fits your needs. We’re here to help!


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GMAT Help: Top Reasons Students Under-perform on Exam Day

GMAT help

Read time: 5 minutes

How is it possible that some students work incredibly hard at GMAT prep for months, read all the study guides, and do hundreds of practice questions—and then end up with a terribly disappointing score on exam day?

This is a worst case scenario for many reasons: wasted time, loss of confidence, a significantly weakened B-school application…and of course, having to take the test all over again!

So why do hard working, intelligent test-takers under-perform on the GMAT? And how can you protect yourself from the same downfall?

Start with an honest appraisal of your study plan. If you’ve already scored low, these are the five most likely reasons why.

Still in the midst of prep, but feeling “stuck?” This list may show you where you’re veering off course.

1. Your GMAT prep didn’t cover every topic

It’s hard to believe, but a great many students simply underestimate the full scope of the GMAT. They either skim over certain topics because they feel strong in those areas—or they rely on a prep course that sacrifices thoroughness for brevity.

Far too many GMAT classes promise comprehensive prep in just 20 -50 hours, when it’s impossible to cover all topic areas adequately within such a small time frame.

Did you encounter topics on exam day that you simply didn’t prep for? Or only vaguely remember?

Thorough GMAT prep demands nothing short of 100 hours of study, best served up as one or two hours of daily practice. Think back to your approach. How consistently did you study? Which Quant or Verbal topics did you neglect?

2. You missed out on essential problem-solving strategies

Did you rely on previously learned problem-solving methods while prepping for the GMAT? Perhaps you used techniques that worked well for you on university or high school exams?

On the surface, this sounds like a great shortcut. Unfortunately, the GMAT is not like other tests you’ve taken, so using conventional methods tends to backfire.

This exam has its own unique question-types and challenges, and you need very specific strategies for tackling each one—and avoiding cleverly laid traps.

The right set of “attack plans” will help you break down and solve tough questions efficiently and accurately. Without specialized techniques, you’re far more likely to second-guess yourself, get stuck, panic, and make avoidable errors.

3. Your weak points were never identified or addressed

One of the biggest keys to successful GMAT prep is identifying weaknesses early on, and finding ways to close those gaps prior to the exam.

The only way to achieve this is by carefully analyzing your performance on practice tests and question sets. It all begins with taking a mock GMAT exam, before you even start studying.

The mock reveals your baseline score, natural strengths and weaknesses, and will help you set a realistic target score.

From there, you can seek out GMAT help where you need it most, and track your progress toward your goal. Ongoing analysis will help you target and address problem areas, and continue to hone your strengths.

If a low score has caught you by surprise, it’s very likely that your weaknesses were never identified or addressed—and you primarily studied topics that aligned with your natural strengths.

Need help analyzing your GMAT practice results? Check out this post, 5 Tips for Better GMAT Practice Test Analysis.

4. You struggled with pacing problems

Did you have trouble finishing the Quant and/or Verbal section of the GMAT? Or, did you complete the exam before most of the other candidates?

A number of factors can contribute to pacing problems on the GMAT, but perhaps the biggest culprit is lack of self-awareness. You can only know how you’ll react on test day by taking as many simulated exams as possible—and analyzing your response times.

Using a timer during practice tests is helpful, as is taking several formal mock exams (which are totally free).

Students need to know if they tend to rush through certain questions, or linger where they shouldn’t—and how to address those issues—well in advance of exam day.

5. You experienced exam day anxiety

In many cases, exam day anxiety is a product of under-preparedness. While lack of preparation is usually not intentional, it will nonetheless manifest itself in a number of score-crunching ways—like rushing, forgetting important strategies, lack of concentration, or simply “freezing up” and being unable to proceed.

But even if you’ve struggled with test anxiety in the past, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a low GMAT score. There are practical techniques for diffusing stress well before it derails your performance on exam day.

Take a look at this post for proven techniques: GMAT Prep & Math Anxiety: Helpful Tips for Defeating the Beast.

Need some more GMAT help? Looking for ways to sharpen your study strategy, or just can’t understand why you scored low on the exam?

Drop us a line, or give us a call.

Quantum has prepared over 10,000 successful MBA students in the GTA, and we’re proud to have achieved the highest GMAT score improvements in Canada. Find out how we can help you.

Click here to learn more about Quantum’s GMAT Courses