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Top 3 Reasons Students Bail on GMAT prep (& how to stay on track)

GMAT prep

Read time: 5 minutes

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 186, 000 people took the GMAT in 2016. Out of those, 38% were re-takers. Another 27% ending up cancelling their scores because of poor results.

Just imagine how many more GMAT contenders didn’t make it to exam day, having dropped out just before—or worse, given up on their MBA dream altogether, rather than face the exam.

Prepping for the GMAT is an undeniably daunting process. It takes a commitment of time, energy, and in many cases money, that for some people, proves too heavy to bear.

What are the top reasons students bail out on the GMAT?

These are the three core issues we see most often, along with some valuable tips for staying on track, and achieving your best possible score.

Postponing GMAT Prep Due to Lack of Time

Want to head back to school for an MBA, but work full-time, have young children— or both?

People who already feel pressed for time, and pulled in too many directions, are often the first to give up on the GMAT.

It’s completely understandable that given the time investment required (at least 100 hours of prep for a  competitive score), the exam seems totally out of reach.

But there is a way forward. Over the years, we’ve worked with thousands of  busy students who not only make it to the exam—they exceed their own score goals.

So, what’s the best way to beat the GMAT when lack of time is your greatest challenge?


This is what we recommend:


  • set aside at least 6 months to slowly prepare for the exam


  • take a mock exam right at the start, to quickly diagnose your strengths and weaknesses, and map out a targeted study plan (this will dramatically increase the efficiency of your GMAT prep)


  • seek expert help to kick-start your studying (take a quality GMAT course to access valuable study materials, learn proven problem-solving techniques, and avoid common pitfalls)


  • carve out a regular weekly study schedule (ideally, 4-5 hours spread throughout the week, and not crammed into the weekends)


  • every few weeks, take a practice exam to gauge your progress, tweak your study strategy, and steadily improve your score (aim to complete 8-10 practice exams)

For more tips and strategies, take a look at this post on GMAT tips for exceptionally busy people.

Perceived Weaknesses &  Academic Anxiety

Many students begin their GMAT prep with deep insecurities in certain academic areas, and a related apprehension around testing in general.

For some, there is great anxiety around math. For others, English grammar, reading comprehension, and essay writing skills are sore points, creating fear of the GMAT’s verbal and AWA sections.

But the truth is, with the right study materials and methods, almost anyone can learn the steps needed to crack even the toughest GMAT problems. It’s all about procedure.

But, anxieties around test-taking, failure, and perceived limitations often de-rail the study process, compelling students to give up on themselves, and their MBA goal.


Our best advice?


  • Go back to the simplest, most non-threatening math and verbal concepts and tackle those first (GMAT fundamentals)


  • Set aside all complex and intimidating problems until you’ve successfully mastered the fundamentals, and raised your confidence with promising results


  • Do not improvise solutions to unfamiliar GMAT problems: arm yourself with proven attack plans for every single question-type (this with help reduce feelings of panic by eliminating “unknowns”)


  • get support from your peers by joining online GMAT forums, and attending free local GMAT events designed to boost your confidence and test-taking skills

Check out this post on managing GMAT math anxiety for more tips and advice.

Browse this list of free GMAT events and support services available in Montreal and Toronto.

 Plateaued GMAT Practice Scores

Been working at GMAT prep for months already, but can’t get your practice scores to rise? On the brink of giving up? You’re certainly not alone.

Many GMAT contenders get disillusioned by plateaued scores and end up walking away from the exam. When you know you need a 700+ score to get a shot at a top business school, getting stuck at 600 can feel totally devastating.

How should students deal with disappointing GMAT practice results?


We strongly suggest the following:


  • Look much more closely at your practice test performance (the secret to boosting your score lies with your ability to deeply analyze practice results, and tweak your study plan accordingly)


  • Re-evaluate your study materials (are you using the best attack strategies for each topic and question-type?)


  • Take a mock exam and book a free assessment of your performance with an expert GMAT instructor (they’ll help you re-target your strategy, and start moving your score up again)

Click here to learn more about getting a free GMAT assessment.

We also recommend taking a look at this post on how to improve your GMAT practice test analysis.

The final takeaway?

There’s a solution to every GMAT roadblock. Don’t let anything stand between you and your best possible GMAT score. This exam is beatable—it’s simply a matter of strategy and strong resolve!

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