If you ask any runner why they run, you’ll get a different answer. Some run to lose weight while others run for the community and social aspect, but at the end of the day everyone has something that gets them up and out of the door when the conditions aren’t ideal (sadly everyday can’t be sunny with no humidity and with infinite amounts of free time!) Running isn’t unique in this regard; the road to achieving GMAT success can be equally challenging especially if you don’t have some end goals fueling you every day.
You likely have thought through many of the steps in your GMAT preparation journey, but what about the days when you’re faced with choosing between a happy hour with friends and a group study session, or that weekend trip to the beach that “everyone is going to be at,” when you have a weekend GMAT class scheduled? Or at a very tactical level, how do you find motivation when you’ve just taken a practice test that you were feeling pretty good about only to discover you’ve stayed the same or gone down 20 points?
Find Your Why
Having a mantra and strong end goal is going to help you refocus and get it done. What drives you? Why are you taking the GMAT? Why now? And applying to business school isn’t an acceptable answer. Why do you want to go to business school? What greater personal or professional goal will this test and degree help you to achieve?
Maybe you’ve just started your GMAT journey so everything is still bright and shiny and new (or you just haven’t hit the data sufficiency lesson yet), but when you have some time (or need a way to productively procrastinate), grab a sheet of paper and create a short list. List 2-3 quantifiable goals you’re hoping to achieve. It may be score or percentile based, or it may be to only have to take the GMAT once. Then list 2-3 less quantifiable goals you’re hoping to achieve (and that the GMAT will enable you to do). Maybe it’s a new role or job in 36 months or to take six months off after business school to travel the world. Or, perhaps it’s to learn how to be a better reader so you can get through the Sunday paper more quickly. They don’t need to be quantifiable in the traditional sense, but you should write them down and then post them somewhere you’ll see them on a regular basis. On the days when you’re weighing happy hour or library, pull out the list and remind yourself why you’re doing this. One other hint: reading them should make you smile because by achieving them you’re changing your life.
Any athlete will tell you that rest days are just as important as training days. It’s important to train, but also to allow time for your muscles and body to recover. The same is true with studying. You’ve heard how much and how frequently you need to study, but it’s also crucial to build in down time that is not GMAT or B-school application related so you can absorb and process what you’ve learned. Studying for the GMAT is not an extracurricular activity that you can list on a resume or application. Don’t overlook your interests and hobbies that have made you the unique individual you are today. This may sound like a contradiction to what we previously said about picking the library over libations with your friends, but just remember balance is the game.
There is definitely something to be said about seeing yourself achieve success … even before actually achieving it. Do a dry run of test day and see yourself at the test center. When you’re taking practice tests, wear what you’ll wear on test day. Close your eyes and go through the day. Focus on breathing, keep the nerves at bay and envision that total score or goals you wrote down earlier.
Remember, the GMAT is just the first step in a much larger life journey you’re embarking upon. Take the time to make sure you are on the right road and doing it for the right reasons. That will get you through those tough times and make the sacrifices worth it.
The above article comes from Veritas Prep. Since its founding in 2002, Veritas Prep has helped more than 100,000 students prepare for the GMAT and offers the most highly rated GMAT Prep course in the industry. Sign up for a Free Initial Profile Evaluation.