ATTENTION Graduating Class: Congratulations! You’ve Got More Studying to Do.
During my time as a GMAT instructor for Kaplan Test Prep, I have had the great pleasure to work with a select few individuals who display such foresight and reason as they stare down the barrel of their future that I hold a special place of respect and admiration for them. Taken individually, they comprise a highly diverse group, but the one thing all have in common is that they are fresh out of undergrad and studying for the GMAT.
I know what happens after undergraduate commencement: life. The vast majority of my aspirant MBAs are 3-5 years into their professional lives by the time they start positioning themselves for b-school. As the reality of the GMAT sets in, these individuals are soon overwhelmed and questioning how they might be able to pull off GMAT study in addition to all of the other things that were already too much to juggle effectively. Many discover that they simply cannot make it all happen. Balls and batons must be sacrificed for the show to go on, so the GMAT and b-school take a backseat to work and life. Maybe later, maybe next year.
The GMAT is the big obstacle for most people interested in attending business school. They already have their undergraduate GPA; they have long-since established relationships with those who will write letters of recommendation; work experience is exactly what they’ve been building since they last left university life; essays must be written, sure, but the source material from which content will be derived has already been lived through. What must be started from scratch, strived for, and completed successfully is the Graduate Management Admission Test.
The GMAT demands time and hard work. I tell all of my students that the best way to frame GMAT prep is to treat it as a part-time job. Set up a schedule and make it the rule, not the exception. The problem for so many GMAT students is that they are already on full-time-plus work schedules and often have partners—even children—that need these would-be GMATers involved in their lives. Furthermore, with respect to timing GMAT prep, all will agree that no aspect of their professional lives has helped prepare them for a test that is valid only to predict academic success.
Now, let’s pan back to the determined clairvoyants I love so much…
GMAT scores are valid for a full 5 years after Test Day. Closing out undergrad marks a time when the brain is fully engaged in student/study-mode and the responsibility payload is never going to lessen. The decision to tackle the GMAT now with the expressed intention of holding the score in your pocket until needed is a tremendous revelation indeed. Even for those that are well beyond their bachelor’s but nonetheless can see a window of relative downtime in the summer, taking on the GMAT before it is required can be a huge boon not only to your score, but also your general well-being.
Summer time is a wondrous time. Vacations, warm weather, long daylight hours… so much of the season is a recipe for joy. But, can you see how The Long Game unfolds? Do you have the dedication, commitment, and discipline to play it? If so, the rewards will be tremendous.