When Should You Take the GMAT?

By - Feb 10, 07:00 AM Comments [0]

When Should You Take the GMAT?

when to take the gmatPrepping for the GMAT is tough, and it’s easy to underestimate the time and work necessary for GMAT success.  Even when a GMAT student does lay out a sufficient runway, exploits the highest quality test prep materials available and utilizes those materials consistently and effectively, that MBA hopeful might still not feel ready to sit for the exam when test day finally arrives.

If you reach this point, you have two options:

  1. take the GMAT and hope for the best, or,
  2. push the test date and continue studying.

Assume choice 1: Take the GMAT and hope for the best.

It becomes very clear for everyone who seriously prepares for the GMAT that hope does not yield a strong GMAT score. A GMAT score is derived from the work you put in. It is absolutely true that one may work very hard yet still not see the level of progress needed. After all, you can swing a golf club the wrong way 100 times and it could still be wrong on the 101st. Even so, if you have equipped yourself with the best GMAT prep resources around, scoring well on the test does not necessarily come easily, and one can certainly not expect a magical 80-point gain on test day just because that’s what you want or need.

Assume choice 2: Push the test date and continue studying.

No one wants to do this. You registered to take the exam on a specific day for various reasons, most of which are likely very sound. In addition to the annoyance of altering set plans, moving the exam forward means it will be part of your life for longer and if the GMAT does nothing else, it definitely looms large. A rescheduled test date also comes with a $50 penalty.  None of that feels good.

However, every admissions officer you can find will say the same thing.  “Present your best self.”  If fifty bucks buys you another two weeks, three weeks, even a month or more to really buckle down and make significant score progress, then it’s worth it.

Last night after class, a student began our conversation with: “I need seventy more points on the GMAT than I got yesterday on the practice test I took for one of my Official Test Day Experiences.  Is it possible to make that gain in the two-and-a-half weeks I have left before I sit for the real thing?

My reply: “Is it possible? Sure. Is it easy? Not even remotely. Is it likely?  All things considered, including the fact that you have a life that will continue to march on despite that you are trying to prep for the GMAT, no, it is not likely.”

I continue, “What happens if you don’t take the exam in a couple weeks?  Are we up against application deadlines here?”

“Kinda… Well, not hard up against them. I’m looking at January 15th as my drop dead date, but I really want to get the GMAT out of the way so I can focus on the rest of the application; particularly the essays.”

“I understand all that, I really do. However, looking at the score report you just showed me and considering all you have going on in your life outside of the GMAT, how would you feel if I doubled your remaining prep time before test day?”

“Oh gosh.  It would feel great.  It would remove a lot of stress.”

“Some things about the GMAT experience are out of our control. One thing we have at least some control over is when we take the exam and what we do before that time comes. Give yourself that gift. Turn two-and-a-half weeks into five.”

With tears of relief she replied, “OK.”

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