In this Applicant Question, Bara Sapir, CEO and founder of test prep company City Test Prep, outlines her top tips for managing stress and getting your anxiety under control during the MBA application process.
During the application process, you can manage stress by creating a schedule, partnering with professionals, implementing performance enhancing skills such as speed reading, and incorporating stress reduction techniques drawn from psychology and wellness practices.
1. Create an MBA schedule
Plan a schedule four to six months ahead of target deadlines with dedicated time to complete it.
The more time you allow, the less stressful it will be. It’s a wonderful feeling to submit a full application, especially well before the deadline!
Here's an idea of how to split your time:
- Application and essays: three to six weeks for doing research and reflection; and then for each subsequent school, two to three weeks for rewrites and edits.
- Test prep and test taking: a minimum of two or three months of dedicated study, including at least 120 hours of practice if you want a top score. Also plan for two to three test dates.
- Allow time in advance to engage with schools and reach out to students and alumni.
Good health habits, such as exercise, sleep, and eating healthy, will also support emotional regulation and promote engagement, so be sure to include them in your plan.
Also, set some time aside once or twice a week to evaluate, reconcile, and adapt your schedule as needed.
2. Get support from professionals
If you’re stressed about producing top test scores or effective essays, you can hire dedicated professionals to help.
Having the right support system can make a huge difference in lowering stress since you won’t have to go at it alone. It keeps you on track, optimizes efficiency, and professionals can shave months and even years off your process.
You don’t have to worry about the cost, as you’ll find a range of services available to fit every budget. It’s about finding the right match, so take advantage of free consultations to 'interview' providers and compare expertise and approaches.
Admissions consultants will help you improve your application and ensure your essay is compelling and well written. They’ll also coach you for interviews with advice on what to wear.
Test prep professionals will expedite and hone your test-prepping and test-taking efforts by customizing your study to meet your score goals and timing.
3. Improve efficiency with speed reading
Improving on test-taking skills that help you study smarter rather than harder, such as speed reading, leads to feeling more in control and less agitated. Reading faster gives more time to think critically to answer questions, which is what you get credit for.
If you read less than 300 words per minute with mediocre to good comprehension, consider learning this skill.
In 5 hours, you can increase your reading speed up to five times faster and improve reading performance an average of 13%.
Our newly launched MindFlow is an online platform with GMAT, EA and GRE speed reading training tracks.
MindFlow also features a ‘mindset’ channel with yoga, sound therapy, and various calming exercises to help alleviate anxiety and emotionally regulate.
4. Optimize your mindset
Changing your perspective with growth mindset, anxiety reappraisal, and a variety of holistic and mindful techniques to help eliminate anxiety.
Instead of feeling defeated in response to challenges and hurdles, adopt a ‘growth mindset’.
When you notice yourself thinking, “I’m a terrible test taker or bad writer,” exchange this negative self-talk with, “I can improve and will achieve my goals.”
This simple but profound shift increases motivation and confidence. Learn more about the growth mindset from Stanford University psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck, here.
‘Anxiety reappraisal’ is another method of self-talk and messaging which reassigns ‘anxiety’ into ‘excitement’ and moves you from a stressed-out ‘threat mindset’ into a positive ‘opportunity mindset’.
When you feel anxious, simply say out loud, “I am excited” or give yourself the directive to “get excited!” These affirmations allow to shift into a more positive mindset, and it’s all backed by Harvard University research.
Holistic and mindful techniques
Holistic and mindful techniques such as tapping, hypnosis, visualization, neuro-linguistic programming, and mindfulness change feelings of anxiety into feeling focused, confident, and calm.
Visualize yourself starting your test, at home or at a center, and imagine that you feel great; alert, calm and present.
Replay this scene in your mind like a movie, and in so doing, you’ll create tracks of ‘imagined memories’ which make it more likely that you’ll enter the real test in this desired state.
Sports psychologists guide world class athletes through similar processes to help achieve peak performance.
Incorporating a schedule, hiring professionals, and employing some supportive methods derived from psychology, holistic wellness, and mindfulness will enable you to gain control, move away from stress, and launch yourself into more emotionally positive states.
These upgrades will make your application process more fun and relaxed, and will undoubtedly produce better results on your application, on tests, and in life.
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