The great Ernest Hemingway once wrote: "It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” This may be seem a philosophical perspective and unlikely to help you prepare for the GMAT.
But most people take the GMAT because they want to go to business school; they want to go to business school to get an MBA; they want an MBA because they … want lots of money, or revel in the entrepreneurial spirit, or have a dream.
There is some end, some goal, miles and miles away from the actual GMAT. Unfortunately, if the GMAT is just a step to a step to a step on the way to something you really want, that distance from the goal probably doesn't give the GMAT the prioritization needed to meet the challenge it poses.
Anything outside the GMAT is meagre motivation for the GMAT. One way to think about it is: your life as an executive, facing the kinds of challenges an executive would face, begins with the GMAT. Executives have to do math, especially estimations, all the time (Problem Solving).
More often than not, they have to decide exactly when they have enough information to move forward on something (Data Sufficiency).
Executives have to read material, some of it quite new and unfamiliar, and extract the pith that they need (Reading Comprehension). Executives have to make cogent arguments and must constantly evaluate the arguments of others (Critical Reasoning).
They must know enough about grammar and effective writing to make cogent, unambiguous points toward potential colleagues, partners and customers whom they encounter for the first time through their writing (Sentence Correction).
The business world does not come with separate "Verbal" and "Quantitative" sections: rather, in a meeting, you may have to sort out difficult verbal arguments one moment, then interpret a challenging graph in the next - the verbal information and mathematical information is "integrated", hence the Integrated Reasoning section.
Every problem on the GMAT reflects something about the life of an executive. Rather than viewing the GMAT as an extraneous challenge, you should accord it the respect it deserves. View it as a representative of the very career path you are pursuing.
One of the paradoxes of test prep is that, if you want a lofty GMAT score, the very last thing on which you should focus is the score itself. Any stories you have about what a good or not-so-good GMAT score would mean are 100 per cent utterly useless to your GMAT preparation.
Good GMAT focus hones in on the test itself: the content, the strategies and the habits of excellence. All thought about the score falls well outside good GMAT focus, yet the paradox is: such focus leads to the best scores.
This is a sterling example of what Hemmingway meant: here, the thought of the goal impedes the journey to the goal!
Using high quality GMAT preparation books will support your GMAT success, as will following a proven GMAT study plan. Learning content, including frequent traps, as well as time-saving strategies, will give you a decisive edge.
All the habits of excellence will serve you well on the GMAT and beyond. The single most important of these is: never making the same mistake twice.
It may be that you come to this article having already taken the GMAT and having gotten less-than-stellar results. You now want to retake the GMAT, and are wondering how to proceed. If anything in this post strikes you as novel, then precede full-steam ahead in that direction: you definitely need to change the script this time!
The Chinese philosopher Laozi once remarked: "There is no greater misfortune than underestimating your adversary." If you view the GMAT merely as a step toward some other goal, you risk underestimating it.
But if you value the journey of GMAT preparation itself and take nothing for granted, then in the long run you will be best situated for your larger goals.