How To Find Your GMAT Motivation: Expert Tips for MBA Candidates

March 29, 2022 | by Jeffrey Miller

GMAT Prep MBA Applicant

For better or worse, your GMAT score likely will have a significant impact on both your business school candidacy and your long-term career path.

The higher you score on the GMAT, the more MBA admissions options you’ll have available to you. Furthermore, in today’s competitive job market, some companies request that applicants submit their GMAT scores during the interview process. Thus, a high GMAT score can also make you a desirable hire.

While a top-tier MBA or a well sought-after job should seem like motivation enough to study as hard as possible for your GMAT, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture, and thus lose the motivation to study.

This article will present several ways to sustain a high level of motivation throughout your GMAT prep:

  • Enjoy What You’re Doing
  • Recognize the Importance of GMAT Skills
  • Invest in Yourself
  • Don’t Listen to the Naysayers
  • Practical Strategies to Increase Motivation
    • Use Proper Study Materials
    • Join a Study Group or Be Active on GMAT Forums
    • Create a Study Schedule and Reward Yourself for Sticking to It
    • Keep the GMAT Front and Center in Your Life
  • Anxiety Can Be a Big Source of Low Motivation
    • You Have Not Given Yourself Sufficient GMAT Prep Time
    • You Have Expectations of Overnight Success
  • Don’t Burn Yourself Out
  • Discipline Trumps Motivation
  • Visualize Your Success

To start, let’s discuss the importance of enjoying what you’re doing. (View my full article on Target Test Prep for a deeper dive.)

Enjoy What You’re Doing

Whether we are talking about your job, college classes, or GMAT preparation, one of the most effective ways to be motivated is to enjoy what you’re doing. On the other hand, working hard and ultimately achieving your goals becomes almost impossible when you don’t enjoy what you’re doing.

If you can find joy in your studying, you’ll be significantly more motivated to put in the necessary study time, and thus give yourself a great shot at achieving your GMAT goal. If you are struggling to find that enjoyment, consider the fact that not only will a high GMAT score help get you into a top MBA program, but also the skills you learn will carry over to business school classes and everyday life. So, instead of viewing GMAT studying as a drag, look at it as an opportunity to improve your skills — and yourself. Let’s discuss this idea a bit further.

GMAT Prep Tip

Recognize the Importance of GMAT Skills

Your GMAT skills transcend the exam and carry over into your daily life, which also should provide GMAT motivation. Without a doubt, these skills will help you in school, work, and beyond. For example, through preparing for Critical Reasoning questions, you can become a more decisive thinker, a person who is well-versed in logic, decision making, and executive functioning. You can become “the smartest person in the room” with your Critical Reasoning skills.

What about Sentence Correction? Think about it: today, nearly every work activity involves writing. Emails, texts, reports, blogs, chats — the list is endless. Imagine how much easier and more impactful your writing is when you are an ultra-confident writer who is able to notice every detail.

And Reading Comprehension? Well, you’ll be reading for the rest of your life. Can you imagine how much more you can learn and apply if you are super skilled at comprehending written information?

Getting good at GMAT quant also has so many benefits. Your mastery of quant improves your data-driven decision-making skills, which are critical skills in business and life. When your math skills are strong, and your quantitative reasoning skills are solid, a world of possibilities can open up to you. So, why not embrace and enjoy the process of studying for the GMAT? Why not become internally motivated to get this process done well, so that you can improve many areas of your life?

When your math skills are strong, and your quantitative reasoning skills are solid, a world of possibilities can open up to you.

Invest in Yourself

So often, we think of investments as equities or property or businesses. However, one of the best investments you can make is in yourself.

When you’re studying for the GMAT, you are investing in yourself. You are investing in your skills, abilities, and knowledge. Most importantly, the time and energy expended are an investment in your future. Unfortunately, most people in the world never get the opportunity to do what you are doing. Don’t let that get lost on you.

We already discussed how studying for the GMAT will help you improve your verbal and quant skills. However, the primary goal in scoring high on the GMAT is to gain acceptance to a top business school, so that you can land a great job and ultimately have greater earning power throughout your career.

According to the annual US News survey, the average starting MBA salary (with bonus) among the top 132 full-time MBA programs is $101,034, about $40,000 higher than the salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business. Even if we assume that your salary does not increase throughout a 30-year career (which is unlikely), that starting salary translates to roughly $1.2 million more in earnings, on average, with a top-130 MBA than without.

The disparities are even more significant when considering starting salaries for graduates from the top-10 full-time MBA programs. The average starting salary (with bonus) was $172,265, so over 30 years, you’re looking at an extra $3.2 million in earnings. Divide this 3.2 million by the 400 hours you spent preparing for the GMAT, and you’ll find that you “earned” $8,000 per study hour.

Another thing to remember is that, while the average cost of an MBA is around $65,000, not all MBA students end up paying the full cost (or any cost) for an MBA. Business schools offer various scholarships, which often come with the price tag of a high GMAT score. So, the next time you groan at the thought of sitting down to study for the GMAT, really think about the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: high GMAT score = acceptance to a great (maybe free) school = great job = great salary.

Don’t Listen to the Naysayers

In the process of studying for the GMAT, you may encounter a small yet vocal number of your peers disenchanted with the GMAT preparation process. You’ll see that they are angry and almost detest the idea of having to study for the GMAT. These people will say things such as, “I’m great at business, so why do I have to take the GMAT?” or “What does the GMAT even test?”

You’ll discover that these people have probably struggled with their GMAT preparation. They spend a lot of time complaining and not enough time preparing. Don’t let these people color your view of the situation and bring you down with them. In fact, you can use your motivation to perform well as a competitive advantage. If the competition is not motivated to study, and you are, you will be more likely to succeed on the GMAT than they will.

Read my full article on Target Test Prep for a deep dive into some practical strategies for increasing your level of motivation, including study materials, study groups, study schedule advice, and more.

Want more advice?

To learn more about why the GMAT matters to top MBA programs and how to prepare, read our related articles:

Fortuna Admissions guest author Jeffrey Miller is the head GMAT instructor for Target Test Prep. Jeff has cultivated many successful business school graduates through his GMAT instruction, helping students with low GMAT scores hurdle the seemingly impossible and achieve the scores they need to get into the top 20 business school programs in the world, including HBS, Stanford, Wharton, and Columbia. Learn more about Jeff and Target Test Prep.

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