5 Reasons why you aren’t able to prepare for the GMAT

Why do you always feel that you are not able to keep going when you sit down to prepare for the GMAT ?

The quick answer? What you need is structure. Well that seems obvious, but let’s dig a little deeper…

The reason you seem to procrastinate is not that you aren’t serious about the GMAT or even that you are lazy. Contrary to what you think it’s probably just an issue of inefficient prioritising.

Strangely, your ability to prioritise things and allocate time accordingly in the high-intensity situation that the GMAT is, is one of the competencies that the test tests.

Fun fact: The last sentence there is a good example of the kind of sentences GMAT likes to throw at you 😀 (excuses for when I’m too lazy to edit).

Before we move into solutions, let me paint a picture for you. Tell me if these feel familiar.

  1. You generally plan to study for the GMAT when you have “free time”. This almost never happens.
  2. When you do schedule a study time on specific days, they are vague time slots. “Second half of Tuesday evening” maybe the kind of time frame you set.
  3. When you do sit down to study, you plan to do so for absurd amounts of time (like 6 hours at a stretch).
  4. When you sit down to study you are bombarded with other “I want to do it now” impulses. You have an urge to arrange your book shelf, clean your desk / wardrobe, systematically sort your music collection, watch this interesting youtube video… When you do succumb to this “temptation” you find time just zooming past. 3 hours go by and you haven’t studied a word.
  5. When you do study, you focus on solving questions or learning theory. You haven’t really thought about strategy. You probably think strategy is only useful when taking full length tests, but not for individual questions.

Just going though this list should have helped you diagnose issues inherent to your study habit. Let me analyse it none the less.

1. You are NEVER going to have free time available. In the hierarchy of things you want to do when you aren’t at work or doing other mandatory things, preparing for the GMAT is waaaay down the list. So when you do get free time, it get quickly filled up with activities you’d do (rather than study) – like watch a funny video or binge watch that show you’ve been meaning to watch. Why do we do this? That’s a long discussion about human behaviour and psychology. Let’s not go there. Just know that it’s in our nature to be this way. Expecting yourself to behave differently would be foolish. So what’s the fix? SCHEDULE your study time.

2. But scheduling can be problematic too.
While your calendar can have 2pm – 4pm marked down for GMAT prep on Tuesday, when actually sitting down to study you need to have a much more granular plan.

Break your prep time into 20–30 minute prep slots. Spend 20 – 30 minutes practicing or learning, followed by a 5 minute break. Then go back and do a review / practice / learning session for another 20–30 minutes. Rinse and repeat. Take a slightly longer break in the middle.

This is called The Pomodoro technique and is super effective for skill development and rapid learning. Using a tool like Tomato Timer can help you automate this a bit.

3. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you will study for six hours. Three is a maximum, especially if you want to sustain it day after day. Three productive hours are way better than ten hours of self-deceptive non-productivity.

4. Realise that when you first sit down to study, your mind will rebel. It is full of other ideas, all of which will fight to dominate. If you refuse to be tempted for fifteen minutes (25 on a really bad day) you will find that the temptations and impulses in your mind will settle down and you will be able to concentrate on your prep. If you do this day after day, you will find that the duration of the distracting impulses will reduce. You will also find that even on a day where concentration is very difficult, you will still be able to do some productive study if you stick it out.

5. The GMAT is a test of strategy. When you solve questions, you need to know the underlying cognitive aspects that are being tested. Without which you aren’t really preparing for the test you are going to be up against. This unfortunately isn’t an easy thing to explain. It takes about 2 months for students to recognise and internalise the method to employ and specific strategies that can be used to master different question types. But doing so gives you a crystal clear idea of what you are doing during your prep. That sense of “What the hell is this questions, it makes no senses” will stop being so frequent. You will be less likely to get demotivated by hard questions.

Hope that gave you some clarity. I’d recommend getting in touch with our team and scheduling a conversation about your prep. You can do so here: https://plusprep.com/gmat/

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