You’ve always been a high achiever, always excelled at school, at extracurriculars, and in your profession. 4.0 GPA, valedictorian, top of your department, and yet the GMAT put you on your ass. This is surprisingly much more common than you might think. The big secret is that no one talks about getting help.
1. Everyone Is Asking for Help
For many professionals, this is the first time in their academic or a professional career where they’ve needed to ask for help or engage a tutor. If you are at one of these top consulting finance banking firms you don’t want to ask around say: “Oh I need help with this.” That shows weakness. One of the big secrets is if you’re in a noteworthy profession everyone is asking for help, but no one is talking about it.
The GMAT is designed like many other psychometric exams. Unlike the SAT where everyone, including their brother and sister, is taking it, the GMAT is taken by a self-selected cohort. They tend to be strong achievers coming from the best schools and/or the best professional firms in banking and finance.
2. What is the GMAT Testing?
The GMAT needs a way to differentiate among a lot of very smart, very high achieving individuals. The way it does this is by testing your creative and your critical thinking skills. They want to see how flexible you are with the base knowledge that was instilled in you in elementary, middle, and high school. They are not testing whether or not you can multiply fractions or parse a sentence, but rather how well you can manipulate things on the fly.
To some extent, you can prepare and be familiar with the most common types of problems. Ultimately, as an adaptive exam, the GMAT will put you in a place where you’re uncomfortable. Where you’re not sure what’s going on with the problem. And it is this navigation that people who have done well at school tend to not do as well with. Let’s explore why.
Why a 4.0 does NOT Equal GMAT Success?
School (for better or worse) is a reactive environment. You’re given information and expected to spit it back or manipulate it a little bit and spit it back. But there are guardrails up there – kind of like bowling with those balloon tubes. It’s very hard to get too off-center because there’s always a teacher or element of feedback or grade, that redirects you towards what you are supposed to be doing. Consequently, you are rewarded for following directions and are also robbed of the experience of failing heavily or not doing what’s asked. As such, you don’t get the experience of solving problems when you are significantly lost. And this is what the GMAT is testing.
So, often high achievers in academic environments tend to struggle because their study skills tend to level off somewhere around mid-600s on the GMAT. Whereas those students, who maybe weren’t as strong, went their own way or tended to be more creative, more artsy, tend to react to the GMAT like a fish in water. All of a sudden, the things that didn’t allow them to succeed academically, now become tremendous assets.
What To Do About It
So, first things first, don’t worry. This is an opportunity to capture new skills and grow as an individual. At a deeper level what I would suggest you internalize is the idea that what you’ve been doing for success up until now no longer works. That is a scary prospect. Especially when the carrot has always been a few feet in front of your face and you’ve consistently caught the carrot.
So, this represents psychologically and emotionally, a major shift in how you need to deal with achievement. This is highly uncomfortable for a lot of people. It requires a lot of hard work. The opiates that you’ve been using in terms of solution paths that have always worked for you, all of the sudden are like an addiction that you need to break.
Unlearn Old Habits
The hardest part of our job as GMAT instructors isn’t so much showing you the new things that you need to do or teaching you new ways of doing things. Rather, in helping you dehabituate, unlearn those things that have become so embedded that they are natural. The upside of this is that when someone does so they become much more flexible intellectually. And are that much more prepared to really excel and take to heart the things they learn in business school and professionally and beyond.
If you have always been an achiever and have been stopped in your tracks by the GMAT, don’t worry, give us a call. Let us learn a bit about you and speak to exactly what it is that you might be doing that’s working against you and also what you might adjust in order to excel rapidly. That is really the silver lining here. If you are really good at achieving or working within frameworks, once you adopt a new framework, the acceleration of GMAT success often happens rapidly. To the extent that we can call this a profile, this profile is one of our favorites to work with because we tend to get really, really strong results. Most of the time, over 700.
Wishing you guys the best of luck. Give us a call. Hope you’ve enjoyed this article and we look forward to speaking with you soon.