High Scores: It’s All About Your Attitude

Written by Kelly Granson. Posted in MBA Admission

1257327949phprFA24gMost graduate business schools in the world require GMAT results as a part of your application package. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the owner and administrator of the GMAT, leading business schools and management education programs worldwide consider the GMAT, designed with four sections to assess different abilities, the most effective predictor of success.

However, many (perhaps most) prospective MBA students don't view the GMAT through the prism of their ability to undertake challenges and withstand the pressures of high volume and difficulty. More likely, they see the GMAT as just another obstacle on their way to the MBA.

Once admitted, however, an MBA student sooner or later realizes how easy the GMAT really was in comparison to actual MBA tasks. It's better to understand this before admission. Use the GMAT as practice for real-time MBA studies, testing and honing your abilities to tackle the simplified applications of skills you will need in business school. It will not guarantee your success, but you will more likely find yourself better prepared not only for the GMAT but also for the real assignments of the MBA program.

The Role of Attitude

Imagine that there are two students who applying to an MBA program. Naturally, they both need to take the GMAT. Assume also that one of the students was reluctant to take the test, viewing it as an obstacle, while the student perceives the GMAT as a challenge and an exciting opportunity to discover areas for improvement. Which student will do better on the GMAT?

Typically, prospective test-takers spend 6-9 weeks preparing for the GMAT. In fact, there is a direct connection between hours spent preparing and scores earned. The table below shows that relationship according to GMAC's 2012 report.

Table 1. Average number of study hours by the GMAT score

Total GMAT scoreAverage number of preparation hours
Less than 40064
400 to 49061
500 to 59069
600 to 69084
700 or higher96

It should be clear that a high number of hours doesn't guarantee a high score, of course. It's important how effectively you learn as well as how long, and attitude will definitely play its part. When you're determined and have a positive attitude, your effectiveness is likely greater. On the other hand, if you're anxious or resentful, it is naive to expect effective preparation and good test scores. It is true that confidence feeds on itself, and concerning the GMAT, the right attitude feeds effectiveness. Obviously, therefore, your attitude throughout your GMAT studies and during the test itself can contribute to your overall score.

Now, remember the MBA candidates you imagined above. Which of the two do you suppose performed better on the GMAT? If you predicted that the one who had a positive attitude was more likely to succeed, then you understand the role of attitude.

GMAT Questions as Simulation of MBA tasks

Almost all MBA assignments are time-limited...just like the GMAT. Most MBA programs are taught using a combination of learning approaches—case studies, lectures, group work, and team projects—all of which require critical reasoning, data analysis and interpretation, effective use of information, reading and comprehension, writing, math...skills tested by the GMAT.

If you take a closer look at the GMAT sections described in Table 2, you can see that mastering the skills needed to crack those tasks will make an important contribution to your ability to manage MBA problems.

Table 2. The GMAT Sections and Tasks

Analytical Writing AssessmentAnalyze the reasoning behind a given argument and write a critique of that argument
Integrated ReasoningRequires you to analyze and synthesize data in different formats and from multiple sources
QuantitativeReason quantitatively, solve quantitative problems, and interpret graphic data
VerbalRead and comprehend written material; reason and evaluate arguments, and correct written material to conform to standard written English

Finally, the GMAT is scored... like every assignment in the MBA program. It automatically sets your mind to the right direction. Especially if you studied in a test-free learning environment, where you were graded on task completion rather than outcome success, preparing to perform well on the GMAT can provide important orientation for success in your MBA studies.

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