What to Do If You Have Decided to Postpone the GMAT Exam for a Year

With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

In the past, we have talked about what to try if your deadlines are rapidly approaching and you do not yet have the score that you want. What if you decide to postpone the exam and possibly your B-school applications?

First, a pep talk. You made a choice; you did not “fail.” You could, for example, choose to apply this year but lower your standards in terms of where you apply. In fact, depending on your goals, this may be better than waiting a year to try to get into a “better” (or at least more highly ranked) school.

On the other hand, let us say that you are only willing to spend more than $100K if you can get into a certain “level” school, and your GMAT score is holding you back. In that case, postponing for a year may be the way to go. Any “helpful” friends or family members who say, “Hey, I thought you were applying to business school!” can be told, “It is actually a smarter career move for me to wait until next year.” They do not need to know that the GMAT had anything to do with that decision.

So how do you get that score?

There is no guarantee you will get a certain score. Now that you have given yourself some more time, though, put together a smart plan that will give you the best possible chance.

Take a break

If you are already burned out (and most people in this situation are), take a breather. The best thing you can do for yourself right now is clear your brain and ratchet down the stress levels. Come back to the GMAT with a fresh perspective in January.

Set up a plan

Whatever you were doing before was not working for some reason. You need to figure out why so that you can then figure out what kind of plan will work for you.

First, what was your broad study plan/pattern? Were you working on your own or with friends? With a class? With a tutor?

Second, what materials were you using and how were you using them? How were you actually studying/learning when you were not in class or with a tutor?

If you had/have a teacher or tutor, contact him or her for help with this step. Make sure to provide detailed information about how you were working on your own and any ideas you have about what was and was not working. Also ask other experts for advice—post on some forums, speak to other teachers or tutors, and so on.

The article Developing a GMAT Study Plan contains a number of useful resources to help you figure out next steps. Note that the article is a two-parter. I have linked to the first part here; the second half is linked at the end of the first part.

Questions to ask yourself

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses across question types, content areas, and timing? See part 1 of Developing a GMAT Study Plan for an article that will help you analyze your practice tests.
  • Any timing problems? (About 98% of students have timing problems!) See our earlier blog post for time management resources.
  • Were you analyzing problems and your work in the way described in this article? (For examples of specific problems analyzed using the MGMAT process, see this article.)
  • Know the material but make lots of careless mistakes?

I need more help

Research your options now (class? books? online materials?) and set things in motion so that you can hit the ground running when the time comes. Then, after taking a break, you can come back with a clear head, a fresh perspective, and a plan—all of which are critical if you want to have a good shot at overcoming the GMAT!

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