The GMAT isn’t about what you think it’s about
December 10, 2011
I’ve got a new crop of eager test-preppers just starting out on their road to GMAT success. Often, my classes will contain one or two folks with at least some prior GMAT experience, but this group is all green and it’s gonna be fun. However, before the fun can really get rolling I have to spend time drawing blood.
Many of the battles I must wage (and win) in the GMAT classroom are focused on preconceptions. Whether a student has GMAT history or is coming in blind, all will inevitably have several strongly held beliefs about the test and everything that comes along with it, including their ability to crack it. Sometimes, these beliefs will be their most significant road block on the way to hitting their target.
After last night’s class, a student stayed behind for some clarification on Data Sufficiency questions. This student—let’s call her Jane—believes that she does not know/remember how to do any math whatsoever. I have worked with many students that hold this belief, and I am always right about how ludicrous it is. Jane may well not remember much; she may not have had to use any of this kind of stuff since she was a sophomore in high school. The last time Jane was messing around with quadratic equations might not have ended so well. But, regardless of past experience, regardless of how rusty and dusty this content knowledge is, Jane can absolutely learn (or re-learn) what she needs to in order to become successful in her bid for b-school acceptance.
Jane and I covered the Data Sufficiency concepts that were tripping her up and she is now ready to move forward on those little buggers. But, I couldn’t let the conversation end there. Unless she gets over her preconception about her perceived lack of GMAT potential and ability, moving forward will be much harder than it could be. In addition, she simply won’t get as far.
So, we talked. We talked about her education, work, past, future, etc. We talked about what her application package is going to look like and where she wants to submit it. We talked about ways she can get up to speed on some of the content so she can really push on the core competencies, methods, and strategies she needs to learn in order to excel on the GMAT.
By the end of the conversation, she felt better—a little more confident, a little more capable. I am not going to let this go, however. Jane is not where she needs to be. But, she did end by saying something that was absolute music to my ears:
“I know that my biggest problem is my attitude. I know that. I’m gonna work on that.”