Dealing with Defeat and Getting Back in the GMAT Game

August 31, 2017

This post originally appeared on the Magoosh GMAT blog.

You’ve studied hard, confidently made your way to the testing center, and stood toe-to-toe with the GMAT exam. Perhaps you felt that your answer selections were great, or perhaps you recognized that you were losing your way. Either way, when the total score flashed on the screen at the end of the test, it wasn’t what you had hoped for. Your shoulders fell, and your confidence soon followed suit. You left the testing center in a disappointed haze, and now you find yourself wondering how you’ll ever be able muster the courage and energy needed to face the beast again. You feel tired, beaten, and demoralized. Thoughts of giving up and settling for your mediocre score (and all but killing your chances of attending your dream school) enter your head.

It’s perfectly normal to feel this way. Everyone’s allowed some self-pity in this situation. So go ahead, feel sorry for yourself. Scream into a pillow, eat a gallon of ice cream, and lock yourself in the bedroom. Do whatever you need to do, but while you’re swimming in that sea of self pity, realize that at some point you’ll have to come up for air lest you drown in your own tears. Also realize that when you do decide to rise to the surface, the GMAT monster will still be there, staring you in the face.

At this point, you have two choices: sink even further into despair, or resolve to beat this test once and for all. If you’re still reading this, I’ll assume you’ve chosen the latter. So, here’s what you need to do: If, by answering these questions, you can pinpoint the area/areas that cost you the most points, then you’re well on your way to improving your score the next time you take the GMAT. So, if you’ve battled the beast once, and you’re feeling down, don’t despair; instead, think of the 4 Rs—Rest, Reflect, Rework, and Renew. Soon, you’ll be showing off your scores from round two, and your first confrontation with the GMAT will be a distant memory.

Rest. This is not a time for feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, pat yourself on the back for having had the courage to face the GMAT the first time as this is clearly an accomplishment in and of itself. The next step is to reward yourself with a break from all things GMAT. Give it a week, maybe more. When you do decide to return to a regular study routine, you’ll be refreshed and ready to prepare for round two. The GMAT may have beaten you once, but you’re not going to let that small detail keep you from achieving your dreams.

Reflect.  Once your GMAT sabbatical is over, it’s time to plan your new attack strategy. The first step is to review the test . . . objectively. In the hours and days following the test, the wound may have been too fresh to do anything other than wallow in the misery of your perceived failure, but now it’s time to rip off the band-aid and carefully examine the injury to look for causes. Try to determine what went wrong without beating yourself up about it. If you can do this successfully, then you’ll be able to use the test-taking experience to your advantage. To determine the source of your downfall, ask yourself the following question

  • Did you lose focus at some point during the test? Did your mind start wandering?
  • Did your nerves get to you? Were you so anxious that you were barely able to comprehend the questions? Were you fearful that you were messing up from the first question?
  • Did run out of time on a section?
  • Was there a particular section or type of question that stumped you?

Rework. Now that you’ve identified your potential pitfalls, you can rework your test strategy. Remember that, if you resort to your old study patterns, your score is unlikely to improve. To boost your score, you need to focus efforts on your weak areas (e.g., concentration, time management, anxiety control, or specific skill sets). This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should ignore all other areas of study. You still need to ensure that you retain the skills that you learned the first time you prepared for the GMAT. So, your new (and improved) test prep strategy should be a combination of maintaining your current strengths and working on your targeted weaknesses.

Renew. When it comes time to face the GMAT again, don’t engage in negative self-talk or assume that, since this test beat you once, it will beat you again. Instead, take some time to renew your confidence. Realize the considerable advantage you now have—that is, the official testing experience. Simply knowing beforehand exactly what the official test is like (rather than relying on information gleaned from workbooks and practice tests) is enough to give your score a healthy boost, not to mention all of the targeted studying you’ve done. If you can conquer the nerves and negativity, there’s a good chance that you’ll leave the testing center with the score you desire . . . and deserve.

 

 



Browse Successful Application Files

cjjo96
Barnard ‘18


Accepted to Barnard

Barnard '18 | My passions lie in education, psychology, and human rights, all from the lens of an African Studies major. My transcript and application were far from conventional, but neither am I.
Bhenrique
UC Berkeley ‘19


Accepted to UC Berkeley, Penn State, Colorado, UCLA, NYU

Passionate about Education. Lover of all things science!
vicamit
Vanderbilt ‘20


Accepted to Florida, Vanderbilt, Duke, Emory, UPenn, Miami, Northeastern, UVA, UNC, Georgetown, Rice

Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholar at Vanderbilt and art enthusiast
jackmac401
USC ‘19


Accepted to USC, UMich, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Swarthmore, CMU, NYU, Vassar, Reed, Kenyon, UC Davis, Syracuse, CU, Fordham, Santa Clara, CSU Chico, CSUF, UC Riverside , UCSB, UCSC, Bard

Theater/business double major from classic and online highschool background. Here to help navigate audition and business interview processes! On full tuition scholarship

New Posts

Dartmouth College 2018-2019 Supplemental Essay Prompts
Dartmouth College 2018-2019 Supplemental Essay Prompts
September 17, 2018

Drafted your personal statement and ready to get started on your supplemental essays? Here are the supplemental essay prompts for Dartmouth College.Dartmouth College requires two additional pieces of writing on top of the Common...

What You Need to Know about Athletic Scholarships
What You Need to Know about Athletic Scholarships
September 14, 2018

For many families, the only way to afford a college education is for their student to receive some financial aid. An athletic scholarship is one way that can help lower the price. Here’s what...

Still Figuring Out What School to Apply To?
Still Figuring Out What School to Apply To?
September 12, 2018

The school year is already in full swing. What if you’re a senior who hasn’t yet decided on a final college list? Don’t panic. Let’s get started. If you’re a...

Freshman Year: My First Weeks at Cornell University
Freshman Year: My First Weeks at Cornell University
September 03, 2018

As many of your are settling into your first weeks at college, we thought we’d ask our College Admits how their first weeks at college were. Here’s a reflection from JerBear, a Cornell...

Load More Posts