While studying for GMAT, the test taker goes through various emotions – determination, excitement, curiosity, anxiety, exhaustion and what not. They wonder whether they are getting less out of each study session. Are there practice test scores in a downward spiral? If that is the scene, you might be suffering from GMAT burnout.
The Brain and GMAT Burnout.
Burnout is a state of chronic stress. While preparing for GMAT, you put your brain under stress, and that stress accumulates over time.
Preparing for the GMAT is like training for a marathon. Let us understand this by an example. If you go for a 5 mile run, you might feel fantastic afterwards. But imagine if you go for that same five-mile run every day for three weeks, you’ll gradually become more and more fatigued. If you continue to push yourself, you will eventually reach a breaking point. Your muscles will fatigue & your pace is going to slow down, regardless of how determined you are.
Burnout is not just a bad mood, but rather it is a complicated physical and mental state. Some people are more susceptible to it than other Getting burned out does not imply you have screwed up or you are doomed to fail at the GMAT. But you need to a few steps backwards in order to recover.
Stress and Memory involved with GMAT Burnout.
The chronic stress holds you from learning and remembering. If you are preparing for GMAT while you are already burned out, you aren’t learning nearly as effectively as you would be otherwise. In short: you need to take a break.
In order to recover, you need to walk away from the GMAT completely for a couple of days, even if you have only a few weeks to go until test day. Preparing while being burned out is like continuing to run while being injured.
You might be worried that you will forget what you have learned so far. It may sound weird, but forgetting is actually good for your brain. If you forget something and then learn it again, you’ll end up with a stronger memory the second time around.
Stress due to GMAT Prep?
GMAT preparation isn’t solely about learning facts & rules. Anything that helps you in getting a better score on test day counts as studying. Stress will definitely impact your score, and staying relaxed and positive will help it. So, you must manage your stress & prepare yourself psychologically as a part of your study plan.
The way you approach to this depends on what works for you. Many students have had success with mindfulness. But you go for meditation, exercise, or a good bubble bath. Stress has serious and measurable effects on your cognitive abilities. So, you must tackle stress just like you would tackle any other weakness in your GMAT prep.
Make small changes to tackle burnout in GMAT Preparation.
Once you are ready to tackle the GMAT again, keep in mind that the burnout is easier to prevent than it is to recover from. Bringing some important changes in your study plan might prove to be the key to avoiding a second episode. However, there isn’t a single magic bullet that works for everyone. So, here are some helpful ideas that might work for you.
- Change your place, time or method of studying. Try to have shorter, more frequent sessions or try to study at a different time of the day.
- Try to change what you do when you study for the GMAT. Do you attempt tons of problems? Try to create some flashcards instead.
- You must give yourself an upper limit on how long you will study for & stick to it. If you know you that you have to study for one hour, you might find yourself working more efficiently.
- Rather than focusing on your weakness, you must focus on your strengths. Most of the people burn out by exclusively studying GMAT Quant.
It’s fine to take a break!
It is completely fine to stop for a while before hitting your goal score. The GMAT is just one part of your business school applications, & you must keep in mind that these applications are just a part of your life. There is nothing incorrect with deciding that you are done with the GMAT, and in some of the cases, it might be the right strategic choice when it comes to getting into schools.
There is no need to despair, if you are feeling GMAT burnout. You are not the only one suffering from it, and you are not doomed to be miserable forever. The GMAT burnout is just a roadblock, but it is a roadblock that you can overcome, just like you’ve overcome many others in the course of studying for the test.