mbaMission hosts a weekly blog series, Admissions Myths Destroyed, for our friends at Beat the GMAT. Check out the BTG site for fresh material and ours for reprints. The following piece was penned by mbaMission Founder, Jeremy Shinewald:
Because the GMAT is the sole piece of data that is truly consistent from one candidate to another, many MBA applicants get carried away, placing undue emphasis on the test as the sole determinant of their chances (when, in reality, it is only one of several important aspects of an application). In extreme cases, some applicants will consider quitting their jobs to focus on the GMAT full time. Bad idea.
Why is it a bad idea to quit your job to improve your GMAT score? Quite simply, it sends the message that you can't manage what others can manage quite well. In your application, you will need to account for any and all time off and if you note that you took time off to study for the GMAT (which would be the honest thing to do), you will be placing yourself at a relative disadvantage to others, who have proved that they can work and study simultaneously (and potentially maintain community and personal commitments as well). By taking time off you will send the unintended message that you cannot achieve what others have achieved, unless you have an uneven playing field. Is that really the message that you want to be sending to your target academic institution - one that wants to be sure that you can handle the academic course load, a job hunt, community commitments and more?
Regardless of the perceptions of the admissions committees with respect to time off, we think that a calm and methodical approach would be the best one for you anyway. By furthering your career as you study, you will have a sense of balance in your life and relief from the stresses of the GMAT - a chance to clear your head at the start of the day. On test day, you will have a far better chance of keeping a level head, ensuring that you will do your best on the test - which was the point in the first place, right?