It’s not a typical question you’d hear from GMAT exam takers living in other countries. However, it pops up way too often among Indian GMAT MBA applicants. When you ask this question on an international GMAT forum (like GMAT Club or Beat The GMAT), many international MBA consultants would probably not get the context of why Indian applicants are asking this, while others aren’t.
Here are the reasons why some Indian GMAT test takers are more than willing to leave their jobs to focus full-time on the test.
The GMAT is the single most important entrance exam for MBA colleges abroad. Unlike in India, where the CAT has several alternative MBA entrance exams offered by some Indian business schools (SNAP, XAT, JMET, MH-CET, CMAT), when it comes to the top overseas MBA programs in the world, with a very few exceptions, almost all the others insist on a good GMAT score.
Sure, you have the GRE as well, but GMAT still comes up on tops for MBA applications. Read this post – GRE vs GMAT.
You’ve heard your seniors doing it for other entrance exams for MBA (like CAT) and other competitive entrance tests (e.g. IAS / Civil Services). And you do hear stories about some folks who’ve cracked those entrance exams in the second or third attempt. So it might seem natural to quit your job for GMAT as well.
Even if you were able to prepare for it along with your job and get a decent GMAT score, your fellow applicants will plant the seeds of self-doubt in your head.
There’s always the nagging feeling that you might’ve done much better if you didn’t have the regular distractions and stress of a regular job interfering with your GMAT study plans.
The short answer is – Don’t do it. Here’s why it is bad idea to leave a job for GMAT prep even if you have a super solid study plan to crack the GMAT.
Unless you have a very low GMAT score, it won’t be a make-or-break decision for Admissions officers. They’d be interested in seeing what else you bring to their MBA class.
The other extreme is also true. Getting a perfect 800 score on the GMAT surely looks impressive. But it won’t guarantee you a seat at the elite B-schools. In fact, you might have other issues to tackle with an abnormally high score.
These are traits that are highly crucial for managers and leaders of the future. Your post-MBA employers will expect that you have these. In fact, why only after graduation, these qualities are important for you during the MBA course too.
The big uncomfortable question – if you can’t manage a single entrance exam before the official program has started, how will you traverse the rigours of multiple assignments, presentations, projects and pre-class work (e.g. case studies) and keep pace with the rest of your classmates?
Unlike in India where some Adcoms might at least have the context (though not the appreciation) of why you might’ve quit your job, Admission officers abroad are more likely to raise their eyebrows when they see a gap in your resume.
For them, the more probably reasons are those that apply to applicants from any other country – that you got laid off from your job or took a voluntary break for some another reason (e.g. illness, family issues).
Remember that you have a whole year or more to go before your MBA classes start. And that’s assuming you score high…and put in a strong application…and get into a good MBA school…and are able to arrange the MBA education loan…and clear the F1 student visa approval process.
There are too many uncertainties along the way.
Alright, let’s keep things simple and assume Murphy doesn’t play spoilsport along the way. and you do get an admission in the program of your choice. Quitting a job one year (or more) before the MBA program officially starts would mean you’d have to start hunting for another job after you have completed the MBA application process.
Not worth it, my friend.
We have come across some applicants who work in locations where even the basic infrastructure is missing. Others are stuck in a work culture and shouldering workloads that truly make it impractical to do justice to any extra-curricular activities (including GMAT prep).
If you are in such a situation facing genuine difficulties, here’s an option where you don’t have to resign from your job just for GMAT prep.
Make use of your mandatory / casual leave. If you’ve started planning early for your MBA applications, take care not to exhaust your casual leaves. The annual casual leaves offered by most companies is enough for you to squeeze in the bulk of your test prep work. Even if you can’t complete the study plan.
If you don’t have any CL left, you could request the HR department for a sabbatical (unpaid or otherwise).
What if all options fail, and you are forced to quit your work in the single-minded pursuit of your dream?
In that case, try to convey the rationale to the Adcoms in your application. Don’t make them use their imagination to connect the dots. The optional essay might be a good place to do this. Not the best way to make an impact though.
Are you planning to (or have already) quit your job for GMAT study? What prompted you to take the decision?