An overwhelming majority of those who give the GMAT do so while they are working at a full time job. A small minority choose to give the test while in college but, given that scores which are less than three years old are ideal, the test taker demographic skews towards those who are currently working.
The GMAT does not need years of dedicated preparation during which you do nothing else, but it does demand very concentrated, intense preparation in the lead up to the exam. Given that you also have professional commitments at the same time, it is very important that you are able to balance both, and give them your best.
Here are a few ways in which you can evaluate whether your workplace is GMAT friendly or not, and some information about what different companies do to ensure the welfare of those of their employees who might be interested in taking the test.
Is there a GMAT leave policy at your workplace?
Firms that skew younger in demographics, and have a core program of young professionals just out of their undergraduate degree often have a GMAT leave policy, where employees can take two weeks to a month off, upon submission of their GMAT date confirmation. This is, obviously, very helpful to facilitation of a final big preparation push.
It functions, psychologically, like study leave before examinations in school or college, and ensures that the candidate peaks at the right time.
To learn whether your firm has a GMAT leave policy, you can either look up the detailed policy or get in touch with someone from HR; given that it applies only to the small set of people who have not yet completed an MBA and are looking to apply soon, it may not be a part of normal leave related communication.
Is there an annual downtime when you can start your ramp up towards GMAT preparation?
Even though you might have paid leave to prepare for your GMAT in a few firms, there are many companies without this facility. In addition, even if you do have paid GMAT leave, you will need free time both before – for the initial phase of prep – and after, to complete your application; accumulated leave days will probably not be enough to cover both.
To get over this potential problem, it might make sense to schedule your test cleverly; choose a month when you are convinced that the quarter leading up to it is relatively free, from a work point of view.
Creating time for yourself to put in an hour or two of preparation per day, after work, will ensure that you do not have to rush at the end, and that you master every topic well in time.
Does your company sponsor MBAs for returning employees in part or in full?
In case there is no formal leave policy, and no real sustained downtime period when you can spend time on GMAT prep, you should look at how receptive they might be to requests for such a policy.
There are many signals that indicate openness to such policies. For example, if the company has a policy that they sponsor X% of the course fees for any employee who returns to the company post MBA (and works there for a minimum number of years), there is definitely intent to help people interested in this career choice. If you propose any policy that will benefit you at the time of preparation and application, you can talk about how it will benefit many like you in the years to come, and it should not be too hard to push it through.
Is your company sensitive to your heightened needs for preparation time close to your GMAT?
All these indicators, and many more, will tell you what you can do to set aside time for GMAT prep. However, it might be that there is either no existing policy, or that a spike in work in the short term cancels the chances of your being able to get a good chunk of time to prepare.
In such a situation, it would be very helpful to you if your colleagues and superiors knew that you had a big test coming up, recognized how important that test was for your career growth, and took every opportunity to redistribute work so that your preparation was not affected.
To evaluate the chances of this happening, talk to as many people as possible who have gone through the same routine – who have given the GMAT while in a role or company similar to yours. If most of them say that the company was sensitive to their needs, you should be good. If not, you should have conversations with trusted colleagues well ahead of time, to plan how you can carve out time well before the test.
The best companies see the GMAT as the first step in improving their human resource investment in you
Now that we have looked at different company policies that support those giving the GMAT, it’s time to categorize these companies. The best companies do not feel insecure that an MBA is necessarily meant for their best young talent to get a ‘better’ job. Rather, they look at it as an opportunity to have their best young talent go out and get formal management experience, and are secure that they will return, at a senior level, and bring global best practices to their organization.
You should strive to make your workplace like this; even if there are no formal policies to this effect, internal discussions well before you make the final decisions on test dates and application schools will serve to sow the seeds for a more friendly GMAT policy.
Many companies have no formal policy but are open to supporting those of their employees who are giving the GMAT
Finally, you will usually be able to optimize your preparation if you are in the right kind of workplace. It is in both parties’ interest if employees are happy, and concern and assistance in securing a good professional future is a big part of that.
A good indicator of whether your workplace could assist your efforts will come from initial conversations you have about your future plans, with your senior colleagues and mentors in the organization. If they show interest and offer help, carving out prep time will never be a problem, even in the absence of a formal policy.
Giving the GMAT can be both easy and rewarding, if you work with your company to understand and improve the policies that can impact your prep time. With this in depth guide, you will be able to evaluate the base policy in terms of how friendly it is, and maybe even achieve a modification once your colleagues understand how important this test is for your career.
There are many such ways to optimize your preparation and your preparation environment, so that you are able to give the GMAT in the best possible frame of mind, and maximize your score. To understand all these, we recommend that you work with the top coaching service: one which can unlock all your potential.
All the best!