“What you measure is what you’ll get. Period.”, writes Dan Ariely in this amazing article.
Here’s something I’d say to a majority of GMAT aspirants: You are measuring yourselves the wrong way.
When people prepare for GMAT, they usually need some parameters to measure themselves against because if they don’t measure/track themselves, they feel they may get lazy and may not work hard. And almost everybody chooses the same parameters. The person starts by choosing a GMAT date and then works backward to see how much content needs to be covered every week. Then, the person measures herself against the amount of content she is supposed to cover every week.
This is where she goes wrong.
If you measure yourself by the amount of content you cover, then you’d try to cover more and more content (solve more and more questions) in whatever time you have. If you have less time, you’ll try to rush through the content just to meet your goals. Besides, even if you have more time, you’ll not spend more time on the same content; you’ll try to overshoot your target because doing so would give you more satisfaction. Since you are measuring yourself not on how much you are learning but on how much content you cover, you’ll end up covering a lot of content but not probably learning a lot. In context of this post of mine, you will dig-up a hundred one-foot wells but not a hundred-feet well since you are measuring yourself on the number of wells you dig up.
Clearly, if you want to succeed on GMAT, you need to change the way you measure yourself.
I usually recommend my students that they measure themselves in terms of Productive Time spent on GMAT preparation. Productive Time is a multiple of the number of hours spent studying and a productivity multiple, which could be 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, or 1.0. The student assigns herself a productivity number for every study session, depending on how productive she was during the session. The higher the distractions, the lower the productivity multiple. The higher the focus, the higher the productivity multiple. Using this parameter, the student can create weekly targets for herself and then measure herself against them. With such a parameter, the student can easily spend more time on a question or a concept to understand it deeply without feeling guilty of not meeting the content goals.