Maintaining Motivation & Goal Setting for GMAT Preparation: Find out the influence of the first diagnostic test

Goal Setting for GMAT Preparation MotivationMotivation is the key to sustain GMAT preparation for 3-months to 5 months. The standards that you set for goals influence motivation. Jessica M. Nicklin & Kevin J. Williams have covered the correlation between goal setting and motivation in their paper: Self-Regulation of Goals and Performance: Effects of Discrepancy Feedback, Regulatory Focus, and Self-Efficacy

Discrepancy Production & Reduction

MBA Aspirants start goal setting with GMAT Preparation, most likely with a target score. They take the diagnostic test and receive the first feedback. Based on the feedback (the test score), aspirants follow either the discrepancy production or the reduction process.

With Discrepancy production, test takers set goals that are higher than the test score in the diagnostic test while with discrepancy reduction test takers reduce the target score to match with the previous performance. Reducing the target creates positive reaffirmation, but the process is flawed as the test takers are selling themselves short of their true potential.

Actual Goal & Motivation

The score in itself does not motivate an MBA Applicant. It is the anticipated feeling of satisfaction and self-worth resulting from a 720+ score that provides the incentive to do the extra effort. Visualizing, and craving for that feeling would put you on a disciplined 2 hour daily GMAT prep regime more than staring at a white paper with 720+ score written on it.

Goal Performance Discrepancy

Rarely does the performance match the target. It either exceeds or falls short of the target. We tend to react in two ways: dissatisfaction or mild satisfaction. After a diagnostic test, applicants are aware that there is a long-way to go before the actual test. For those applicants who scored slightly above the target score, the anxiety is low.

Studies have shown that our motivation to improve and set higher goals is stronger when we fall short of the standard score. This might explain why experts encourage GMAT test takers to try the Kaplan GMAT Diagnostic test, a much tougher exam than official GMAT Exam before developing a GMAT Prep Schedule.  

Goal Performance Discrepancy or the difference between target and actual score becomes the biggest influencer in our future performance.

If we target 650 in our first GMAT diagnostic score, and score a 610, we are likely to aim for 690-700.

However, if we target 650, and score a 570, the goals are lowered to 650. We might aim for 690-700, but internally our goals are lowered.

If we target 650 in our first GMAT diagnostic score, and score a 670, we are likely to aim for 700-720.

The higher the Goal Performance discrepancy, lower would be our motivation to prepare.

Test takers will give up if the discrepancy between target and actual score is more than 150 points. For those test takers who have a high positive Goal Performance Discrepancy – scoring 720 while targeting 650, the preparation will be less comprehensive.


Apart from regular feedback through GMAT Diagnostic tests, self-confidence has a bigger influence on preparation and results. Although there has been no conclusive study on the effects of self-efficacy on revising goals, it is a constant, value of which is contributed by genetics, previous success, and the environment. A mediocre student can score 40-50 points above their ability based on this one factor.

The process of lowering or increasing the goal depends on self-confidence and feedback through diagnostic tests. In the end, the ‘constant’ might decide between a 680 or a 720 GMAT Score.

Top 31 MBA Programs + Analysis of 24 Industries (United States)

We analyze the MBA Curriculum, Class Profile, Total Cost and Post-MBA Salary of Top 31 MBA programs in the US.

+ Industry Trends

+ Future of Aerospace, Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automobile, Clean Tech, Education, Energy, Fashion, Financial Services, Insurance, FinTech, Government, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Military, Manufacturing, Maritime, Media/Advertising, Technology, Tourism, Trade, Transportation and Logistics, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR).

Pages: 327


"I have not reviewed many books for MBA Admission consulting companies but doing it now to give all applicants a brief idea on what the book covers. The book includes 31 top MBA programs - almost all the top schools you have heard or considering for your MBA application. Each chapter is categorized by US States where there is at least one top MBA program. So you have California and Massachusetts with the most number of MBA programs and several states with one top program (Washington, Minnesota, Washington D.C., Connecticut, Virginia, and Maryland) and other states with two to three MBA programs. The book focuses on four aspects of an MBA program - curriculum, cost, class profile and post-MBA salary. For me, the breakdown of the cost and post-MBA industry was useful to make my decision on selecting the top 5 programs for 2017-18. It is a fascinating read in an industry where consultants overprice for their expertise. I recently bought a 30-page guide for $49. Compared to the obvious observation in that book, the 300+ page, MBA in US - the Ultimate guide is a goldmine of information and analysis." - Verified Purchase (21st June 2017)

"I bought the ultimate guide after a friend recommended it for me. The guide covers a lot of ground on the history of each prominent US states and goes into the reasons why a certain industry emerged from each state. In addition to the analysis of the economy, trends and expected changes in the next 5 years, the book features top MBA programs in each state with an extensive study of its curriculum. Ultimate guide is an essential reference book for MBA Applicants if they want to shortlist MBA programs based on value and cost, and not just ranking. " - Verified Purchase (14th June 2017)

"Should be a required reading before applying for an MBA. School events and MBA Tours are PR events disguised as a Q&A. On the contrary, the book is an unbiased analysis of each Top MBA program in the US supported by a large dataset and historical context on each industry. The guide builds a case for indstries that are likely to emerge as favourite for MBA graduates. Thorough and a valuable book." - Verified Purchase (15th June 2017)

"What I liked: The breadth of the information. Some of my favorite nonfiction books have taken the same approach as the ultimate guide have - cover background information in-depth. In the book, the author uses parallel threads to demonstrate the history of the state and the rise of industries. Will make you think how schools thrive based on the policy set by the state. California's obsession with Technology has revolutionized how we do Business and changed post-MBA trends. Many MBA applicants will be consulting or doing marketing for a Technology company. That is one key finding from the book. The latest development in AI, FinTech, and Automation is an additional context that I found valuable in the book.

Very informative. I would recommend that you read the book at least once in chronological order before using Table of Contents." - Verified Purchase (2nd July 2017)

Download How to Choose the Best MBA in US: The Ultimate Guide
(2018 Entering Class)

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