GMAT Tip of the Week: Teamwork

GMAT prep classAs baseball month rolls along on the Veritas Prep blog, it only seems prudent to contribute to this space about GMAT success with the thoughts of one of the modern era’s most successful players, Derek Jeter.

Ask any non-Yankee fan about Jeter and you’ll get a slew of responses about how Jeter is overrated. He has limited defensive range, they argue, so his fielding percentage is inflated because errors for someone else are just plain hits for him. His batting average and RBI total are inflated, they say, because of the offensive talent around him; teams can’t afford to walk him with the new-era Murderers’ Row behind him, and teammates are often on base when he comes to bat. People know his name because he’s always playing in the playoffs, they insist, but that’s more because of his situation than because of his talent or skill. Mention Jeter’s name and accolades among fans of other teams, and there’s always a “yeah, but” response. People love to downgrade Jeter’s performance.

Much like Jeter could tell his doubters to look at the rings — no active ballplayer has more championship rings than he does, and he also planted a giant engagement ring on the finger of gorgeous actress Minka Kelly — you may also see yourself as someone with limitations as they pertain to the GMAT, but can silence those doubts by posting a high score and directing people’s attention to results. You may see yourself as having limited math skills or experience, or an aversion to learning grammar or performing well on standardized tests. But even if these doubts are true — there’s likely some truth in the criticisms of Jeter — they need not be more than speed bumps on your path to GMAT success and the accolades that accompany it.

On your path to that high score, you might also learn a thing or two from Jeter, including the subject of so many of his doubters. You can surround yourself with an all-star team around which to succeed.

Together Everyone Achieves More
Those who doubt Jeter’s greatness tend to compare him to the much-celebrated “five-tool” players with impeccable innate ability. In 2004, fans had an opportunity to directly compare him with the most notable of the five-tool players, Alex Rodriguez, when Rodriguez joined the Yankees. The Yankees, who had made the World Series the previous year, stumbled against the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 playoffs, failing to duplicate or improve upon the previous year’s success even after adding the widely-considered best player in baseball, Rodriguez.

When asked about this discrepancy, Jeter replied to a reporter:

“We just weren’t the same team.”

Those who criticize Jeter tend to cite as his “weakness” the fact that he’s surrounded by such great teammates that he succeeds in spite of himself, but as one of baseball’s most notorious winners, Jeter knows the value of teamwork even in such an individual sport. Sure, he might say, his greatness is significantly inspired by that of his teammates, but he’s also a contributing factor in the success of those individuals, too. Teamwork for the Yankees may make Jeter look better, put Mariano Rivera in position to record more saves, shield Jorge Posada from critical passed balls at catcher and allow Andy Pettite to throw fewer pitches and save himself for the postseason. Would the Core Four of the Yankees be as successful individually? Maybe not, but they’d argue that they deserve credit for finding and maintaining such an ideal situation.

Build your team for success in October
If you’re applying for an MBA, you likely wish to be successful in October (the first round application deadline for most top programs) in New York City (on Wall Street, either where you’ll work or where your company’s value will be determined). Few have ever had October success in New York like Derek Jeter has, so learn from his example and surround yourself with a great team.

Those who achieve 700+ scores on the GMAT overwhelmingly credit their ability to maintain a productive, regimented study schedule as an important factor in that success. And those who study in groups — with friends, classmates, or the support of an online community — tend to not only maintain such a schedule and the enthusiasm to keep it up, but also have the value of thought-provoking discussion on the best ways to approach a topic or answer a question.

Simply put, you can benefit from studying with a team.

GMAT teammates can keep you accountable for your study schedule, provide you with new ways to think about problems, help you determine why you’re making certain mistakes, and force you to justify your thought process in conversation rather than allow yourself to be happy that you “guessed right.” Much like study groups may have helped you get through difficult subjects in college, study groups can be integral factors in GMAT success. If all else fails, misery loves company, but most find that undergoing a challenging pursuit, be it the GMAT or the defense of a World Series championship, is more enjoyable and more successful when working with a team. Team up this spring, and celebrate this fall.

We have GMAT courses starting around the world in just several weeks, making now the ideal time to start assembling your own personal Murderers’ Row for GMAT prep. Check out our site and find a GMAT class near you. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow us on Twitter to keep receiving GMAT tips!