How Waiting For Your Perfect Test Score Might Be the Wrong Move
Does this sound like you?
- You know you want to apply to the graduate school of your dreams. But, you believe that first you need to get a good test score to see IF you should even apply to the graduate program of your dreams.
- You know that there are a lot of steps in the application process. There are essays, the resume, letters of recommendation, interviews, and school research…But, you haven’t gotten started on any of those pieces yet because first, you need to “get your perfect test scores.”
- You have been pouring thousands of dollars into test-prep resources for over 6 months — all while never having touched or made significant progress on other parts of the application process.
If you said yes to any of these, then we are sorry to break it to you: you are a victim of the Sequential Process Fallacy (SPF) mindset!
The SPF mindset is a belief system that frames the application process as a sequential order of activities. According to the SPF, an applicant should first master their standardized test score, and only after reaching that target test score should they consider moving onto the next “steps” of the application process. This faulty mindset tells you that you shouldn’t even waste your time working on other parts of your application until you first master the test — because schools won’t even consider you until you reach your standardized test scores, right?
Focusing exclusively on the test while neglecting other parts of your application is a dangerous path to follow. The test score is just one data piece out of many that is factored into a holistic assessment of you as an applicant. Other data pieces such as your essays, clarity of purpose, resume, school research, and interview skills play a critical role in your final acceptance decision.
The best applicants know that they must continuously work on and refine all aspects of the application over a long period of time. They don’t waste precious time on just the test and leave the rest to the very end of the process. They know how to break down larger scope priorities like school research into manageable action steps. Here are some examples of manageable action steps you could be taking while also doing test prep:
- Setting up 1-2 virtual chats per week with current students at your target schools to build up your understanding of the schools
- Refining and validating your short and long term career goals by doing some LinkedIn research on alums from your target schools
- Beginning to brainstorm 1-2 essay topics for your schools
- Editing your resume to highlight your top accomplishments and rid it of industry-jargon
This “working in parallel” approach might seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be! At The Art of Applying®, we teach you how to streamline the application process and break down an otherwise complex process with multiple moving pieces into an efficient, stress-free process that maximizes your resources, effort, and time. The result is that our applicants submit strong applications that tell a cohesive, authentic, and compelling story that excites the Admissions Committee — something a test score really can’t do. So get out of your testing rut and SPF mindset, and start building your “best self” application!