GMAT Tutoring & Business School Admissions: The week before the test

Posted by Math Mechanic on 2/26/13 6:52 PM

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The final few days before the GMAT are the most critical for prospective MBA applicants.

As a GMAT tutor, I can tell you that far too many students underappreciate the importance of the lead-up to the exam. Given the considerable time and resources spent on preparation, applicants must be willing to finish strong by sacrificing their social lives, discretionary income, and possibly even their reputations at work, to make these last few days as productive as possible.

Here are three highly recommended tips that far too many students fail to appreciate. Have an edge on other GMAT test takers by following them:

First and most importantly, take time off work Many students choose not – or say they cannot – take this all-important step the week before the exam. True, it may be tempting to save precious vacation days for a week on the beach or the mountain, but the importance of the GMAT merits vacation days, as a long-term investment.  All of a student’s energies should be focused on the exam the few days before you take it. Diverting your attention to other responsibilities leaves students unfocused. In contrast, practicing as much as possible before the exam leaves students with all of the necessary formulas and tricks at top of mind.

Secondly, student must practice using full computer-adaptive tests, and not just modules. In many ways, the GMAT is as much a physical exercise as it is a mental exercise. Four hours takes a toll on one’s concentration, but students can train so they are prepared for this inevitable issue. Once more, many applicants balk at this suggestion because it requires a considerable amount of time. Those who truly cannot take off work are wont to spend a full four hours going through practice exams after a long day at the office. Furthermore, applicants without access to CAT exams convince themselves that modules are a relevant stand-in for full exams, and will prepare them just as well. This widely-held belief does not seem to be true, anecdotally.

Third, after taking the CAT exams, students must read all of the answers – even the ones that they get right. This tip proves especially difficult for the answers that students get right, which they often want to skip, having “understood” the concept. Having worked with dozens of students as a GMAT tutor, I can say that may GMAT takers get questions correctly without having the correct logic, analysis, or calculation. Some students are lucky, while others are good at making educated guesses. Either way, taking the time to understand the logic of the test takers will prove vital to students who are willing to devote themselves to GMAT standardized test preparation.

One minor point to add as icing on the cake for the students who really devote themselves to a week of hardcore preparation: take the 24 hours just before the exam to spoil yourself.

Relax, eat well, and don’t think about the test. If anything, take the time off to read a book that’s been collecting dust on your shelf rather than watch television. Your mind and body will be thankful for the brief interlude when you hit the big day ready to get your dream score!


Tags: MBA admissions, GMAT