The GMAT test day is NOT the day to experiment with your morning routine!
So you’ve been preparing for months, and finally, your GMAT test day is rapidly approaching around the corner. You may be (understandably) starting to feel some anxiety creeping in. How will you retain all the strategies you've learned? How do you make sure all of that hard work, sweat, and toil translates to your test? As your trusty private GMAT tutor in Boston, let me outline a few things you can do in the days leading up to the exam.
Several Days Leading Up to Exam
- Do begin to study at the same time of day as your exam. If you have a morning exam, try to fit in an hour or two before work. If you have an afternoon exam, study when you return from work. We are creatures of habit, and creating a routine trains your body to concentrate at that particular time of day.
- Do get plenty of rest and try to sleep full nights, if possible. This is not the time for a midnight movie premiere.
- Do study using actual GMAT questions, and specifically focus on practicing your test technique and time management skills – at this late stage, you should be learning little to no new material.
The Day Before the Exam
- Do NOT cram. From my experience GMAT coaching in Boston, I cannot stress this enough. At this point, you have already learned everything you can. The GMAT is not a test of intelligence—it a test of how well you can identify patterns and find shortcuts. Trying to study on the day before the exam will only stress you out, and give very little return.
- Do take the day off. Go see a movie. Have dinner with your friends. Basically, do whatever you can to relax. You have prepared for months. Don’t you deserve a night off? And if you need a little moral support, why not shoot your private GMAT tutor in Boston a quick email, and let them know how you’re feeling?
- Do plan your commute and identify all items you need for the exam. It is amazing the things you forget in your pre-exam haste. Also, do plan to arrive at least forty-five minutes early.
- Do buy/make some snacks for the exam. Most testing centers will provide lockers where you can stow water and other items that will be available to you during the breaks.
- Do make a mental list of all schools that should be receiving a score report. You would be surprised how many people draw a blank when asked to list five schools.
The Morning of the Exam
- Do stick to your normal routine as much as possible. If you drink coffee, have a cup. You do not want to suffer withdrawals during the exam. If you are not a coffee drinker, today is not the day to start. Again, we are creatures of habit, and the more closely you can mimic the conditions under which you studied, the better you will recall the material.
- Do arrive early. If you are at the front of the line when the center opens, you are likely to be able to choose your desk in the exam room. If the staff at the center does not offer, do ask. During the exam, other test takers will be getting up and moving around. If this is distracting to you, do make sure you ask for a corner seat/end seat to eliminate what you can see.
- Do warm up with a few easy questions before you go in… but don’t look at the answers. Seriously.
During the Exam
- Do stay positive. You have no way of knowing if you are getting answers right or wrong. Just keep going, and the next question might be right up your alley.
- If you have made it this far in your test prep, you know the GMAT is a Computer Adaptive Test. It can be tempting to try to gauge if the questions are getting easier or harder. Don’t do this. You will only psych yourself out. (Just because a question seems easy to you, does not mean it is not difficult to most test takers; the converse is also true.) Instead, do try to see each problem as stand-alone.
- Do manage your time effectively, according to your prepared strategies. Your private GMAT tutor in Boston has likely worked with you on a pacing strategy. When faced with the stress of the exam, it is easy to revert to old habits. Don’t be tempted.
- Don’t be afraid to guess if a question seems impossibly hard. Remember, the GMAT penalizes those who do not finish the exam.
- Do take full advantage of your breaks. Take a walk up and down the hall, grab a snack, or even chat with the staff. The GMAT is, among other things, a test of your stamina. Taking breaks will help reset your brain for the new section of the exam.
After the Exam
- Regardless of the outcome, do celebrate. You have earned it.
- Do call your GMAT tutor. I’m sure he or she is dying to find out how you did!
For more GMAT relevant reading, check out these posts, written by other private GMAT coaches on our team: Don’t Sleep on the Verbal Section, Feeling Stressed About the GMAT? , Using the Case Method to Crack the GMAT
Our private GMAT tutors at Cambridge Coaching (such as Maryam) are eager to help you make your study time as efficient as possible. So do reach out! We offer in-person GMAT coaching in Boston and New York, and online GMAT coaching anywhere around the world.