In addition to the academic challenges inherent in taking the GMAT, most students struggle with some degree of performance anxiety. In the 24 hours or so before sitting for the exam, set aside your academic preparations and relax. Instead of staying up all night studying, the best GMAT strategy is to prepare yourself physically and emotionally for the difficult task that lies before you. After all, your score depends much more on your years of education and regiment of test preparation than it does on one final night of cramming.
Take Care of Yourself
The best things you can do in the 24 hours before taking the GMAT are the same things you should do before any significant test, be it academic or otherwise. To the extent that you can practically do so, take good care of yourself physically and emotionally. Wrap up your studies and go to the movies or take a bike ride. Spend time with your loved ones. Do the things that relax and rejuvenate you. Reward yourself modestly for the hard work you have already done preparing for this test. Then, get a good night’s sleep. On test day, dress comfortably and eat a light, nutritious meal before leaving for the exam center. If you can, it is also a good idea to clear some time in your schedule after the test to process the experience and even celebrate.
The Test Center
Make sure you know what to bring to the test center and what to expectonce you arrive there. Forgetting your driver’s license or arriving at the listed start time for your test instead of 30 minutes prior are exactly the kind of mistakes that will nullify your test appointment. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the list of items prohibited in the test center and the procedures you will have to follow during the optional eight-minute breaks between sections. Pencils, paper, food, watches, cell phones and cigarettes are all prohibited in the testing area, and if you want to have a snack on your break, you will haveto budget time for the palm-vein scanner on your way back into the testing area.
During the Test
One of the amazing things about taking the GMAT — not a short test by most standards — is how quickly it seems to pass by. Compared to the amount of time many students spend preparing, the four-hour test is not actually very long, and the adrenaline the body dispenses in response to stress can make it seem shorter than the nerve-racking 20 minutes spent in the test center waiting room. However, the trick to success on the exam is to remain composed and to harness the body’s adrenal response rather than panicking. As you enter the testing area, or if you begin to feel uncertain, remind yourself that your education and preparation are the primary factors that will determine how you score. You have already done the hard work. Try not to worry about your performance during the test or even to evaluate how you have done so far. Just keeping moving through the questions at a steady pace and trust that your hard work will pay off. Before long, you will be amazed to see your score.