Top GMAT Test Day Tips

Great philosophers have said, “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” And it is true for a lot of things, but for the GMAT, it isn’t. This statement is wrong on every aspect of the GMAT.

It’s all about the destination when it comes to the GMAT. Nobody cares how you’ve prepared for the test as long as you get a good score. Even the GMAT doesn’t care how you reach a solution as long as it’s the right one.

Of course, a good GMAT prep will help you reach your destination of a good GMAT score much smoothly but, if you mess-up on test day, it won’t get you the score you worked for or even a second chance.

Don’t feel pressurized by what I’m saying. Take it as an advice to be well prepared for your test. remember that you have worked hard on your GMAT and all you need to do is not stray from your training no matter how tempting it seems on the test.

GMAT TEST CENTERS

When you book your GMAT exam, through MBA.com, you get the chance to select your test center, date, and time-slot. If you know people who have given the GMAT before, you must have known the best test centers around you and selected the right one for yourself.

If you didn’t, I feel sorry for you but right now you just need to figure out how to make this situation ideal for yourself.

Recon about the center

Finding out a little more about your test center will help you be prepared for any problems you could face in the middle of the test.

Read online reviews of the test center if you haven’t already done this. Additionally, find out where the washrooms and water-coolers are in the test-center before entering the exam hall on the day of your GMAT.

What is allowed inside

What is allowed in a GMAT test center is more lenient than what is commonly known to people. If you are required to carry something due to a disability, you can get them pre-approved to be taken into the test center.

Your identification documents, a light sweater or jacket, the locker key, and prescription eye-glasses are the only things that you are free to take into the examination hall with yourself.

What can be stored in a locker

Anything from your watch, jewelry, cell-phone, earplugs, to lip-balms, dictionary, or any other study material can be stored in your locker at a GMAT test-center.

You can also store water, and snacks in the locker. However, any objects that can be used as weapons are banned from test-centers even for security personnel, unless they are responding to an emergency at the test center.

THE NIGHT BEFORE THE GMAT

night before SAT relax

The night before your official GMAT exam can be nerve wrecking. But, we can smart test-takers and use this anxious energy to our benefit.

Tonight, is your last chance to make a change before the GMAT actually happens. Now you can either be a bundle of nerves or plan for your test day to make sure everything transits smoothly.

Pack your belongings

Kinds in kindergarten are taught to set their bags for the next day every night before they sleep. Take a page out of their book.

Packing up all your material the night before will leave you stress free the next morning as you won’t have to rush to collect everything. Here is everything you will need to pack for your GMAT exam.

  1. GMAT approved photo ID.
  2. Appointment confirmation letter from Pearson VUE
  3. A light sweater or sweatshirt to make sure you have the option of layering up in the test center if it gets too chilly.
  4. Snack and water for the breaks.

Take a break from studies

This is the easiest and simplest point. Just do as the title says. Do not study the night before your GMAT exam.

You already know all you possibly can for this attempt of the GMAT. No amount of studying will suddenly increase your score. all it will do is make you more nervous. So out the books down and make it a comfortable night in.

Decide which schools to send the score report to

So, you had a goal score in mind and have been getting a different score on your mocks. Or you’ve been getting a similar score to your goal score. In either scenario, you will have to select 5 schools within your score range to send your official GMAT score reports to. During the test, GMAT will ask you to select the five schools that will receive your official GMAT score report without any additional payments.

By the day before the test day, you will have an idea of what your performance on the test would be like. Use this knowledge to carefully select the schools you want to select during your GMAT.

Plan a route to the test center

Depending on if you’re taking your GMAT on a weekday, you might be faced with traffic. Planning a route to the test center a night before test day will help you be on time.

Although test centers generally allow students to take the test even if they’re a little late, reaching early might be a good thing.

Since test-centers see students taking test all throughout the day, if you reach early, you will most probably be allowed to start your test as soon as you complete the verification and other formalities.

Read all the GMAT rules again

Go through the entirety of your GMAT Handbook. The GMAT Handbook is your holy grail for all and any policies, procedures, and rules concerning the GMAT exam.

Reading through this handbook would do two things; first, if you missed any rule or policy, or had any doubt regarding something like the selection of schools or how to receive score reports, you will be able to find a solution. Second, it will keep your nerves in check as reading is said to calm people down effectively.

DAY OF THE GMAT

I have talked multiple times about taking mocks on the exact time slots that you have booked your GMAT on. This was to help you realize the potential problems like lethargy, digression, etc. and also practice different methods to deal with them.

Had you done that, you would have a set plan on how to spend the morning of your GMAT test day.

That aside, having a hearty breakfast is a must. The GMAT is a long test and can leave you feeling tired and drained by the end of it. Thus, having a hearty breakfast, accompanied with a walk, or some light cardio would be good to wake you up and set you for the day of testing ahead of you.

DE-STRESSING DURING TEST

Most of test takers lose some marks due to nervousness. While low amounts of nervousness and stress and considered very good for productivity and focus, an abundance of these two traits is definitely a fatal combination for your GMAT score.

This is why having de-stressing strategies for when you’re at the test center are a must. You cannot have any electronics in the test center, so relying on your ipod, or kindle to de-stress are not an option.

Have a plan for the breaks

Students sometimes do not realize the value of optimizing their 8-minute breaks on the GMAT. Whatever chance you get of getting up and taking a walk, you take that.

Sitting in one position for 3 hours will surely frustrate you, especially with the added pressure of doing well on the test. Use the breaks to go to the washroom, or have a snack; preferably a protein bar due to the ease in handling and nutritious benefits which you’ll require during the test.

Have multiple layers of clothing

We have all sat through a movie of a plane ride which was too freezing. Everytime, I found myself in such a situation I would just wonder why I wasn’t more prepared with a sweatshirt or a cardigan.

Even sitting through a movie or a plane ride, feeling cold, is all-consuming and very uncomfortable. Just imagine how it would be like to sit in a GMAT center with the A/C temperature just a little too low.

Make sure you carry clothes that can easily be layered on and off so that the temperature of the room isn’t the things distracting you.

Do not try to analyze your score

I have heard students ask coaches how they would know if they were scoring well on the GMAT while giving the test. The GMAT has an easy tell if you’re scoring really well on the test. The questions keep getting much harder.

However, your aptitude could make you look at a very difficult GMAT question and know the answer or a very easy GMAT question and be unable to even guess.

This only makes students spin because they feel like they’re not scoring well enough on the test. Finish the test without such assumptions and let the result surprise you.

GMAT TEST STRATEGIES TO FOLLOW

test day strategy GMAT


Quite obviously, you will have various strategies that you will need to follow on the GMAT and you have been preparing for them since the beginning of your test.

Right now, I don’t believe you need to know about such strategies. What you need on the test day is a few tips that can work together with the strategies that you have been working on and enhance the results.

Take a guess

Do not shy away from taking a guess on the GMAT. The test doesn’t have a penalty for getting a question wrong. Which means it’s okay to take a guess. However, there is another reason that makes guessing almost necessary.

The GMAT algorithm has been noticed to impose heavy penalties on un-attempted questions. According to the GMAT Official Guide 2019, leaving 5 answers un-attempted on the Verbal section will automatically drop a 91 percentile score to 71 percentile.

This is why guessing on a few questions that you aren’t sure about will hep make sure you attempt all questions.

Outline your essay

Streamlining your thoughts before writing an analytical essay is key to scoring well on the AWA section.

Do not jump in with random thoughts placed haphazardly throughout your essay. Write a blue-print of how you want to present your analysis. This will also mean you won’t have to take breaks in between writing to find the next valid argument as you would have it written down.

Read IR questions carefully

IR questions are more trickily worded rather than difficult. They need you to process way too much information in way too little time.

To make sure you don’t make silly mistakes, use your scratchpad to right down any units or equations you need to solve for the question. In addition to that, make sure you read the labels and metrics carefully and also write down the metrics that the answer should be in.

Verbal strategies are much more difficult to follow that any other on the GMAT. The reason is simply because the conditioning, to determine whether a statement is grammatically correct or not by the way it sounds, has been done since elementary schools.

Never choose an answer purely because it sounds right. GMAT is known to trick test-takers with grammatically correct sentences that sound odd. Keep an eye out for these.

Read the question twice in Quant

Quant also faces a similar problem as IR. The questions on the Quant section might be worded in a way that you would need to read them twice to understand exactly what part of the statement you need to solve.

Do it! Read the questions twice before solving it.

It is not unheard-of test-takers to practice various GMAT strategies throughout their prep and then completely abandon those when the GMAT exam starts.

Remember that you have prepared for this day for over a couple months and have every possible weapon in your arsenal. All you need is focus. Following these steps, will help you ground yourself before the test and be ready to deal with any anxiety faced during the same.