GMAT Day Tips

If someone gives you list of questions and guarantees that those questions would be on the real exam - what would you do? Mug them by heart - know the correct answer choices? Practice and re practice variations? Sadly, knowing what questions are on the exam is impossible [legally]. However, I can GURANTEE that the following things will be tested on the exam

i) Ability to focus for 3 hours at a stretch:
Yea I know, you've heard this before. But what is important is have you done anything about it? Concentration levels don't jump up in a day. So giving 4 tests in exam conditions and believing that to be your 'preparation' for the endurance level required to beat the GMAT is the reason why you probably won’t end up beating the test. I suggest that every time you study – ensure you do so in stretches of 225 minutes with no more than 10 minutes break every 75 minutes. By doing this, you are fine tuning your mind to work in the real exam environment. Make sure you are in a ‘real’ environment and emulate all ‘real’ environment settings. For example, if you are a smoker and smoke during your practice exams – this does no good. You CANNOT smoke during the GMAT exam (while you are answering questions). However, you can do during the breaks. If you are a chain smoker and need to smoke every twenty minutes – you are in trouble. Do your practice tests without smoking when you are answering questions. Get hold of Nicotine Chewing Gum / Slow release Nicotine Tablets. You can use it as ‘medication’ during the exam [Confirm this with your test center before the exam] A bit more about ‘real’ environment settings and I promise to close this chapter. When talking about giving practice exams in real settings, we mean REAL settings. NOT close to real or as real as possible or as real as you think is best for you. This essentially means cell phones shut, IM windows shut, web browsing shut, no disturbances, music off, pausing of tests not allowed (even if you want to wish your girlfriend good night for a quick second and do not read the question prompt until you’ve resumed the test). Pausing the test and doing something else for 5 minutes (even if it is not intended to gain more time for the test by reading the next question in paused more) is cheating on the practice exam. You are allowing your brain to go into a state that is different from the state that it would be allowed to go to during the real exam. This is bound to have an impact on your final score (negative or positive is debatable, but I would give my vote for positive). This is one of the reasons why some people see a 700+ on their practice exams and a lower score on the real one. If you want your practice scores to mirror the real GMAT score – REAL ENVIORNMENT SETTING is what you want.

ii)Ability to beat Stress

The 1st time I appeared for the GMAT I had an interesting problem, which I was not prepared for. Stress. Any exam induces a certain degree of stress – but the fact that GMAT is so important in your life (else you won’t be reading this post) and that you want to get into Harvard (who doesn’t) makes this stress LOT more intense.


The 1st time I appeared for my exam – I was jittery. Couldn’t stop my hands from shaking. Felt weak on my knees. They had to scan my palm 2 times to get a print (because I was shaking so much). Had to read essay prompt 5 times before it actually went into my head. Spent 1 minute doing two digit multiplications and yet got it wrong. Stress does all this.

For my second attempt, I did a few things that helped

a) Calculate your bare minimum achievement level and probability of obtaining it (I’ll get to this in the new few posts)

b) Once you stop studies for the exam – I suggest everyone to stop studying at least the night before or 4 hours before your exam – DO NOT THINK about the GMAT. Usually people try ‘remembering’ quant formulae, or CR tips and the like. Do not do this. Do something that completely refreshes your mind [Sleep for an hour or so if your exam is in the afternoon, watch TV].

My exam was at 3. I slept at 12am the night before, woke up at 9. Read through 2-3 essay templates and sample essays. Stopped studying at 11. Watched 2 episodes of Seinfeld. Had lunch, slept for an hour and then went to give the exam [again watched Seinfeld on the way to the test center]. When I was at the exam center, I certainly felt refreshed and stress levels were evidently low.

Contributed by Sumit, 730

3 comments:

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Vocab Power Updated Daily

  • COBBLED - Repair or mend
  • ABHORRENCE - Hate coupled with disgust
  • INCUMBENCY - The term during which some position is held
  • MITIGATE -Lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
  • dubious - Open to doubt or suspicion
  • FOSTERING - Encouragement; aiding the development of something
  • ELICIT- Call forth (emotions, feelings, and responses)
  • PLAUSIBLE - Apparently reasonable and valid, and truthful
  • FORGE - Move ahead steadily
  • BOLSTER (V)-Support and strengthen
  • ECCENTRIC- A person with an unusual or odd personality
  • PATRONAGE - The act of providing approval and support
  • IMPERVIOUS - Not admitting of passage or capable of being affected

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