GMAT Impact: What to Do—and What Not to Do—on Test Day (Part 1)

When it comes to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. In this weekly blog series, Manhattan GMAT’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

Some Manhattan GMAT students have been asking for a “Do and Don’t” list for test day. Here you go! This week, we’ll talk about what to do; next week, we’ll talk about what not to do. —


Mimic test conditions on practice tests.

Do the essay, take the Integrated Reasoning section, stick to the official break length and so on. If you deviate too much from official test conditions, you could receive an artificially inflated score. If so, you’ll be going into the real test expecting a better score than you’re actually prepared to get … not a good thing!

Sleep and eat like a (GMAT) athlete.

Stick to a consistent sleep schedule for at least one week before the exam. Get up at the same time you’ll have to get up on test day. Eat enough before and during the exam that you’re not hungry but not so much that you become sluggish or sleepy.

Eat “energy” foods.

Appropriate foods include those that contain complex carbs (whole grains), protein and a bit of fat (nuts, a little peanut butter or mayonnaise on your sandwich). During the last break, you may also want to give yourself a shot of glucose—an energy drink or fresh fruit juice (but don’t do this earlier; this kind of energy tends to spike and then fall, so it won’t last for four hours).

Get everything ready the night before.

ID (check the requirements, depending on your country and citizenship status, at, directions to the testing center, money, food and drink, practice problems. (Note: only do practice problems BEFORE you enter the testing center; don’t bring practice problems in with you.)

Arrive early at the test center.

The most basic reason: you don’t want to be late.

Take the breaks.

Technically, the breaks are optional, but you should absolutely take them. After leaving the testing room, stretch, eat, drink and do whatever else necessary to lift your energy/mood going into the next section.

Join us next week when we discuss what not to do on test day!

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