GMAT Impact: What To Do—and What Not To Do—on Test Day (Part 2)

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.

Last week, we discussed what to do on test day for the GMAT. As promised, this week we’re going to talk about what not to do.


Burn yourself out.

Don’t overtrain in the few days before the exam. This can include taking a practice test within three days of the real exam, reviewing for more than 30 minutes on the day of the exam and studying for more than two hours on the day before the exam.

Change your routine.

Keep to the same sleep schedule. Don’t take a sleeping pill for the first time the night before. Don’t have three cups of coffee—or zero cups—when you’d normally have one.

Bring GMAT notes into the test center; use electronic devices while on a break.

You’re not allowed to look at notes or practice problems even while on a break; the proctors can cancel your exam if they see you doing this (or even just suspect that you’re doing this). So don’t bring any notes into the test center in the first place! Make sure you don’t touch your cell phone or anything else electronic during the breaks. You may just be checking the score of the game, but the proctors may cancel your exam on the spot.

Dwell on past problems.

Focus on the problem on the screen in front of you; don’t think about problems that have already come and gone. If you find yourself obsessing about a past problem (or anything), tell yourself: “I can think about that all I want, but first I have to finish the problem I’m on right now.” If you’re still thinking about the past problem when you finish the current one, tell yourself the same thing for the new problem on the screen.

Try to figure out your score.

Don’t even think about it! Even the question writers have to test each question on a couple thousand students to figure out how difficult it is—and they wrote the questions in the first place! Also, when was the last time you were stuck in traffic and thought, “Oh, wow, I’m in the fastest moving lane! Yay!”

It doesn’t work that way. You only notice when you’re in the slow lane. The same thing will be true during the test—you’ll only remember the tough stuff, and you’ll think you’re doing poorly. That will hurt your confidence, and then you might actually start doing poorly. Don’t go there.

There you have it: the short list of what to do—and what not to do—on test day. Let us know how it goes!

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