August 9, 2016

3 Important Things to Remember on Your GMAT Test Day

Our guest post today is by Mahlena-Rae Johnson of Varsity Tutors, the live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

In addition to test-taking techniques, grammatical rules, and mathematical formulas, there are so many pieces of information to keep in mind about the GMAT — misplaced modifiers, the Pythagorean Theorem, process of elimination, subjects and verbs. How can you manage them all in your head? To help you prioritize what you need to know when you take the official exam, here are three important things to remember on your GMAT test day.

1. Know how to get to the testing center

The way you practice is the way you will perform. Take a dry run to the testing center before your exam date, and bring all of your required items: GMAT approved identification, names of the schools you want to apply to, and your printed appointment confirmation. Also, pack a snack and a beverage that you’ll store in a locker and consume during your breaks. Wear an outfit with layers. Eat breakfast or lunch, and don’t rely solely on your phone or GPS to get you to the center. Print a map of your primary route as well as alternate routes.

When you arrive at the center, introduce yourself to the front desk assistant. Let them know when you are taking the GMAT, and ask them what you should be aware of at the testing location. Familiarize yourself with the facilities. Try out the lockers. Find out where the bathroom is and whether you will need a key. Prepare yourself with as much information as you can beforehand so that you minimize possible surprises on the day of the actual exam.

2. The format of the GMAT is always the same

Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal — this is the order of the sections on the exam. For example, once you complete the 30-minute essay, it’s done and you’re on to Integrated Reasoning. So when you take full practice tests, don’t skip around to different types of questions. Complete the sections in the official order to train your brain on how to deal with that reality.

Additionally, sitting for the GMAT is a marathon, not a sprint. The exam takes three hours and 30 minutes to complete, plus the time for allotted breaks, reading through policies, entering personal information, and arriving at least a half hour before your scheduled test time. This means you will need to stay awake and alert for a stretch of four hours minimum. By taking full practice tests, you can build the stamina you need for top performance on the GMAT.

3. You can take the GMAT again

Sitting for the GMAT is not necessarily a one-time thing. Students who take the GMAT more than once tend to do better the second time. There are some basic GMAC rules about retesting. You can retake the GMAT after a 16-day time period. You are allowed to take five GMAT exams within a 12-month period.

Therefore, don’t create anxiety for yourself by worrying about your score, getting into business school, or the difficulty level of the section you’re in. You can’t go back to a previous question, and you can’t move forward until you make a decision about the question at hand, so focus on the single question in front of you. Additionally, if your performance is not as high as you think it could be, consider working with a GMAT tutor to address areas of concern.

Keeping these three things in mind should increase your confidence on exam day. Planning ahead, managing stress, and staying focused will put you in the optimal GMAT mindset. And, of course, studying for the GMAT helps as well! By preparing in advance, you should be able to perform to the best of your abilities on GMAT test day.

Mahlena-Rae Johnson is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors.