October and November mark the second largest wave of GMAT test-takers as Round 2 deadlines approach. Managing the business school application process, from writing essays, soliciting letters of recommendation, and studying for the GMAT, is stressful enough, and the week leading up to your GMAT test day just ratchets up the pressure. Everything you’ve done leading up to the final week has helped you build a strong foundation, now you’ve got to put on the finishing touches on your prep, and execute on test day. Read on for tips on how to stay calm, productive, and positive in these final hours.
Do not, we repeat, DO NOT take practice test after practice test. Remember that tests are assessment tools, not teaching tools, and just like stepping on a scale over and over won’t change your weight from day to day, neither will daily full-length practice tests. You won’t learn anything new, you’ll burn out, and undesirable practice scores can discourage you this close to your GMAT test day. Instead, run through topic drills, make sure your strengths make you feel confident, and that your weaknesses have been managed. The final week is not the time to learn brand new concepts, but to remind yourself that you’ve got this.
A public service announcement from your mother and Prep4GMAT: treat your body and your mind as finely-tuned performance engines. Now is not the time to double-fist Red Bull and quadruple espressos while furiously thumbing through the Official Guide (or our Prep4GMAT app for that matter). Your brain needs time to synthesize the information you’ve learned, to rest, and repair. Feed and fuel your body with whole grains, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, especially blueberries and avocados, and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, herring, and sardines. Keep your body active and anxiety at bay with light exercise and meditation.
Get your logistical ducks in a row. If you live reasonably close to your testing center, visit the testing center in the same manner you’ll be arriving on test day: drive, take a cab, or public transportation and look for anything that may delay your commute such as construction or traffic. Get familiar with the building, lockers, and restrooms. A dry run can help relieve anxiety stemming from unfamiliarity. Don’t live close to the testing center? Check out this helpful testing center tour directly from GMAC. The more you’re familiar with your surroundings, the calmer you’ll be. Go through the testing center checklist and gather your identification documents and test confirmation from Pearson VUE. Consider wearing layers to the testing center so you can adjust to the room’s climate control.
Surround yourself with love and light. Positive thinking, a positive personal mantra, and visualization will help you march toward test day with confidence. Have a go-to phrase for when fear or anxiety get the better of you, tell yourself, loudly if you have to, that you will succeed. If you’ve been studying with a high-strung friend, consider muting them on your phone for a few days – you don’t want their anxiousness to rub off on you.
Pencils down. Well, almost. The day before the test, it’s important to stop “studying”. The GMAT is a skills test, and cramming won’t help you. If you’re not ready now, you won’t be tomorrow. We know you can’t commit to not doing anything, and all that nervous energy will only make you think about the test more. Get plenty of rest, eat well, and do a few problems you can knock out of the park.
Do you get test anxiety? How have you conquered your anxiety in the past? Share your best tips with our readers below.