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3 Aspects of Test Day That You Probably Have NOT Trained For

By Max Peterson On Dec 11, 2015 In  Study Plans General GMAT 


The GMAT is a predictable, standardized Test, so Test Takers have the potential to properly learn the content that will appear on the Exam. Over the Course of their studies, many GMATers improve their scores to a high-enough level that they feel comfortable scheduling their Official GMAT appointments. Without fail though, a certain percentage of those same Test Takers score at a significantly lower level on Test Day (relative to how they were scoring on their practice CATs). Their shock at earning a lower score almost always ends in the following phrase: “I don’t know why my score dropped….” There ARE common reasons why a Test Taker’s performance can suffer though and those reasons involve aspects to Test Day that the GMATers did not properly train to face.

1 – Poor sleep the night before the Exam. Most Test Takers don’t get nervous the night before they take a practice CAT, so this issue doesn’t occur very often except right before Test Day. You can handle it though by sticking to a normal bedtime routine. Consuming a glass of hot green tea and/or taking low-dose Melatonin can also help with the sleep process. As with all things, it’s best to experiment with these options well BEFORE your GMAT.

2 – Travel time to the Testing Center and the Registration process. On Test Day, you don’t just sit down at your home computer and get to work - it takes TIME to get to Test Center and go through the identification process. For most Test Takers, that ‘chunk’ of time will be anything from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. During that time, you will be thinking about the Exam and likely burning ‘nervous energy.’ A significant drop in score (especially during the Verbal section) can happen because a Test Taker trained to have enough energy to face a 4-hour Exam, NOT a 1.5 hour lead-up followed by a 4-hour exam. Planning out your CATs so that you have to travel to a different location (and spend a reasonable amount of time doing so) can help you to better train for what WILL happen on Test Day.

3 – The 8-minute break isn’t really 8 minutes. On Test Day, you are NOT allowed to enter and exit the Computer Lab at any moment. You have to be ‘escorted’ in and out every time, which means that you have to wait for a Center Employee to assist you. Since there will be more Test Takers than employees, there is a reasonable chance that you will have to wait for assistance, which means that your 8-minute break will begin while you’re still in the Computer Lab. You might also have to wait to get back into the Lab; after 8 minutes, your GMAT will continue on (the timer for the next section will begin whether you are in front of your computer or not). To properly train for this, you should practice for a 7-minute break with the goal of doing every ‘break task’ in a relatively speedy and efficient manner (eat a snack, drink, run to the restroom, etc.).

While these issues might seem minor, they can absolutely impact your performance on the Official GMAT (and sometimes to a HUGE degree). Since the GMAT is such an important piece of the overall application process, you simply cannot afford to be casual with the details. The traits that are required to score 700+ are more than just Test-taking knowledge and skills – you need to know about EVERYTHING that will occur on Test Day so that you can properly train to face all of it.

To that end, we’re here to help.

GMAT assassins aren’t born, they’re made,


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