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The Role That Mental Endurance Plays in GMAT Success
There are obvious ways to prepare for GMAT success. Study hard. Use quality study materials. Pace your preparations well. Sleep well the nights leading up to your exam. But it is possible you haven’t considered another crucial component of your GMAT preparation: mental endurance. The GMAT exam is a three and a half hour marathon, and it will tax both your body and your mind. It is important that you equip yourself for the task ahead. Here are four ways to prepare yourself for the mental endurance the GMAT requires.
Treat Practice Tests Like the Real Thing
One of the hardest mindsets to overcome is, “It’s just practice.” No matter how hard you push yourself to get into the testing mindset, you know in the back of your mind that a practice test isn’t going to make or break you. This is why it is absolutely vital to mimic test conditions as much as possible. Don’t accept any interruptions, don’t do anything you wouldn’t do during the real exam. And definitely don’t break up practice tests over hours or days. The purpose of a practice test is to test your mental endurance as well as your knowledge and speed. No one runs sprints for years and then shows up at a marathon. You need several trial runs to get you used to the long form test.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
It is common for GMAT takers to find themselves losing focus during the middle portions of each section. This is especially true in the reading comprehension questions that require the close reading of a significant paragraph. When your attention wanes, a good way to recapture yourself is to feign interest. Clearly, you aren’t trying to trick anyone but yourself, but putting extra energy and excitement into your thoughts can, at least temporarily, convince your brain that you are 100% engaged. Sit a little taller, give yourself a pep talk, and dive in. Additionally, avoid any negative thoughts about a given question. “Oh no, this is so long, I’m never going to get through it,” is only going to take your brain’s attention further away.
A nutritious, filling meal shortly before your GMAT is important, but there are other ways food can help you endure the exam as well. Studies have shown that eating a small snack, even as few as 100 calories, makes a real difference in mental endurance. For this reason, take advantage of your 8-minute breaks and eat a granola bar or other small snack. Just be sure that the food you choose includes some sugar since that is the brain’s quickest source of energy.
Take a Day Off
One important way that runners prepare for a marathon is not running at all the day before their race. A rest day is essential for your sanity and your endurance. The day before your GMAT, focus on resting, eating well, and sleeping plenty. And most importantly, do not study. There’s nothing to learn that close to the exam. So take a break and let yourself recover from your months of hard work. Because you will need all the energy you can muster to make your way to GMAT success the next day.
The more comfortable you are with the contents of the GMAT exam, the less anxious you will feel about your approaching test date. But in addition to the contents of the exam, ensure you also prepare yourself for its length and intensity. Your mental endurance is a deciding factor in your GMAT success. The study materials you use make all the difference. Check out the EMPOWERgmat online course for the highest quality GMAT prep available.