Try to Relax
Yes, this is easier said than done – even for admissions consultants who have already taken the exam, and even graduated from business school. Nonetheless, worrying and stressing over the GMAT will do nothing to boost your confidence or increase your ability to answer the questions correctly.
Keep in mind that the GMAT exam is only one component of your total application package. Admissions committees at the most selective business schools normally give your academic qualifications, including grades and other non-GMAT components a weighting of between 30% and 40%. That means that you may still be a very competitive applicant, even if your GMAT score falls somewhat below the median of those applicants historically accepted to your top-choice schools.
Get Adequate Sleep the Night Before
If you have spent any significant amount of time preparing for the GMAT CAT, then you will know that your score will benefit more from some extra sleep than it will be from a few last-minute cram preparations.
Dress in Layers
You can never be sure whether the test center will be warm or cold, so it is always a good idea to wear layers of clothes that you can easily add and remove. The GMAT test site is not a fashion show, so dress comfortably. If that means old jeans and sneakers for you, then that, by all means, that is what you should wear!
Make Sure You are Comfortable with the Computer Tutorial
The GMAT CAT will begin with a tutorial on using the computer. We do not recommend rushing through it. If you have adequately prepared yourself for the GMAT, you will suffer no short-term memory loss in the few minutes it takes to complete this tutorial. You do not want to find that, having rushed through this tutorial, you panic when the timed test begins and you’re suddenly not sure how to scroll through the long passages in the verbal section. Finally, this tutorial provides an excellent way for most test-takers to calm their nerves before delving into the actual GMAT test questions.
Become Familiar with the Testing Facility
Find out where the nearest bathroom and water fountain are located before you begin the test. You are allotted only two 5 minute breaks during the GMAT, and will want to be able to locate those facilities when you need them. It is also not a bad idea to figure out ahead of time how to get to the test center and to arrive there well before your scheduled time on test day.
Request Scrap Paper and Use it Freely
Scrap paper will come in handy for both the verbal and the quantitative sections of the test. There is no need to feel self conscious if you happen to have a few more sheets of scrap paper than other test takers do. After all, you do not want to waste valuable test-taking time requesting additional paper if you run out of it during the middle of a section.
Speak Up if Your Working Conditions are Less than Optimal
If your carrel is too small or if you are having difficulty with your mouse, keyboard, or any other part of your computer, do not hesitate to speak up. These problems, on the rare occasions that they arise, are usually quite easily remedied.
Don't Waste Time
This advice probably seems self-evident, but we mention it because we’ve had clients tell us how they wasted time by revisiting the help screen or requesting extra scrap paper after they had already begun their test. These activities, if undertaken once the section has begun, will only take valuable time away from working on the questions.
You want to spend a judicious amount of time on the first 5 questions of every section. (See the GMAT Preparation Tips and Advice page for more information on this strategy.) However, after completing these first 5 questions, you may need to pick up the pace a bit in order to stay on track and have the opportunity to answer each question in the section. The GMAT CAT’s software will display the amount of test time you have left in each section. If you prepared yourself by taking some simulated practice tests in the computer-adaptive format, you should have become proficient at managing your time during the exam.
Think Very Carefully Before Doing Any of These
Before you cancel your score or quit the exam, ask yourself whether you are sure this is what you really want to do. It has been our experience that most test takers who cancel their scores or quit the exam do so irrationally. You probably know from your previous test experiences that you often turn out to have done better on an exam than you thought you would while you were taking it.
It is human psychology to dwell more heavily on the questions you believe you answered incorrectly rather than on the (hopefully) more numerous questions you probably answered correctly. Try to keep this in mind when the GMAT CAT asks if you want to cancel your scores or see them immediately. It is our frank advice that, unless you felt deathly ill during the exam, you should not cancel your scores.