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Do’s & Don’ts for GMAT Exam Day: How to Maximize Your Last 48 Hours

GMAT prep

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You’re almost there!  It’s your last 48 hours before the big day, and a much-anticipated end to many months of GMAT prep.

Those 100+ hours of toil and personal sacrifice are about to reap you an amazing GMAT score. That is, so long as you don’t overlook a few more key steps before the exam.

What should you be doing as the countdown begins? Follow these do’s and don’ts to get organized, pumped up, and mentally prepared for the GMAT marathon.

Plan your route to the test centre

Do you know exactly where your GMAT test centre is and how to get there? Whether you’re driving, walking, biking, or taking public transit, make sure you map out the route the night before.

It’s important to calculate how long it will take you to reach the centre, and include extra time to check-in. We recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before your exam time.

Consider factors like rush hour traffic, construction, subway stoppages, and other potential delays when creating your plan. Give yourself a buffer.

Organize your documents and test day snacks

The night before the exam, make sure you set aside the documentation you must bring to the test centre, including your identification. You definitely don’t need the stress of hunting down your misplaced passport at the last minute.

Also, it’s a good idea to plan what you’ll wear and prepare your test day snacks in advance. Have a lucky t-shirt/pair of boxers/socks/pants? Make sure they’re clean and good to go the night before.

Want a power bar, piece of fruit, or bag of trail mix to boost your energy on exam day? You get two 8-minute breaks during the GMAT. Think about what you want to eat or drink during those breaks, and prep those snacks the night before.

Resist the urge to do last-minute GMAT prep

Exam anxiety might prompt you to tackle additional practice questions, or feverishly review your notes, right up until the very last minute. Don’t be tricked into desperate, last-minute GMAT prep!

If you’ve studied effectively, you’ve already absorbed everything you can. During your last 24 hours before the exam, focus instead on getting into optimal physical and mental test-taking mode.

The GMAT is a marathon, so your final day or two should revolve around warm-up strategies—not yet another round of mind-bending Quant problems. See the next three tips for recommendations and ideas.

Eat clean the night before & day of the exam

Have long hours of GMAT test prep made it harder to eat healthy over the last few months? Found yourself relying on heavy doses of caffeine, sugar, and convenience snack foods? Now’s the time to break those habits!

In your last couple of days before the GMAT exam, focus on eating clean, healthy foods. Ditch greasy, heavy meals for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Know that the food you eat has a direct impact on your mood and cognitive function. Foods rich in essential brain nutrients will help improve memory, concentration, motivation, and overall mental “sharpness.”

Check out this list of healthy options for pre-exam meal ideas.

And remember: avoid going overboard on caffeine just before the exam. An extra cup or two will only add to your nerves, making it harder to focus and work deliberately through questions.

Consider a pre-GMAT exam workout session

There’s a strong body of evidence that proves the correlation between physical exercise and improved mood and cognitive function. Working out helps reduce stress, and helps our brains work better, too.

Worried anxiety will rob you of sleep the night before the exam? Plan a vigorous workout in the evening to take the edge off, and tire yourself out.

Same goes for the morning of the test—schedule a little gym time to get those positive endorphins circulating and keep the jitters under control.

And don’t forget to run your brain through a little pre-exam workout routine as well. Try a crossword puzzle or Sudoku—or read a challenging article. Anything that limbers up your brain and gets you into “thinking” mode, an hour or two before the exam.

Roll out your stress-management techniques

Hitting the gym isn’t your thing? No problem. But give some thought to how you will burn off anxiety and settle your nerves the night before, and day of, the exam.

For some, this means creating a playlist of inspirational songs they can dance around to (Eye of the Tiger; We are the Champions; Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger—you get the idea).

For others, it might be yoga, meditation, or a long walk in the park. A round of laser tag, anyone?

It doesn’t really matter what you do, so long as it diffuses tension and makes you feel good. One caveat though: don’t rely on illicit substances or alcohol to relax pre-exam.

These will only make your brain foggy and slow you down. Don’t worry—there’ll be plenty of time for cocktails after the test!

Have other questions or concerns about your GMAT prep routine? Interested in learning more about intensive GMAT courses, or free GMAT info sessions and workshops?

Start here for helpful resources and support: See upcoming free GMAT events near you