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The Day Of The GMAT: A Guide

Some hints to keep your test day disaster-free

By  Rob Kirby

Sun Jan 16 2011

GMAT prep shouldn’t just mean cramming to improve your quantitative and verbal skills. If you really want to stand out from the other 200,000 who'll sit the test this year, you'll need to show up unflustered and ready on day itself.

The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is required for every major English-speaking MBA program. Cornell, Cranfield, The London business School and HEC Paris all rate GMAT scores as 'very important', and the average successful applicant to these colleges scores 680 or higher.

It's a daunting hurdle for many applicants, but many people surprise themselves each year. There's no easy way to prepare, though; an increasing number opt for private tuition each year.

So do you want the best possible score for your $250? (Of course you do!) The best advice is to study hard and have a look at following the tips in the lead up to your test day. Good luck!

1. Relax. Remember that the GMAT is only a part of the admissions process. Most colleges pay heavy attention to your scores, but by no means rule out otherwise strong candidates. As you'll find here, there is such thing as a strong candidate with a low-GMAT score. And if you keep this in mind, you might even become less frantic and score higher...

2. Arrive well before your test starts. The GMAT council has to take steps to prevent cheating, and so when you arrive there'll be a procedure which can take a little time. You'll need to sign a declaration, prove your identity and perform a palm scan, as well as store your cell phone, digital watch, calculator, and study materials in a locker. There might well be a queue, so turning up five minutes before your test is not a good idea!

3. Get enough sleep and don't binge on food or coffee. You need to be as alert as possible: fatigue, blood sugar and caffeine levels all need to be normal if you're to perform your best. Every graduate can think of a friend who dropped grades through avoidable blunders like these. Don't be that person at your GMAT test.

4. Send your results to as many colleges as you can. Although you're entitled to five free options, it never hurts to increase the odds by adding a couple more.

5. Finally, for the pessimists: you'll be happy to hear that you can prevent your results from reaching your colleges if you think you’ve messed up. As soon as you finish the test, you have the option to decline sending on your scores. It's a gamble, however. The decision must be made before you see your scores. And you'll have to reschedule and pay again...

Is there any other advice worth having? Comment below.

For more info on the test day, watch this video, courtesy of GMAC.

{{video:embed url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kK-QuuZeuw"}}