3 Test-Day Details That Can Damage Your GMAT Score | TopMBA.com

3 Test-Day Details That Can Damage Your GMAT Score


Updated June 16, 2020 Updated June 16, 2020

While many test takers are concerned about various aspects of the GMAT exam's content, every part of test day is relatively predictable, so it should be something that is relatively easy to prepare for properly. However, a certain percentage of test takers register a much lower GMAT score on their official test, when compared to how they were scoring during their studies.

While those same test takers are almost always at a loss as to why they scored lower, the reality is that there are some common reasons for their dips in performance. You can avoid that lower result on test day by training for these three details during your studies (starting NOW).

1. Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep (or poor quality sleep) the night before test day is a GMAT-score killer. Most GMATers rarely get nervous or have trouble sleeping the night before they take a practice test, so this big detail usually only occurs the night before test day. You can minimize this lack of sleep (or eliminate it altogether) by following a consistent routine before you go to bed. Try drinking a glass of hot green tea or milk or taking a low dose of melatonin. Any of these can help you drift off to sleep (and stay asleep). Of course, it’s important to practice with any of these measures for weeks (or even months) before you take your actual GMAT.

2. Testing facility travel

The time it takes to get to the testing facility and sign in. Unlike when you take your practice tests, you can’t just ‘sit down and start’ on your actual GMAT test day. For most test takers, the time it takes to commute to the testing facility will range from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Once you get to the testing facility, you then have to check in and go through all of the orientation activities at your computer workstation. During ALL of that time, you’ll most likely be thinking about your exam (even though it hasn’t started yet) and you’ll be expending energy.

In many cases, this can lead to a drop in performance in the verbal portion of the test (since that’s the last section of the test). If you’re training yourself to sit a four-hour test, but the travel and check-in time make it a five-hour ‘event’, then you might run out of energy sometime during the verbal section – and see your GMAT score drop as a result. To combat this potential issue, incorporate some travel time into your schedule before you take each practice test (by extension, you may want to reconsider taking your practice tests at home).

3. The ‘eight-minute’ breaks

The GMAT’s two eight-minute breaks aren’t quite eight minutes in length. The computer lab at your testing facility will be a secure environment – you’re NOT allowed to come and go as you like – you have to be escorted in and out of the room. Each of those ‘moves’ requires the assistance of a facility employee. Since there will almost certainly be more test takers than employees, it’s likely that you will have to wait to get in and out of the computer lab each time. However, that time counts against your eight minutes, so you really have to train for a shorter break (seven minutes is the safer measure).

These details might seem mundane (relative to the GMAT content you have to train for), but the reality is that they can and will impact almost all GMATers on test day. As such, they matter – and since they’re consistent, they can be trained for. Your GMAT score is an essential part of your application(s), so you simply cannot afford to be unprepared for these details. Now that you know more about how to think in more detail about the entire test day event, you can better train for all aspects of it.

This article was originally published in June 2016 . It was last updated in June 2020

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