4 Days before the GMAT – Don’t drop the ball now, part 1

You’ve prepped and now it’s test week.

This post is divided into three parts: what everyone needs to know, what to do when taking after a weekend or days off, and what to do when taking without having time off right before. I’ve seen thousands of candidates take the GMAT – there are definitely best practices and totally bad ideas. If you’ve done the hard work to prep appropriately up to this point, don’t be an idiot now.

Maximize don’t medium.

Four days in advance you are pretty locked on on content. You know what you know, and the needle won’t move much. You need to think “Refine and Regulate.” Regulate your emotional responses – watch out for binging, sleep deprivation, emotional spikes, and make sure you are hydrating with water. Studies out of Stanford have demonstrated a 10 point IQ drop when subjects show even very minor dehydration. That same study showed that most of us working are way more dehydrated than the minor dehydration (coffee, booze will dehydrate you) they studied. In order to “Refine,” consider macro subjects and refine within the macros. For example,

Macro areas in Quant:

Number Theory
Geometry
Algebra/Mechanics
Boundary/Constraints

Micro areas within Geometry:

Triangles
Circles
Rectangles
Coordinate plane

Your objective is to refine your execution on GMAT micro areas in which you are close to mastery. If you are 70% solid with overlapping sets, get to 85-90%. Work the areas in which you know what you are doing, and get to the point that you work through those problem types more smoothly. This has at least two positive benefits:

1. Reinforce the things you know.
2. Build confidence for test day.

This is not the time to dig in deep on subjects you either don’t understand well or for whatever reason you can’t seem to execute on the test. You will need to let some things go. You do not need to dominate every question – indeed, you really can’t dominate every question. The GMAT will break you at least once and as much as 40% of the test. Yes, you can have a very valid GMAT score while missing 40% of the questions. It won’t be 720+, but even over 760 students are incorrect as much as 20% of the time. So embrace your practical side. Win where you can win, let it go where you aren’t winning. If you have to retake then you can tackle the weak areas again.

What everyone needs to know: get some rest, drink lots of water, find the test center to avoid test day panic, refine the ares you know, regulate your mood – if that means avoiding your roommate, do it, and pick your battles wisely. Now choose your adventure by clicking one of these:

Taking the GMAT after a Few Days off

– OR –

Taking the GMAT, No time off


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