Steps to Building Confidence for GMAT Test day

7 Steps to Building Confidence for GMAT Test Day

It’s very easy to concentrate on rekindling long-forgotten math skills or memorizing patterns commonly found in Reading Comp passages, but if you spend all of your energy on these content-based skills, you may omit strengthening your performance on the emotional aspects of prepping for the GMAT.

Boosting GMAT Confidence Tips

As a computer-adaptive test (CAT), the GMAT rewards correct answers with harder questions. Harder questions take more time and mental energy to process. They can be intimidating. Likewise, incorrect answers are followed by lower-difficulty questions. These can also be stress-inducing: “These questions are too easy! I must be doing terribly!”

Before I talk about ways to master the emotional side of the test, I must address two reasons the perceived difficulty level should not impact your confidence on Test Day.

Familiar Tasks Can Seem Easier Than They Are

For example, symbolism questions almost always involve low-difficulty math. But because they are intimidating to most students, they usually are rated as high-difficulty questions. If you see “a#b = 2(a + b)” and are asked for the value of 3#4, that will feel easy despite actually being high difficulty.

GMAT Tests Include Questions at Every Difficulty Level

So you may get a string of questions correct, then see a low-difficulty “easy” question because it is being tested. Your performance has no bearing on the difficulty level of an experimental question. DO NOT let your confidence be shaken because a question seems easy!

Try not to evaluate your performance during the test and not beat yourself up over how you think you are doing.

Start building confidence by tackling real GMAT problems

Steps To Start Building Confidence on the GMAT Exam

  • 1. Complete full practice tests

    Take a full-length practice test to build your endurance. This means the entire practice test; don’t skip any sections, and especially try to avoid skipping days you planned to take a practice test.

  • 2. Test, review, repeat

    Review every practice test soon after you complete it. Look at all questions, not just the ones you answered incorrectly. For the ones you got right, see whether there is a more efficient way to work the question. Kaplan practice questions all have detailed explanations, and my students have discovered faster ways to work questions by reviewing the ones they got right.

    A day later, rework any questions that still seem shaky for you. Make notes of question types and content areas you seem to be unsure of and work them into your future practice plans. 

  • 4. Discipline yourself

    Make a practice plan and stick to it. Think of it as a diet, or a workout regimen, or a savings plan. Make it reasonable so you can make it work. #determination

  • 5. Celebrate small victories

    Imagine a question pops up and you immediately recognize it as something you’ve done before. Pat yourself on the back! I can guarantee that someone, somewhere pulled up that same question and panicked. Amassing a stockpile of knowledge puts you ahead of your competition, and that’s worth celebrating.

  • 6. Know your goal

    Remember that on Test Day, your goal is not to answer 100% of the questions correctly. The test is designed to not allow that to happen; your score “stasis” is when you answer every other question (higher difficulty) incorrectly and the remaining (lower difficulty) correctly. If you are practicing with CATs or adaptive practice sets, celebrate 70% to 80% correct.

  • 7. Believe in yourself

    I’ve mentioned making note of questions or concepts that give you trouble, but you should also take time every now and then to make a list of things you have mastered. If you used to think you would panic if you saw X on Test Day but now you are cool with it, that’s a huge accomplishment.
    Believe that you can do it, and you can do it. Have confidence that you will do the best you can, and you will. And show determination while following the plan to Test Day, and you will land the score you deserve!