The Night before the GMAT: 5 Last-Minute Tips

Tomorrow’s the big day—GMAT Test Day! You’ll be spending about 4.5 hours (about 1 hour for administration and breaks, 3.5 hours for the test itself) at the Pearson VUE test center, giving it your all. As you’ve no doubt discovered if you’ve taken full-length practice tests, the GMAT is a grueling mental marathon.

KEEP STUDYING: What to know about GMAT Practice Tests ]

So what are you going to do the night before the GMAT to get ready?

  • Strategy #1: Don’t Cram

    Whatever you haven’t learned at this point, you’re not going to master in the next 12 hours or so. If you try to stuff one more thing into your head now, you won’t have time to absorb it and practice with it, and it will just be in the way to confuse you as you’re trying to take the test. Plus, you want your brain to be fully rested tomorrow. You’ve prepped and you’re ready. Or even if you don’t feel ready, you are done. It’s time to move on to preparing yourself for the test experience in highly practical ways.

  • Strategy #2: Know Your Route

    Make sure you know exactly where you’re going tomorrow and how you’re going to get there.

    • If driving, plan your route and when you need to leave, taking possible traffic, construction, and weather into account. Make sure there is plenty of gas in the car.
    • If taking public transportation, know your route and when and where to catch your bus or train. Make sure you have your fare.
  • Strategy #3: Pack Smarter

    Gather together everything you’ll need tomorrow. On Test Day, you want to be focused on the test, not on trying to figure out what the cat did with your keys. Read this list and then brainstorm any other items you might need:

    • Your photo ID and admissions ticket (Read here about what GMAC accepts as valid ID.)
    • The comfortable clothes you’ll be wearing
    • Your keys, purse/wallet, and anything else you normally have with you when you leave the house
    • Any medications you will need or may need to take (like a pain reliever in case you get a headache) and contact lenses or eyeglasses you plan to wear (Do you wear special glasses in front of the computer? different ones for driving?)
    • A bottle of water and a healthy snack (You won’t be allowed to bring either into the test room, but you can and should access them during your breaks.)
    • The names of any schools you want to designate, before you begin the test, to get your scores (Up to 5 schools are included in your test fee. Read here about how GMAT scores are reported to schools.)
    • A few study materials for light review, which you’ll use to warm up your brain before the test
  • Strategy #4: Relax

    You know all those episodes of your favorite TV show you’ve missed because you’ve been studying for the GMAT? Now is a great time to binge-watch a few of them. Or stream a movie. Or work out. Or bake with your favorite recipe or analyze your investment portfolio or clean your apartment or . . . do whatever relaxes you.

  • Strategy #5: Sleep Well

    Even if you need to get up earlier than usual to eat a light breakfast, review a few test questions, and arrive at the test center about 15 minutes early, you should still go to bed when you normally do. If you lie down sooner “to get extra sleep,” you won’t be sleepy yet and you’ll just toss and turn, worrying about the test and whether you’ll hear the alarm in the morning and so forth. You may actually get less sleep than if you just follow your normal bedtime routine.

By taking care of yourself properly the night before the test, you’ll set yourself up to get your best possible GMAT score!

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