GMAT Tip of the Week

Haunted House

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

Happy Halloween, readers! Hopefully you’ve taken some time away from your GMAT preparation to enjoy this festive season with a horror movie, trip to the cider mill, costume party, or haunted house (or, if you will, haunted hayride). But, alas, staring you in the face after this holiday weekend is the most haunted of houses – the GMAT testing center.

As you’ve become an adult, you’re probably much less frightened by ghosts, goblins, vampires, and werewolves, and much more scared by taxes, recessions, and rejection letters from Wharton. Preying on those fears, the creators of the GMAT run you through a haunted gauntlet on your way to your seat on test day; the progression includes:

  • Sitting for a “mug shot” digital photograph which goes in to your GMAT file
  • Providing a fingerprint before beginning of the exam, and at any point at which you leave and return to your seat (sound like prison yet?)
  • Leaving your belongings other than your clothes (jacket, phone, watch, hat, etc.) in a locker for the duration of the test
  • Using a sprial-bound noteboard and a marker instead of the tried-and-true scratch paper for your notes and calculations

The creators of the GMAT know that, in addition to increasing security around the test, these measures will decrease your score by adding stress to your experience. How can you more confidently attack the GMAT Haunted House?

  • Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Much like the chainsaw-wielding villain in the haunted house is really just a high school student in a mask raising money for the marching band, these GMAT measures are similarly designed to raise your blood pressure without any real danger behind them. Know that you’ll encounter this stress, but that in the end the increased pressure is only artificial – you’re still answering the same questions you’ve done in practice.
  • Know that there’s minimal downside! Unlike a haunted house, which in high school could expose your extreme vulnerability to friends and rivals, the GMAT has relatively few significant repercussions (you read that correctly). The worst thing that can happen to you is that you underperform and need to take the exam again – but know that schools overwhelmingly only care about your top score. The GMAT is an opportunity to succeed, but not a major threat if you don’t!
  • Laugh at the fact that you know the trick! Much like the haunted house relies on the spooky music to put you on edge, the GMAT relies on its smoke-and-mirrors security policies to keep your score down. Which also means this: if you don’t fall in to that trap, the questions are easier than advertised! If the test needs to keep you vulnerable to error, your refusal to allow yourself to do so gives you an advantage over the test. Smile knowingly and test confidently – and your score will automatically increase simply because you’re not afraid.

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