Three Things You Should NOT Do the Night Before You Take the GMAT

The Internet is teeming with 30-day GMAT study plans, 60-day study plans, 60-minute study plans, and even promises of rock-hard abs in merely seven minutes. While we do have a six-minute GMAT success plan that we aren’t quite ready to share with you (just kidding), we do want to share some thoughts on what you should NOT do the night before you take the GMAT, if you want to do well on test day.

These are all what we consider “no brainers,” but every year we hear about students doing all of these. So, we offer these with the sincere hope that you already know them. If you don’t already know them, then please pay attention!

Don’t cram
If you don’t already know exponent rules the night before you take the GMAT, then odds are you won’t know them well enough to use them during the test, no matter how much you cram the night before the big day. These last-minute sessions don’t give your brain enough time to move what it learned from short-term memory to its long-term memory banks, where it becomes readily available for you to call up (correctly) at a moment’s notice. Most of what you study in the hours leading up to the test will merely be noise in your head while you’re trying to focus on the exam.

Don’t eat anything weird
True story: A student of ours, knowing that fish is considered brain food, once visited a seafood buffet the night before she took the GMAT. Unfortunately, she came down with food poisoning that lasted into the next day, and (needless to say) she didn’t do as well as she was capable of performing on the exam. Straying far from your normal routine — especially when it comes to what you put in your body — is always a bad idea in the several days leading up to the test. Stick with what you and your body know!

Don’t take a practice test
The most valuable part of taking a practice test is that it gives you an accurate read on how well you’re doing, but it’s a mistake to only look at your final score. To really benefit from taking a practice test, you need to budget another couple of hours to review where you made mistakes and — this is crucial — to correct those mistakes while they’re still fresh in your mind. Again, you simply won’t have enough time to do this well, and to let all of those new lessons soak in before you take the test.

The absolute best thing you can do the night before the big day (and on the morning of the test) is to stick to your normal schedule, get plenty of rest, and think happy thoughts. Stressed and tired rarely equal a great GMAT score; relaxed and confident often do. Focus on being the portrait of those last two adjectives, and you’ll set yourself up for success on test day.

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