A lot of us experience anxiety whenever we take up a new task or are subject to an unfamiliar environment. In the GMAT, considering that the stakes are high, it is common to suffer from test anxiety which is likely to adversely affect your output. Anxiety management may not completely take care of the pre-test jitters but can surely go a long way towards reducing your stress and improving your performance.


Here are a few tips that may prove handy:

  1. Be Confident It is good to aim high but remember that the GMAT is not the only qualifying criteria to get into a good B-school. You can work harder on the other elements and present an impressive application. So, do not burden yourself by aiming for unrealistic or extremely high scores.

Remember that the GMAT can be taken multiple times and the highest score is considered for the MBA application. So even if you do not perform well in the first attempt, there’s always a second chance. While retaking the GMAT or XAT, you would have already gone through the whole process once and would be in a better position to handle your anxieties.

With a better GMAT preparation strategy, you have a good chance to score higher. Do not get pressured with thoughts about what others will think if you get a low GMAT score. You can perform better when you leave behind all the baggage (literally and figuratively) at the door and enter your exam hall with a fresh mind and an empty bladder. Be positive, have faith in yourself and think that you will do your best.

  1. Exercise Exercise not just keeps you physically fit but reduces stress as well. So it’s good if you can take some time off for this in your daily schedule.

Work out a sweat, but that doesn’t mean you kill yourself by enrolling in that upcoming marathon. Exercise till you reach the feel-good state as opposed to I’m-gonna-collapse-somebody-pick-me-up-and-take-me-home state.

  1. Get Familiar with What to Anticipate on the Test Day Read the information provided on the official GMAT website (mba.com) thoroughly. It provides all the information you need about how things are at the exam, and the various rules and regulations. This has also been documented in the form of a video on YouTube. The video is titled ‘GMAT Test Center – A Guide to Success when taking the GMAT.’

Make sure you see it a few times. Familiarity with the process itself can help relieve a lot of test-related anxiety.

  1. Keep Your Handy Stuff Ready Keep your bag ready beforehand. Make a final checklist of what to take along and what to avoid. Keep your documents and IDs ready. Also carry along a light snack (maybe a cereal bar or some fruit) that you would like to have during your short breaks. Keep a list of at least five schools ready where you would wish to forward your GMAT scores without any fee. Thereafter you would be charged for any additional school you wish to forward your scores to.
  1. Be in Good Shape for the Test Prepare a planner for your GMAT study routine. If you are working, try squeezing out at least one or two hours in the morning before you go to work and a few hours in the evening if possible. If that’s difficult and you’re entirely dependent on your weekends, make it a point to keep a dedicated time on the weekends for studying. Time management should be done efficiently so that you are able to cover the entire GMAT syllabus and solve sufficient practice questions. Devote additional time for your weak areas where you can improve with practice.

Follow a structured approach and stick to a regular study regime; leave time towards the end for practice tests. This would help you get used to the test format and the lengthy duration. Take the sample tests provided free of cost by mba.com towards the end which would simulate the actual GMAT exam. This would also give an idea of how well prepared you are and what score to expect.

  1. Relax and Rest Now you know that you are all set, so just take your mind off the test and relax. Preferably, be done with it all and keep the last two to three days before the exam as stress-free as possible. If you feel you’re too restless, try doing meditation. Practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques, which would also help you maintain your cool during the GMAT test.


Speaking of tips, while some of the GMAT preparation sites have good practical advice, a whole lot of them come up with gems that make you go… hmmm, not so elementary, Dr Watson! Here’s a sampling of some often-beaten-to-death GMAT preparation tips that might seem familiar, maybe because you’ve read some of them elsewhere

  • Practice a lot before you take the real test

This is just to discourage those who were planning to explore the wonderful world of Computer Adaptive Testing on the day of the test.

  • Pace yourself well through the test And just to clarify, we aren’t talking about treadmills or spot jogging.
  • Don’t waste your time during the test Which roughly translates to: no ogling at the babe on the next computer, no Sudoku practice and definitely no push-ups to firm up your pectoral muscles. All that can wait till you’ve completed the test.
  • Get enough rest before the exam What this means is you need to avoid highly strenuous activities the night before and avoid performance-enhancing products, including those that start with V and end up at Agra.
  • Avoid distractions and focus on your PC

Interpretation: Avoid looking at the answers being selected by the guy-on-the-adjacent-PC. His answers (or for that matter, questions) will not be the same as yours.

  • Be alert during the test

Don’t leave your footwear at the door. You’ll spend less time worrying (about whether the guy who completed the course before you will walk away with your new Reeboks) and more time focussing on the test.

  • Wear comfortable clothes for the test

Meaning: No Batman, Superman or any other superhero costumes that involve wearing outerwear before innerwear.

Most books and websites resort to a little bit of fluff and padding here and there to beef up the content. But when the fluff exceeds the real useful content, it’s time to move on to another site.

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