Sometimes you can study for hours and hours, weeks and weeks and still underperform on the actual exam compared with what you’ve seen in practice. Very often, this outcome is not reflective of your quant and verbal abilities, but rather weakness in some other factor that’s blocking you from achieving GMAT glory. Don’t get me wrong, many many hours of consistent study, practice, and review is the most important thing you can do to improve your score in general. Beyond studying, however, there are several other critical factors that may make or break your score on test day.
- Composure: anxiety and depressed thoughts kill free association abilities and working memory, and, with that, all hopes of problem solving. If you are anxious and not optimistic, you will find it difficult to do problems that you may have no problem cracking at home in a relaxed setting. Any kind of personal problems may cause you to lose focus and composure on the day of the test as well.
- Stamina: GMAT is a grueling, multi-hour affair. If your energy reserves are low, you may hit a wall at some point during the test. Proper nutrition, mental rest, and sleep leading up to the test, food intake the day of the test, and good cardio are all important in ensuring that you can supply your brain with delicious and plentiful sugars and oxygen that it needs to figure out those nasty algebraic equations.
- Timing: if your timing is off on a single question and you begin to rush through solutions, you may kill the rest of the test even though you did really well on your practice tests. Paying closer and more regular attention to the running clock, sacrificing enough difficult questions, and not going over time on any one question are some tips for managing time better on the GMAT.