GMAT Test-Day Tips: What to Expect and How to Stay Calm

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a crucial examination for individuals seeking admission to graduate business programs worldwide. To perform your best on the GMAT, it's essential not only to prepare thoroughly but also to know what to expect on test day and how to stay calm under pressure. In this guide, we will provide you with valuable tips to help you navigate GMAT test day successfully.

What to Expect on GMAT Test Day

 1. Test Center Arrival

- Arrive Early: Plan to arrive at the test center at least 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This buffer allows time for check-in procedures.

- Check-In Process: When you arrive, you'll need to provide identification, have your photo taken, and agree to GMAT test policies.

 2. Test Format

- Computer-Adaptive Test (CAT): The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test, meaning the difficulty of the questions adjusts based on your performance. You'll answer one question at a time, and your score is determined as you progress through the exam.

- Sections: The GMAT consists of four main sections: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Quantitative, and Verbal. The AWA section is followed by an optional break, and then you complete the remaining sections.

 3. Breaks

- Optional Break: You can take an optional 8-minute break between the AWA and IR sections. Use this time to rest, refocus, and recharge.

- Unscheduled Breaks: Unscheduled breaks are not allowed during the other sections. You must complete each section in one go.

 4. Test Timing

- AWA: You have 30 minutes to complete one essay task in the AWA section.

- IR: The IR section is 30 minutes long and contains 12 questions.

- Quantitative and Verbal: Each of these sections is 62 minutes long and contains multiple-choice questions.

 5. Computer Interface

- Familiarize Yourself: Before starting the test, spend a few moments to familiarize yourself with the computer interface, including how to navigate through questions, review and change answers, and use the on-screen calculator.

 6. Scoring

- Unofficial Score: At the end of the GMAT, you will receive an unofficial score for the Quantitative and Verbal sections. However, your AWA and IR scores will not be included in this initial report.

- Official Score Report: You will receive your official GMAT score report, including AWA and IR scores, within two weeks of the test date.

 How to Stay Calm on GMAT Test Day

Test anxiety is common, but it can be managed effectively with the right strategies. Here's how to stay calm during the GMAT:

 1. Preparation Is Key

- Thorough Study: Be confident in your preparation. Thoroughly review all GMAT sections and question types.

- Practice Tests: Take multiple full-length practice tests to simulate test-day conditions. This helps you become accustomed to the time constraints and the computer interface.

 2. Sleep and Nutrition

- Rest: Ensure you get a good night's sleep before the test. Sleep is essential for cognitive function and focus.

- Healthy Eating: Eat a balanced breakfast on the day of the test to fuel your brain. Avoid heavy or overly sugary foods, which can lead to energy crashes.

 3. Relaxation Techniques

- Deep Breathing: Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your nerves. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth.

- Visualize Success: Visualize yourself confidently answering questions and performing well on the GMAT. Positive visualization can boost your confidence.

 4. Time Management

- Pacing: During the test, pay attention to your pacing. Don't get stuck on a single question; if you're unsure, make an educated guess and move on. Come back to it later if needed.

- Watch the Clock: Keep an eye on the time remaining for each section to ensure you stay on track.

 5. Stay Positive

- Positive Self-Talk: Maintain a positive mindset. Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations like "I am well-prepared" or "I can handle this."

- Accept Imperfection: Remember that you don't need to answer every question correctly to achieve a high score. Focus on doing your best.

 6. Focus on the Task at Hand

- Stay Present: Concentrate on the question in front of you. Avoid thinking about previous questions or worrying about upcoming sections.

- Use the On-Screen Calculator: For the Quantitative section, use the provided on-screen calculator to assist with calculations.

 7. Post-Test Mindset

- Stay Calm: Regardless of how you feel you performed, remain calm and composed after the test. Avoid dwelling on your performance; it's over, and you can't change it.

- Look Forward: Shift your focus to your next steps, such as sending score reports to schools and preparing application materials.


Remember that GMAT test day is just one step in your journey toward graduate business school. Stay confident in your abilities, trust your preparation, and use these tips to keep anxiety at bay. With a clear head and solid preparation, you can achieve your best score and move forward in your academic and career aspirations. Good luck!