Most of you, after months of careful study, know what to expect on test day in terms of GMAT content. However, it also important to know what to expect when you arrive at the Pearson Center for your GMAT test day. Just as you have learned and practiced GMAT strategies, you should have a plan for handling your breaks and using your noteboard (the odd beast that stands in for scratch paper) wisely.
When you first arrive at the Pearson Center, you will use your ID to check in and register a digital scan of the vein patterns in your palm. Next, you will place all of you personal items in a locker. This includes ID’s, watches, phones, wallets, keys, and even tissues. You will not be able to bring anything with you into the testing room, and you will not be able to access these items during breaks in the test.
Once you are ready to get started, you will again scan your palm at the door to the testing room, and you will be assigned a computer on which to take your exam. Any time you re-enter the test room you will need to provide a palm scan to prove you are still the same person.
Once seated, you will begin the GMAT, but keep in mind that other test takers will not be starting at the exact same time as you. Some will be in the middle of their exams when you begin, and some may start after you. Furthermore, some test takers will be taking tests other than the GMAT. This means that everyone’s breaks will be at different times. While no one will talk in the testing room, be ready for people to move around while you are taking your exam. The proctor will offer you noise-canceling headphones when you arrive. These can help to minimize these distractions, but you may want to take one of your GMAT practice tests with headphones to get used to the sound of your breathing. It can be a bit distracting…you might sound a bit like Darth Vader.
Your breaks will be 8 minutes long and are optional (though we do recommend that you take the mental and physical breaks that they offer.) But be careful: the test will start without you if you are not back in time. Remember that you have some time-consuming security hoops to jump through to get back to the computer, so make sure you don’t take too long of a break. Remember to locate the bathrooms before you start your exam, so that you can find them quickly once you are on your break.
Finally, you will be given four bound, double-sided wet erase sheets and a wet erase pen (very different from the pencil or pen and paper you may have been practicing with!) If you run out of room you can request a new set of sheets. To do so you must raise your hand, and the proctor will bring a new set to you and take away your used set. Since this process takes time, you want to minimize how often you trade. The best move is to always trade during the breaks so that it doesn’t take up any of your test time. Additionally, you may want to switch sets once in the middle of the quantitative section. You should try not to trade out your scratch sheets during any of the other sections.
The vast majority of your prep time should be on GMAT content, but you don’t want to run into unnecessary test day stress because you are not ready for all of the rules at the Pearson Center, so make time to prepare yourself for some of the test day business that you need to expect.
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