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10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying

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10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 09 Dec 2011, 13:15
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10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying

While studying is obviously the single greatest way to increase your score, these are the 10 most important (but often overloooked) test taking tips that should be considered while studying. These can not only get you those 10-100 extra points you're looking for without ANY extra studying, but also help you put together the strongest application. Many people forget about the physical, mental, and logistical aspects of the GMAT... this post should serve as your reminder:

Have suggestions to add to this thread? Please PM me.


1. ALWAYS take full length practice tests
Always take the full 30 minutes on the AWA and IR. If you never practice the essays, the last hour of the actual test will be torture. Plus, your score on that test will not be representative of your actual score. You just cheated, skipped the AWA. Are you going to do that on test day? I sure hope not, becuase there is no situation where that makes sense.

2. Don't forget the AWA and test day photo
Did you know that if requested the schools you've selected to see your scores can also read your essays and see your test day photo? Although I would assume it would be rare, consider what you're writing in your essays and how you look on test day. From the sholders up you should try to at least look decent. Also, make sure your essays don't hit any topics that could be looked at negatively if read by an Adcom.

3. Try to study in 1-2 hour chunks with 8 minute breaks
Studying in this fashion will help mold your work into a test day environment. On Sat and Sun I would study 5-6 hours with 1.5 hour chunks and 8 minute breaks. Stamina went through the roof! Increasing stamina can be the one area, if overlooked, that can affect even the most prepared of test takers.

4. Wear earplugs while studying and on test day
This is a key componant many forget: On test day you have a room full of other people! You're not going to be in your mom's quite basement with a 40 inch computer monitor (great visual! haha). All these people will be going in and out of the room, all on different test schedules than you. Buy some earplugs and wear them during your practice tests and study sessions. Get used to what it feels like, sounds like, to have them in. DON'T take them out during the real test day breaks. It is in your best interest to not hear anything around you, and only care about what you need to do. Think tunnel vision, with a 700+ at the end of that tunnel

5. During breaks get the blood moving
Jump around, move your legs, arms, hands, stretch out your muscles, do some push ups. I know this might feel weird, but go the bathroom on ALL breaks and before your test, do all of these exercises and get the blood moving. It will rejuvinate you physically and mentally. Get your face up on the mirorr and say "YOU'RE GOING TO KILL THIS TEST". Then kick the door open, give the test proctor the double guns "what up" and a wink, and get back to your test.

6. FORGET ABOUT THE PREVIOUS SECTION
Seriously, forget about it. Everybody tries to guess how they did, or feels like they did good or bad on the last section (especially quant). First, IT DOESN'T MATTER ANYMORE. Your score is in the books and on a CAT test there is no way to really know how you did. Second, the verbal section is the biggest opportunity on the test to drive your score! FREAKING FORGET ABOUT IT! I've tried "guessing" how I did on a section and it doesn't matter, it's a stamina killer, and you're usually wrong. On test day I felt good on the Quant, and thought I blew the verbal. Go figure that it was the exact opposite. Buuut, my high verbal drove my overall score over 700. How many times have you read on these forums about how something got into someone's head, and they felt it affected their performance? Well, when i read that, it makes me think they are not mentally strong. When you are mentally strong, you force those thoughts out of your head, and move onto the next question... your next opportunity to take your score to the next level.

7. Don't forget about the last 5-10 verbal
I know, i know, you're ready to see your score right???? It can be hard to concentrate, but you have to. Do you want to see a 650 or a 700? Every problem is an opportunity to score big points. If you can string 5 correct answers at the end instead of missing all five, I wouldn't doubt that it could be a 50-100 point difference on test day. It is easy to click submit though when you just want to see your score. Don't miss this opportunity to put the GMAT behind you forever. Really practice this on your practice tests. Take that extra 10 seconds like you did on the first 30 verbal and get the answer right.

8. Visit the testing center before your test
Some of you may live 100s of miles from testing centers, so you may have an argument for not visiting the testing center. But for everyone else, you have NO reason not to check it out. This may be one of the most overlooked opportunities to familiarize yourself with your testing environment. People go to great lengths to have great practice tests. Why wouldn't they check out the center? I would go in, meet the lady at the front desk, ask her about your test and anything important you should know. On test day, the proctor might even remember you and put you at the best seat in the house. You never know! But wouldn't you want that advantage? Plus, you'll know how to get there, you'll know where the bathrooms are, and there will be so many intangible advantages gained by this trip.

9. Know exactly what you're going to eat and drink on test day
You should litterally know exactly what you are going to eat, how much you are going to drink, and how long it will take you. I had it down to a science. I knew what I was going to have for breakfast and how much I would drink with that meal and how long before I had to use the restroom. I practiced on all of my practice tests also. During the breaks I limited myself to only 4 oz of water, knowing that I would not get the urge in the middle of the test. You need to know your body, so that none of these factors distract you on test day. For example, if you've never worn earplugs and decided not to eat the morning of your test, then you're going to hear you stomach rumpling like thunder inside your body. You need to know how you're going to react to EVERYTHING.

10. Leave your cell phone and notes in the car
While this doesn't gain you any points on test day, it will keep you from making the most common and most serious test taking mistake. If you get caught with notes or a cell phone during the test, regardless if you are using them, you can be dismissed and have a "P" for policy violation put on your score report. You will lose your $250, and have to wait to take the test again. Plus you will have to deal with this on your score report, and explain to adcoms that you don't follow directions. Don't be one of these people.

<Added 12/11/11>
11. Learn how to use a scratch pad, and how to use it to the best of your advantage on testday
So many of you may not know this, but you are not allowed to use pen or paper on test day. No pen and paper you say!? Yes, the GMAT uses what is called a scratch pad. It is basically a legal (11x14 inch) laminated dry erase booklet with a wet erase pen. I recommend that all of you purchase onet. There are many out there, but this is the one I purchased: MGMAT Scratch Pad. If you've never practiced on a scratch pad it will be a huge disadvantage. There are many differences to pen and paper. Also, you will learn how much a quant section will take up, and you'll learn when you need to switch out pads on test day. I got a new pad after the AWA and Quant because I knew I would need every inch of it for quant (b/c I write large) and it really paid off on test day. You don't want to be searching around on the pad and looking for space. You will also learn that your finger is the eraser. If you make a mistake you will have to wipe it away with your finger, or cross out. Just do youself a favor, buy a scratch pad, and eliminate another test day variable.

<Added 12/15/11>
12. Visualize test day success
This is a technique used by many world class athletes. Visualize your success on the big day. Imagine yourself getting every problem right, seeing questions you know, pumping your fist when you see your dream score, walking out of the test center and telling all your friends and family your success, and even writing you debrief on GMATclub. Seriously, the psychological effects of visualization can be profound in building confidence and keeping a clear mind. It's the self-fulfilling prophecy. When you are doing practice tests and on the big day, imagine seeing that score you want, pumping your fist, and saying goodbye to the GMAT forever. Using this technique could help give you that confidence boost to push you to the next level on test day!

<Added 3/20/12>
13. Choose Your Test Time & Day to Set Yourself Up for Test Day Success
So are you a morning person? How is your test taking ability on Saturday? Can your brain function at 8:00am? These are alllll questions you should ask yourself when you sign up for the GMAT. You should not only be trying to figure out what time fits best in your schedule, but also what time works best for you mentally. The general advice for the BEST time for the MOST amount of people to take the test is on Monday morning. Either 8:00am or 9:00am depending on the testing center. This is because you have the whole weekend to relax/easy study, and then Monday your brain is usually prepared for the work week. This is the time I would suggest to anyone.

The funny thing is, most commonly Saturdays and Fridays are the first days to fill up! Why??? Because people don't want to miss work, and people want days that make sense in their work week. Try to forget about the days you work, and try to figure out when your brain works BEST. You should book this time regardless of what day it falls on because taking one day off of work is worth never having to take this test again! So book your test day and time to help give you the best shot to score your top score. Once you have this test date booked, try to take your practice tests on this day and time if possible, but if not, make sure to atleast take practice tests on the same time of different days to get used to the timing.


After practicing many of these techniques, test day stamina and the environment should not be an issue. In fact, it could be a huge advantage. Imagine those 1000s of people, blowing their test, and remember that you're a GMAT dragon slayer. You are going to slay that dragon, while all the others are getting burned by its fire. Every time you use one of these techniques, your leaving 1000s of other test takers in your dust! There are so many unknowns that you can't control on test day, including the test, but all of these factors are within your control! Take advantage, and don't leave points on the table because you didn't. Plus, these don't require any extra studying, only correct studying.

BEST OF LUCK ON TEST DAY!
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Last edited by GMATLA on 11 Dec 2011, 06:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 10 Dec 2011, 12:19
great post, I'm printing it now

kudos to you
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 11 Dec 2011, 06:33
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So I would like to add an 11th tip! This a key tip, that I used from day one. It was tremondously helpful on test day:

11. Learn how to use a scratch pad, and how to use it to the best of your advantage on testdaySo many of you may not know this, but you are not allowed to use pen or paper on test day. No pen and paper you say!? Yes, the GMAT uses what is called a scratch pad. It is basically a legal (11x14 inch) laminated dry erase booklet with a wet erase pen. I recommend that all of you purchase onet. There are many out there, but this is the one I purchased: MGMAT Scratch Pad. If you've never practiced on a scratch pad it will be a huge disadvantage. There are many differences to pen and paper. Also, you will learn how much a quant section will take up, and you'll learn when you need to switch out pads on test day. I got a new pad after the AWA and Quant because I knew I would need every inch of it for quant (b/c I write large) and it really paid off on test day. You don't want to be searching around on the pad and looking for space. You will also learn that your finger is the eraser. If you make a mistake you will have to wipe it away with your finger, or cross out. Just do youself a favor, buy a scratch pad, and eliminate another test day variable.
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 11 Dec 2011, 09:01
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I could not agree more with #2. I went to test day with my 2.5 week old "study beard", and later while reading the fine print of my official score report, found out that my unabomber-esque mug shot from the testing center was being sent to HBS, Dartmouth, Kellogg, Wharton, and Booth. At least I smiled! Perhaps I should work the mountain man, survivalist angle in my applications?
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 13 Dec 2011, 10:43
You hit on a really important point... know how your body reacts to everything... i remember rushing through my 2nd awa because i needed to use the restroom that badly... do not ask me why i didnt plan better... i was 21 and stupid :)
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2011, 17:25
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10. Leave your cell phone and notes in the car
While this doesn't gain you any points on test day, it will keep you from making the most common and most serious test taking mistake. If you get caught with notes or a cell phone during the test, regardless if you are using them, you can be dismissed and have a "P" for policy violation put on your score report. You will lose your $250, and have to wait to take the test again. Plus you will have to deal with this on your score report, and explain to adcoms that you don't follow directions. Don't be one of these people.

I got caught in this situation back in Sept during the 8 minute break between the math and verbal section. Went to get a snack out of my bag and while moving stuff touched, my cell phone accidently and the proctor immediately called me out on it and suspended my exam. Upset/shock/scared arent even words to describe what I felt. My score report was canceled and I have a "P" on my score report for that date. I'm super nervous about submitting applications b/c of that and am I struggling for ways to appropriately address this to the adcom in the 4th essay. I obviously had no intention of cheating or anything like that, I simply touched my phone to get my snack and automatic violation. I should have put the phone in the zip pocket, took the snacks out of the bag before going in to take the test, etc etc etc in retrospect. But now that I have this on my record, I have to deal with it. Any advice would be greatly appreciate :-/
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 14 Dec 2011, 21:55
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Well, this is definitely a bummer of a situation. In your case, you weren't cheating or trying to get an advantage, but instead you broke a rule. This is one of the most publicised rules, so unfortunately even though a minor offense, you've been convicted of not following directions. I don't believe adcoms would assume you were a liar, cheat, or unethical (unless something else in app points to that??). Here's another thread on this topic: gmat-misconduct-got-kicked-out-from-test-106642.html

The best you can do is be 100% truthful. Honesty is the best policy. Plus adcoms love candidates that "overcome, face adversity, and get things done". You really just have to keep it short and sweet and try to show how you overcame this adversity professionally and went about retaking the test. I would take full ownership for your mistake, and explain the situation. The shorter the better. I personally had to address an F on my transcript b/c of a class I took. It wasn't fun, but I retook the class the following semester and got an A. It was truly just a horrible midterm. What can you do? This is what the optional essay is for. You really have to take this opportunity to continue to sell yourself. Show how you've learned from this situation and what you did to overcome it. You're not writing your own obituary, it's an opportunity to sell sell sell. I think you're making too much of it. This isn't going to keep you out of schools if you address it and minimize damage, it's just a blip on the radar that needs to be explained.

Don't let it get you down too much because what's done is done. Now its time to put together the best application YOU can! This mistake will not keep you from achieving you goals, and hopefully one day you can look back and laugh at this snafu. So few people have the "perfect" application, and wish they could change aspects, this is just something you will have to overcome and address in the optional essay. These types of things are what that essay is for right? Best of luck! PS, come back and follow up with an outcome whenever apps have played out.
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2011, 11:56
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good piece of information :)
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2011, 19:57
GMATLA, great help buddy...thanx a ton,,
this post of urs is worth 5 kudos n i wish i could give u that many ....lol..
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2011, 20:25
great post
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 15 Dec 2011, 22:41
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So I'd like to add another! I know I know, 12 is wayyy to many, but I have to admit, they all help on test day:

12. Visualize test day success
This is a technique used by many world class athletes. Visualize your success on the big day. Imagine yourself getting every problem right, seeing questions you know, pumping your fist when you see your dream score, walking out of the test center and telling all your friends and family your success, and even writing you debrief on GMATclub. Seriously, the psychological effects of visualization can be profound in building confidence and keeping a clear mind. It's the self-fulfilling prophecy. When you are doing practice tests and on the big day, imagine seeing that score you want, pumping your fist, and saying goodbye to the GMAT forever. Using this technique could help give you that confidence boost to push you to the next level on test day!
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2011, 09:03
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@GMATLA
Excellent post! I very much agree with you that there are many aspiring GMAT-ers who are focusing 100% on problems and leaving some of these other areas out. Thank you for pointing out that the experiential preparation is nearly as important as the content reviews and practice problems we all expect to work on.

One additional point to add on to your considerations on stamina:
You and I have exchanged some messages on this point in other topics, but to reiterate - stamina also means not checking the answer of each problem during your practice sets. I think many folks do this - I get it, you want to know if you're correct or not - but this disrupts your rhythm.
I believe that once you get near to test date, the most effective practice mechanism is doing problems in test-like sets (37-41) without breaks or checking answers.
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2011, 09:45
great post gmatla
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2011, 14:19
@LadyRoadWarrior

This is absolutely true. You definitely want to string practice problems together as opposed to doing 1 problem then reviewing the answer. Reviewing the answer immediately may give you gratification, but it will keep you from learning about test day stamina. I would definitely recommend stringing together questions during practice whenever possible. 10-20-30-40 problems at a time. I know this can be tough, but it definitely builds stamina and helps with test day conditions. For instance, do 10 math problems at once, and set a 20 minute timer... it will help with timing and stamina. Generally give yourself 2 minutes per math problem, 1:30 seconds per SC, and 2 min for CR (depends on passage size and length for RC). Also, make sure that you mix in other problem types. On test day you won't get 20 SC questions in a row, but instead SC, CR, and RC. Same with math, make sure to do DS and PS when possible. On test day, you won't get 20 PS problems in a row.

This is one of the reasons why I feel that people find the GMATclub tests so helpful. They are like a full quant section, they force you to time yourself, and force you to not check the answers until your done. They also help b/c they often very challenging problems.

So with these extra tips in mind, good luck with the studying!
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2011, 19:44
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Thanks for some great tips!!
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 16 Dec 2011, 21:18
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@ GMATLA
Great contribution and tips. +1
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 23 Dec 2011, 11:17
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Awesome post. I love 12 especially.
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2011, 23:43
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I am going to KILL this test! I love it! Kudos!
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2012, 11:07
Taking regular restroom breaks certainly helps between various sections even if you don't need one. It provides your body a bit of motion and also distracts your mind out of exam room. Try to avoid any discussions during the break to avoid loosing focus. I still haven't appeared for exam but have done prometric tests and it really helps me.
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Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2012, 19:38
great POST!
It will help me a lot for the last week!!!
Re: 10 Tips to Improve Your Score & App With NO Extra Studying   [#permalink] 06 Jan 2012, 19:38
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