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How do you deal with mental fatigue?

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How do you deal with mental fatigue? [#permalink]

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New post 04 Feb 2017, 22:04
I just finished (my first!) practice test today and by the time I was starting verbal, my brain was tired! Anyone have any tips (or even food recommendations for break time) to help stay focused throughout?

I realize it'll become easier as I take more exams- but I want the length of the exam/focus time required to be a non-issue come test day.
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How do you deal with mental fatigue? [#permalink]

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New post 04 Feb 2017, 22:34
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omizzle wrote:
I just finished (my first!) practice test today and by the time I was starting verbal, my brain was tired! Anyone have any tips (or even food recommendations for break time) to help stay focused throughout?

I realize it'll become easier as I take more exams- but I want the length of the exam/focus time required to be a non-issue come test day.


You can browse through the internet for the foods to help you feel energetic throughout the exam.
Many prefer sugar/sweet foods to give energy and also fruits such as oranges during the break to retain the energy level.
But most important thing is this is the most common issue that you will face in any exam(i.e., feeling exhaustion by the end), so you need to give more practice exams in-order to get accustomed to that pattern.
Diet can play a minor role but aspects such as stress, concentration and mindset play a major role in the test.
For non-natives like me, I feel a natural aversion out of fear by the time i come to verbal section of GMAT exam. :)
So just relax and get used to it.
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Re: How do you deal with mental fatigue? [#permalink]

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New post 04 Feb 2017, 22:42
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Welcome to GMAT Club!

I am not sure that you ever really breeze through the test. It's always been a gut punch for me. I am dead after the practice test, esp if I did the AWA and IR. Many will skip them at first but ideally you want to do them every time so you know how it feels by the time you reach the last section.

I took a break between Quant and Verbal and splashed some cold water on my face to wake my body up jolt it into one last battle (it is officially called a diver reflex, i believe). Folks suggest sugary foods/etc - there are a number of discussions (if you search) that touch food in particular - both for prep and at the test center. You can do some push ups to get blood flowing as well but don't get carried away ;-)

My suggestion would be to have a 2-prong approach - not only figure out how not to get fatigued, but also figure out what to do when you do get there (because you will). This is where you can gain some points very easily!
  • Drawing grids for eliminating answer choices
  • Doing quick checks for careless errors we all make when tired (esp. on quant 16 - 5 = 9).
  • Know your weak spots - you are basically anticipating yourself screwing up on a question (e.g. OK, I often mess up these double-negative weaken questions - here is one, so I am going to do a last check and diagram it to make sure I actually got it right)

You just took your first test, so these things are not that helpful to you, but keep them in mind!
Make sure you have a good set of books or a course (MGMAT Guides are kind of the default these days, and there are others).

Good Luck!
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Re: How do you deal with mental fatigue? [#permalink]

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New post 05 Feb 2017, 00:57
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First of all, you are right. It'll become easier as you give more exams. That's the key. Keep going!

My take-aways on dealing with mental fatigue from my prep till now:

1) Reduce mental friction during your Preparation: Work on your basics and make sure you have mastered an approach for every question type. This will help you in reducing that mental friction (which adds to the overall fatigue). What happens when you work on questions randomly is that you keep re-reading the stem or answer choices. Especially in Verbal because you are not really writing a lot unlike Quant. You need to be clear in Verbal about when you are 'looking' at the question v/s when you are 'working' on the question. This will happen by having a systemic approach and 'active thinking'. Once you make Verbal your friend you will actually feel a bit energetic to go through that last huddle.

2) Dress rehearsal/Visualization/ Stamina building- Re-create the exact test scenario as much as possible. Don't skip AWA/IR (especially in the first few mocks), eat the food you will eat during breaks, test your pacing strategy, try and wear similar clothes, keep some buffer (eg: if there is a brief check before re-entering test room), etc. Basically this is your time to experiment and find your 'ideal' routine. At the same time, don't get too rigid about it all too. Expect that something will change and there will be 'variables' every time. (In my 2nd attempt, there was a 1.5 hour delay as the server wasn't responding and they had to wait to restart it till all the current test-takers took a break. So you can't plan for that :P ) Also, you can visit the test centre. The less anxiety or uncertainty you have, better it is. As anxiety is a subjective thing so you have to be your own best judge on this.

3) Work on your physical health- Exercise and eat right towards the build up of the test day. This will contribute towards the 4 hour marathon. Its always better to not be coughing or sneezing during those 4 hours.

4) Utilize breaks- My way is: I eat 1 or 2 bananas with honey and black/himalayan salt ---> drink water ---> go to the loo ---> splash cold water on my face ---> try to relax my eyes ---> stretch a bit and look at the bigger picture/gain some context (briefly think what just happened and what's next). I try to finish all this in 5-6 minutes. Breaks can help you re-energize. So design your way of working through the break.

Also, do what BB said :) Set up your scratch pad, avoid careless mistakes, know yourself.
Here is a good article on setting up your scratch pad: https://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/blog ... tch-paper/
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Re: How do you deal with mental fatigue? [#permalink]

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New post 05 Feb 2017, 13:07
Hi omizzle,

Many Test Takers face fatigue 'issues' during their studies and/or on Test Day, so you're not alone. You can train to face those issues though (much in the same way that you train to face anything else that you'll face on Test Day) - but it will take some time and a bit of 'experimentation' on your part. Before I can offer you the specific advice that you’re looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) How long have you studied?
2) What materials have you used?
3) How did you score on this CAT (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores)?
4) Did you take the FULL CAT (with the Essay and IR sections)?

Goals:
5) What is your goal score?
6) When are you planning to take the GMAT?
7) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
8) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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Re: How do you deal with mental fatigue? [#permalink]

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New post 06 Feb 2017, 05:55
omizzle wrote:
I just finished (my first!) practice test today and by the time I was starting verbal, my brain was tired! Anyone have any tips (or even food recommendations for break time) to help stay focused throughout?

I realize it'll become easier as I take more exams- but I want the length of the exam/focus time required to be a non-issue come test day.



I would say try to practice as many CATs as possible. For CAT 1 and 2 take a long break between quant and verbal. for CATs 3 and 4 try to reduce the break time to about 30 mins to recover. For your last 2 CATs aim for only 8 mins break between the 2 to simulate the actual test conditions. Practice, practice, practice.
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Re: How do you deal with mental fatigue? [#permalink]

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New post 08 Feb 2017, 11:52
Also, your energy on test day will be heightened just from the adrenaline of the real event. I was always pretty tired after doing practice exams, but didn't get the same sense of fatigue on test day. The 8 min breaks really help (and definitely have snacks and water! Water was key for me -- I ended up having to run to the bathroom a lot, but it was worth it, as it really helps with fatigue and sharpening focus).
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Re: How do you deal with mental fatigue? [#permalink]

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New post 09 Feb 2017, 20:30
Definitely utilize breaks -- walk around, drink water, splash water on your face...I even did jumping jacks during breaks to wake myself up a bit and give myself more energy.
Re: How do you deal with mental fatigue?   [#permalink] 09 Feb 2017, 20:30
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