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Dealing with Exam Anxiety

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New post 16 Mar 2019, 19:13
I am a few days from my GMAT. I am targetting a score between 680 and 700. It would be nice to get a higher score than 700, but that would be more like just a bonus, since the schools I will be applying for have average GMAT scores of 650 to 670. (I am also fully aware that the GMAT score is not the only factor for admission.)

I take one GMAT Prep Practice Exam about 5 to 7 days after the previous one. Here are the results:
CAT 1 - 590 (Q35, V36, IR4) - This is my diagnostic test, prior to any sort of review
CAT 2 - 690 (Q49, V35, IR5)
CAT 3 - 680 (Q49, V33, IR7)
CAT 4 - 710 (Q49, V39, IR7)

Although I know that I gave my all preparing for the test, I am nervous and could not get myself to calm down, and these could very well affect my performance on test day. Any tips that will help me boost self-confidence and battle anxiety on the actual GMAT?

Thanks!
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New post 16 Mar 2019, 20:09
cgbear wrote:
I am a few days from my GMAT. I am targetting a score between 680 and 700. It would be nice to get a higher score than 700, but that would be more like just a bonus, since the schools I will be applying for have average GMAT scores of 650 to 670. (I am also fully aware that the GMAT score is not the only factor for admission.)

I take one GMAT Prep Practice Exam about 5 to 7 days after the previous one. Here are the results:
CAT 1 - 590 (Q35, V36, IR4) - This is my diagnostic test, prior to any sort of review
CAT 2 - 690 (Q49, V35, IR5)
CAT 3 - 680 (Q49, V33, IR7)
CAT 4 - 710 (Q49, V39, IR7)

Although I know that I gave my all preparing for the test, I am nervous and could not get myself to calm down, and these could very well affect my performance on test day. Any tips that will help me boost self-confidence and battle anxiety on the actual GMAT?

Thanks!
Is there something that you've found helpful in such situations in the past? Maybe some music, a workout, time spent outside the house, or even something like yoga? :)

By the way, your GMATPrep scores are really good. All the best!
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New post 16 Mar 2019, 20:38
AjiteshArun wrote:
Is there something that you've found helpful in such situations in the past? Maybe some music, a workout, time spent outside the house, or even something like yoga? :)

By the way, your GMATPrep scores are really good. All the best!


Thanks for the reply!

I enjoy listening to music and spending some quiet time outdoors.

Should I squeeze in a few practice quizzes on the day before the exam, or will that only worsen my anxiety?
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New post 16 Mar 2019, 20:45
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Exam anxiety can throw even the most prepared test takers off balance. Therefore, the GMAT experts always recommend that practice tests be taken in ideal testing conditions so that the test day experience can be somehow replicated. That said, you should always mentally prepare your self for any kind of surprise. I personally recommend that you practice meditation or some kind of breathing exercises in the weeks following up to the test day. During the test, you should be calm & composed and not let your nerves get to you. Also, practice light exercises, anything that you are comfortable with, in the weeks following up to the test day.
Most importantly, please practice 3 questions from each of the 5 sections: PS, DS, SC, CR, and RC on the test day, before leaving for the test center. A total of 15 questions would oy take more that 30 mins. Doing so is highly recommended and you should develop that habit in your practice tests as well. All the best.

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New post 16 Mar 2019, 21:06
DisciplinedPrep wrote:
During the test, you should be calm & composed and not let your nerves get to you.


Do you have tips on how to attain this while taking the test?

DisciplinedPrep wrote:
Most importantly, please practice 3 questions from each of the 5 sections: PS, DS, SC, CR, and RC on the test day, before leaving for the test center. A total of 15 questions would oy take more that 30 mins. Doing so is highly recommended and you should develop that habit in your practice tests as well. All the best.


This is useful advice. I guess I would need some good warm-up. I'll keep this in mind.
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New post 17 Mar 2019, 00:39
cgbear wrote:
Thanks for the reply!

I enjoy listening to music and spending some quiet time outdoors.

Should I squeeze in a few practice quizzes on the day before the exam, or will that only worsen my anxiety?
A few questions before your exam should be fine: it'll be a bit of a warm-up. After all, it takes some time for any test taker to really get going, and it'd be good if a few inconsequential practice questions absorb some of the mental sluggishness you will undoubtedly feel before your exam.

As for your anxiety, keep in mind that you have a lot more control over this exam than over, say, a university exam. The worst that can happen here that you'll have to spend a little more time and another $250 to take the exam again. If you get the score you want, great. If you don't, you can cancel your score and no one but you will ever even get to know that you took the GMAT that day.
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New post 18 Mar 2019, 08:06
So I’m not sure whether you’ve already taken your GMAT, but here is some advice you can follow to reduce your anxiety before and during your actual GMAT.

Regarding test anxiety, one great way to combat your nerves is to develop a positive attitude and be confident. You’ve scored as high as a 710 on your official practice exam, right? So, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are pretty damn good at the GMAT!

To help manage your nerves, you could try some visualization techniques. Imagine various test-day scenarios such as getting stuck on a question, issues in the testing center, feeling pressed for time, or worrying that you’re underperforming. As you feel your stress responses start to kick in when thinking about these things, practice pulling yourself together and visualize focusing on getting correct answers.

When taking the GMAT, the best way to deal with stress is to get busy answering the question in front of you, focusing completely on the task at hand so that you redirect all of that nervous energy and naturally calm down. In other words, you distract yourself with a goal. Just tell yourself that all that matters is getting the correct answer to the question in front of you, and then when you have finished that question, take the same attitude toward the next one. Focus on winning each “mini-battle” and you won't have time for anxiety. If you can win enough of those battles, you can win the GMAT war, right?

Also, you may find it helpful to read this article about How to Eliminate GMAT Test-Day Anxiety.

Good luck with the GMAT, and let us know how things turn out.
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New post 22 Mar 2019, 02:05
So, I took the GMAT today and got a score of 640 (Q44, V33). It was very disheartening given that I was scoring 680 to 710 in my GMAT Prep mock exams. I wasn't extremely anxious or nervous today; however, I do admit I was not able to tackle some quant questions that appeared in the actual test, as they test some concepts that I have never encountered in my books, mock exams and quiz banks.

I'm willing to give the GMAT another shot, although I haven't determined yet how long I should prepare for my second attempt.
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New post 22 Mar 2019, 08:47
cgbear wrote:
So, I took the GMAT today and got a score of 640 (Q44, V33). It was very disheartening given that I was scoring 680 to 710 in my GMAT Prep mock exams. I wasn't extremely anxious or nervous today; however, I do admit I was not able to tackle some quant questions that appeared in the actual test, as they test some concepts that I have never encountered in my books, mock exams and quiz banks.

I'm willing to give the GMAT another shot, although I haven't determined yet how long I should prepare for my second attempt.
That's actually not a bad first score.

Your quant dropped quite a bit, but I'm not too sure about whether you got a lot of questions based on "new" concepts. What did you use in your prep, and which areas do you think you didn't get enough exposure to (broadly)? Also, you could get an ESR for this attempt. That might tell us something about what happened during your exam.
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New post 22 Mar 2019, 13:26
Hi cgbear

To start, a 640 is a solid score - and it could be enough to get you into your first-choice School. As such, a retest might not be necessary. That having been said, when these types of score drops occur, the two likely "causes" involve either something that was unrealistic during practice or something that was surprising (or not accounted for) on Test Day. Before we discuss those potential issues, 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 study materials have you used so far?

Goals:
3) What is your goal score?
4) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
5) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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New post 22 Mar 2019, 17:35
EMPOWERgmatRichC wrote:
Hi cgbear

To start, a 640 is a solid score - and it could be enough to get you into your first-choice School. As such, a retest might not be necessary. That having been said, when these types of score drops occur, the two likely "causes" involve either something that was unrealistic during practice or something that was surprising (or not accounted for) on Test Day. Before we discuss those potential issues, 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 study materials have you used so far?

Goals:
3) What is your goal score?
4) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
5) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich


I think it would be things not accounted for on Test Day. There were a few quant questions that were "different" from what I've been practicing, and I think I made poor guesses on those. For example, I mostly studied coordinate geometry focusing on lines, rectangles, and triangles. But on Test Day, the equation of a circle came out. I wasn't sure how to tackle that. There were also few twists on probability and work problems, types of questions that I know I have a good foundation in, but somehow could not arrive at any of the answer choices on the screen. I also encountered questions that looked similar to IR questions, so that threw me off a bit. I did finish the test on time, so the lower score in Quant could not have been a time penalty.

The test center environment may have had some impact, as well. In all my practice exams, I made sure to take them at a quiet place without distractions. On Test Day, however, the person who was sitting next to me kept on making exasperated sounds and sighs of frustration, while noisily and frequently shifting his position on his seat... I did lose my focus at times because of that, especially in RC passages.

Overall, I was not really nervous, contrary to what I expected, but on questions that got me stumped, I had poor judgment to eliminate answer choices. I need to revise those concepts that gave me a tough time on Test Day, before putting in more practice.

Anyway, here are my responses to your queries:
Studies:
1) How long have you studied?
I studied for almost three months, about 3 to 4 hours per day.

2) What study materials have you used so far?
I used OG 2019, OG Quantitative 2017, OG Verbal 2017, GMAT Official Prep Practice Tests, and GMAT Official Practice Questions. As for review courses, I enrolled in Target Test Prep, which did wonders to my Quant score, raising it from 35 to 48 or 49 in my practice tests. Even taking into account my score on Test Day, which was 44, I think that was a pretty good improvement. (On the very first time I attempted a GMAT test two years ago, I got a miserable 28 in it). Also, as a non-native speaker of English, I took the e-GMAT course.

Goals:
3) What is your goal score?
My goal score is a 690, because of my top school of choice, although four of the schools I have chosen have lower GMAT score averages than that. (See #5).

4) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
I'll be applying next year 2020 by round 1 application deadline. I'm taking the GMAT as early as now, since I'll be a LOT busy in the next few months until I take my MBA in 2021.

5) What Schools are you planning to apply to?
I'll be applying to University of Washington, National University of Singapore, and Nanyang Technological University. I also plan to apply to Japanese business schools, Waseda Business School and Hitotsubashi University, as I am pursuing intensive Japanese language studies outside of work.
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New post 23 Mar 2019, 01:22
Hey cgbear

I am in the same situation as you. I prepared so much but ended up with a disappointing 630. (V 37, Q 39). I am thinking of giving the exam again in the next 3 weeks time and focus my energies on quant which is my weak spot.
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New post 23 Mar 2019, 01:36
rnn wrote:
Hey cgbear

I am in the same situation as you. I prepared so much but ended up with a disappointing 630. (V 37, Q 39). I am thinking of giving the exam again in the next 3 weeks time and focus my energies on quant which is my weak spot.


Same. I'll re-take it probably in 3 weeks as well. I haven't lost hope, though. I wanted to nail the GMAT in one attempt, since it is quite costly, but it looks like it won't be that way.

Good luck in your studies!!

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New post 23 Mar 2019, 15:35
Hi cgbear

I've sent you a PM with some notes and additional questions.

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New post 23 Mar 2019, 18:02
AjiteshArun wrote:
cgbear wrote:
So, I took the GMAT today and got a score of 640 (Q44, V33). It was very disheartening given that I was scoring 680 to 710 in my GMAT Prep mock exams. I wasn't extremely anxious or nervous today; however, I do admit I was not able to tackle some quant questions that appeared in the actual test, as they test some concepts that I have never encountered in my books, mock exams and quiz banks.

I'm willing to give the GMAT another shot, although I haven't determined yet how long I should prepare for my second attempt.
That's actually not a bad first score.

Your quant dropped quite a bit, but I'm not too sure about whether you got a lot of questions based on "new" concepts. What did you use in your prep, and which areas do you think you didn't get enough exposure to (broadly)? Also, you could get an ESR for this attempt. That might tell us something about what happened during your exam.


Hello, here's my ESR: https://imgur.com/a/5N1Y0Xq?
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New post 25 Mar 2019, 07:16
cgbear wrote:
So, I took the GMAT today and got a score of 640 (Q44, V33). It was very disheartening given that I was scoring 680 to 710 in my GMAT Prep mock exams. I wasn't extremely anxious or nervous today; however, I do admit I was not able to tackle some quant questions that appeared in the actual test, as they test some concepts that I have never encountered in my books, mock exams and quiz banks.

I'm willing to give the GMAT another shot, although I haven't determined yet how long I should prepare for my second attempt.


Hi CGbear,

So the good news is that you’ve made an amazing improvement on the quant section - so nice job!

Regarding your retake, I know that we discussed some strategies of how to move forward, so I’ll PM you so we can discuss how things have been going with your study plan. With some more work, I think you can certainly hit a Q49 on the real test.
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New post 25 Mar 2019, 07:17
rnn wrote:
Hey cgbear

I am in the same situation as you. I prepared so much but ended up with a disappointing 630. (V 37, Q 39). I am thinking of giving the exam again in the next 3 weeks time and focus my energies on quant which is my weak spot.


Hi rnn,

Since you have been struggling with quant, are you looking for some advice on how to improve your GMAT quant skills?

In the meantime you may find it helpful to read this article about How To Increase Your GMAT Quant Score.

Good luck!
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New post 25 Mar 2019, 09:29
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Hi cgbear.

Given what your ESR says, you were pretty effective in RC. CR was your least strong verbal area. So, you may be able to get a serious score increase by doing some slow, careful CR training, so that you learn to more clearly define what makes the incorrect choices incorrect and the correct choices correct.

When I say "slow, careful training," I mean spend a lot of time on each practice question, seeking to see the details and understand the logic that makes the correct answer the only one that works.

As things stand, probably you are not seeing the logic of Critical Reasoning questions clearly enough, and so you are getting tricked into choosing trap choices that seem correct at first glance but actually don't answer the questions. By carefully analyzing dozens of CR questions - they can even be ones you have seen before - you can train yourself to see what you have to see in order to answer CR questions correctly.

Doing so could result in a 20 to 50 point increase in your total score.
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New post 27 Mar 2019, 02:40
MartyTargetTestPrep wrote:
Hi cgbear.

Given what your ESR says, you were pretty effective in RC. CR was your least strong verbal area. So, you may be able to get a serious score increase by doing some slow, careful CR training, so that you learn to more clearly define what makes the incorrect choices incorrect and the correct choices correct.

When I say "slow, careful training," I mean spend a lot of time on each practice question, seeking to see the details and understand the logic that makes the correct answer the only one that works.

As things stand, probably you are not seeing the logic of Critical Reasoning questions clearly enough, and so you are getting tricked into choosing trap choices that seem correct at first glance but actually don't answer the questions. By carefully analyzing dozens of CR questions - they can even be ones you have seen before - you can train yourself to see what you have to see in order to answer CR questions correctly.

Doing so could result in a 20 to 50 point increase in your total score.


Yes, it seems that I would need some serious CR training. Before, SC was really hurting my verbal score (average of 5 to 7 mistakes in practice tests), so I focused heavily on SC in the last few weeks before test day. SC did improve, but CR unfortunately suffered.

If you have any recommendation on which tools/materials I should use to improve CR, please do share it with me. Thanks!
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Re: Dealing with Exam Anxiety   [#permalink] 27 Mar 2019, 02:40

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