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What to Do 3 Days before the GMAT (and what not to)

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What to Do 3 Days before the GMAT (and what not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jul 2018, 18:10
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What to do 3 days before the GMAT?


I get quite a few questions that sometimes surprise me. I am putting together this post to clarify the last minute questions and help everyone do better on the GMAT. I hope it also helps you prepare better to the 3-day point and you won't wait to read it until then. Most Important: 3 days before the test you should not be learning or trying anything new. Days before the test is not the time to adapt a new strategy, work on your timing or anything like that. There is just not enough time for you to be able to apply any of this without messing up on the actual test. If you don't want to mess up, don't do it. Simple. The last few days should be used to compose yourself, run through your checklists, double-check logistics, and reinforce any strategies. I will cover more of this below.

Things to do 3 days before the GMAT:


  1. Wind down and plan to take only 1 CAT in the next 3 days; perhaps just a day or two before the final test. The way athletes train for big competitions is they prepare their bodies to take more and more stress but the last few days before the competition, they take it easy so that they have a full “tank of gas” for the event. You should try to do the same. Take CAT’s up to 3 days before but then take it easy and start conserving your energy. You want to show up for the GMAT in top shape. Keep in mind that many people can’t sleep well the last night. Every failed story I read through, says how they were not able to sleep the last night and they blame it for their failure. That’s not accurate since nobody can sleep well the last night. Plan for this and make sure you have scheduled your GMAT for your most productive time (e.g. morning if you are a morning person).
  2. Try to take only the official GMAT Prep in the last 3 days. Save one if you can. Another reason not to take CAT’s at this point in time is that people save some of the weirdest/lowest quality CATs and then get a weird score that causes them to panic and doubt themselves, and do something different.
  3. At this point in time, you should NOT be learning anything new. Sounds counter-intuitive but that’s true. The time to do that was for 3 or 4 months beforehand. Your goal now is to improve and solidify your score by not panicking and having an organized plan on the test. The reason for this is that you have no time to “test” your new knowledge or to prove. A certain time before a software release, companies freeze their code and stop making changes/feature modifications – that’s the stage you are at – no more brain code changes ?
  4. Review your SC checklists
    • What to do if you can’t spot an error on the SC after reading it
    • Review any lists such as linking verbs, list of verbs followed by gerund, and those that are followed by the simple form
  5. Review your mistakes/Error log
    • Be on a lookout for traps – can you remember what they are? Make sure they are top of mind and you remember them for both Q and V. Pay attention to scope and know why all answer choices are incorrect (that’s a bigger part of learning in the Verbal section)
    • Look for questions that you struggle with (e.g. I had a hard time with Group 1, Group 2, both, and neither and just had to memorize a few questions and solutions). Make sure you still can solve these
  6. Review your timing strategies and checkpoints for how much time you should have left at various points in the test progress – e.g. at question 10, what should be your timing? (there is a table here if you need it)
  7. Plan to take a CAT a day or two before. There is little difference when you will take it – I took mine exactly 24 hrs before and simulated my test experience. I felt it was helpful but at the same time, it did not reveal any big flaws in my plan. I did wake up a little earlier the day before so it would be easier to go to bed the night before the test. I don’t know if it was, frankly. I was very nervous and a million thoughts were going through my mind.
  8. Make sure you know how you will approach the test, schools you will pick , which sections you will take first, and you have it all figured out and written down so you don’t stress on the test day.
  9. Do something fun – perhaps a hike or watch a movie (don’t do an extra strenuous workout – you will be tempted to since your energy levels will be high before the test – focus them on the test, you can do a hard workout another time). Try to disconnect from the social media and don't be a troll the day before the GMAT. You want to be distracted and your mind elsewhere, only occasionally going back and repeating your SC checklist or list of link verbs. My luck was that I had to travel to another city (my test center was booked full), so I was able to get distracted by being far away from friends and family and disrupting my routine, which I feel kept my mind fresher.


Things NOT to do 3 days before the GMAT - Everyone's Favorite :)


  1. Don't change your approach to CR/SC/PS/DS questions. I see almost no situation when a change this late in the game would be justified
  2. Don’t wear yourself out taking Tests or cramming. You only want to review, refresh, revisit things you already learned and know
  3. Dig out some new strategy for timing
  4. Scramble and decide that you will skip some questions because you still are not hitting your target score. If you are not hitting your target score, this should not be something you learn 3 or even 7 days before the test. You should not schedule your GMAT if you are not hitting your target score. You are fooling yourself only out of $250 if you think you will magically improve in the last few days.
  5. Don’t exhaust yourself or wear yourself out. Make sure you do some exercise instead or something new that lets your mind relax a bit. Maybe go hangout with friends and watch a movie (while I am sure you can hold your liquor, don’t go heavy on alcohol ?)
  6. Use common sense. Don’t sabotage yourself. No need for additional stress. Don’t schedule your test on the day of moving or anything like that.
  7. Don't be like one of the guys posting a debrief that they are surprised with a 500. Going into the test, you should have a very good idea what score you will get - afterall, you took one just a few days before, and you have been taking them all along.
  8. Make sure for the last few tests that your scores are not inflated. Even if it is just 1-2 questions, you can easily inflate your score by 40-50 points, so don't cheat yourself by taking a non-realistic test and then be disappointed. You want your path clear and your expectations set right. If anything work harder in prep.


A few final thoughts: GMAC states that the scores do have a margin of error and that it can be as high as 30-40 points. You want to do all you can in your power to land on the upper side of those 30-40 points. I will put together a post about what to do the day before the GMAT and also what to do about a week or two before the GMAT. You can also consult an older topic on this question here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/what-to-do-3 ... 52506.html


Let me know if you have tips for things that worked for you (or maybe not).
Thanks and good luck!
BB.
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What to Do 3 Days before the GMAT (and what not to)  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 04 Aug 2018, 05:05
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If you consider Newton's First Law of Motion, then there is essentially nothing that you can do in the last three days that will meaningfully alter your game - short of activating his Second Law of Motion by taking drugs or pulling all-nighters. It would take a major force to disrupt the habit energies you have in place, and in three days you are not likely to generate such a force. Your GMAT game is like a supertanker, which famously does not turn on a dime, and which takes several days to coast to a complete stop.

Three days before the test, keep doing what you have been doing. For me, those last days were always going to include one or two tests, either in sections or complete simulations. I maintained my reasonably regular sleep patterns, my coffee intake, and my stable observation of my thoughts. I did not start to work on my timing and I did not introduce visualisations and meditations, because these are all skills; they should be trained all along, so that in the last three days they are already activating automatically as the need arises. Similarly, I did not look into new topics. There is essentially no question that is purely content-based, so what is the point of seeing a new topic for the first time in the final days? Most topics require some weeks to sink in, implement, polish, to the point where you can navigate them at speed and without unforced error.

If you want a score meaningfully higher than what you're about to get, you will need a few week's worth of time to scale up. Delay is always advisable. And progress follows a kind of funny curve, which at times feels logarithmically slow. But you are waiting for those flashes of inspiration, and the longer you study the more frequently they will arrive. So there is definitely a kind of exponential benefit to long-term study. With each week or two that go by you could be changing the ten's digit on your GMAT score. All the key metrics tend to improve, in particular focus and speed. So if you are having too many emotions, or doubts. Just hang back. I would even wait a whole season, and apply later. Find a way to spend the year productively, at your job or anywhere else. Your GMAT score will only benefit, and your overall life-plan will improve too.

Stay cool, is what I'm saying. Unless you've only just begun training in the last three days, rest assured that your performance, focus, and results on test day will be very familiar to you as you go along, and as you finish.

bb wrote:

What to do 3 days before the GMAT?


I get quite a few questions that sometimes surprise me. I am putting together this post to clarify the last minute questions and help everyone do better on the GMAT. I hope it also helps you prepare better to the 3-day point and you won't wait to read it until then. Most Important: 3 days before the test you should not be learning or trying anything new. Days before the test is not the time to adapt a new strategy, work on your timing or anything like that. There is just not enough time for you to be able to apply any of this without messing up on the actual test. If you don't want to mess up, don't do it. Simple. The last few days should be used to compose yourself, run through your checklists, double-check logistics, and reinforce any strategies. I will cover more of this below.

Things to do 3 days before the GMAT:


  1. Wind down and plan to take only 1 CAT in the next 3 days; perhaps just a day or two before the final test. The way athletes train for big competitions is they prepare their bodies to take more and more stress but the last few days before the competition, they take it easy so that they have a full “tank of gas” for the event. You should try to do the same. Take CAT’s up to 3 days before but then take it easy and start conserving your energy. You want to show up for the GMAT in top shape. Keep in mind that many people can’t sleep well the last night. Every failed story I read through, says how they were not able to sleep the last night and they blame it for their failure. That’s not accurate since nobody can sleep well the last night. Plan for this and make sure you have scheduled your GMAT for your most productive time (e.g. morning if you are a morning person).
  2. Try to take only the official GMAT Prep in the last 3 days. Save one if you can. Another reason not to take CAT’s at this point in time is that people save some of the weirdest/lowest quality CATs and then get a weird score that causes them to panic and doubt themselves, and do something different.
  3. At this point in time, you should NOT be learning anything new. Sounds counter-intuitive but that’s true. The time to do that was for 3 or 4 months beforehand. Your goal now is to improve and solidify your score by not panicking and having an organized plan on the test. The reason for this is that you have no time to “test” your new knowledge or to prove. A certain time before a software release, companies freeze their code and stop making changes/feature modifications – that’s the stage you are at – no more brain code changes ?
  4. Review your SC checklists
    • What to do if you can’t spot an error on the SC after reading it
    • Review any lists such as linking verbs, list of verbs followed by gerund, and those that are followed by the simple form
  5. Review your mistakes/Error log
    • Be on a lookout for traps – can you remember what they are? Make sure they are top of mind and you remember them for both Q and V. Pay attention to scope and know why all answer choices are incorrect (that’s a bigger part of learning in the Verbal section)
    • Look for questions that you struggle with (e.g. I had a hard time with Group 1, Group 2, both, and neither and just had to memorize a few questions and solutions). Make sure you still can solve these
  6. Review your timing strategies and checkpoints for how much time you should have left at various points in the test progress – e.g. at question 10, what should be your timing? (there is a table here if you need it)
  7. Plan to take a CAT a day or two before. There is little difference when you will take it – I took mine exactly 24 hrs before and simulated my test experience. I felt it was helpful but at the same time, it did not reveal any big flaws in my plan. I did wake up a little earlier the day before so it would be easier to go to bed the night before the test. I don’t know if it was, frankly. I was very nervous and a million thoughts were going through my mind.
  8. Make sure you know how you will approach the test, schools you will pick , which sections you will take first, and you have it all figured out and written down so you don’t stress on the test day.
  9. Do something fun – perhaps a hike or watch a movie (don’t do an extra strenuous workout – you will be tempted to since your energy levels will be high before the test – focus them on the test, you can do a hard workout another time). Try to disconnect from the social media and don't be a troll the day before the GMAT. You want to be distracted and your mind elsewhere, only occasionally going back and repeating your SC checklist or list of link verbs. My luck was that I had to travel to another city (my test center was booked full), so I was able to get distracted by being far away from friends and family and disrupting my routine, which I feel kept my mind fresher.


Things NOT to do 3 days before the GMAT - Everyone's Favorite :)


  1. Don't change your approach to CR/SC/PS/DS questions. I see almost no situation when a change this late in the game would be justified
  2. Don’t wear yourself out taking Tests or cramming. You only want to review, refresh, revisit things you already learned and know
  3. Dig out some new strategy for timing
  4. Scramble and decide that you will skip some questions because you still are not hitting your target score. If you are not hitting your target score, this should not be something you learn 3 or even 7 days before the test. You should not schedule your GMAT if you are not hitting your target score. You are fooling yourself only out of $250 if you think you will magically improve in the last few days.
  5. Don’t exhaust yourself or wear yourself out. Make sure you do some exercise instead or something new that lets your mind relax a bit. Maybe go hangout with friends and watch a movie (while I am sure you can hold your liquor, don’t go heavy on alcohol ?)
  6. Use common sense. Don’t sabotage yourself. No need for additional stress. Don’t schedule your test on the day of moving or anything like that.
  7. Don't be like one of the guys posting a debrief that they are surprised with a 500. Going into the test, you should have a very good idea what score you will get - afterall, you took one just a few days before, and you have been taking them all along.
  8. Make sure for the last few tests that your scores are not inflated. Even if it is just 1-2 questions, you can easily inflate your score by 40-50 points, so don't cheat yourself by taking a non-realistic test and then be disappointed. You want your path clear and your expectations set right. If anything work harder in prep.


A few final thoughts: GMAC states that the scores do have a margin of error and that it can be as high as 30-40 points. You want to do all you can in your power to land on the upper side of those 30-40 points. I will put together a post about what to do the day before the GMAT and also what to do about a week or two before the GMAT. You can also consult an older topic on this question here:


Let me know if you have tips for things that worked for you (or maybe not).
Thanks and good luck!
BB.

_________________

Courtesy of the GMAT Dojo, in Amsterdam
http://www.gmat.amsterdam


Originally posted by OmerPelman on 28 Jul 2018, 16:40.
Last edited by OmerPelman on 04 Aug 2018, 05:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What to Do 3 Days before the GMAT (and what not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jul 2018, 17:10
Thanks OmerPelman for a nice analogy! I like the laws of physics being applied to GMAT. I may start using this metaphor/analogy.

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Re: What to Do 3 Days before the GMAT (and what not to)  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Sep 2018, 04:28
There is a follow up thread, or I guess a lead up thread: https://gmatclub.com/forum/what-to-do-2 ... 74671.html
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Re: What to Do 3 Days before the GMAT (and what not to) &nbs [#permalink] 08 Sep 2018, 04:28
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