Imagine it: your GMAT test day is finally approaching. After all these months of dog-eared preparation, all of your hard work is about to finally reach a head. Exam day for many can be filled with a lot of feelings: anxiety, fear, trepidation—even excitement! Some test-takers may just want to “get it over with,” whereas others wish they could put it off just another day out of procrastination. A small minority of test-takers might even delight in sitting for the GMAT, as they relish the obstacles and challenges of taking the real exam.

Whatever your own personal feelings about exam day are, no doubt you have a multitude of thoughts and emotions churning over and over in your mind. Have you taken the proper precautions to avoid traps, missteps, and pitfalls so you can perform your absolute best? Have you paused a moment amongst your demanding course of study to picture what test day will really be like? Well, in the case you may need a helpful reminder of what dangers and snares to avoid, below are four of the most outstanding that are sure to give you a leg up when you sit for the GMAT. While some may be new to you, more than likely you have faced at least several in an enlightening online or in-person class with Manhattan Review or another prestigious academic services firm. Take note, but also take heart, test-takers—these are practical and informative tips to help you avoid common exam day traps.

    1.Cramming at the Last-Minute

One of the most detrimental things you can do for your mind, body, and test day morale is to cram at the very last-minute. Sure, maybe in high school and undergrad “cramming” was considered effective, but such a “tactic” won’t fare well on the GMAT. Who doesn’t know all too well the art of procrastination? On the GMAT, however, this is damaging, as it zaps all of your energy, jumbles your mind, and gives way to a less-than-stellar performance on test day.

A more efficient use of your time and mindset is to study little by little every day. In a perfect world, you allow yourself 3-4 months of preparation prior to sitting fro the actual exam. This facilitates you to fully absorb the quant and verbal review more efficiently; furthermore, it gives you a chance to breathe and live your life outside of this demanding and important b-school assessment. However you plan your course of study, avoid cramming the week or night before.

2.Ignoring Your Weaknesses

Ignoring your weaknesses? Boy, this is a real kicker if you haven’t incorporated it into your course of study. Ideally, you have been preparing for the GMAT with an enlightened teacher who understands the test and crucial test day techniques backwards and forwards. If that’s been the instance, more than likely your tutor will have encouraged you to keep a log or diary of all of your test errors. Yes, this may seem strange—who wants to keep track of all the mistakes? Isn’t it better to focus on the positive? In some ways, yes, focusing on the positive is imperative, but in others, if you do not properly track and understand your GMAT faults and blunders, you may never be able to properly correct them.

Discarding and ignoring your GMAT weaknesses is considered one of the biggest mistakes you can make as you encroach upon sitting for the real exam. By comprehending your errors and keeping them in the forefront of your mind, you are able to apply meaningful tactics and techniques to remedy them, ultimately bringing you triumph. For instance, if you know that Reading Comprehension questions are especially difficult for you, spending extra time speed reading and outlining dense and complicated passages can be of great benefit to help raise your score.

It also might be of a great benefit help to work on a few extra practice problems on particular problem areas the week leading up to your test. Again, by focusing your energy on correcting your GMAT drawbacks, you’re able to see serious improvement that will hopefully carry through when you receive your official score. Don’t run away, but instead—run towards your GMAT errors bravely!

      3.Refusing to Take Notes

When you’re taking the GMAT, make sure to utilize the note-taking skills you learned throughout your rigorous course of study. You may be asking, “Isn’t it easier to just remember facts and tidbits as opposed to writing them down?” Why is this important?” In all honesty, it’s impossible to recall everything you read and work through unless you’re a memorizing robot. Whether it’s outlining reading passages, working through quant problems on scrap paper, or even writing out salient points for your AWA essay—taking notes is of real importance.

Students who refuse to take notes on the GMAT not only see a reduction in their score, but they also experience a muddled brain—one that feels it’s falling behind the task at hand, running fast and furiously out of time. Be nice to yourself and your mind when you take the GMAT and keep in mind that note-taking is a part of practice and execution that only the highest scorers apply. Thankfully, taking notes is easy, as it only involves scratch paper and a pencil, so don’t neglect this important aspect of navigating the tricky terrains of the GMAT. Your score could very well depend on it!

     4.Using Paper-Based Mock Exams

Who can doubt the utmost importance of paper-based practice exams? The advantages are truly endless. They offer a sense of how long the test really is when taking it at once, they facilitate a “test day” experience under the limitations of time, they also provide you a proper tracking system of seeing your score enhance over time. Yes, practice exams are amazing—but avoid doing so on paper.

Since most people sit for the GMAT on a computer—and it’s computer-adaptive—tracking your progress through practice exams in this means is the only truly accurate way to give an authentic sense of how you’re really doing. You want your mock exam experience to be as realistic as possible, right? After all, that is the point of integrating them into your rigorous preparation. They provide a gravity and nuance that isolated practice exercises don’t have. Manhattan GMAT Prep, for example, offers a variety of mock exams that are computer-based as part of their preparation courses, whether in-person or online, in a group setting or one-on-one private tutoring. Explore your options as it correlates to practice exams, striving for an authentic and real life experience over convenient inaccurate ones. The difference could directly impact your progress, something you want to safeguard closely as you lead up to exam day.

While there are a variety of other important pitfalls to circumvent on test day, these four are some of the most important. Clearly, you want to focus on the tactics, techniques, and strategies that work best for you that bring you optimal results. In the end, only you know what works best, but universal traps are always very useful to keep in the back of your mind, especially on a test that could gain you admittance to the school of your dreams! By dodging pitfalls, we harness true progress.