What should I do in the last week before my GMAT?

Congratulations on working so hard in your prep thus far! Now that your GMAT is really close, it may be tempting to study all day and all night to get the best possible score. However, know that one of the best things you can do to get a great score is to make sure to take care of yourself this week. That means eating well and getting as much sleep as possible: preferably 8+ hours per night. This amount of sleep may not be possible, but truly try to get as much as you can! Now let's look at how you can specifically prepare to hit your GMAT goals in the next week. 

Last Minute Tips

First, watch these videos from our GMAT expert Kevin for last minute GMAT tips and what to bring on the day of your test.

Next, make sure to review commonly tested idioms; our flashcards are a great way to do this! Try to learn about 5-10 a day, but also make time to review ones you've seen before.

Additionally, please note that you should not study the day before or the day of your test. This may seem counterintuitive, but it's important to give your brain rest. As alluded to before, cramming right before the GRE will only tire you out and leave you ill-prepared for hours of testing.

Answer More Practice Problems

One of the best ways, if not the best way to improve quickly is to focus on your weaknesses. If you've been prepping for a while, you should have a good idea of where you most need to improve, even if you haven't been using an error log to track your mistakes. So make sure to focus on those areas when you study this week! 

Also, please remember that healthy study focuses on quality, not quantity. You'll get much more out of your practice by taking time to analyze questions you miss, rather than simply plowing through as many questions as possible. In other words, don't concentrate on blindly rushing through hundreds of questions—focus on learning and correcting your mistakes. :-)

Lastly -- and this is important -- all of your practice should be timed at this point. This means you should follow these timing guidelines:

  • Math, all question types (DI and PS): 2 minutes per question
  • Verbal, Reading Comprehension: 2 minutes per question, including reading time. That means a passage with 3 questions should take you 6 minutes to complete, and a passage with 4 questions should take you 8 minutes.
  • Verbal, Critical Reasoning: 90 seconds-3 minutes, depending on the difficulty; harder problems will take longer
  • Verbal, Sentence Correction: 60-90 seconds

For more information on how best to use these timing guidelines, this blog post has tons of useful information! Remember that learning when to make an educated guess on questions is an important GMAT skill: you don't want to have 10 questions remaining with 10 minutes or less on your clock! The more you focus on timing now, the less pressure you'll feel from the timer on your actual test.

Take Practice Tests

If you haven't taken any practice tests yet, you need to start right away! As the big date draws closer, you'll want to make yourself comfortable with the testing experience. When you take your practice tests, try to emulate real test conditions as much as possible—only consume water and snacks you'll have available on test day, and avoid distractions and extended breaks.

However, you don't want to take a practice test every day this week. As stated earlier, it's greatly beneficial to focus on your problem areas, and the more tests you take, the less time you'll have to devote on question types and subjects you know trip you up. Thus, you should take no more than two practice tests this week; you'll want to focus the rest of your time on subjects where you know you have the potential to increase your score.

GMAC offers two free practice tests known as GMATPrep tests. GMAC is the same company that produces the GMAT, so the PowerPrep tests offer an experience very similar to taking a real GMAT. If you've just entered your final week and you haven't taken these yet, you should complete one ASAP. The software for the tests is available here:

If you've already taken the PowerPrep tests and you need more practice exams, you can use Magoosh. You'll find a practice test link within Magoosh's navigation bar under "Practice." However, if you've answered a good number of questions in Magoosh (300+ in both verbal and math for 600+ total), the questions displayed may be too easy or too hard. In that case, you should use the free Manhattan Practice test if you haven't already. There are many sources of free practice tests for the GMAT, but keep in mind that a good number of them aren't indicative of the difficulty or question types you'll see on test day.

Lastly, make sure to get a good night of sleep and do not study the day before! The best thing you can do before your test day is to ensure that you're in a good mood, have a positive mindset and be well rested. Make a checklist of all the items you have to bring to the test center, have a good breakfast on test day, and know that you can hit your goals! Best of luck! =D 

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