The GMAT is a 3.5 hour examination that tests the examination takers stamina and ability to shift seamlessly from one topic to another. As professionals who have not given examinations in recent years, we find ourselves challenged by the prospect of sitting through a lengthy exam.
Let’s explore why!
Multitasking: Albeit most of us sit for an entire day at the office, we are often multi-tasking. Between answering phone calls, checking WhatsApp, managing various social media like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, we don’t quite register how often we are not focused on a single task. During the examination, one of the first things that will leave you feeling restless is the lack of multi-tasking.
Distractions: As part of our day at the office, we’re allowed several breaks. We’re constantly moving around, be it for water, tea, coffee, or lunch, trips to the bathroom or general trips to a friend’s desk for the latest office gossip. Your inability to get up, stretch, eat and drink at whim will cause you to lose your focus during the examination.
Baggage: Our minds frequently double as calendars; there’s an upcoming meeting, a phone call from a client, a presentation that has to be prepared for. It could even be something personal; a wedding, an argument with a spouse or parent, or even a trip to the grocery store. The need to deal with challenges and follow itineraries to ensure we’re on time as per our schedules, be it personal or professional, is also a source of distraction during the examination.
Luxuries: Yes, that’s right. Luxuries! Little things that we take for granted, also act as a distraction during the exam. For instance, are you accustomed to studying on a comfortable sofa? Do you focus better when you have music playing in the background? These are the little things that you will not find at the examination center and will cause your focus to deviate from the examination.
What can you do?
● During the content preparation stage, ensure that you are in an area that mimics (as closely as possible), the facilities at the examination center i.e. use a chair and desk, rather than a bed or couch.
● To ensure that you remain focused, dont include electronics in your study area – leave your phone on silent, switch off televisions and music, have someone else answer doorbells.
● Deal with baggage first – ensure that your preparatory time does not coincide with personal or professional commitments.
● Follow a staggered approach – begin with sitting for an hour, slowly increase your preparatory time by half-hour increments till you have reached the 3.5 hour mark. The same goes for practice tests as well – attempt sectional tests first, slowly add math and/or verbal sections to increase the duration of your practice exam before trying the full length exam.
● Take a walk before the exam to ensure that your mind is clear
● Arrive early so you aren’t in panic/rush mode
● Sleep well the night before to ensure that you are well rested and productive on exam day
● Take positive thoughts and energy with you to the exam center