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The Week Penultimate to the GMAT Test: What should be the Test Takers Strategy?


On the lighter note, I’d suggest yoga, art of living classes or anything – fishing or even ballet – that allows the test taker to take his mind off the GMAT! But strangely all that the test taker wants in the week before the test is endless hours of GMAT practice. The idea is to squeeze into the last few days as much, and some times more than is humanly possible in terms of productivity. As a result it is not uncommon to discover that all the last minute effort apart from being insane, rushed and tiring, was in the long run counterproductive. How frustrating!

To start with, when we talk about how the week penultimate to the test is best spent we presume that the test taker has already put in the required study for the test and is eager to know how best to use the days before the exam. So for someone who has done the drill of classes, coaching, practice, problem solving and a few full length simulated tests, the penultimate week should truly be a time to compose himself, engage in constructive exchange with trainers and peers and revise the course by doing one full length test – timed and done in entirety – everyday or every alternate day.

One major hitch in the preparation plan drawn up and implemented by test takers is that they do practice tests according to their convenience. This often means that they do not write the AWA task, overlook the IR Section and decide that they have time only for the Math and the Verbal Sections, or even worse for only the Math section! This means that the GMAT practice test that the student was supposedly undertaking to get acclimatized to the length of the test ends being an exercise in futility. More such comfortable and ‘convenient’ interfaces with test leave the test taker with an inaccurate experience. He continues to do what he is good at or comfortable with and avoids all that ‘tests’ him. He also fails to build up the reserve one requires to sit through the three and a half hour long test. As a result the real day experience is something quite different; by the time the test taker has rubbed his eyes through the AWA and IR sections he has been in front of the computer for 60 minutes before the Math section – 75 minutes – comes on, followed by the verbal section, another 75 minutes. So, in the last few days before the test, make sure to practice whole tests and get used to the duration of the test so that you have the tenacity to sit through and perform to your best.

If the test taker has already done simulated practice tests and is well versed with the length and content of the GMAT and has in fact gotten around to handling virtually all its nuances, another viable way of spending the week penultimate to the test is working on portions of the test. Write essays and have them evaluated by trainers, pick out those topics of Math and Verbal that are disconcerting and work on polishing the strategy required to tackle them, and give a fair amount of time to the IR section despite rumors that business schools do not take the IR score into consideration.

Last but not least, spend the last few days getting the sleep – wake cycle in place. Rest, eat and work sensibly. Do not get into spirals of work and keep up all night. Contrary to what most grew up hearing, burning the midnight lamp does not always pay! The GMAT requires acute responsiveness, immense innovation and patience – qualities that come easier to a rested mind and body. So, however inconsequential a discussion of this kind may seem when discussing strategies for the GMAT exam, the truth is that rest, food and prayer is an essential mantra to get the GMAT right.


Option Training Institute, Dubai, has constructed worksheets and practice materials that focus on qualitative preparation oriented towards skill building. After introducing the modalities of each section of the test, out trainers draw out the class plan and cover each topic first theoretically and then practically by engaging the class in discussions and problem solving sessions. Although there is a timeline for the courses, our trainers have been given the liberty to extend course durations to suit the needs of the group. So, when someone joins for a 7 week course, he is apprised of the possibility that the course may take a week or two more to be completed satisfactorily. This flexibility in the course duration is unique to our institute and allows both the trainers and the students to work without any pressure.