Q&A: Do's and don'ts for the night before the GMAT

Answer: Thanks for the question. We get this one a lot. Best to break it down between do's and don'ts.

Do: Relax. Go for a walk, read a book, or enjoy some other low stress activity. Exercise can be good too, but don’t overdo it.

Don’t: GMAT advice Watch some crazy horror movie or weird sci-fi TV show. You do not want to have the girl from “The Ring” haunting your mind when you are in the middle of a CR question.

Do: Psych yourself up. Say some affirmations. Meditate on your grand future. Think happy thoughts. Whatever it takes, put yourself in a calm, confident mood before you go to bed.

Don’t: Study from the Official Guide or take a practice test. This will only mess with your head. You may think that you are getting a sense of what will be on the test, but you aren’t. None of the questions you see will actually show up on test day. You will only make yourself anxious by studying the night before the test.

Do: Take care of all practical concerns for test day. Lay out your clothes, pack your bag with the necessary supplies, and be sure to have a map to the test center. You want to know how long it will take you to get there and be clear on the best route to avoid getting lost or ending up late. The goal is to be able to wake up on test day with zero uncertainties.

Don’t: Try to master a new concept. If you still haven’t figured out formal logical inferences or probability then the night before test day is not the time to start. Trying to cultivate a completely new set of knowledge in such a short time will drain your energy and mix up all of the things you have already memorized.

Do: Have a balanced dinner. Don’t stuff yourself just because you feel anxious. Don’t starve yourself out of panic. Eat something healthy and filling. Whatever you eat, make sure it will not mess with your digestive system the following day. The night before GMAT day is not the time to try out that experimental Indonesian-Mexican fusion curry shop.

Don’t: Party hard. Don’t stay out late with your chums. Don’t drink alcohol, unless you want to take the GMAT with a hangover. (Trust us, you don’t.)

Do: Sleep. This is obvious, but it cannot be said too much. Try to get eight hours, or, whatever is enough for you to feel rested and energized. Go to bed early enough to wake up naturally without an alarm clock, but set an alarm or two anyway just as a back up.

Don’t: Worry. It’s normal to be anxious, but do your best to stay calm and rational. If you’ve put your all into your GMAT preparation, you have nothing to worry about.


About the Expert

Meghan Daniels is the Associate Editor at Knewton.