Preparing for the GMAT: the night before

By Morgan Bernstein

It's the evening before you take the GMAT, and you've likely spent the last few months preparing for the exam. Whether you signed up for a GMAT course, studied with a friend, or guided yourself through exercises and workbooks, you may still feel nervous—and that's completely normal. In order to wake up on exam day feeling truly rested and ready, taking certain steps to prepare the night before is essential. Here are a few ways you can prepare–and that doesn't mean logging more study hours–for GMAT success the following day. 

1. Don't study.

Studies on memory show that last-minute cramming doesn't do us any good. Rather than trying to teach yourself a concept or memorize information the night before the exam, put away your test materials. Trust that the hours of preparation you've put in will pay off, and don't stress yourself out with last-minute cramming that won't even help you perform better.

2. Have all your to-go gear ready.

One of the best ways to ensure you wake up on test day feeling calm and prepared is to have all your essential items in one place, ready to go. Put your wallet, keys, phone, whatever you need next to the door or in a spot that you'll remember them. The last thing you need to do before you go take the GMAT is to frantically search for your car keys.

3. Eat dinner before 9 pm.

It may sound silly, but eating right before we go to bed often affects our sleep quality. There's been a good deal of research on the connection between food and sleep quality, and many studies show that eating something sugary right before bed, or even eating something you don't normally eat late at night, can lead to nightmares. So eat a healthy dinner, and don't eat right before you go to sleep.

4. Have a plan for the morning.

Routines not only help us commit to things like exercise or waking up at a decent hour, they also help us feel secure. Put your mind at ease the night before the GMAT by writing down what you'll do the next morning. Whether you'll go for a walk to your favorite coffee shop, head to the gym, or read the newspaper, having a plan for the day of the GMAT will probably help you sleep better.

5. Know the test-day details.

You certainly shouldn't go to sleep the night before the exam without knowing the details of time and location for your test. Double check when and where you need to be, and if you're someone who gets anxiety about these items, write them down. Give your brain and body every advantage to relax and get a good night sleep the evening before the GMAT—don't go to bed with uncertainty around important day-of details.

For professional tips from Berkeley MBA programs, see our guide to crafting your best MBA application, and  download our free Ebook, Avoiding the GMAT Blues  for tips on how to plan for success on exam day.

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Posted on August 9, 2016
Themes: Applying
Morgan Bernstein
Morgan was the Executive Director of Full-time MBA Admissions at Haas from 2016-2019 as well as a graduate of the program. She enjoys making personal connections with prospective students and guiding them through the MBA admission process.