Land Your Score: Switching Gears for GMAT Test Day

July 12, 2017
Jennifer Land

What’s the best way to prep for Test Day?

Tighten your grip on core concepts in the days leading up to the GMAT.

If my husband and I move something heavy and have to pause along the way, he tells me, “Hold what you’ve got.” Reaching for more instead of focusing on what you currently grasp is risky business—in moving furniture and in GMAT prep. I recently realized this is a great metaphor for a Kaplan technique many students find surprising when Test Day rolls around.

Know when to put a stop to your GMAT prep

As your Test Day approaches, you need to hold what you’ve got; do not try to add to your load during your final week of prep. Shortly before you sit for the GMAT, shift your focus away from strength-building. Some of my students think, “I’ve spent months building strengths, and now she wants me to STOP?” Yes.

Building strengths before Test Day

Kaplan students use their diagnostic practice test results to identify areas of opportunity, the areas where they need to concentrate their prep. If you’ve forgotten how to distribute exponents, for example, that becomes a prep priority. The goal is to move that concept from the list of areas of opportunity to your list of strengths.

For months you’ve worked on building your strengths. The strengths list is now longer than the list of areas that need improvement, so your inclination may be to spend the last week or so knocking those last few items off the list. But those last remaining items are not worth losing anything that you’ve already mastered.

Shore up your mastery of core concepts

Imagine that your diagnostic Smart Report indicates arithmetic and number properties are strengths and algebra and proportions are areas of opportunities. You work on these areas of opportunity, and after the next few practice tests, algebra appears on your list of strengths. Many test-takers would then focus all of their energy on mastering the remaining items on the list of opportunities. But a Kaplan-trained test-taker knows that moving an item to the strengths list does not mean total mastery.

Returning to my metaphor, if you don’t have a firm grip on the item you are moving, you are liable to drop your end. Do not neglect your strengths as Test Day approaches. You need to hold what you’ve got so you have a firm grip for the last critical steps.

Still building your strengths for Test Day? Take a free online practice test and review your GMAT performance.

Jennifer Land

Jennifer Land Jennifer Mathews Land has taught for Kaplan since 2009. She prepares students to take the GMAT, GRE, ACT, and SAT and was named Kaplan’s Alabama-Mississippi Teacher of the Year in 2010. Prior to joining Kaplan, she worked as a grad assistant in a university archives, a copy editor for medical web sites, and a dancing dinosaur at children's parties. Jennifer holds a PhD and a master’s in library and information studies (MLIS) from the University of Alabama, and an AB in English from Wellesley College. When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys watching Alabama football and herding cats.

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