When something doesn’t go as planned, everyone has an adage to offer up. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” “The third (or twenty-third) time’s a charm!” But, unfortunately, neither clichés nor funny witticisms will really make you feel better when you have to take the GMAT for a second time. So what can you do to make sure that you’re in a better position that second time around? To a certain degree, your new game plan will depend upon what went wrong in that first attempt. But regardless of the situation, take a deep breath, relax, and know that you’re in a better position now than you were the previous time if for no other reason than you know where the bathroom is in the testing center.
1.) Take a critical look at your previous performance Of course, you have no desire to relieve that less-than-stellar day, but now’s the time to do it. You spent that $250 test fee; you should get something out of it. So be honest with yourself and think about where things went awry. Remember, hindsight is always 20/20. So, was your preparation complete or did you skimp on certain topics? Did you take practice exams and review your strengths and weaknesses? Did you give yourself enough time to study or were you cramming it all in over the final weekend? Did you manage your time well throughout the exam or were you rushed through certain areas?
How about test-day conditions? Did you get enough sleep and eat well beforehand? Were you too hyped up on caffeine or too tired because you got up early in the morning? Were you too hot or too cold in the test center? Was your head simply in a different time zone because of personal or work matters? Don’t discount these elements when analyzing your performance.
2.) Take time between your tests Sure, the GMAC makes you take a month off but make sure that that’s enough time. If you think your previous score suffered due to a lack of proper preparation, now would be a good time to look into additional prep methods. Perhaps you should invest in new study materials, a formal class, private tutoring, or a topic-specific workshop. As more than one teacher felt the need to tell me over the years, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Take time to map out your plan of attack. Use a practice exam with diagnostics to find out exactly where you should be focusing your study efforts. If timing was an issue, work through sample problems to enhance your speed. Practice with a stop watch and pay attention to where you get bogged down. Develop a sense of how long a minute, a minute and a half, and two minutes are; when you hit that two minute mark, it’s a good idea to make an educated guess and move on.
3.) Go easy on yourself Here’s one adage that may work for you: what’s past is past. You can’t go back and change that first score, but you can work to make the next one better. Whatever you do, do not beat yourself up for having done poorly. Such behavior can lead to greater stress and anxiety when you go back for round two, creating yet another obstacle for you to overcome. So call for a mulligan and move on. When that next test day does roll around, do everything you can to ensure peak performance. If you’re not a morning person, schedule the exam for the afternoon. If you’re not a caffeine drinker, don’t down four cups of coffee right before the exam. Know that you have studied more, are better prepared, and have a greater knowledge of what’s ahead than you did before, so be confident. And always, always, remember where the bathroom is located.
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