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GMAT preparation tips that actually make sense | CollegeKumar Chronicles

Written by Sameer Kamat

MBA GMAT Stud CollegeKumar

As the urban legend goes, when CollegeKumar was born, he didn’t cry. Everyone in the delivery room did. And he’s never shed a tear so far, until now. After reading our recent blog post about worthless GMAT preparation tips, he felt a strange moist feeling in an unusual part of his anatomy – his eyes. He felt the MBA world deserved better. He licked his mouse (old writing habits die hard) and typed out some real useful stuff that would benefit future generations of GMAT test takers. – -


CollegeKumar tips: How to make the best of GMAT exam day

Myself Kumar. Yes, I managed a 700 score. No, I am not Dinesh Kumar, LIC agent.

I spent the last one year with some of the great minds from Vashi Sector 8 – Mumbai, Rajajinagar – Bangalore and Egmore – Chennai. They were indeed great as they could keep their mind focused and steady for four hours to crack the GMAT, the 5 day test match of computer adaptive tests. All of them hit 750 plus scores in their first attempt; prepared optimally (they did not meditate under a Tree or take a 7 year GMAT foundation course in a Shaolin temple).

Their tips helped me and I wish to share them. The tips might seem unscientific to the average Indian who is a veteran of board exams, cricinfo cricket statistics, IIT coaching etc. so I have tried to add some science to validate my points. If you have heard about these tips before, you must have met these gurus of transcendental knowledge at a cricket pitch or at Mahalaxmi Bar in Mahim. No? Ok.

Read FAQ before you move ahead.
- Are these groundbreaking tips? No.
- Have their efficacy been proven? Ermm. Yes.
- Is the GMAT Shaolin temple with the 7 year foundation course located in downtown Guanghzhou? No. It does not exist. Not yet.
- Is the author of this article single? Yes.

Dress code: Do dress in layers. It’s always handy because, the AC is kept at full crank at test centre trying to recreate a pleasant Alaskan winter evening. However, if the AC stops working, you can always get rid of some extra clothing. Win-Win. (Special warning for a certain Ms. Sherawat if she is reading this article: Yes, please keep them on)

Food: Eat lightly before the test. Ideally, a Subway sandwich and energy bar. Drink lots of water. Keep some fruit juice ready to sip just 15 mins before exam to keep your sugar level optimum.

Sugar plays an important role. Your brain uses quite a bit of it in the form of glucose, especially when you are thinking hard. So it would be wise to keep an apple (the fruit) or two handy for the breaks. Apples have a hard exterior and masticating (no it’s not a naughty word. Refer Barrons GRE guide) them simulates muscle activity and promotes alertness. Personally, I believe they are better than a cup of coffee in removing sleeplessness, but I would not over-eat them.

Wash room: Finish whatever you have to and drench your face with cold water for as long as you can. Totally promotes freshness and alertness. Its got to do something with stimulating blood flow and nerve endings. Its also supposed to improve your mood. Works wonders, especially after the two essays.

Baggage: Carry minimal baggage. The locker space is frugal. You do not want to get worried about losing your Prada merchandise, during the exam.

Silence: Some centres are silent. Some are not. The earplugs they give you at the centre are inadequate and irritating if you have never used them before. My suggestion would be to give mocks in normal conditions (with the hungry cows on the road and Malik uncle fighting with the door to door salesman).
Also pick the earplugs from a local med store/surgical equipment store and get used to them before the exam. They are orange soft Styrofoam bits with a orange thread, holding them together.

Stretches in breaks: Maybe a good idea, but a sprain could just spoil your day.

Staff and emergencies: Maybe it’s just my misfortune, but at both the centres, I have used, the staff were quite cold. They go by a rule book and frankly do not give a flying f**karoo about your D Day, which could change your life etc.
During my first attempt, the person next to me was reading his essay aloud, while I was working on the quants section. I stopped to complain twice and the GMAT staff just chided him mildly and told me to go on as the clock was running. I complained and protested to no avail as the guy next to me continued murmuring. I asked for a retest or test to be paused, but they just did not have any permission for a contingency where they could pause the timer. I was devastated and my first attempt tanked.

Moral: Arguments with them are worthless. Just focus on your attempt and give it the best shot under the circumstances.

Time: American exam. Indian time. Does not compute.
When they say two mins break, they literally mean 120 seconds. Good idea to poop at home.

Unleash your sense of humor: One of the best tips a friend gave me was to crack some jokes with fellow candidates at the examination hall. It lightens the mood and gives you a tremendous high, when you realize that you find it funny and the other dude is trying hard to replay the formulae in his head.
You are the Zen master of cool at that point.

Final Tip: Do not forget to pick up your mobile phone from the locker. Unless it’s a Nokia. (I am a HTC man :D )

Good luck and God Bless Shakti Kapoor.


CollegeKumar is now standing by to accept any thank-you notes, matrimonial invites or just plain indecent proposals that you might have for him. If you want to hear more from him, show him your luuuurrrve.


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Sameer Kamat

About Sameer Kamat

Founder of MBA Crystal Ball | Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter @mba_cb | Facebook


1 Comment

  1. Raj   |  Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Shaolin Temple, Zen master and Shakti Kapoor – Three words I’d never have hoped to see,
    put together on a single page ! Hilarious! :)

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