GMAT Test Day Tips and Checklist: What to Bring to the Exam

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This is the day: GMAT test day. After preparing for the GMAT for a few months, weeks, or—in some cases—days, now is the time to showcase your skills. Walking into the test center is nerve-racking for most test-takers, so follow our GMAT test day tips and instructions to make sure that you’re as ready as you can be for exam day!

magoosh video lesson icon with purple figureMore of a visual learner? Check out our video lesson covering GMAT test day.    

What You Need to Know Before You Arrive to the Test Center

Before the clock starts ticking on your official GMAT exam, you’ll have to make some important decisions about your test. Of course, you could wing it and think on your feet.

But ideally, you’ll want to know certain things before your GMAT test day.

Your GMAT Scheduled Appointment and Test Center

What day is your GMAT scheduled appointment? What time is your exam? You will want to double-check, since you have to arrive at least half an hour before your scheduled time or the test administrators may not let you enter.

If you can, take a trip to the test center prior to your test day.

  • Bonus points if you go around the same time, on the same day of the week as your GMAT exam is scheduled.

That way, you’ll get a sense of how much time it takes to get there and the amount of traffic to expect.

Decide Which Business Schools Will Receive Your Scores

When you registered for your GMAT, you paid a fee. Part of that fee goes towards the cost of sending your scores to five schools. Here’s the catch—you have to pick these schools prior to the exam’s start.

In other words, you want to know beforehand which five universities will receive your official score report.

After your test day, you can change your mind and send your scores to additional schools, for an extra fee. To avoid paying more money, make sure to choose the schools before the test date.

Decide What GMAT Section Order Is Best for You

After the navigational tutorial and selecting the schools to send your scores to, you’ll have an option to choose the section order of the test:

  • AWA + IR (Analytical Writing Assessment and Integrated Reasoning), Quantitative, Verbal
  • Verbal, Quantitative, IR + AWA
  • Quantitative, Verbal, IR + AWA

Pick the order that suits you best. For example, if you are a non-native English speaker who’s strong in Math, starting your GMAT exam with a Verbal section could work well for you to get the most difficult thing out of the way first. Read more tips about picking your GMAT section order.

GMAT Exam Day Checklist: What to Bring to the Test

Here is everything that you will need for the exam. Get all these things ready the evening before test day. That way, you will avoid unnecessary stress when it’s time for you to go and conquer the GMAT!

This is the most important item to bring to your GMAT test appointment. Check the ID requirements beforehand.

The proctor at the testing center may ask to see this paper when you are checking in.

You will be allowed to take the glasses with you to your computer.

You want to be comfortable as you’re taking your exam, and you don’t know the exact temperature of the test center. The solution is easy: dress in layers or bring a light jacket that you can wear indoors. You will be allowed to bring your jacket in the exam room with you as you take the GMAT.

You won’t be able to take them to the testing room (unless you requested and were granted an accommodation). But you will be able to store these items in your locker. You can eat and drink during breaks.

What NOT to Bring on GMAT Test Day

Your bag (or purse, or backpack) is packed and you are ready to go. There’s one last thing to check: did you pack anything that will prevent you from taking your exam?

  • As per GMAC’s policies, you are not allowed to bring weapons to the test center. While it seems obvious that nobody should bring weapons to their GMAT appointment, sometimes people carry things that could be perceived as a weapon. Do you have a small letter opener attached to your key chain? Leave it at home!
  • GMAT Tips for Test Day

    When you are in the test center facility, try your best to keep calm and breathe. Many people have gone through this and so can you. Read this blog post for some tips on overcoming test day anxiety. To give you a heads-up on the GMAT test day experience, we created a list of tips from actual test-takers:

    Read the GMAT Test Center Rules

    Make sure you read up on the GMAT test center rules. You don’t want to break any test center rules and end up with a violation or your score canceled.

    Be Ready to Get a Digital Photograph Taken

    You’ll only get one chance to get your picture right. Since some schools will elect to receive your photograph along with your score, make sure you’re photo ready. Lights, camera, action!

    Storage Space in Test Centers Can Be Limited

    Even though you are allowed to bring various items to the GMAT test center facilities—you will be required to store it all in your locker. Leave home all the study aids that you used when you were preparing for your exam. We do not recommend any last-minute studying.

    A Word About Bathroom Breaks…

    You should stay hydrated and drink water during your breaks. However, if you need a bathroom break in the middle of an ongoing section, the clock will still be ticking. So, make sure to stay hydrated, but don’t drink too much.

    During an official break, it is your responsibility to return to the testing room on time. If you fail to do so, the next section will start automatically and you will get less time to complete it.

    Do You Want to Cancel Your Scores?

    A variation of this question will appear on your computer screen after you finish the test, so be prepared to see this question at the end of your ordeal.

    Time Management During GMAT Test Day

    The clock makes a lot of test-takers nervous. To avoid this issue, practice with the timer when you prepare for the exam. Read about more time management tips for the GMAT.

    What to Do the Day Before and the Day of the GMAT

    Since you will have to focus your attention for several hours (3 hours and thirty minutes to be exact), make it your goal to relax as much as possible before your GMAT test starts. Try to get enough sleep the night before and several nights in a row beforehand. Pack your necessary materials from the checklist above! Eat a healthy, filling meal. But whatever you do, do not study and absolutely no practice tests!

    Plan your morning routine to have enough time to prepare for your appointment without rushing. If your test time is later in the day, go for a walk, talk to supportive friends, or pick up a relaxing, stress-free activity.

    Try to keep in mind you’ve worked hard to learn all that you have up until this point. You’ve got this and Magoosh is here for you if you need help preparing for the GMAT.

    Got any more GMAT test day instructions or tips? Let me know in the comments below!

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    • Ilyana

      Ilyana received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Geology from Lomonosov Moscow State University. After learning English, she moved to Texas for a PhD program in Chemistry. She has taken the GMAT three times in her life and eventually posted a 99th percentile total score. Nowadays, she enjoys devising ways to tackle GMAT problems faster. She is fascinated by the ancient strategy board game Go. Ilyana's LinkedIn