Experiencing GMAT test anxiety is normal, even for students who are well-prepared for the exam. Since most B-schools require GMAT, it is important to get a decent score that gets you into the school of your choice. This is why most students find their anxiety levels rising as they move closer to the test day. However, if your GMAT test anxiety is getting beyond manageable, it is important to take some action.

What is Test Anxiety?

Test anxiety is a combination of physical as well as emotional response you give when you are under pressure to perform well. While most students experience mild symptoms of test anxiety, for some it may become severe and need intervention. Knowing your anxiety symptoms can help you understand if you need help or not.

Common Test Anxiety Symptoms: Is it Just Nervousness or Test Day Anxiety?

Before you go in to take your GMAT, or even a day or week before the actual test, you might experience –

  • butterflies in your stomach or
  • racing thoughts.

These are mild symptoms and are usually considered normal. However, severe symptoms need attention, like –

  • sweating profusely
  • agitation
  • racing heartbeat
  • nausea

We agree that the GMAT comes with its own set of uncertainties. The doubt of whether you will be able to do well during the test is a question that hovers over you throughout. But, with little steps in the right direction, you can ensure that your GMAT-prep is stress free and you are calm on your test day. But before we get into the preventive meausres, let us understand what causes gmat test anxiety in the first place.

Causes of GMAT Test Anxiety

Some level of anxiety is normal and is there to stay. But it is the way you handle self-doubt and motivate yourself makes or breaks your performance on the D-day. Therefore, knowing what causes your anxiety to rise can help you prevent it from turning severe. Here are some of the reasons why GMAT-preparers experience test anxiety and how to overcome it –

1. GMAT is a timed test

Will I be able to solve questions in under 2 minutes?

What if I cannot manage my break well?

If I am left with too many questions with very little time to solve, how do I decide which questions to solve first?

These are some common questions that increase your anxiety levels. However, with the right strategies in your arsenal, you can solve any difficulty level question on GMAT in less than 2 minutes.

The GMATWhiz course teaches you the best problem-solving strategies like involved and evolved reading & meaning-based approach that help you accurately solve any question of any difficulty level within 2 mins. Watch this webinar recording to learn more –

Webinar Watch – GMAT Test taking & Timing Strategy by Piyush Beriwala, Co-Founder, GMATWhiz

2. You Are Retaking the GMAT

Students often lose confidence if they get a score lower than expected in their GMAT attempt. Experiencing anxiety or feeling insecure during the test is thus a natural reaction. To combat the retaker’s anxiety, you must focus on what you learned from the past experience. Avoid making the same mistakes, follow a well-crafted adaptive study plan, and take mocks to get into the grove of the actual GMAT exam.

3. You Have Set the Bar too High

Often students taking the GMAT feel pressurized into scoring high on the test. Whether it is living up to their parents’ expectations or having an internal competition with your friends or peers. You need to understand that you are not in competition with anyone. Every student’s journey is different.

Set realistic targets for yourself, understand your timeline, and most importantly, know the score your desired school needs. If you are targeting a 740 in one month and you are just starting out, you need to reevaluate your target score.

How to manage Test Anxiety in 5 Simple Steps

Managing stress and self-doubt is important if you wish to score well on the GMAT or any other test for that matter. Doing these 5 things can go a long way in helping you manage test anxiety or exam day stress –

1. Start Early

An average student needs around 4 to 6 months to be fully prepared to take the GMAT. Starting late or not following a study plan are two most common reasons for students to feel anxious in days leading up to the test. So, it is important to give your GMAT test prep a timely start.

Depending upon your current skill level and your pace of learning, you must begin your prep a few months before your scheduled exam date.

Remember: Preparing for one hour each day for 6 months will bring you better results than preparing for 10 hours/day for one month.

What is more helpful? Following a personalized study plan. GMATWhiz provides each student with a fully customized, adaptive study plan that adapts every week depending upon the progress you made, your pace of learning,among other factors. BUILD YOUR FREE PERSONALIZED STUDY PLAN HERE


2. Take a Mock Test

Mocks give you a hang of the actual test day environment and are a great way of taking the uncertainty out of your GMAT readiness. The best time to take a GMAT mock test is when you are done prepping and are getting decent accuracy in your practice quizzes. However, we recommend you to keep your Official GMAT Mock Tests for the last.

Get 10 FREE GMAT Mocks! Sign Up with GMATWhiz

Make the Most Out of Your GMAT Mocks: Taking a mock test will help reduce your test anxiety and will also help you gain perspective whether your timing strategy needs changes. Take the mock in an environment that is similar to the actual test. Also, take the breaks at the same time you intend to do during the exam. In case you feel your planning for the exam day is not working in your favour, you can always make amends and then retake the mock.

3. Practice Meditation or Calming Exercises

You may have heard about this suggestion plenty of times before. This is because practising meditation goes a long way in helping you combat stress and anxiety.

Something as simple as mindful breathing can help you calm down your nerves and gain perspective on your current situation. Practice breathing in a quiet room while focusing on inhaling and exhaling for 10 minutes each day, preferably before starting your study session as you will be calmer, more focused, and your mind will be able to absorb concepts faster.

Let us take Akshat’s Advice –

Akshat Improved from 640 to 730 in Just 24 Days. Here’s what Akshat suggests you do to achieve this remarkable feat –


  1. Eat well
  2. Get regular exercise
  3. Follow a sleep schedule


On the test day, Akshat woke up early, went for a swim, practiced meditation, and was relaxed when he went in for the test. According to Akshat, these little things help and when they do, you’ll have a great test day.

Watch Akshat’s Full Interview to learn how he combatted his Test Day Anxiety to ultimately score an impressive 730 on the GMAT –

4. Talk it Out

As they say, ‘Communication is key’. Pent-up anxiety can work as a two-edged sword. It will interfere with the efficacy of your prep and is most likely to hamper your performance on D-day as well. Instead, you can choose to let out your worries and confide with a friend, your parent, your mentor, or a colleague.

They can help motivate you from time to time, encourage you to stay diligent with prep, and can also share great advice if they have been in similar situations as you.

Seeking professional help is also a great option if you feel your anxiety levels are not manageable with discussion or meditation.

Take a Day/Week Off Before the Test

Taking a break helps improve performance considerably, not only when taken a day or week before the test but also in between prep. Plan your prep schedule in a manner that you take short 10-minute breaks after every 50 minutes of prep. Utilize these breaks to take a short walk, speak with your friends, get a snack, or simply have a glass of water.

What to do a day or week before the test?

Try not to overwhelm yourself with new concepts and strategies. Simply revise everything you have learned in the past few months, recollect your strategies to solve different types of questions, focus on what your timing strategy is going to be, and how you will manage your breaks.

A day before the test, get enough rest. Try not to think much about the test, and reassure yourself that you are ready to take the GMAT.

Conditioning and preparing your mind to get into the test environment will help you stay calm during the actual test.

Recommended Read: How to effectively plan studies for the GMAT?


We hope the above-mentioned steps will help you cope well with GMAT test anxiety. You should also remember that you have the option to retake the test, so do not overburden yourself. if, however, you are running on a tight deadline, preparing with the right resource and having a mentor to guide you through prep will be a better way to go.

Need guidance on how to plan your GMAT retake Or are you a first-timer? Speak to our GMAT Strategy Consultant for FREE. Schedule a Call Now


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