Eat Something!

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Among other things, the GMAT tests your endurance. By the time you reach the 75-minute Verbal section, you've done two 30-minute essays and a 75-minute Quantitative section. That's almost 2.5 hours, and it doesn't even count the time you spent at the testing center before sitting down at a computer. It doesn't include travel time, either.

Too many students ignore this element of the GMAT experience. One way to prepare yourself is to take at least one full-length practice test, all in one sitting, including the essays. But no matter how accustomed you are to the nearly four-hour experience, you will probably be completely exhausted well before you finish the 41st Verbal question.

Maintaining Energy to the End

One partial solution is simple: During breaks, eat something! You will have a few minutes between the Analytical Writing Assessment and the Quantitative section, then another chance to catch your breath between the Quant and Verbal sections. Don't waste this opportunity!

The more you are able to snack (within reason, of course), the better your energy and thinking skills will hold up through the Verbal section. Plan on eating well the morning of the exam. Unless your test is first thing in the morning, make sure to eat something right before entering the test center. And then snack a bit more during breaks.

What to Eat?

The most important thing isn't what you eat, but that you eat at all. However, some foods are better than others.

One former colleague of mine recommended that her students eat a Snickers bar between sections. Both the sugar and the nuts give you an added boost for the duration of the exam. Healthier alternatives include trail mix and raw fruit such as apples or bananas.

Everyone reacts a little differently to various pick-me-ups, so the best thing you can do is try different foods during your longer study sessions. If a Snickers bar really does keep you more alert toward the end of a hard day, it will probably have the same effect on test day.

By the time you take the GMAT, you'll have put in a lot of study time, and you'll be under a lot of stress. A little food can go a long way in translating all that preparation into your goal score.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

Total GMAT Math

The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Quant section. It's "far and away the best study material available," including over 300 realistic practice questions and more than 500 exercises!
Click to read more.