GMAT Practice Test Suggestions
The scarcity of GMAT practice tests makes it so that as a would be GMAT wizard you have to ration your tests. Here today we’ll discuss how best to use GMAT practice tests in your GMAT preparation and best practices for taking a GMAT practice test.
GMAT Practice Test = Diagnostic
There are two main reasons to take a GMAT practice test. The first is to get a baseline score before starting your GMAT preparation. This is super important. Not only will you get an idea of what the GMAT is like but you will have some understanding of how much studying you will need to do in order to reach your goal. Do this before having a consultation with a GMAT tutor.
Instructions for your first GMAT practice test:
- Clear your schedule for 3.5 hours.
-Turn off your cell phone, ipad, or any type of alert.
-Get 8 sheets of paper or your erasable notepad ready along with several writing instruments.
- You will be taking the Integrated Reasoning, the Quant, and the Verbal. You can skip the essay.
- Be strict with the timing. Don’t touch that pause button!
You do not need to review this test. In fact, I would avoid reviewing because you will be re-taking this exact test a month or so down the road and it would be better to be less familiar with the questions. If you have a tutor you can send her/him the screenshots so they can analyze the results. If you scored dismally: don’t worry. Lots of people bomb the diagnostic and bounce back with great official scores. No matter how poorly you did and how much you want to prove to yourself that you can do better, do not be tempted to take a second diagnostic:)
GMAT Practice Test for Practice!
The second reason to take a GMAT practice test is to hone your test taking skills in a realistic setting. The two vital skills for success on the GMAT are sticking to a timing strategy and getting comfortable guessing and moving on when you don’t have a plan. It is super tempting to take another GMAT practice tests near the beginning of your preparation. As you learn new things you will want to see the progress that you’ve made. The GMAT practice tests will be calling out to you “take me, I’ll show you your score!” Resist. Taking an extra practice test or two or three in the first month or so of studying is a massive waste of resources. This is the time to build up your skills. Yes - you can work on your test taking skills but do so with mini-quizzes from Question Pack 1 (here are some suggestions for using the Question Pack). You only have four official GMAT practice tests. Let’s use them wisely. So when should you take a GMAT practice tests? Good question. This varies with the student but I would start getting into exam mode about five weeks before your exam date.
GMAT Practice Test for practice
- Same preparation as above but I’ll add: get a good night's sleep the night before and do the test before any other energy sucking activity.
- In addition to being strict with section timing also be strict with the 8 minute breaks.
- Use an erasable GMAT practice pad. Have two pens.
Students often ask whether it is necessary to do the IR and the Essay. I would do one full exam to get a sense for what the big race is like. Do that with your second to last exam. For the other tests only do Quant and Verbal. The logic here is that doing an entire test is extremely fatiguing. Add in review and we're talking a lot of work. Spare yourself from doing the IR and the essay every time. In general you don’t run marathons to train for a marathon.
Instruction for reviewing a GMAT Practice Test
- Take screenshots of everything that you want to review. Yes - it is true that the results are saved in the GMAT prep software but I have had many students lose their results only to have to call GMAC customer service for an SOS. Also - it is nice to have all of your error log in one folder.
- Review the same day as the exam (if possible). It is best practice to review the questions while they are fresh. This way you still remember how you approached the question on the exam and can correct the faulty logic. This is also very helpful with RC so you don’t have to do a full re-read for all of the passages. Don't forget to review correct answers as well!
- These questions are GOLD - keep reviewing/re-doing questions from your error log until you are 100% on them. There may be some questions that stay in the error log for your entire preparation.
Here is a FAQ on the GMAT Exam Pack and a link to the GMAT Prep software with two free practice tests. I tried to be as detailed as I thought would be helpful but feel free to comment with any questions. Happy studies!