How to Make Most Out of GMAT Mock Tests


GMAT mock tests are an important part of your GMAT preparation. A GMAT practice test is not just for practicing the questions. It can also provide you with invaluable insights into your current level of preparation. If you take each GMAT practice test in exam-like conditions, it can definitely make you better prepared for the actual GMAT.


Are Mock Tests Important?


While preparing for GMAT, taking GMAT mock exams is and should be a part of your preparations. Before you begin your prep, take a properly timed GMAT sample paper. This will help you get familiar with the structure of the test (GMAT paper pattern) and the kinds of questions on the exam (GMAT syllabus). This initial diagnostic test can even help you set realistic expectations about the time and effort required to reach your dream score.

Once students start their prep, some students take all the tests quickly, one after the other. They feel that just solving GMAT question papers is enough to learn the concepts tested while others save all the practice tests for the end of their prep. Few other students, even though they may use the best books for GMAT preparation, do not take any practice tests as they are afraid to see their scores. However, the best strategy is to take GMAT practice tests at regular intervals throughout your prep.

If you take a GMAT test as a timed test, it can yield invaluable information. If a GMAT practice test is properly reviewed, it can provide insights into your strengths and weaknesses. This can then guide further preparation and help you make effective use of the time that you have available for preparation.

GMAT is not just a test of your knowledge: it also tests your ability to manage the time available in a strategic manner. Taking full-length tests can thus also help you evaluate your test-taking strategies. If it has been a while since your last exam, taking GMAT tests at regular intervals during your preparation period can help build your stamina and sustain your concentration levels over the long exam duration (of almost 3.5 hours).


What Makes a Good GMAT Practice Test?

Undoubtedly, taking GMAT practice tests is an essential part of your GMAT prep. However, only standardized material from a reliable source has the content, question types, answer types, and scoring similar to the actual GMAT exam. A good GMAT test can help you understand your current level of prep, guide further prep and effectively predict your actual GMAT scores.

Questions on the GMAT are adaptive. This means that your performance on a question will determine the difficulty level of the next question. Very few GMAT practice tests in the market are really computer adaptive. On the actual GMAT, you cannot skip a question or go back to an earlier question. A good practice test will simulate your actual test experience. The computer interface of the practice test should also reflect the actual GMAT test. One of the reasons that GMAT is difficult is that there are trap answer choices and it is difficult to pick the correct answer quickly. The practice tests should also reflect this. Thus, using questions of a lower quality, from unreliable sources is just a waste of time.

Unreliable sources may just recycle material from other exams such as CAT or XAT. Some concepts in those tests may be similar to the ones tested in GMAT. Nonetheless, the structure of the exam, level of knowledge/skills tested, and style of questions is unique to GMAT. The time, money, and effort that you put into preparation for GMAT should be of actual benefit to you. For this reason, it is essential to only take practice tests from reliable sources that have a proven track record of effectiveness. The test creator, GMAC, offers 2 free tests and some paid tests on its website mba.com. Manya – The Princeton Review also offers one GMAT mock test free and 10 full-length tests (in the paid version) on the princetonreview.com website.


When Should You Take Practice Tests and How Many Tests?

Start with a GMAT practice test before you begin your GMAT prep. This test is like a diagnostic tool and gives you insights into your current level of prep. It can also help you set realistic goals about the time and effort needed to reach your target score. When you have learned some key concepts and practiced some GMAT questions (using techniques that can help you get to the answer faster), then take the next test. Do not wait till the end of your prep to take tests. Take GMAT practice tests at regular intervals during your prep and use the insights from your tests to guide further prep.

Students often ask about recommendations about the number of practice tests to take. Taking at least 8 to 10 full-length tests can help you get familiar with GMAT, guide your practice, and predict your score levels on the actual GMAT. However, students should remember that just taking many tests is not enough. To make effective use of the tests (as a diagnostic tool of your performance), take the time to actually review each test. Understand your strengths and weaknesses in terms of concepts and strategies. Work on weak areas and do not be afraid to seek support from experts, when needed.

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How to Take the GMAT Practice Test?

Remember that you are trying to simulate exam conditions every time you take a full-length test. So do not take the test when you are exhausted after a long day at college or work. Take the test when you are well-rested. Make sure that you take the test in a quiet place where you can work uninterrupted for at least 3.5 hours. Turn off distractions like notifications on your laptop and keep your phone in silent mode.

Treat every practice test like the actual GMAT. Only if you simulate exam conditions and take a practice test from a reliable source, only then will your score reflect your level of preparation and can be used to predict your performance on the actual GMAT. So what does “simulate exam conditions” mean? Whenever you take a practice test, take the entire test and do not skip any sections. Take the exam in one go- do not pause the test at any time. This can help you build stamina for the actual exam. Do not extend your breaks to longer than the allotted time. On the GMAT, if you don’t return on time from a break, you may lose time on the next section.

Furthermore, it is essential that you only take a timed test. Some students panic when they see the timer running on the actual GMAT. To get used to this, it is important to take every practice test as a timed test only. Taking the timed test can also help you be aware of and practice your pacing strategies. Do not wait till the last few minutes to check the timer. Check your pacing every 5 to 10 questions. If you have answered enough questions in that time, maintain your pace. If you realize that you are lagging behind, pick up your pace, so that you can complete answering all the questions in the section. Do not get stuck with one very difficult question and spend a lot of time on just that one question. Make an educated guess and then move on. Even if your guess for that single difficult question is incorrect, you can make up for the difficulty level in the subsequent questions. Remember, there is a penalty for not answering all the questions in a section. Also, if you run out of time you may decide to guess multiple questions at the end of the section. If many of your guesses end up being incorrect, the difficulty level will go down. This will definitely affect your final score.

Do not use an external calculator for any calculations- use only the one provided in the GMAT mock exam. Notepad, capping pen (marker), etc. can be used in every GMAT mock test.


What to Do After Taking the GMAT Practice Test?

Many students are just focused on completing as many practice tests as possible. However, the point of taking a practice test is not just to complete it but to use it as a diagnostic tool to evaluate – your knowledge of concepts, the gaps in your test-taking strategies, and your ability to perform under pressure. Thus it is essential that you review your performance in the tests within a couple of days when the test is still fresh in your mind. This analysis can help you identify gaps in your knowledge or test-taking strategies. This knowledge can then help guide further practice and can also help you utilize the time available in an effective manner. Even if you know a concept well, you should be able to answer questions quickly and accurately. So it is important to analyze the method in which you answered the question also. At Manya Princeton Review, the strategies and techniques taught have helped many students improve their speed and accuracy while answering GMAT questions.


We Can Help

Manya – The Princeton Review offers 10 full-length practice tests for the GMAT. Each test has an interactive score report that provides detailed answers and explanations. The score report also provides insights into your strengths and weaknesses which can then guide further practice.

Manya – The Princeton Review also offers a GMAT mock test free for you! So what are you waiting for try it out today!


Frequently Asked Questions


Q1. Is 2 months a good time span to prepare and score at least a 600 on GMAT?

This actually depends on where you stand according to a diagnostic test taken and on how many hours you can devote per day towards preparation.

Q2. Can we use a calculator for the Quantitative section?

No. Calculators are not allowed for the Quant section. However, there is no need to worry because the questions asked will not require the use of the calculator.

Q3. Does canceling a GMAT score impact admissions later?

Your question seems to ask whether schools will get to know that you canceled a score. The answer is No. Only you get to see that cancel. The report that goes later to the schools will not feature your canceled score.

Q4. If I am not able to complete just the Verbal section of the GMAT, will I still be penalized badly?

Remember GMAT score is a composite score. So yes, you will be penalized. Badly or not will depend on how you performed until the end and of course the number of questions left unanswered. So be sure to work on strategies better to be able to manage time well.


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