Getting the Most Out of Your GMAT Practice Tests
GMAT practice tests are one of the best tools in your GMAT preparation journey. They’re a great and more importantly, a quantitative way to measure improvement, but in order to get the most out of these super-sized practice sessions, you want to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success.
1. Simulate testing conditions!
Every opportunity you get, you should be simulating test center conditions which means no snacks, no beverages, no technology and even wearing the type of clothing you’ll be sporting on test day. (A word of advice, bunny slippers, while permissible and undoubtedly comfy, probably aren’t your best choice for test center attire.) Take your two 8-minute breaks and practice leaving your work station, using the restroom, getting a snack from another room and getting back to your computer within the allotted time. By getting your body acclimated to what it will experience on test day, it won’t feel quite so foreign or jarring on test day. This also includes not using scratch paper. If you can get your hands on a practice noteboard (unfortunately, the official ones aren’t sold publicly, but there are replicas available for sale that are pretty close), that’s your best bet. At the very least, buy a few sheets of laminated paper and practice using a fine tipped pen and these sheets during your practice tests. Finally, remember to take your practice tests during the time of day that you’ll be taking your real GMAT.
2. Create a calendar.
When you begin your GMAT preparation journey, sit down with a calendar and work backwards from test day. Many students will take a practice test each week, but it’s important to remember that each practice test also represents 4 hours that you’re not spending on drills and fine tuning other skills. While there’s no perfect formula for scheduling practice tests, overlay your prep syllabus with your calendar and try to take a test after you’ve hit significant milestones in your prep. This leads us to our next piece of advice : having goals and objectives for each practice test.
3. Have a point.
Every time you sit down to study for the GMAT, your study session should have a clear goal or objective. Make sure you Identify it before you start, and re-evaluate on a regular basis. For practice tests, it doesn’t have to encompass the entire test; it may be to “test out” a new strategy you’ve just learned to work on pacing on a specific section. Also, be sure to identify success metrics for these objectives. They may not be easily detected through your subscore or total score, so keep in mind that you shouldn’t focus as much on the numbers if you’re not doing a complete “dress rehearsal” of test day. That’s much easier said than done, but if you may interpret a “plateau” in your progress by focusing solely on your total score when you’re making less quantifiable improvements. For anyone who’s been on a diet, you’ve likely hit a plateau on the scale, but you likely have non-scale victories such as being able to walk further without getting winded or carry more grocery bags in one trip because you’re getting physically stronger. Stay focused on the “non-scale” victories in your GMAT journey.
Make sure you’re setting yourself up for practice test success by having a roadmap. Test reports will provide you with great intel on your strengths and weaknesses, improvements and areas that might need a bit more attention, and even proof that you have the stamina to get through four hours of testing. Taking some time to map out your practice test plan will serve you just as well as doing that one extra Data Sufficiency or Integrated Reasoning drill. Study well!
The above article comes from Veritas Prep. Since its founding in 2002, Veritas Prep has helped more than 100,000 students prepare for the GMAT and offers the most highly rated GMAT Prep course in the industry.