GMAT Practice Test Strategy
Taking the GMAT is an integral part of applying to business school, and if you’ve done any amount of GMAT exam preparation, you’ve likely heard that taking full-length GMAT practice tests is a critical part of your preparation. This is sage advice.
Students who take the GMAT cold — without ever having taken practice tests ahead of time — can find the GMAT experience difficult. But, the flip side is that when students prepare properly, including taking a sufficient number of practice tests before the real GMAT, top GMAT scores are within reach.
That said, you want to be smart about when and how you use practice tests in your preparation strategy. So, in this article, we’ll discuss all you need to know about using practice tests to reach your goal.
The Characteristics of Good GMAT Practice Tests
In the GMAT marketplace, there are many practice tests that students can purchase. However, not all practice tests are created equal. It’s important to invest your time and energy into tests that are high quality.
So, what are the key characteristics to look for in high-quality practice GMAT exams?
The best GMAT prep practice tests will include the following:
- realistic GMAT questions
- an accurate scoring algorithm
- a large question bank
Let’s discuss each of those characteristics in further detail.
Realistic GMAT Questions
One of the most important features of a practice test is the quality of the questions it uses. The best practice GMAT tests utilize realistic GMAT questions. If you take practice tests that utilize less-than-realistic GMAT questions, your scores on the tests won’t accurately reflect your skill levels.
An Accurate Scoring Algorithm
The next important characteristic of the best practice exams is that they utilize a realistic scoring algorithm, one that replicates, to the best degree possible, the one used by the GMAT.
Although the basics of how the GMAT is scored are well-known, the specifics of how the test is scored is a trade secret known only to GMAC, the creator of the GMAT.
Therefore, when test prep companies create proprietary practice tests, they must use their best estimation of how to correctly score their practice tests. If the algorithms created by the companies are off, the practice test results could be artificially high or low.
If a practice test overestimates your score, you may earn a significantly lower score when you take the real GMAT. If a practice test underestimates your GMAT score, you may continue studying, believing that you’re not ready to take the GMAT and wasting valuable time that you could spend on your applications.