Dan the GMAT Man

Best GMAT practice tests and how to take them

One of the most important parts of the GMAT preparation process is the incorporation of quality practice tests. For clients going through my curriculum, we typically start folding these in towards the end of the curriculum. Why? Most major test prep companies have you take an exam at the beginning, a couple in the middle, etc.

They are simply, from a business perspective, trying to show you that you are improving and their methods work. But OF COURSE you’re going to get better if you study content and strategy for the exam. The whole question is whether or not you’re improving as much as you COULD BE- that is, are you reaching your potential or just slowly improving with the pack.

For me, taking full length practice tests before you are more or less fully comfortable with the content is like taking a Chemistry 101 final exam before the class begins or halfway through the course. You’re not going to do well until you’ve completed the course. In a chemistry class, you test along the way for what you’ve learned SO FAR. But a full GMAT practice exam isn’t a test of what you’ve learned so far. It’s a final exam. So I don’t like to burn the precious practice exams until you’re ready to give them a serious try.

To appropriately test along the way for mastery of content, I have my clients do lots and lots of topical quizzes from GMAT Club. This tests whether they’ve learned and can apply content in a test like environment. But it doesn’t toss them overlapping sets problems before we’ve covered overlapping sets. To do so would be a complete waste of time. Save the practice tests for when you’ve gotten the content covered. One of the other main reasons you will want to do this is that there are so few quality practice exams out there. Here is my list of worthwhile practice tests ranked from best to worst:

  1. Full length practice tests from MBA.com (A total of 6 available)

and nothing else.

No other company has a good algorithm to match the real exam. Scores are all over the place. This is why you want to save them. You only get 6 quality practice exams.

Now, retaking practice exams is totally ok, especially if you underperformed on an earlier one and are set to do much better this time. The question pools extend far beyond the questions you saw on your first take, so if you do better from the start you will likely see all new questions, and even if you see a couple you’ve seen before you’ll likely have forgotten how to do them and the scores, in my experience, are still quite accurate. More than 80 percent of my clients score within 20 or 30 points of what they scored on practice tests, when all is said and done. I’m happy to talk about practice exams and anything else- just contact me.

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