“Taking a Mock test is always a good idea, but always taking a Mock test is not.”
Mock Tests – or practice tests as they are otherwise known – are an essential part of test preparation because they can familiarize you with the type of questions that will come in the actual GMAT examination. There are plenty of such tests available online, but, to borrow from Orwell’s Animal Farm, not all tests are created equal. It is important to choose only those that resemble the actual GMAT in structure, manner and content.
Here’s a small list to help you decide how and when to take mock tests.
1) Choose the right mock test.
An improperly-modeled mock test won’t just be useless – it could even be harmful! For instance, if the test gives you easy questions, you will not push yourself to learn how to handle the trickier ones and will walk into the test center on the back misplaced self-confidence. If the pattern is wrong, it will throw you off your rhythm on exam day and any strategies you might have planned out (and it is important to have a strategy that covers your strengths and weaknesses on exam day) will come to naught.
A good mock-test will have as many questions as the GMAT, and in the same order and pattern as well. The questions should cover a good range of difficulties and preferably be taken from the official GMAT test prep guides.
2) Approach mock tests as if they were the real thing.
A lot of test-takers have admitted to us that they take GMAT mock test casually. This defeats the very purpose of taking mock tests!
When you take a mock test, impose on yourself the same discipline and limitations as you would face in the real test. This means that you take them during the same time of day as your scheduled GMAT exam; your cell phones must be switched off; you do not sip Horlicks or coffee at your workstation; you should not take breaks longer than the eight minutes that the GMAC allows you between sections, and any excess time taken must be deducted from the next section; you must attempt questions in the right sequence, tackling the intellectually-draining GMAT AWA and GMAT Integrated Reasoning sections first before moving on to the relatively easier quant section.
A mock test taken faithfully is a good indicator not only of how you will perform on the big day but also of the scores you can expect. This will help you choose which schools you have a better shot of getting shortlisted for – which, in turn, will save you money that would have otherwise gone to applying for schools that you might not clear the cut-offs for.
3) Learn between tests
Taking the right mock test in the right manner over and over again is useless if you do not learn between the tests. Think of a doctor who keeps prescribing the same tests over and over again without ever having a proper diagnosis or starting any treatment – this would make just about as much sense.
Unlike the real test – and this is the only exception we make – you must make a note of the troublesome questions encountered during the mock tests. The frequency at which you take mock tests is not half as important as how you spend the time in between. Mock tests are especially effective if you keep working on your weaknesses after each test: go through your notes, recalling the logic you employed for each of those questions and then figuring out where you went wrong by comparing it with the official solution. If possible, try to record the time you’ve taken to answer each type of question as well – this will help you identify what sort of questions you must focus on and strategize for.
4) Keep taking mock tests as soon as you think you have crossed a milestone.
Remember, it is not really about scoring highly on mock tests as much as it is about being prepared for the one test that does matter. Keep pushing the boundaries of your comfort level, but not to an extent that it starts making you diffident instead.
A good thumb-rule to plan your preparation is to undergo at least 15 mock tests spread over as many weeks. In case you are pressed for time, you can take the tests more frequently – but do not take them just for the sake of taking them! Your capability in the GMAT exam is more important than a climbing graph of scores in mock tests.
5) The mock tests in the last few weeks before the GMAT, however, should be used for fine-tuning your approach.
This is when you must test your strategy after figuring out your strengths and weaknesses. It is possible that you will continue to get better at the latter during this time, but it makes more sense to assume that you aren’t going to get too much better – this will ensure that you do not feel any undue pressure on yourself while answering the areas you’ve already identified as challenging.
6) At Byju’s, we don’t recommend over-practicing.
Prep fatigue can typically strike in the last few days leading to the test – the ‘home stretch’ if you will – resulting in diffidence or carelessness; it can destroy focus and disturbs your state of mind to the extent that you might forgo your strategy or even freeze. The key, therefore, is to spread out the last few mock tests so that you do not walk into your GMAT exam bored and tired.
In case you want a few more tips on test prep, feel free to talk to Byju’s Classes GMAT counselors! We’ll be happy to help. You can reach us on 9900004628 or email email@example.com