“I go to the gym everyday, but I am not losing any weight!”
“What do you do at the gym?”
“I weigh myself.”
If you ask us who’s more likely to succeed – a student who takes a mock test faithfully every week, without fail, but does nothing in between, OR a student who takes a mock test perhaps once in fifteen days but spends the intervening time brushing up on his mistakes – we would unhesitatingly point to the latter. Taking mock tests are useless if you do not learn from each and every test. It’s similar to the man who thinks he must lose weight simply because he goes to the gym daily – without knowing what he needs to do, or even where he’s going wrong; it will always be a hit-or-miss proposition!
Yes, you should take mock tests every week – but you also need to get the maximum out of these. If you don’t know where you’re going wrong, it doesn’t matter how many tests you take; you will not see any score improvement. Worse still, you will end up repeating the same mistakes and becoming better at making them! Remember, learning begins with analysis.
Each time you take a test, keep these in mind
- If it is an official test, you are not only honing your performance but also getting to solve actual GMAT – level questions. Very valuable, considering this is exactly what you will encounter on the GMAT
- If it is an unofficial test, don’t take the questions too seriously. They may not necessarily be of the same standard or difficulty level as actual GMAT questions. But how you tackle them and the mistakes you make will remain the same, whatever the test is. So, focus more on what went wrong with you during the test.
During the test
- This is a luxury you have only during your mocks. Every time you are struggling for long on a question, put a T next to it to indicate a time/speed issue. This will help you later to understand your own pacing.
- Similarly, if you guess an answer, put a G next to it before you move on (if it is an online test, note the question number somewhere) so that later, you know how many times you had to guess. Too much of this is, of course, a bad sign.
After you take the test
- Go through every question and mark off the ones you got wrong. But don’t check the correct answer option. Take another shot at these questions and see if you get them right the second time. If you do, then it means you knew how to solve them, but it was time pressure or carelessness that worked against you. If you still can’t solve them, they are clear problem zones, and you need to revisit them fundamentally
- Don’t skip the questions you got right. Some of them could just have been lucky guesses! Compare the given explanation with your approach to see if there’s something you have missed or if there was an easier, faster way to solve the same question. That is also learning.
- Mark the questions by question type. Keep doing this for all your mocks. At a certain point, you will have the data from hundreds of issues to analyze. Go through these to see if you can discern patterns – are you making the same kind of mistakes over and over again? Remember these are not easy to catch in the short run, but if you track your performance over a longer period of time, it is very easy to spot trends
What this also means is that you need some discipline in terms of tracking your performance. Keep one notebook, or better still, an Excel sheet because that makes it easier to colour-code and filter responses later, to capture all the data. So, you will have all the data you need in one place.
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