Bhavya feared taking mock tests as she felt that a good score would make her over-confident or a poor score would demotivate her. So, she decided not to focus on mock tests and didn’t create any mock test strategy.
Chintan, on the other hand, followed a mock heavy approach i.e. he spent a lot of time taking mock tests and thought that he could learn the concepts from mocks itself. He tried to ace the GMAT just by taking mock tests.
Mihir used non-official mock tests to test his preparedness to achieve his target score. He took the GMAT because his scores in these mock tests were in line with his target scores.
What do you think was the result of the three cases mentioned above? Did they achieve their target scores in this attempt of GMAT?
The answer is NO. None of them could reach their target score in the first attempt.
- Bhavya did not focus on mock tests and her test-taking strategies and scores 570 in her first attempt. She improved to 730 when she took a balanced approach to her studies. Click here to watch her interview.
- Chintan gave too many mocks in his first attempt and ended up getting only a 630. In his second attempt, he realized his mistake, followed a methodical approach, got his fundamentals strong and improved to a 710. Click here to read his de-brief.
Read this article to know more about mock tests and how you should create your mock test strategy:
- Purpose of a GMAT Mock Test
- When to take Mock Tests?
- How many mock tests to take and how often?
- Dos and Don’ts while taking Mock Tests
Purpose of a Mock Test
When it comes to GMAT, mock tests serve 4 basic purposes. Based on the stage of preparation you are at all or some of these may be applicable to you. So, let’s first see what these 4 purposes are and then how they will differ based on your stage of preparation:
- Expose your strengths and weaknesses
When you take a mock test, you can see which topics you do well on and in which topics you tend to make mistakes thereby understanding your strengths and weaknesses.
- Expose gaps in your test-taking strategies
When you analyze your mock test results you may find that while you know all the concepts there are other factors such as timing and the nature of the test that requires a well thought out strategy to score well. Taking a mock test would expose these gaps if any in your preparation.
- Build stamina to sit through the entire test without letting fatigue set in
Students usually find it tough to concentrate for the entire duration of the test as they are not used to sitting and focusing on a task for a continued period. Mock tests help students build their stamina and concentration for the actual test
- Give you an estimate of your preparedness for the GMAT i.e. help you predict the score
When you take an official mock test, it gives you a fair estimate of your current preparedness and you can rely on those scores to be fair indicators of the score you are likely to get on the actual GMAT.
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If you are taking a mock test in the early stage of your preparation, it serves only the first and the last purposes i.e. expose your strengths and weaknesses and give you an estimate of your preparedness for the GMAT. Since you are too early in your preparation evaluating your test for test-taking strategies or building stamina when you don’t even know a lot of concepts and approaches to GMAT questions are irrelevant.
However, if you have completed the learning phase of your preparation and then take a mock test, it serves all 4 purposes. At this stage, it basically shows the mirror to your preparation so far. You can evaluate your strengths and weaknesses after the learning phase and test-taking strategies. This test will also reveal how would you fare in the actual test as far as your stamina to sit through it is concerned.
Are all the mock tests available in the market equally good for all the four purposes that a mock test should serve?
The answer is a big NO. Since GMAC uses a proprietary algorithm, score prediction is out of question for almost all the third-party mock tests. GMAT Prep comes the closest to predicting your scores. Apart from GMAT Prep mocks, other resources which you can rely on to estimate your scores with decent accuracy are Veritas Prep and Ability Quizzes in Scholaranium*. Most other mock tests are either too tough and predict much lower scores or too easy and predict higher scores. Almost all tests serve the second and third purpose completely and the second purpose to a good extent.
Take Ability Quizzes in Scholaranium to know your sectional and sub-sectional Abilities. Use Skill Data section to isolate your weaknesses and reach your target score in the most efficient manner!
When to take GMAT Mock Tests?
As I mentioned earlier, mock tests at different stages of preparation serve different purposes but what is the ideal time to start taking mock tests? Should you take one every week or every day of your preparation? Or should you prepare by solving as many mock tests as possible? In all the purposes of Mock tests mentioned above, nowhere is learning a purpose of Mock Tests. It is to be used as a supplement to your core learning resources. GMAT is a test of Ability and building ability requires you to develop mastery by ensuring conceptual and process clarity. Mere practice is not enough.
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You should take one mock test right at the beginning of your preparation to see how far or close you are to your target score and how you should prepare further. This is also called a Diagnostic test the purpose of which is to diagnose the problem areas for you. Once you create a study plan based on your diagnostic test, execute the learning phase completely before taking a mock. You may take the next mock in the refine phase of your preparation. This is also when you may take multiple mock tests.
Looking to improve your scores by more than 100 points, read our article on creating Personalized Study Plans for 100+ Score Improvement.
So how many GMAT mocks should you take and how often?
Apart from the first mock test that you take right in the beginning, you should plan to take at least 2 mock tests towards the end of your preparation. You may take more mock tests if time permits. You should have a minimum of 3 days between 2 mock tests. Once the mock tests have exposed the various gaps in your preparation, you must work on improving them before you take the next mock test. Ideally, you should not be repeating the same mistakes in the next mock tests thereby showing incremental improvement from the previous mock test scores. These mock tests should be full-length mock tests from a good source so that you can get real actionable insights to work on.
The difference between Practice Questions, Sectional Tests and Full-Length Mock Tests
You must use practice questions in the learning phase i.e. along with conceptual learning. The purpose of practice questions is to get you started with applying the concepts and processes that you learn on actual questions. Practice questions help you cement your conceptual and process learning. They also expose gaps in learning.
You may use sectional tests between mock tests to track and fine-tune your preparation before you take the next mock test. This will also help you make the most out of the investment – monetary and time – that you make in the mock test. You must ensure that the sectional tests and preferably even the mock tests that you take can give you topic level data of your performance.
Dos and Don’ts while taking a GMAT Mock Test
There are a few things that you must and must not do to make the most of your mock tests. As explained earlier mock tests are meant to make you exam ready and so the following do’s and don’ts follow the same theme:
- Take the tests at the same time during the day as your actual GMAT i.e. if you have booked a morning slot, try to take all your mock tests in the morning.
- Don’t take longer breaks than what you will get in the actual GMAT.
- Don’t pause the tests in between if you start feeling tired or for any other reason. Take the mocks in one sitting.
- Don’t take extra time to solve questions. Stick to the time you will get in the actual GMAT.
- If on the test day, you intend to take AWA and IR before Quant and Verbal then do the same in the mock tests. Try to stick to the order that works for you.
All in all, try to replicate the actual GMAT in the mock tests as much as possible!