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How often should I take practice exams?

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How often should I take practice exams? [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2012, 22:15
Hi everyone,

I am wondering how often I should take practice exams during my preparation. I took a cold GMATPrep CAT in December and scored a 570 (Q31 V38).

I bought the MGMAT guides, worked through the lessons and lesson reviews (no OG probs yet) and am currently on the "Overlapping Sets" topic in 4th book (only Geometry + verbal material left to cover). I have been working on and off since January, but now that it is summer (and work is starting in July), it is crunch time.

I literally have nothing going on for the next month, so I need to use that time as efficiently as possible.I would definitely like to have my GMAT done by the end of August. I am shooting for 700+.

My plan is currently to get through all the books, then go through the MGMAT recommended problems (from the OG12s). Should I take a practice exam after I complete the material, but before I do the OG problems? Or should I wait until I complete all of the OG problems and then do the practice exams?

I have access to GMAT Prep, MGMAT, and hopefully the GmatClub exams soon.

In summary: how should I space out my practice exams?
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Re: How often should I take practice exams? [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2012, 07:19
Along with some of the suggestions above... I will also mention:

You should try to take 1 practice test per week. The best way to do this is to take the test under timed conditions WITH the AWA and IR... try to take the test on the same day at the same time, or atleast the same time of day. If you do this over your entire prep you will get used to test day and what you eat, drink, feel, etc... on that day. This is the best way... So imagine you do this for 10 weeks straight and then on the 11th week you take the test. Imagine how good it will feel when it's just like another practice test.

Also, read my post in my signature called "10 tips...." this will help you maximize your study time and practice tests.

Good luck
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Re: How often should I take practice exams? [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2012, 07:36
I was asking myself the same thing, thank you guys for your answers.
Also, how far into the preparation should one start to take the tests? for example, if I study for four months would it be ok to take one CAT every sunday?
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Re: How often should I take practice exams? [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2012, 08:12
Typically I wouldn't recommend that anyone take more than 7-10 practice tests during their entire preparation. So a good way to do it might be to start off with a practice test to see where you stand. Then take a practice test every other week for the first couple months, and then speed them up to once a week coming closer to your test. 4 months is really the longest you want to study for this test, typically we suggest 3 months of intensive study (20+hrs per week).

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Re: How often should I take practice exams? [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2012, 12:14
I personally took as many practice tests as I possibly could. Not sure why it would not be worth it to do more than ten, or do more than one a week.

I ended up taking four a weekend for the last two weekends up until my GMAT. One on Saturday morning, one on Saturday afternoon, one on Sunday morning, and one on Sunday afternoon for two weekends straight. Integrated with many other GMAT Club quizzes, practice problems, and reviews.

I found this to really help my endurance and timing, so when I took the real test after a few days off, mentally it was a breeze. This would be my personal recommendation. It was absolutely brutal during the training, but definitely paid off in the end.
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Re: How often should I take practice exams? [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2012, 18:20
Thanks for the help, everyone.

I'm going to take a practice exam once I finish the geometry book (hopefully Wed. or Thurs.) and them once every week or two afterwards.

Once I get within a few weeks of exam time, I will likely take a few tests to help building endurance.

Thanks for the help!
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Re: How often should I take practice exams? [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2012, 19:01
I think that's a good idea.

To respond to those mentioning that taking as many tests as possible is what they did. I've seen that this doesn't always prove to be the most effective way of studying. Practice tests are opportunities to put what you've learned to practice. During the test you aren't learning topics, how to answer questions, or other things like that. You are just learning how to take the test and working on different skills.

So you really just want to take enough tests that you are super familiar with the timing, feeling, etc of what the test will be like. The rest of the time you want to build your foundations, ability, and speed. Tests aren't the best study material out there. Just like jumping into the OG would be a bad idea before doing any studying. Practice questions and tests will only take you so far, ultimately you have to build your foundations, skills, knowledge, etc... There are diminishing returns on taking anymore than 7-10 practice tests. And taking multiple tests in a day or many a week does not leave you the correct amount of time to review questions, learn, and study.

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Re: How often should I take practice exams? [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2012, 02:48
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There are 2 sides to this argument - and well, both are right :)

Why more practice tests are good?

1. They provide you with a good way to assess where you stand. These should be indicators to determine your next course of action.

2. Solving a question in isolation and solving it in a test setting are 2 different things. Taking tests increases your mental stamina.

3. Practicing with an adaptive test would expose you to higher-level problems - something you cannot do if you solve from a book.


Why more practice tests are bad?

1. They are means to assess yourself - not improve your performance. So taking back to back tests will not really show any improvement.

2. Many GMAT CAT tests are not truly adaptive so a bad score can demoralize you or a great score can lull you into a false sense of complacency.

3. Taking a test early on in your prep (apart from the diagnostic) will end up wasting tests since it doesn't correctly measure your level until you have completed the basic rules/formula

Arun
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Re: How often should I take practice exams? [#permalink] New post 06 Jun 2012, 03:37
arun@crackverbal wrote:
There are 2 sides to this argument - and well, both are right :)

Why more practice tests are good?

1. They provide you with a good way to assess where you stand. These should be indicators to determine your next course of action.

2. Solving a question in isolation and solving it in a test setting are 2 different things. Taking tests increases your mental stamina.

3. Practicing with an adaptive test would expose you to higher-level problems - something you cannot do if you solve from a book.


Why more practice tests are bad?

1. They are means to assess yourself - not improve your performance. So taking back to back tests will not really show any improvement.

2. Many GMAT CAT tests are not truly adaptive so a bad score can demoralize you or a great score can lull you into a false sense of complacency.

3. Taking a test early on in your prep (apart from the diagnostic) will end up wasting tests since it doesn't correctly measure your level until you have completed the basic rules/formula

Arun



I agree 100%. My personal opinion is one should take one test the very first day of study as a diagnostic test.
After that, one test on every weekend, followed by a deep analysis should be fine in order to see if the preceding week has produced the desired results.

Back to back tests just before the real appointment are really common, I am now learning, but personally I do not see how that can benefit you, UNLESS you are pretty strong on both verbal and quant but have weak time management or really need to build up stamina.
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Re: How often should I take practice exams?   [#permalink] 06 Jun 2012, 03:37
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