In my experience with the GMAT, students fall into two categories when it comes to practice tests: either they over-rely on them, or try to get out of taking them altogether. As you might have guessed, neither of these approaches are optimal.

Practice tests are a tool in the toolbox and, like all tools, can be used wisely or counter-productively.

Some programs or tutors recommend that the first thing a student does in the prep is a practice test; I have to disagree strongly with this.You may want to try a practice test early on in your prep just to get a snapshot of the test, but keep in mind that your score may not represent your abilities once you have learned the strategy of the test.

Aim to start taking simulation exams (sim tests) around halfway through your prep and certainly no later than two to three weeks before test day. You should ideally have your foundations and strategies well under your belt by the first sim-exam, although don't wait too long.

Once you have introduced sim tests into your GMAT prep, try to take two a week.

This brings me to something all my students struggle with: test-like conditions! Try to emulate test day as accurately as you can. Try to take your sim tests at the same time of day as the actual test, with the same amount of sleep, and with the materials you will have that day.

Plan on doing at least five or six sim tests during your prep: limiting your sim-exams to only one or two will not say much about your scoring potential, but taking the average of five or six tests can truly help you find your strengths and weaknesses and reach your achiever your highest score.

Source: The Economist

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