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Have you recently taken a GMAT practice test to nail down your strengths and weaknesses?
Regardless of the result, rest assured that you’re already ahead of the curve. Many people skimp on practice tests, or don’t take a single mock exam in preparation for test day.
Meanwhile, others take numerous tests, but focus solely on their overall score, missing valuable details that can dramatically improve their study strategy and test-taking performance.
When analyzed thoroughly, practice tests tell a detailed story about your unique challenges and aptitudes—crucial insights students can use to map out a more finely tuned and efficient study plan.
Make the most of your trial runs. Follow our five best tips for better GMAT practice test analysis.
1. Delve Deeper into How & Why You Got It Wrong
When reviewing practice tests, students often neglect to delve deep enough into why they got a wrong answer. They usually take note of the topic and question-type, and then move on, vowing to spend more time studying similar problems.
Unfortunately, it’s not so much about what you got wrong—it’s how and why you made the mistake that really matters. Quantum’s expert GMAT instructor, Jason Hornosty, says focusing on “what” versus “why” is a very common mistake during practice test analysis. When reviewing wrong answers, he urges students to consider a range of contributing factors, including:
- did you make a simple computation error (maybe caused by rushing?)
- did you misread the question?
- did you follow an effective process?
Uncovering the true cause of the error is absolutely key in identifying bad habits, and avoiding similar mistakes down the line.
2. Sort Your Mistakes into Categories to Identify Trends
Once you’ve analyzed each mistake, and understand how they happened, your next move should be to categorize those errors into groups.
For example, you may have a group of questions you got wrong because of silly and avoidable mistakes, another involving computational errors, or a category for problems that left you completely stumped.
Grouping your wrong answers will reveal patterns you can use to guide further study, and improve your test-taking skills.
3. Don’t Forget to Analyze Your Correct Answers Too
It may seem counter-intuitive, but you should never ignore the questions you got right when analyzing your GMAT practice tests.
Even with correct answers, there’s always more to learn about process and procedure. For example, did you use the most efficient problem-solving approach? Could you have saved yourself a few minutes? Was there a better way to map it out or solve it?
You need to see the whole picture to improve your performance.
4. Identify How Pacing Impacts Your GMAT Practice Test Performance
Pacing is a significant challenge on the GMAT. Whether you’re already in the 700+ score range, or working your way up from 500, time management is a common stumbling block for many students.
When analyzing practice tests, it’s important to keep track of problems that consistently take too long to solve, those you tend to rush through, and where you’re simply going around in circles.
These insights will help you modify your pacing, avoid “rushing” errors, and identify key areas for further study and improvement.
5. Use Your Analysis to Optimize Your GMAT Prep Strategy
So, you’ve effectively analyzed your practice test or mock exam, and collected some truly useful insights about yourself as a test-taker. All done. Well..not quite.
It’s crucial to take those insights and turn them into action—concrete ways you will adapt your GMAT prep so you don’t repeat the same mistakes, fall into the same traps, or continue to ignore key areas of weakness.
Ask yourself: What are some practical strategies you will begin deploying immediately, during your next study session, and when you take your next practice test? How will you optimize your GMAT prep, based on your findings?
Make a list of revised tactics and reminders—10 or so points to keep in mind and build on as you work toward your score goal.
Remember, all the analysis in the world is useless if you forget to follow through with a targeted plan of action. Put those insights to work! Study smarter, not harder.
Have you taken a mock GMAT exam and need some help analyzing the results, and devising a solid study plan?
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