In the first post of this series, we outlined how to spot inefficient trends in your answer choices and time management throughout the test. We’ll now build on these previous steps by showing you how to combine your pacing categories with other test metrics in order to establish your specific GMAT strengths and weaknesses and discover the concepts and question types behind them.
As mentioned in previous posts, practice tests are not always a reliable indicator of how well you will score on the actual exam. Instead, practice scores indicate a likely range near where your actual score will fall. Practice tests are best used then not to “know” how well you’ll do on the real thing but rather to gauge your current GMAT ability — what questions you do well on and where you need to make improvement in order to increase your score. These final two steps of evaluating your GMAT practice test results help to do just that.
Along with the problem list, most practice tests also come with an overview of test metrics. These generally include the percentage of questions answered correctly for the entire test and each test section. Some practice tests break this information down further into sub-types of questions while also providing the difficulty level of each question. By combining these outputs with your pacing information, you can uncover which specific test areas, question types and even concepts represent your GMAT strengths and weaknesses.
To discover your strengths, look for questions answered correctly within the expected time frame given the question’s type. On a section level, strengths are sections in which you got more than half the questions correct an averaged the correct pacing per question. Your weaknesses are the questions you answered incorrectly and spent too much time on and the sections where you averaged below 50 percent correct.
Questions that you spent too much time on but answered correctly and questions that you spent too little time on and answered incorrectly occupy a middle ground between a strength and weakness. Often these represent a clear opportunity for improvement. Depending on the difficulty level, questions answered incorrectly in a short amount of time often result from careless errors that could have been avoided with a little more time and focus. Of course this does not always include questions you deliberately guessed on.
For questions you answered correctly but spent too much time on, there’s likely a way to answer these questions quicker whether through more practice and familiarity with the concept or finding a more efficient way to work through the question. Single these questions out for further studying.
Now that you have categorized your weaknesses, you can take an even deeper look into your GMAT performance. Begin by sorting your weaknesses by section and question type and then look for similarities. Through this process you can narrow weaknesses down into specific concepts, question stems and/or sub-question type.
For example, if you find that critical reasoning is a weak section for you, then a deeper look may reveal that a significant portion of the questions you got wrong contain the “weaken the argument” stem. Critical reasoning questions with this question stem should then become a priority in your study plan going forward. You can repeat this process until you have a list of concepts and question types that are bringing down your GMAT score.
After employing these five steps, you will have extracted incredibly useful information for your test prep, but information is only valuable if you act on it. The next step is to now implement what you learned from this analysis into your GMAT prep. Your strengths, weaknesses and pacing categories should create a clear picture of what you can work to make the most improvement before your next GMAT practice test or actual exam.
Check out our blog for detailed strategies and tips on specific GMAT concepts or access free GMAT sample questions, lessons and practice tests by downloading the Prep4GMAT app.