GMAT practice tests: Which one should you use?

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GMAT practice tests: Which one should you use?

choosing a gmat practice testWe’ve discussed GMAT practice tests a few times on this blog: What they do well, what they do poorly and how you should use them in your study plan.  Yet few words have been written on how to decide among the numerous practice tests offered by different brands.  With a glut of prep companies and practice tests on the market, making an infomred decision on which test to use in your prep is difficult, especially when each company claims that their tests are the best.

However, the notion of a “best” practice test isn’t so simple as tests made by different brands have their own strengths and weaknesses.  To help you make a decision, we’ll take a look at the most popular practice tests and how they contribute to your GMAT prep.

Different GMAT practice tests help in different ways

Your choice of brand should be based on what you wish to accomplish by taking a practice test.  Often test-takers have three reasons for taking a practice test: 1) to gauge how prepared they are for the real test, 2) to practice their test-taking skills and 3) to discover their weaknesses — the areas in which they need the most improvement to increase their score.

Different practice tests will be better at helping you acomplish one goal more than others.  For example, to guage how prepared you are for the actual GMAT, the accuracy of the practice test is key.  Accuracy is also important for practicing test-taking skills, but arguably all practice tests help these skills by making you concentrate for an extended period of time.  To determine your weaknesses, however, the supplementary analysis and feedback provided by practice tests are more important than how accurate they are.  Let’s take a look at how the most popular GMAT practice tests meet these needs.

GMATPrep

GMATPrep is the official practice test made by the same people who write the actual GMAT.  Hands down this is the best test to take in order to guage how prepared you are for the actual GMAT because it best predicts the score you’ll receive when you take the real thing.  GMATPrep most closely approximates the real test because it uses actual GMAT questions retired from the exam, and it uses the same scoring algorithm as the real exam.  For these reasons, the GMATPrep tests are great for monitoring how close you are to your desired score.  Start your GMAT prep with a GMATPrep test to see where you stand and then take one or two more as your test date approaches to monitor your progress.

MGMAT

Short for Manhattan GMAT, MGMAT practice tests, like all third-party tests, cannot reproduce the accuracy or the experience of the GMAT the same way GMATPrep tests can.  However, the strength of MGMAT tests lie in their detailed feedback and answer explanations.  Test-takers can not only discover their best and worst sections on the test but also dive deeper to discover which types of questions and concepts give them trouble and how much time they’re spending on each question type.  Test-takers report that generally MGMAT practice tests feature harder questions than the actual GMAT, which creates a skew in the scores compared to actual GMAT.

Kaplan

Similar to MGMAT practice tests, Kaplan practice tests are best used to discover what areas of the GMAT you need more work in.  Kaplan practice tests also feature a detailed breakdown of your score so that you can better understand your GMAT deficiencies and zero in on concepts that give you trouble.  Kaplan also offers a free GMAT practice test on their website that students can take themselves or have proctored for them.  Test-takers generally find that Kaplan practice tests skew scores lower than the actual GMAT though experiences vary.

Did we leave anything out?  Let us know about your experiences using different brands of practice tests by leaving a comment below.

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