Test Strategies

November 24, 2006

I Know I haven't completed the section wise discussions as yet, but I thought may be I put in the test preparation section to help out guys who are already half way through their prepping. And honestly I couldn't resist myself from writing this section....simply cuz this is going to be the best post ever and I guarantee you guys that this is going to push your scores by at least 20-30 points if you really practice what I preach here.

So let's just start...I promise it's going to be exciting...

What all you need?

  1. Kaplan cds (4 tests which you get with the Kaplan GMAT Edition)
  2. GMAT powerprep (2 tests which is free to download from MBA.com)
  3. Any other test CDs (at least 4 tests)

In sum you should have 10 tests.

In addition to Kaplan and power prep, I had IMS test cds (having 12 tests!!) I must add here that these tests were not up to the GMAT mark, at least the verbal section. The CR was nothing like what you see in the actual GMAT. But this doesn't mean they didn't help me. Practicing those tests helped me build up my stamina to perform under test conditions....and that's very very important. In the actual test I hardly had any problem. I didn't even take the optional break after the essay section and just moved on to the Quant section. (You must have seen the invigilator's face :-D )


Kaplan and power prep will be the actual indicator and must be given seriously. They are like industry standards against which you can benchmark your performance.

Other tests should also be taken seriously, but keeping in mind that they may not be very consistent, one should not benchmark one's performance against that. I would recommend them for stamina building and spotting silly mistakes which you wouldn't want to make in the actual tests, or for that matter even in the Kaplan and power prep tests.

Rules for the Game:

  1. You are not allowed to take breaks which are not a part of the actual exam.
  2. You have to be totally aware of the actual examination rules and instructions.
  3. You can only use 6 scratch papers for rough work.
  4. Try to simulate actual exam conditions as much as possible. So you would want to avoid keeping a water bottle with you :-)

Read my post describing the actual exam (I will put up that soon)

How to schedule your tests?

I presume you have already taken the diagnostic test by now. There's no such thing as an ideal schedule. It's up to the individual's pace and stamina. But I feel the following is a great way to schedule tests:

Kaplan Diagnostic
GMAT power prep 1
Test 1
Test 2

Kaplan Test 1
Test 3
Test 4

Kaplan Test 2
Kaplan Test 3
Kaplan Test 4
GMAT power Prep 2

Break?? Yes Breaks!!

After the first Diagnostic, take a week going through all the concepts in Quant. Learn the Grammar rules. Familiarize yourself with the concepts, question stems, etc. (Read Chapter I)

Take the GMAT Power prep after 10 days. Prepare yourself for the test. Feel the importance of it and try to do your best.
My score was 710. I feel you can easily add 50 points to this to get an idea of your actual score. Obviously this applies only if you are taking this test at an early point of time. Learn from mistakes. See which type of questions you screwed up. Learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them. If you are able to do so, there's no stopping you.

Test 1 and Test 2...Learn from your mistakes...keep updating your grid...analyze your performance in every section. Remember you have to do all the practicing and solving problems from the study material side-by-side. Tests tell you which areas you screw up in the Exam.

TIP -- Always have a rough idea about the timings. As in after 10 mins you should be on the 5th question. After 30 mins you should be on 15th question....something like that. You would want to spend an extra effort and time on the first 10 questions...which will push you towards the high score region.

TIP -- I have observed that the first 9-10 questions are always SC or CR...not RC's. SO make sure you avoid silly mistakes in SC/CR.

Schedule all the tests in a manner that you get at least a one day break for each break mentioned there and you're still left with three days before the exam to take the 2nd Power prep Exam.

The 2nd Power prep will be the fairest approximation. I believe you will get 10-20 more on the actual exam. I got a 740 in that.


  1. Learn from your mistakes.
  2. Keep updating your analysis chart.
  3. Spot your weaknesses.
  4. Ascertain your test strategy after experimenting in 3-4 tests.

My Score chart looked something like this:

Kaplan Diag 680
Kaplan 1 630
Kaplan 1 680
Kaplan 1 650
Kaplan 1 630
Power prep 1 710
Power Prep 2 740
IMS Diag 1 680 (630)
IMS Diag 2 690 (650)
IMS 1 630 (610)
IMS 2 760 (710)
IMS 3 730 (680)
IMS 4 620 (600)
IMS 5 700 (650)
IMS 6 730 (680)
IMS 7 720 (670)
IMS 8 690 (640)

The figures in brackets are Kaplan(2004) conversion of the same score. Basically Kaplan calculates your score based on number of wrongs and rights. I prefer it that way. Even though Kaplan’s scores are highly skewed they are consistent. So if you are somewhere around the 650 mark you are doing well. I had the 2004 version, but I believe it’s not much different from the latest ones.

In addition to all this, what you must do is consider every exercise to be a mini test. Solve the exercises under a similar environment and with the same sincerity and vigour. ATB.

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