Demystifying GMAT Practice Exams to Boost Your Score

As globally recognized business schools grow increasingly competitive, a high GMAT score is vital for admission hopes at the top programs. With average scores above 720 at schools like Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, it‘s clear that mastering the GMAT is no easy feat. This guide draws on expert insights to help you strategically leverage practice tests during preparation.

Why the GMAT Matters More Than Ever

Over the last decade, average GMAT scores at top business schools have trended upwards, signaling the intensifying competition for seats in MBA programs. According to GMAC data, here are current score expectations:

Business School Average GMAT Score
Stanford 737
Harvard 732
Wharton 730
Chicago Booth 727
MIT Sloan 725

With acceptance rates under 20% at these elite programs, a high GMAT helps get your foot in the door. The exam assesses the verbal, quantitative and analytical abilities that indicate preparedness for rigorous business program curriculum.

This is where strategic practice test use during studying can make or break your goals. Research shows those completing multiple practice exams score markedly higher on the actual GMAT compared to non-test takers. Let‘s uncover why.

Why GMAT Practice Tests Matter

Practice tests are invaluable preparation tools that:

  • Acclimate you to the real test format and pacing
  • Pinpoint current ability levels section-by-section
  • Reveal knowledge gaps needing work
  • Improve time management skills
  • Reduce test anxiety on exam day
  • Allow tracking of score improvement over time

Vijay Choppana, a GMAT tutor with over 500 hours of teaching experience, stresses that:

"Taking practice tests under accurately timed conditions is key for GMAT success. Understanding your current scoring baseline and achievement of timed accuracy on practice content best predicts exam readiness."

Practice tests closely mimicking the real exam are ideal. Let‘s explore the critical aspects to consider.

Computer Adaptive vs Linear Practice Tests

The GMAT contains computer adaptive sections for the quantitative and verbal reasoning. Based on correctness of the previous question, the software assigns each subsequent question as easier or harder. This tailored approach pinpoints your ability level.

Many practice platforms offer these computer adaptive tests (CATs) that adjust difficulty in real-time like the actual GMAT. CATs more precisely reveal current capability and prepare you for the test‘s functionality.

Linear practice tests with pre-arranged questions better allow custom topic-focused practice but are less realistic simulations. Balancing both formats is optimal.

Comparing Top GMAT Practice Exams

Practice Exam Question Count Computer Adaptive Content Source Price
GMAC Official Practice 90+ CAT Verbal/Quant Official GMAT $50+
Kaplan 2,100+ No Independent $699+ (Courses)
Manhattan Prep 700+ CAT Independent $499+ (Courses)
The Princeton Review 6,500+ No Independent $499+ (Courses)
Economist 1,000+ No Independent $79+ (Tests)

This comparison highlights key dimensions in choosing practice tests. While independent providers have higher volumes, GMAC‘s official exam practice offers unmatched realism. Investing in an official test is wise, supplemented by third-party resources.

Top Practice Test Sources

Let‘s explore leading practice exam providers in more detail:

Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)

As the GMAT test maker, GMAC‘s Prep Software is the gold standard. Offering:

  • 2 full-length GMAT computer adaptive tests
  • 400+ additional verbal and quantitative drill questions
  • Analytical Writing sample prompts and scored sample essays
  • In-depth performance analysis

GMAC tests carry actual licensed GMAT content, matching the real exam‘s computer functionality and difficulty targeting. These are essential for your practice repertoire despite the high cost.


Known for expert instructors and materials, Kaplan offers different GMAT prep packages, including:

  • 7+ full-length practice tests
  • 2,100+ realistic practice questions
  • Custom quiz builders
  • Video explanations
  • Essay grading

While not computer adaptive, Kaplan‘s large bank of quality questions builds skills. Their top faculty also provide detailed performance analysis.

Manhattan Prep

Another leader in admissions test prep, Manhattan Prep provides:

  • 6 full-length GMAT computer adaptive tests
  • 700+ realistic practice questions
  • Custom study plans
  • Score forecasting

Mimicking GMAT test software, Manhattan‘s CATs identify accurate ability levels to focus your preparation. They offer in-depth analytics on par with classes costing thousands.

The Princeton Review

An affordable test preparation company, The Princeton Review has:

  • 5 full-length GMAT practice tests
  • 6,500+ practice drill questions
  • Custom practice sets
  • Section-level performance reports

While not computer adaptive, Princeton Review‘s flexible self-study options benefit budget-conscious students.

Supplemental resources for extra drill questions include the Economist, Veritas Prep, Target Test Prep and GMAT preparation books.

Conquering the Quantitative & Verbal Sections

Succeeding on the GMAT requires practice and strategy adjusting to question difficulty in real-time.

For Quantitative questions, start by ensuring mastery of foundational arithmetic, algebra, geometry and statistics concepts. Confirm familiarity with principles before tackling multi-step word problems involving charts, graphs and ratios under time pressure.

For Verbal questions, extensive reading is key to build vocabulary, improve comprehension and logical reasoning speed. Master fundamental grammar from modifiers to verb tenses. Memorize key rules around arguments, inference and critical reasoning.

Balance content drilling with full-length simulations. Thoroughly review to correct any concept gaps. Comprehension speed comes with repetition.

Applying Practice Tests Effectively

With an array of options, effectively integrating practice exams in your study plan involves:

Choosing Tests Strategically
Prioritize computer adaptive exams with licensed GMAT questions whenever feasible for optimal accuracy. Seek resources allowing custom quizzes by topic or test section.

Simulating Testing Conditions
Complete full practice tests in one sitting while timed. Avoid stopping to check external resources or references. Enforce testing center rules around breaks to increase focus stamina.

Rigorously Assessing Performance
Check answers to all questions, even those you guessed on. Verify why right and wrong answers were correct or incorrect. Identify your exact quantitative and verbal weak areas needing work.

Repeating Strategically
First complete a test cold to check your baseline score. Then focus practice on weaker areas before re-taking that full test to check improvement. Continue the cycle, discovering gains with each attempt.

With rigorous preparation guided by metrics-driven practice testing, you can master GMAT content, time management and stamina for test day success. Use these tips to invest wisely in practice exams and be confident tackling the real exam. We wish you the very best in your business school admissions journey!