Monday, September 5, 2011

Love and hate relationship with the practice tests

If there is one thing that I understood during my brief studies till date, it is the fact that how worse you feel yourself during the test, the better you score. I mean your anticipation about your score is generally wrong. In the end of the exam if you feel that you were horrible and expect a 650 coming, in most cases it turns out to be above 700.

I didn't feel good on my first CAT (GMAT Prep 1: 710). Quant section was stringent, especially with complex data sufficiency questions on inequalities (I must work on those); and verbal was mind boggling, with endless RC passages on eccentric subjects with tons of technical terms. Although I actually didn't know what to expect as it was my first prep test.

The other two CATs, on the other hand, really felt dreadful. I was hungry even before I started CAT no.2 (GMAT Prep 2: 710) and considering the fact that the test takes hours, you can imagine the mood I was in all test. Hunger already causes a disproportionate anger and impatience on me on a normal day. Furthermore, I know how the results of mock exams affect one's psychology for the real GMAT, so it is always crucial for me to score high. Long story short, it was like a torture trying to focus until the end of the test. I even thought about leaving it unfinished. As I urged to finish it, I felt that I did lots of consecutive mistakes. The simplest looking quant questions, shortest SCs seemed impossible (By the way, I think it is a trick that GMAC uses sometimes to test attention to details). Well, the result was a modest q50-v36 710. I can't say that I'm proud of that verbal but the overall score was much higher than my forecast.

The third prep test (MGMAT Free test: 730) was by far the hardest. At some point in the middle of the quant, I started wondering where did they find so oppressive questions. SC was hard as always for me since I recently started focusing on SC; RC passages were hard to follow and a few CR had some dubious reasoning (Here came my first criticism). Pushing the final button to see my results, I honestly felt that I'll get around 630. The result told otherwise, 100 points above my anticipation. For 15 seconds I experienced an "I can't believe my eyes" moment, but then I remembered that there's an opposite correlation between the feeling and the score and it made sense.

A good feature in MGMAT tests is that it shows the hardness level of the question on the results section, hence providing a more tangible source of self evaluation. It was interesting to see that the wrong answers in both sections were almost as much as the ones in my first two practice tests. The results show that I solved a fair amount of 700+ questions correct and didn't made consecutive mistakes, which I believe has significant importance.

To sum up, I can say that I have a love&hate relationship with the practice tests. I hate them throughout the tests and love them when I see my scores. However, don't start thinking that I'm satisfied with my scores. It's just a relief of scoring much better than expected. I still aim for a minimum 770.

p.s.: For some time I'm planing to write on the difficulties of a regular study amidst a non-stop 70 hours work regime without weekends, in a country Amazon doesn't deliver to. I hope it will be my next post subject.