How Are the GMAT Prep Tests to the Actual Exam?

GMAT practice tests prepare you for all aspects of the actual exam, setting you on course to achieve the score you desire.
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The Graduate Management Admissions Test, or GMAT, the quintessential exam for admission into business and management programs around the world, takes roughly three and half hours to complete and assesses your verbal, quantitative and integrated reasoning abilities along with your analytical writing skills. The Graduate Management Admissions Council, or GMAC, offers GMAT preparatory tests for free, and you can get more practice tests for a fee or when you enroll in a GMAT preparation course. These are practically the same as the actual exam, and they coach you in the computer-adaptive format of the exam as you practice answering past GMAT exam questions.

1 The Computer-Adaptive Format

One of the key features of the GMAT is the computer adaptive format it uses for scoring. The questions you receive are not predetermined as they would be on a paper exam; rather, the GMAT adjusts each subsequent question you receive in each section based on the answer you provide for the previous question. This continuous adjustment is designed to provide a more accurate assessment of your abilities. Each exam section opens with a medium difficulty question; if you answer that correctly, the next question will be more difficult; if you answer incorrectly, the following question will be easier. This process continues until you finish each section of the exam.

2 Free Prep Tests

The GMAC offers two free downloadable preparation tests on their website. These are complete exams that not only use retired GMAT exam questions but also provide the answers to each question so you can check your performance. These exams come with the added benefit of computing your scores using the adaptive format so you can receive a realistic estimate of your score upon completion of a practice exam.

3 Purchased Prep Tests

The GMAC also offers additional preparatory tests for purchase. As of 2013, an additional two practice exams cost $40. You can also look into enrollment in a test preparation course, such as those offered by test preparation companies Kaplan or Princeton Review. In addition to classroom instruction, tutoring or self-study options, these courses come with roughly ten complete computer-adaptive GMAT practice tests. These courses, however, are significantly more expensive, costing approximately $1300 to $1500 in 2013.

4 Additional Study Questions

You can also enhance your preparation for the GMAT by quizzing yourself with additional practice questions. The GMAC offers almost 100 free exam questions across all three main exam areas, with the option to purchase an additional 400 downloadable questions for $30. Test preparation courses, such as those offered by Kaplan, offer over 5,000 practice questions for your use.

Teresa J. Siskin has been a researcher, writer and editor since 2009. She holds a doctorate in art history.