1. No shortcuts
Take the entire CAT, including the essay and IR sections each time. Many test takers choose to skip the essay and IR sections during practice so that they can go immediately to the quant section. By doing so, they end up taking a shorter, easier practice GMAT that doesn’t ‘test’ them in the same ways that the official GMAT will. The official GMAT is about four hours long. If you’re skipping sections and only training to face a practice test that lasts two and half hours, then you won’t be properly prepared for the real thing.
2. Time of day matters
Take your CATs at the same time of day and same day of the week (if possible) as your official GMAT. Implementing this start-time to your practice tests will help you get used to taking the exam at that specific time of day. In that same way, you can better plan the entire test-taking event around starting at a specific time, taking breaks at a specific time, etc.
3. Leave home
Do not take your CATs at home. Test day will require that you get dressed, leave your home and travel for a certain amount of time before you take your GMAT. Those details are a part of test day, so you should plan to make them a part of your practice GMAT tests.
4. Testing environment
Account for the little details. You’ll be taking the GMAT on a desktop computer (not a laptop). You’ll be using a laminated pad and marker (not a pencil and paper). There will be other test takers in the room with you, typing and making noise – and the door to the computer lab will be consistently opening and closing. You have to account for a certain amount of distraction on test day, so taking your practice GMAT in a quiet, empty room is not realistic.
5. Do not retake the same CAT
Do not retake a CAT that you’ve already used. Your goal is to receive a realistic GMAT score result, so taking a test of completely new questions each time is a must. Seeing even a handful of repeat questions will almost certainly throw off the scoring and give you an inflated, unrealistic result.
These extra steps might seem tedious, but since the GMAT score is going to be one of the most important parts of your application (if not the most important part), then you have to decide how much extra work you’re willing to do to score at a higher level. Ultimately, considering how much time and effort will go into your overall study routine and applications, the extra steps here really don’t require that much extra work.