Do You Need a Test Simulation Booklet?

November 19, 2010

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A few years ago, when the GMAT stopped giving test-takers the typical paper and pencil, Manhattan GMAT did a clever thing. They produced a near-replica of the test-center replacement: a several-page laminated notebook and marker.

The booklet allows you to make your preparation that much more realistic--generally a good thing. Many students swear by it. You can see it in the reviews on the booklet's page. Many are headlined with a phrase like "You need this," or "Must-have!"

Not so fast. Realism in test-prep is valuable, but it can be taken too far.

With ten years of tutoring under my belt, I've heard every excuse in the book for a low GMAT score. The ones that frustrate me the most are from people who expect the test center (and the computer, and the work station, and the staff) to be just so. When things don't go as expected, they freak out, and they bomb the test.

I get it. The GMAT is high-stakes and high-stress. But you have to be ready for the unexpected. Just as some test questions won't look like anything you've studied, so the test environment will carry a few surprises.

Back to the simulation booklet. If you're going to use it to gain some familiarity with the scratchwork on the exam, go for it. It's certainly much closer to the real thing than a legal pad.

At the same time, it's important to recognize that no test-preparation tool can take the surprises out of test day. You must go into the exam ready to be flexible, or you'll find yourself with far too many distractions to reach your best score.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

Total GMAT Math

The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Quant section. It's "far and away the best study material available," including over 300 realistic practice questions and more than 500 exercises!
Click to read more.