The Art of Mock Test-Taking

‘Practice Mock Tests’ is advice often repeated by online entrance coaching blogs, teachers, and successful aspirants. At first glance, it seems like a piece of simple, fool-proof advice that could hardly go wrong. Nevertheless, to capture the full essence of this nugget of advice, it is essential to learn how exactly one should practice mock tests.

The usual strategies of many aspirants when it comes to mock tests mostly fall into the following categories-

  1. Forgo practising any mocks because either due to fear-or test phobia or over-confidence.
  2. Practice only mocks and ignore learning concepts in a more structured format.
  3. Practice mocks and independently practice each concept, but skip reviewing the mistakes in mocks.

If you feel like you fall in any of the three groups, fear not. Even if you don’t, congratulations, but read on, and you may nevertheless get some useful insights on how to get the best out of mock tests.

Initially, before preparation, you should ideally not plan any mocks. However, taking one mock at the very beginning will enable you to understand the structure of the exam and gauge your weakest concepts.

After the initial mock test, it is best to steer clear till you have developed some confidence through reviewing new concepts and practice material. Once you get a decent grasp of the topic, you can start with sectional mocks. If you find yourself getting anxious during timed tests, you can even practice one or two untimed tests to gain confidence. Afterwards, it is best to start taking complete, timed mock tests. While it is crucial to start taking mock tests when you are familiar with the concepts, do not delay thinking that you’ll begin them once you’re through with all possible questions on each topic. That process lasts till the final day of the exam.

While doing mock tests, it is essential to time the mocks and perform them with complete seriousness. This helps to give an idea of time management and helps to alleviate stress during the actual test. Thus, the aspirant must make sure they practice the mocks in a single setting in a preferably quiet environment, if possible.

Once the exam is over and you have checked your answers with the answer key, it is very tempting to forget about the paper and not review any mistakes. However, to improve, it is essential to see what errors were made and why. As a rule of thumb, you must try to spend at least as much time reviewing mistakes as the paper’s actual duration. For example, for a 3-hour-test, it is advised to spend at least 3 hours analyzing mistakes and missed questions. During the test, try circling or starring the questions that you missed or were unsure of. While reviewing the answers afterwards, go back to the problems you were uncertain about- even if they were correct. This will help you pinpoint why you were unsure and figure out the best approach to the problem.

For exams that have negative marking, like IPMAT (for both Indore and Rohtak), it is advisable to take only calculated risks and avoid blind guesses altogether. The missed questions should not be ignored but instead analyzed thoroughly during the review. You should ask yourself four questions during the review and pave the way from there- Why did you leave the question? How can you solve it? Was the question easy enough to solve quickly? Should you solve similar questions in future papers or switch to less time-consuming ones?

During the review, try to categorize your mistakes into calculation errors, conceptual doubts, and time management issues. It is best to go back and understand the concept again and practice its questions thoroughly for conceptual doubts. For calculation errors, analyze which place you’re most likely to make the error- is it when you interchanged two variables? Or perhaps did you misinterpret the unit of a quantity? Figuring out the exact place of the calculation error will help you to be more mindful in the future. As for time management issues, try timing your practice questions repeatedly and look for shorter ways to solve the problems.

Carrying out all this with be undoubtedly a lengthy process. However, it will help you get the most out of mock tests and improve quicker if done right. With the help of UniVoyage, you can get our sample mocks and practice questions and look forward to acing your tests with the perfect balance between hard work and smart work.

UniVoyage, an initiative by the students of IPM Indore, helps aspirants to get into their dream colleges, like IIM Indore, through entrance exam tips, exclusive interviews with entrance test toppers, mock tests, and more. Check out our Instagram page (uni.voyage) and YouTube page (Uni Voyage).