When students begin preparing for the GMAT, I always recommend that they take a GMATPrep practice test early in their studies.I do this for several reasons:

·    Students should know, as soon as possible, exactly what they will be preparing for over the coming weeks and months.
·    The results of this test help students gauge the amount of work required to reach their target score.
·    These practice tests help build confidence, since scores inevitably improve as the student prepares.

    Students usually find my recommendation reasonable until they actually download the GMATPrep software and see that it contains only two practice tests (Practice Tests 1 and 2). At this point, some are reluctant to waste one of these tests so early in their preparation.

    This conclusion is based on the assumption that the GMATPrep software consists of two static tests. The truth of the matter is that the software consists of two considerably large test banks from which questions are drawn to create the practice tests. Since they are drawn from large test banks, the questions that appear on Practice Test 1 will likely be different from the questions that appear when a student takes Practice Test 1 a second or third time. As such, students can and should take each practice test several times to evaluate their level of GMAT readiness.

    Now, I'm not suggesting that the questions appearing on later attempts of a test will be completely different from the questions appearing on earlier attempts of the same test; there will be some duplication.

    How much duplication?

    To answer this question, I decided to take GMATPrep Practice Test 1 multiple times to see what happened. To maintain consistency, I answered all of the odd-numbered questions in the quantitative session correctly and all of the even-numbered questions in the quantitative session incorrectly. For the verbal section, I guessed E for every question.

    Here are the results.

    My three quantitative scores were 19, 23 and 26. The first two tests (Q19 and Q23) had 6 questions in common out of 37. The second and third tests (Q23 and Q26) also had 6 questions in common. I'm assuming that the results would be similar for the verbal section.

    So, knowing that there will be some duplicated questions on subsequent attempts, is it worthwhile to take a practice test so early in one's preparation? In my opinion, the answer is yes for the reasons I gave at the beginning of this article and for the following additional reasons:

    ·    When you do retake the same test, a majority of the questions will be different.

    ·    When you do encounter a duplicate question, it's possible that you won't remember the solution, in which case the integrity of the test remains intact.

    ·    The GMATPrep practice tests are, by far, the best way to evaluate your GMAT proficiency.

    Of course, seeing duplicate questions can affect your score and yield skewed results that might not necessarily reflect your skills. This is especially true if you answer repeated questions quickly and bank extra time in the process. To mitigate this, I suggest that, when you do see a duplicate question, take the usual amount of time (1.5 to 2 minutes) to answer it.

    So, although seeing some repeated questions in a practice test is not necessarily the best way to evaluate one's skills, I believe that the benefits of taking and retaking each of the two GMATPrep tests far outweigh the disadvantages.

    About the Author:

    Brent is an expert for Beat The GMAT and a GMAT instructor with nearly 20 years of teaching experience. You can read more articles on GMAT prep and MBA admissions at beatthegmat.com.