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GMAT - A Computer Adaptive Test
How does It Work?

A Computer Adaptive Test is also called a CAT.
The first section of the GMAT exam (the Analytical Writing Assessment) includes writing two essays. The two remaining sections (the quantitative and the verbal) contain multiple-choice questions that are given in a computer adaptive manner. That is, the questions in these sections are selected as you answer the exam. In fact, the multiple-choice questions adjust themselves to your abilities, and thus your exam is unique and different from anyone else's.

How does it work?
For each of the multiple-choice sections (the quantitative and verbal) there is a large pool of potential questions at a wide range of difficulty levels: from low to high difficulty. Each of the two sections in the exam will begin with a question of medium difficulty. If you answer it correctly, the computer will usually select a more difficult question. If you answer the first question incorrectly, the next question will be easier. This process will continue until you complete the section, at which point the computer will be able to accurately assess your ability level in the specific field in which you were questioned. A Computer Adaptive Test presents one question at a time. As the computer scores every question before selecting the following question, you cannot skip, return, or change the answer to a previous question.

What happens if I make a mistake or guess?
If you mistakenly choose an incorrect answer or answer correctly by guessing randomly, your answers to the following questions will return you to questions suitable to your difficulty level. A random guess may in fact significantly damage your score. Therefore, if you do not know the answer to a question, it is best to narrow down the number of possible answers through elimination, and only then choose the answer that you think is most correct.

What happens if I do not complete all the questions in the section?
The exam pace is critical, due to the fact that there is a significant penalty for non-completion. All through the exam, both the number of remaining questions in each section and the time left to complete the section will be displayed to you. As mentioned, the quantitative section includes 37 questions, and the verbal section includes 41 questions. If you feel that a certain question is taking too much of your time, or if you do not know the answer to a question - make an educated guess by first eliminating the answers you know for certain are wrong.

The score is determined by 3 criteria:
The number of questions you answered.
Whether you answered the questions correctly or incorrectly.
The difficulty level and other statistical characteristics of each question.

The questions in an adaptive test are weighted according to their difficulty level and according to other statistical characteristics. Their location within a GMAT exam does not affect their weighting.

Are all questions taken into account?
Every exam contains experimental (pilot) multiple-choice questions that are presented during the exam. You cannot identify those questions, as they appear at different locations within the exam. Therefore, it is advisable to do your best on all questions, and not try and guess which are the pilot questions. Answers to pilot questions are not calculated as part of your exam score.

What computer skills do I need for the exam?
The GMAT exam requires basic computer skills only. It requires familiarity with technical skills such as using a mouse, entering answers, moving to the next question, using a word processor, and accessing the help menu. During the exam you can always use the help menu, but note that the time required for doing so counts as part of the time allotted for completing an exam section.

 
 
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