The GMAT as an Adaptive Test: What’s It All About?

 The GMAT Computer Adaptive Test

As many of you are entertaining plans for business school and consequently investigating the GMAT, you’ve most likely come across the term computer adaptive. What does that really mean? Why is it so important to understand the GMAT as a computer adaptive test (CAT) when you’re deciding between the GMAT and GRE?

The GMAT adaptive test is unlike any of the other major standardized tests you’ve taken in your lifetime. Other tests evaluate your score based solely on the number of correct answers (and sometimes make a deduction for the number of incorrect answers) and then translate that raw score into some kind of curved or “scaled” score. The GMAT computer adaptive test is so much more than just a computerized version of a paper-based exam. The GMAT CAT, in living up to its name, adapts to your performance as you progress through the test questions. Consequently, Inspirica’s online GMAT test prep understands the importance of incorporating the adaptive nature of the test into testing preparation and strategy.

GMAT Adaptive Algorithm: Imagine a First Date Scenario

The GMAT adaptive algorithm applies to the two main components of the test: verbal and quantitative (and does not apply to the Integrated Reasoning Section or the AWA). Imagine that you’re on a first date with a computer that wants to get to know you better. The computer assumes that you’re of “average” interest and begins each quantitative and verbal section with a medium level question. As you answer questions correctly, the computer warms up to you and offers questions of increasing difficulty. It “likes” you more and increases its estimate of your abilities. On the other hand, as you answer questions incorrectly, the computer becomes less impressed and offers questions that are easier and easier. It diminishes its estimate of your ability, and, while it may still give you opportunities to redeem yourself, it becomes increasingly difficult to do so as you move closer to completion of the section. In other words, overall, the GMAT adaptive test makes the most sweeping decisions about who you are early in the section and formulates its opinion of you based on first impressions. As you move through the section, it gets more and more difficult to change this opinion even if you had a spurt of brilliance (correct answers) at the end. The overall GMAT scoring will be based not just on the number of questions answered correctly but the difficulty level of those questions.

GMAT Adaptive Test: Practical Strategies for Test Takers

Recognizing the importance of the GMAT computer adaptive test directly affects your GMAT online test preparation planning. Taking GMAT Adaptive Practice Tests will also be important. Here are the major considerations that should factor into your GMAT prep plans:

  • On the GMAT computer adaptive (CAT) test, you cannot move on to the next question, unless you answer the previous one. In other words, there’s no going back! You can only see one question at a time. This will factor into your time management and guessing strategy for the section as a whole.
  • Time is of the essence! Average time per question on the GMAT adaptive test for both the quantitative and verbal sections is about 2 minutes. You cannot get stuck on a difficult question midway through the section and end up sinking 4 or 5 minutes into one question.
  • Guess and move on, if need be! As stated above, no single question is worth a ton of time. As difficult as it may be to guess, your GMAT online test preparation strategy should incorporate effective and educated guessing scenarios. Especially if you have no idea how to solve a problem, bite the bullet and go to the next question.
  • Finish the section! There are major penalties incorporated into your score on the GMAT adaptive test if you do not finish the section. Consequently, if you suspect that you may not have enough time to complete the section, begin to judiciously guess on a few questions so that you can get closer to finishing. (The computer adaptive algorithm will, by the way, penalize you for randomly guessing, for instance, on the last 5 questions, spending only a few seconds on each.)
  • Take note of your time throughout the section, not just as you near the end. Your elapsed time will be posted on the computer screen. To pace yourself, multiply by 2 the number of the question you’re doing. That should dictate how far into the section you should be.
  • Inspirica GMAT test preparation experts will account for all these considerations and help you apply them to your specific needs.

Inspirica’s Approach to GMAT Test Prep Online

Inspirica’s approach to GMAT test prep starts with recognizing the differing needs of students applying to graduate programs. We’ve seen every type of student, from those who are in college and want to enroll in business school immediately upon graduation to those who have been out of college and working full-time for years. Our team will work with you to find a tutor who fits your availability, and your tutor will focus on teaching content, strategy, and technique. The tutor will also help you guide your independent preparation as you practice those techniques and review content on your own, in whatever proportion is optimal for you.

More than most other standardized tests, there are certain aspects of taking the GMAT that are impossible to replicate through homework alone, which is one of the reasons that regular GMAT adaptive practice tests are a staple of our GMAT test prep online programs. Your tutor will help you set up a schedule of periodic mock tests that will give you the opportunity to practice the techniques you’ve learned in the context of a full test while also familiarizing you with the experience of taking the full test straight through. This practice with the test-taking experience is particularly important in GMAT programs, as students need to become comfortable with the question-adaptive computer interface. After each mock test, you and your tutor will go over the results together in detail, using them to revise your computer adaptive practice test plan; you’ll be able to see the product of your hard work and determine what part of the test to attack next.

For GMAT test prep online programs, you’ll take official practice tests released by the GMAC using the same software that you’ll use when you take the real test. The practice version of the software scores the test in the same way the actual GMAT is scored but still allows you to review each question individually, giving you and your tutor the opportunity to deconstruct your results in order to pinpoint exactly why and how your right answers were right and your wrong answers wrong.

 Get Started Today on Your GMAT Test Preparation Online

To learn more about our GMAT test preparation online programs, schedule a free phone consultation with our team of Program Coordinators today!