Computer adaptive format (CAT)

Last updated: 13 Jan 2012

The GMAT is presented on a computer and so you will need to know how to use a mouse and a basic word processor.

The multiple choice sections (quantitative and verbal) of the GMAT are a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). This means that the difficulty of the questions you are given depends on how well you have answered previous questions.

Basically if you do well and get the questions right you will be given increasingly difficult questions and if you get a question wrong the computer will react by giving you an easier question. This means that you will have a different test from the one taken by the poor soul sitting beside you taking the GMAT at the same time. Initial questions will be randomly chosen from mid level questions and then it will all depend on how you answer.

You do not have to get all the questions right to get a perfect score of 800, in fact the questions should be difficult enough to cause you problems by the end of the test even if you are scoring 800.

Approaches to the CAT

This makes a number of differences to your strategy for the test.

Firstly, you have to answer each question before you go on to the next and you cannot return to a question you previously answered to change your mind. This means you cannot miss out difficult questions when you first see them and return to them later in the test.

Secondly, the score you receive in the verbal and quantitative sections is not just a simple measure of how many questions you got right and how many you got wrong, it depends on which questions you got right and which ones wrong. The CAT tries to home in on the score you deserve and so at the beginning of the test right and wrong answers make big differences to your score whereas at the end of the test the CAT is just fine tuning your score and the changes are much smaller.

Also you must attempt 80% of the questions because otherwise you are heavily penalised for not finishing enough questions for the CAT to assess you properly.

Next page: How is the GMAT scored?

Comments (2):

  1. Typo in the first sentance.

    areyes on 10 Nov 2011 (permalink)
  2. Thanks for the correction.

    joel on 13 Jan 2012 (permalink)

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