Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions about the GMAT CAT and our answers.
Q: Should I answer questions wrong on purpose so the test gets easier?
A: Absolutely not! If you answer a question wrong, the computer will give you an easier question but your score will go down as a result. If you want a good score (you know you do!) you must answer as many questions correctly as possible. The harder the question you answer, the higher the point value you attain. This is crucial information! Since the CAT scoring algorithm very rapidly determines your testing level, answering correctly without hesitation from the first question on is extremely important so that you start off with a high score. It’s much easier to maintain a high score than it is to raise a low score.
Q: How much does the level of difficulty change from question to question?
A: In the beginning, the level of difficulty changes quite a lot from question to question; near the end, the level of difficulty does not really change so much from question to question. This is an important quirk in the system. The objective of the CAT is to quickly determine (right from the beginning) your approximate testing level and then fine-tune it while you continue the test. To illustrate: a right answer on the first question results in an increase of 50 points, a right answer on the second, an increase of 40 points – on the second-to-last question a right answer nets you an increase of only 10 points. So, if you answer the first few questions correctly, you’ll swiftly receive more difficult (higher score value) questions and can therefore raise your score.
Q: Does my performance on one section affect the level of difficulty of the questions in the other sections?
A: No. Each section is scored separately and begins with a question at the 500-level score value. If, for example, the Quantitative Section is the first section of the test, and if you get all the questions wrong, you’ll still begin with a question valued at 500 on the Verbal Section.
Q: Is the computer program that precise?
A: At The MBA Center, we don’t think so: it’s about as precise as the pencil-and-paper test. Standardized tests, even on computer, cannot be 100 percent accurate in their estimation of the level of difficulty of a given question. Some students consider difficult questions to be easy, other students consider easy questions to be difficult – it varies from test to test, student to student. However, the Adaptive Scoring System comes closer to identifying a personalized testing level than did the pencil-and-paper test.
Q: Can I skip a question?
A: No. Unlike the old test, on the CAT you cannot skip a question and come back to it. Neither can you change your responses. In order to advance to the next question you must enter your answer and then confirm it. The explanation is simple: the computer selects a question for you which depends on an algorithm that takes into consideration all of your answers thus far – if you could go back and change an answer, the continuity of the algorithm would be broken.