Computerized GMAT will make students forget pencils, paper

Cougar news services

Students going into business school will have two fewer things to worry about in preparing for the Graduate Mangement Admissions Test, the business school admission test: paper and pencil.

These traditional test-taking tools are being replaced by computers as the Computer Adaptive Test system is being put into place. The GMAT is the first test to become completely wired, as opposed to the Graduate Record Examination, which is still offered on paper as well as on computers.

Beginning the third week in October, the test will be administered only on computers. The last traditional test session was June 21, when over 85,000 people, the most in seven years, signed up to take the test.

"The CAT is a new type of test, not simply a new way of filling in answers," said John Katzman, president of The Princeton Review test review firm. "A lot of people are scared of the computerized format."

Katzman noted that the computerized test will bring out a new kind of test-taker. "It is not easier or harder than paper-and-pencil tests, but it does reward a new class of good test-taker," he said.

"There is no doubt that students who take the time to learn the new format will improve their scores significantly."

The CAT version of the test differs from the traditional paper version in that, while all test-takers receive questions from the same general group, each person gets a unique combination of questions.

Also, questions in the CAT version are given based on success in previous questions. For example, the first question offered is of medium difficulty. If the test-taker answers it correctly, the next question will be more difficult, but if the first question is answered incorrectly, an easier question will be given next.

Eventually, the computer determines a level of difficulty at which the test-taker consistently gets questions correct and above which he or she tends to answer questions incorrectly.

As in the traditional version of the GMAT, most questions are multiple choice and cover both math and verbal topics. Two analytical writing essay questions are also part of the test.

The time required to complete the test is approximately four hours, and the multiple choice questions are scored on a 200- to 800-point scale.

For information on The Princeton Review's CAT GMAT review courses, link to www.review.com.

Visit The Daily Cougar