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GMAT Test Prep Briefing

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Yesterday in New York City, I attended the GMAT Test Prep Briefing hosted by the folks from GMAC. They hold events like this once every two years to keep test-prep providers up to speed on changes in the test.

It was a worthwhile exercise, at least for people like me. For you though, there's not much to share.

Slight Changes In the GMAT Question Pool

The test has changed little, if at all, in the last two years. The only things you might notice are that the quality of the question pool has increased, and the vendor that writes the questions for GMAC has changed. That means that some questions in the Official Guides and in the GMATprep software may not be as representative of the actual GMAT as they were, say, two or three years ago.

But there's not much you can do about that. GMAC is planning on releasing a new diagnostic tool in the first quarter of 2008 and a new edition of the Official Guides in the fourth quarter of 2008. For the vast majority of you, preparing for the GMAT in the near future, that's all but worthless.

Strategy Reinforcement

I've written about it many times before: the GMAT CAT algorithm is such that you should not spend more time on the first 10 questions. That's an open secret by this point, but rumors to the contrary persist.

The head psychometrician from GMAC spoke yesterday, and made it a point to dispel those rumors one more time.

Further, he elaborated on the penalty structure for not finishing a section. In the model he displayed, a test-taker who is getting a 70th percentile score but doesn't answer the last five questions is penalized all the way down to a 55th percentile score. Ouch.

Takeaway: time management is everything. I think you've read that somewhere before.

Other Tidbits

I was a bit surprised to learn that the algorithm in the GMATprep CATs is identical to the algorithm in the actual test, and that the question pool, if anything, is slightly larger in the GMATprep CATs. That means those GMATprep CATs are, with the exception of outdated questions, about as realistic as you can possibly get.

There are a few other things I'll share in the coming weeks, specifically about how success on the GMAT correlates to study time, in hours and in weeks, and how people do when they retake the test. Much of this information is available publicly on the GMAC website, but it's a lot easier to let me slog through it than to do so yourself.

About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

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