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# Experimental Problems having an impact on official scores?

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Joined: 29 Jan 2005
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Experimental Problems having an impact on official scores? [#permalink]  02 Oct 2005, 01:29
About one quarter of the questions on the GMAT are experimental. The experimental questions can be standard math, data sufficiency, reading comprehension, arguments, or sentence correction. Unless you have a photographic memory, it is extremely difficult to distinguish between an experimental problem and a really tough legit problem.

Because the "bugs" have not been worked out of the experimental questions--or, to put it more directly, because we are being used as a guinea pig to work out the "bugs"--these unscored questions are often more difficult and confusing than the scored questions.

This brings up an ethical issue: How many students like myself have run into experimental questions early in the test and given a disproportional amount of precious time to solving them thereby putting ourselves at a disadvantage to receiving a score that reflects our true ability? Crestfallen by having done poorly on a few experimental questions, many of us lose confidence and perform dismally on the other parts of the test. Some testing companies are becoming more enlightened in this regard and are administering experimental questions as separate practice tests. Unfortunately, ETS has yet to see the light.

Knowing that the experimental questions can be downright difficult, if you do poorly on a particular question you can take some solace in the hope that it may have been experimental. In other words, do not allow a few difficult questions to discourage your performance on the rest of the test. But therein lies the dilemma: we don`t know which questions will or will not be counted against us so we give 100% to each problem we are faced with.

Clearly, the need for experimental questions can be justified, but at the cost of undermining the true ability of test takers who have not practiced for such problems?
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I don't agree at all.

I think it is right to use experimental questions in the real test.
It is the most accurate way of ensuring consistency over time.
The problem with practice tests is that you haven't completely replicated the test environment.

The questions are not experimental in the sense that they contain errors, they are experimental in the sense that ETS are checking the percentile level and distribution of the experimental questions.

A good question is one in which someone at the xth percentile gets right say 50% of the time, someone at the xth+10 percentile gets right say 75% of the time and someone at the xth-10 percentile gets right say 25% of the time. What the testers are looking for is what is x for each question and what is the distribution (ideally low standard deviation, relatively low skew).

You cannot usually tell which are the experimental questions, photographic memory is irrelevant. I had one easy question at the end of my quant, which I thought might be experimental as it seemed out of place. I had one verbal question with one irrelevant typographical error (though it might have been a real question not experimental). Other than that, I do not feel I have any idea which questions were experimental.

It is the same for everyone, so it has no net effect on percentile ranking.

Answer every question on its own merits as if it were for real, in a sensible amount of time, and forget each question as soon as it is answered. You should not get crest-fallen because you got an answer wrong, because you don't know that you did. Even if you guess you may have been lucky. There may be other questions you think you got right that you got wrong.

I was very impressed by how rigorous the logic and implementation of the GMAT actually was.

I have not heard anyone who got a high GMAT score criticise the tests !!!
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# Experimental Problems having an impact on official scores?

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