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GMAT Getting Harder

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GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2008, 15:36
I guess everyone who has done OG10 and OG11 has noticed that the GMAT is getting a little harder, especially in the quant section. I'm told that this is caused by the influx of Indians, who are typically very good at math, taking the GMAT.

Anyway, I saw a doco last night on Bill Gates, who was apparently so proud of his perfect quant score on the SAT that he would tell people on their first date (yeah, I thought it was hopelessly tragic too). I'm just wondering whether Bill would still get a perfect score today, with all the competition around.

BTW, my ex-boss who did the GMAT over 20+ years ago scored a 720, which was 99th percentile at the time. Today, 720 is only like low 90s.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2008, 19:31
I wonder if sites like scoretop and the other ones that GMAC is investigating in china that provide live questions has some impact. Figure that a lot of the people using those sites are top scorers.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2008, 22:41
The impact is very minimal. GMATPrep has about 5000 questions or more, and I imagine the 'live' GMAT has more. If you see maybe 50 questions, every 3rd time you rewrite the GMAT you might see 1 repeat. And that wouldn't influence your score that much.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 07 Jul 2008, 04:10
Startup, haven't seen you on the boards for a while. Which school will you attend this fall and did you get that 800/790 gmat mark?
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 07 Jul 2008, 21:16
You guys are like a little family here.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 07 Jul 2008, 21:43
This works in theory, but posters on the scoretop.com website claim to have seen anywhere from a few (1 or 2) to as many as a dozen or so. If the claims on the scoretop website are true, then that's not merely a small advantage. I actually believe it to be nothing more than false reports. They might have seen 1 or 2, but I don't believe for a second any of them saw 12 questions.

On the other hand, if GMAC has 5000 questions, and each question costs GMAC $2,400 (as reported in the news articles covering the ScoreTop.com fiasco), and if they refresh their question bank every 30 days, as has been reported is true Even if GMAC refreshes 80% of their question bank, at $2,400 a question, this is ~$1,000,000 per month in overhead just to create new questions, and 20% of the questions were used last month and could be seen by test takers that know of the question (although this "old" bank is still 1,000 questions and the test taker sees only 37 of these questions - also see debate on size of question bank for 700+ test takers). This would be 4,000 people taking the GMAT each month just to pay for the new questions (which is not unlikely). Furthermore, how are the new quesitons tested? Is each question put on someone's real exam as the test question(s)? How would they go about testing 4,000 question per month, 48,000 questions per year.

Is it just me, or do these figures seem rather high? $1,000,000 a month in just test question overhead seems rather high to me. Thoughts on this anyone?

StartupAddict wrote:
The impact is very minimal. GMATPrep has about 5000 questions or more, and I imagine the 'live' GMAT has more. If you see maybe 50 questions, every 3rd time you rewrite the GMAT you might see 1 repeat. And that wouldn't influence your score that much.

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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 08:28
jallenmorris wrote:

Is it just me, or do these figures seem rather high? $1,000,000 a month in just test question overhead seems rather high to me. Thoughts on this anyone?

StartupAddict wrote:
The impact is very minimal. GMATPrep has about 5000 questions or more, and I imagine the 'live' GMAT has more. If you see maybe 50 questions, every 3rd time you rewrite the GMAT you might see 1 repeat. And that wouldn't influence your score that much.


J Allen,

You're right, the impact is not minimal. You're estimates are rough, but probably correct.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 08:37
Just to note - with 200,000 - 250,000 test takers a year at $250 a pop, GMAC is generating $50m in revenue. Not sure how it is split between testing centers and corporate, but $1,000,000 on "research and development" per month wouldn't seem out of line to me considering how much is riding on the quality of those questions.

jallenmorris wrote:
On the other hand, if GMAC has 5000 questions, and each question costs GMAC $2,400 (as reported in the news articles covering the ScoreTop.com fiasco), and if they refresh their question bank every 30 days, as has been reported is true Even if GMAC refreshes 80% of their question bank, at $2,400 a question, this is ~$1,000,000 per month in overhead just to create new questions, and 20% of the questions were used last month and could be seen by test takers that know of the question (although this "old" bank is still 1,000 questions and the test taker sees only 37 of these questions - also see debate on size of question bank for 700+ test takers). This would be 4,000 people taking the GMAT each month just to pay for the new questions (which is not unlikely). Furthermore, how are the new quesitons tested? Is each question put on someone's real exam as the test question(s)? How would they go about testing 4,000 question per month, 48,000 questions per year.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 08:53
Of course you don't know what they include in the cost per question. I would assume it includes more than just R&D expense, probably add a fair amount of SG&A calculated on a per question basis. Heck, it could just be a "total operating expenses of GMAC"/"Number of new questions generated per year" = $2400.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 08:57
jb32 wrote:
Of course you don't know what they include in the cost per question. I would assume it includes more than just R&D expense, probably add a fair amount of SG&A calculated on a per question basis. Heck, it could just be a "total operating expenses of GMAC"/"Number of new questions generated per year" = $2400.


I think it's total expenses as you've noted. Lawsuit? complaint? jack up the figures? of course.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 09:17
I took the GMAT on June 30th, scored a 49 on Quant. My unofficial score report listed a 49-Q as 89%. However, I just got the official score report today, and it seems that 49-Q is now 88%. So it seems that these scores just keep shifting down. I thought some of you might find this interesting.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 09:33
smkrn wrote:
I took the GMAT on June 30th, scored a 49 on Quant. My unofficial score report listed a 49-Q as 89%. However, I just got the official score report today, and it seems that 49-Q is now 88%. So it seems that these scores just keep shifting down. I thought some of you might find this interesting.


Yup, everything's been moving down 1% for some time now. 750 used to be 99th%ile, not it's 98th%ile
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 09:42
Any idea how often it seems that a 1-percentile shift in the overall score occurs?

For instance, how long will my 740 be a 97% before becoming a 96%?
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 09:46
I guess I didn't realize how many people take the GMAT annually, but it makes sense. If there are some 4,000 schools worldwide that offer an MBA and they require the GMAT for entrace, that's a pretty damn good monopoly on the market I'd say. (Anti-trust anyone?) $4.1M is not a bad monthly income ($250 * 200k test takers / 12 months). Also, I saw 2 people at the testing center where I tested. Also, they do other tests as well. MCAT I believe is one.

I guess $1M a month isn't that much in overhead for questions, and you're right, we don't know what expenses are lumped into that amount per question.

That's why I love this forum. The discussions are always backed up by quality reasoning and logic. Now....if you all could just help my wife figure out how to do this...;-)
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 10:05
So the question remains, how quickly does a test taker move from a 500 level question (q#1) to a 650+ level question? I think it happens rather quickly.

Which means, of the bazillions of questions that GMAC may claim to make, only a fraction of that is at the 650 level. And those are the ones that we need to be concerned with.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2008, 10:19
kidderek wrote:
So the question remains, how quickly does a test taker move from a 500 level question (q#1) to a 650+ level question? I think it happens rather quickly.

Which means, of the bazillions of questions that GMAC may claim to make, only a fraction of that is at the 650 level. And those are the ones that we need to be concerned with.


I'd think it happens within 2-3 questions?
By GRE logic with the max score of 800 per section
1st Question at 500
2nd Question at 650 (500+ (800-500)/2)
3rd Question at 725 (650+ (800-625)/2)
and so on...

May be a little different for GMAT, but I think the trend is the same. So a 650+ level will take only 4 questions the most assuming you answer the first few questions correctly.

BTW, this is the reason why the first few questions are so much more important and I always take extra time on them. :wink:
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 09 Jul 2008, 09:23
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smkrn wrote:
Any idea how often it seems that a 1-percentile shift in the overall score occurs?

For instance, how long will my 740 be a 97% before becoming a 96%?


The percentile 'creep' is quite slow. In the 2001-2003 percentile tables, 740 was a 98th percentile; in 2005-2007, it is 97th percentile. Some percentiles are unchanged- 500 is still the 38th percentile, for example. There are more test takers at both extremes, in fact- more with elite scores, and more with very low scores- while 750 has gone from 99th percentile to 98th, 400 has gone from 13th percentile to 14th.

So, from two data points only, my guess is it will take about four years, if trends continue. There are good reasons, however, to think that this percentile creep will slow down.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 09 Jul 2008, 10:57
IanStewart wrote:
The percentile 'creep' is quite slow. In the 2001-2003 percentile tables, 740 was a 98th percentile; in 2005-2007, it is 97th percentile. Some percentiles are unchanged- 500 is still the 38th percentile, for example. There are more test takers at both extremes, in fact- more with elite scores, and more with very low scores- while 750 has gone from 99th percentile to 98th, 400 has gone from 13th percentile to 14th.

So, from two data points only, my guess is it will take about four years, if trends continue. There are good reasons, however, to think that this percentile creep will slow down.


Interesting observation, thanks.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 09 Jul 2008, 11:08
fatb wrote:

I'd think it happens within 2-3 questions?
By GRE logic with the max score of 800 per section
1st Question at 500
2nd Question at 650 (500+ (800-500)/2)
3rd Question at 725 (650+ (800-625)/2)
and so on...


What makes you think the GRE works this way? I'd bet a lot of money the GRE does not select question difficulty as you've described.

fatb wrote:
BTW, this is the reason why the first few questions are so much more important and I always take extra time on them. :wink:


That's a bit of a myth.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder [#permalink] New post 09 Jul 2008, 11:16
StartupAddict wrote:
The impact is very minimal. GMATPrep has about 5000 questions or more, and I imagine the 'live' GMAT has more. If you see maybe 50 questions, every 3rd time you rewrite the GMAT you might see 1 repeat. And that wouldn't influence your score that much.


And what leads you to think GMATPrep has 5000 questions? I'd be surprised if it had even 25% of that number. As of four years ago, the question pool for one section of the GRE contained between 300 and 400 questions. GMAT sections are slightly longer, so would be expected to have proportionally larger question pools, but I'd still expect the two tests to be comparable. While the exact size of the pool is a trade secret, I'd be very surprised if there were as many as several thousand questions in the test pool in a given month. In the GMAC database, yes, there will doubtless be tens of thousands of questions, but only a small percentage are actually used as test questions in a given month.
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Re: GMAT Getting Harder   [#permalink] 09 Jul 2008, 11:16
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