Can the GMAT give you easy questions on purpose? - MBA Prep Tutoring

Can the GMAT give you easy questions on purpose?

The GMAT exam is a CAT (computer adaptive test), which measures your ability and adapts with each questions that you answer, so it should always give you harder questions when you answer correctly right? That wasn't exactly the case during my GMAT exam, and in this post I will tell you what I found out.


I took my first GMAT exam in August 2016. By that time I had been teaching for about 3 years already, and it was about time I had a GMAT score under my belt! During the exam, I concentrated on my main motivation for being there: to prove to myself that all of the formulas, properties, tips and tricks that I teach work on all the problems that were presented to me. And well, they did. I only had 1 mistake in all of the quantitative section (and looking back, it was a silly mistake)

But something really funny happened: about three quarters of the exam in, I started seeing some really easy questions. Due to the adaptive nature of the exam, most people worry when they see a really easy question, they think that they have really messed up the previous questions. And most of the time that is true. But I thought: how can that be? I am answering all of the questions correctly! (or so I thought)

In the chart above notice how the difficulty drops from the second column to the third column. Weird right? The previous questions were all correct!

After the exam, the only reason I could come up with was: they must have done that on purpose to throw me off! They were trying to sabotage me psychologically! Because it makes you just want to give up when you see easy questions. You think: what's the point of continuing, right?

Then on some forums I read that maybe they do that to "balance" out the exam. Like wanting to make sure that you can answer the hard questions as well as the easy ones.

But I finally found my answer in no other place than in the Official GMAT Guide. I quote:

Myth -vs- Fact
Myth – Getting an easier question means I answered the last one wrong.
Fact – Getting an easier question does not necessarily mean you got the previous question wrong.

To ensure that everyone receives the same content, the test selects a specific number of questions of each type. The test may call for your next question to be a relatively difficult problem-solving item involving arithmetic operations. But, if there are no more relatively difficult problem-solving items involving arithmetic, you might be given an easier item. 

So, apparently, if you run out of difficult questions for a certain type of question (arithmetic, for example), the exam reaches to other types of question and that pool will contain the easier questions. Interesting!

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