URGENT: Should I score lower on the 1st section to get easier questions on the 2nd section? - GRE/GMAT/etc - The GradCafe Forums
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URGENT: Should I score lower on the 1st section to get easier questions on the 2nd section?


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I have my test in 1.5 days... Havent had that much time to prepare, prob 1.5 months.

Last week i took a sample test and scored Q158, V156 (Manhattan), that is before reviewing all the material and learning it (or the second pass). But after reviewing and taking a test pretty much every day for the last 4 days, the max ive been able to score is still 158-160. This is because every time i improve in a weakness area... I come back and kill the first section with 2-3 wrong... but then... the second section is ABSOLUTELY BRUTAL!.. which scales back down my score...to the starting point. So even tho i know i have improved a lot in knowledge and time management progressively in 4 days, my scores are stuck due to the nature of adaptive testing.

So this leads into one question I JUST NEED TO KNOW, because it makes no sense to me. If the new GRE assigns equal weighs to all questions... (easy questions are worth just as much as hard ones), what is the point of being adaptive at all? Traditionally adaptive testing means harder questions are rewarded with more points, therefore creating an incentive in WANTING to get to the harder questions... but if all questions are worth the same, what is point???

If that is the case, theoretically, isnt it a better strategy to just do average in the first section so the second is easy enough, so i can kill it... like 15/20, then 18/20... rather than doing 18/20, then 12/20?!?! how is it scored? I know it would be hard to control what you get right for sure in the real test. But I just want to understand the logic of an adaptive exam that DOESNT reward hard questions....

Any insights? i really need to refine my strategy in one day's time!

thanks in advance

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I don't know if anyone here truly knows the test algorithm (unless there's an ETS mole in our midst, of course), but I think your plan will likely backfire.

My advice is to take a deep breath and try to do your best on both sections.

And have you taken an ETS Powerprep practice test? Doing so may give you more confidence.

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Hi linaseta,

I actually had to read your post a couple of times to understand what you are trying to get at. I'm 99% sure that the answer to your question is No!, don't under any circumstances answer a question incorrectly on purpose.

I think you've misunderstood how the GRE adaptive testing works. As midnight streetlight pointed out, no one here truly knows the test algorithm. But: It most certainly does not simply give equal weight to each question. From the ETS website:

"The scoring for the Quantitative Reasoning measure takes into consideration the total number of questions answered correctly across the two sections, as well as the difficulty level of the section (similar process for the Verbal Reasoning measure)."

Emphasis added. The key point is that the difficulty level of the section does factor into your score. I suspect that it works similarly to how they did it on the old GRE general, that is, your score on the first section puts you into a rough score band, and then the difficulty of the second section is chosen so as to allow the algorithm to refine your score within that score band. In other words, your performance on the first section is actually more important, as even acing the second section won't be able to make up for screwing up the first one (since all it will do is put you at the top of a very low score band).

For the old GRE general, one of the most reiterated pieces of advice was to triple-check your answers to the first couple of questions on each section. It was almost impossible to make up for early mistakes later on, as your estimated score would already have dropped too much.

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