About seven months ago we embarked on one of the most ambitious data-collection efforts ever undertaken in the test preparation space. When we introduced the Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank in October, we wrote:
We’ve created this tool and opened it up to everyone so that we can collect loads of data on our questions. We’ll use the data we collect to measure and refine our questions, which will then go into new generations of our GMAT practice tests. In effect, by answering these questions, you’re helping our system learn about the questions — which ones are easy, which ones are hard, which ones are confusing and need to be refined, etc. The system is also learning about each user (this is one reason why the system asks you to create an account and log in)… It’s an iterative process that helps it measure users by seeing how they did on certain questions, and it assesses those questions by seeing how well certain users performed on those questions.
Now, after collecting more than 450,000 GMAT question responses from more than 12,000 students (thank you!), we have entered the next phase of our ambitious project of creating the most accurate, realistic GMAT practice tests in the industry: When you take our free GMAT practice test, you benefit from all of this collective work by getting what we believe is a true measure of your ability to navigate challenging GMAT questions in a realistic testing environment.
How do we do it? There is a bit of secret sauce in there that we’d rather not share, but the new Veritas Prep computer-adaptive testing (CAT) system was built using Item Response Theory (IRT), the same theory that underpins the real GMAT. Based on your entire pattern of responses and the estimated difficulty level of each question you answer, you are assigned a score. We do this for each section, and then translate that performance to a total score and percentile ranking vs. other GMAT students around the world. (We don’t know the exact details of GMAC’s scoring algorithm, but we know ours is a powerful implementation of IRT based on hundreds of thousands of responses!).
Our tests truly are adaptive – compare your test to someone else’s, and you two will notice that you saw a lot of different questions from one another. And the Veritas Prep CAT system assigns a unique fingerprint to each question. That last point is important: While other test prep companies crow about having adaptive GMAT practice tests that don’t really differentiate questions beyond “easy/medium/hard” labels, our system measures each question on a handful of attributes. And, it updates these attributes frequently, based on students’ performance.
There are other small conveniences that we’ve added to our new practice tests, such as the ability to pause a test (since we know life dares to get in the way of your GMAT prep) and detailed feedback about how other students have performed on each question that you saw in your practice test. And with a new test come new questions – our curriculum experts have added dozens of new questions designed to keep the tests current with regard to what is being tested on the GMAT today. Plus with a sophisticated tagging system to complement our research on GMAT content distribution, you’ll see a test that very closely approximates the question mix that you’ll see on your official GMAT exam. We think you’ll appreciate just how sophisticated this new GMAT practice test is.
So go ahead… Try it and tell us what you think!