Adaptive Tests versus Adaptive Prepping

By examPAL (AIGAC Sponsor)

Everyone knows about adaptive tests. But what’s the story regarding adaptive prepping? What exactly is it and how can it prevent you from getting stuck in old ways of thinking, wasting time, and not optimizing your performance?

What are adaptive tests?

The GMAT is a computer-adaptive GMAT practice test, which means there is no predefined list of questions. Instead, the next question you see relates to your performance on the previous questions. For example, if you miss a few math questions, the next quantitative problem you receive will be less challenging. The test continually changes the level of difficulty of the question you receive as it attempts to hone in on your true ability level.

Computer Adaptive Tests also referred to as CATs, adapt to your ability level and draw from a bank of many questions of varying difficulty. This means that every question you answer correctly or incorrectly determines what questions you will see later in the CAT.

CATs done on desktop devices are usually the best simulation for the real GMAT test. Books obviously cannot prepare you for the GMAT in the same way. Most test prep companies offer computer-adaptive tests but they are not personalized and have many limitations:

  • The main GMAT test-prep companies offer CAT tests, and they also give one or two CAT tests for free. But just solving thousands of questions will add up to a trillion ways of confusing you! Yes, there are plenty of different (great!) ways to solve these questions – but you are still left wondering which one is best for you.
  • When answering questions, students usually start with the first thing that comes into their minds, and if that doesn’t work, they’ll try a different approach, and so on. They end up wasting a lot of time.
  • Many people study for the GMAT by memorizing rules and solving lots of questions because they think that’s all there is to the exam. To their surprise, they discover that no matter how much they practice, they still don’t finish in time; even when they do, they keep repeating the same mistakes.
  • You only know what you were taught, and the tool you are using might not be the best tool for the specific sets of problems you are trying to tackle. If there’s no one by your side to tell you that, you can practice forever without ever optimizing your performance.
  • Many of these GMAT resources show you just one way to solve the problem you got wrong. That might not be the right solution for you. It can also be a different approach than what you were taught, causing even more confusion.

While knowing all the rules can certainly help you with the GMAT, it can only take you so far. People who have achieved a GMAT score of 700 or more don’t just understand the rules; they know what the exam is really about.

So, what are CATs like the GMAT really about?

Contrary to popular belief, the GMAT is not about solving lots of questions using lots of rules. Very few questions depend on knowing rules. What the GMAT does test is your quantitative and verbal abilities, as well as your mental agility.

Solving lots of questions (by using practice tests or coaching) is not sufficient to improve mental agility. Instead, solving thousands of questions without improving mental agility threatens to cement the wrong thinking patterns in your mind! Improving mental agility demands a novel approach.

By “mental agility,” we are referring to the ability to use multiple tools rapidly and identify the right tool for solving each question quickly. Time is a major factor in the GMAT, which is why just applying the rules you’ve learned in school won’t do the trick.

Speed and accuracy are required for a 700+ GMAT

In order to get a GMAT score of 700 or more, you need to find the fastest solution to unfamiliar questions with different qualities. As in a shooter video game, you never know where the next shot will come from. Mental agility allows you to choose the right weapon quickly and aim precisely at the right target.

The road to improving mental flexibility begins with knowing which tools can be used to solve each question. One should learn how to identify the fastest method to solve each problem because this is exactly what the test measures.

What counts is finding the tools that work best for YOU.

With any GMAT prepping, there is the personal layer i.e., finding which solution or tools work best for you. If you haven’t studied all the possible questions to learn more about how to figure out which tools can be applied, you won’t be able to accurately choose the right tool. You’ll only find yourself doing what you are used to doing or what you’ve been doing since high school.

So how come you don’t hear much about adaptive learning?

Simply put, because the technology wasn’t created yet. Only in recent years, with the development of sophisticated machine learning, has the industry moved towards an online, adaptive learning experience.

examPAL, a new test-prep company, aims to upgrade the test-prep industry with an adaptive, customized and ultra-personalized method. Instead of reproducing the teacher-in-a-classroom experience online, examPAL uses personalized machine learning to bring out the best in each and every student.

By monitoring thousands of other students who are tackling the same question as you, examPAL provides you with the approaches that proved most efficient for each given question. With examPAL, you work with the best possible (or impossible!) private tutor: one who monitors every answer you give, sees all the answers that thousands of other students have given, and finds the perfect match between your way of thinking and what has proved to work for others.

Practice smart, not hard

examPAL has developed one simple method to help students find the fastest way to solve each question. That’s the PAL in examPAL – Precise, Alternative, or Logical. And when there’s more than one way, the system studies the way students think in order to find THEIR best way to the right answer. We call it the PALgorithm.

The greatest benefit of PAL is having one clear way of thinking, which makes all solutions easier and faster. It also leads to an easier preparation process and to better assimilation and absorption of the materials. In fact, the PALgorithm changes the entire perspective on how you practice. You don’t just solve questions and get easier or harder solutions. You work with the best possible private tutor: one that monitors each and every answer you give, sees all the answers that thousands of other students have given, and finds the perfect match between your way of thinking and what proved effective to other GMAT students.

If you want to ace the GMAT, it isn’t enough to find the best solutions. It’s about making your mind “agile” enough to move from one approach to another very quickly. As in any other kind of fitness, it takes some time to master, but once you are “in the zone,” you’ll be able to reach your highest possible score in no time.

With the PALgorithm we help you find the most effective route for YOU, for every GMAT problem.

The PALgorithm is a personalized test preparation system that trains your brain to apply the PAL method in order to answer problems with maximum effectiveness. If there’s one talent that we need to master, it is mind-flexibility: the ability to choose the best tool quickly.

Thanks to its adaptive, customized and ultra-personalized online learning experience, examPAL has brought something truly innovative to the test-prep industry, which is giving many students a way to unlock their real GMAT potential.

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