I wanted to take some time to dispel a fascinating—but unhealthy—rumor about the GMAT. This rumor is best summarized by a concerned Knewton student who wrote me the following:
I was speaking to someone in India in the test prep industry about the GMAT and that person seemed very confident that the database of questions for the GMAT test in India is different from the database of questions in the US and Canada (the pool of questions in India being harder). Have you heard anything like this?
And here is how I responded:
You’ve touched upon some topics that interest me a great deal, so let me give you a longer answer.
The test-makers have always used multiple question pools at any one time, even within the United States. This is done for security reasons, so questions can’t be pirated—something I know quite a lot about. (I once reverse-engineered the computerized test and proved the question pool at the time was much too small, and hence susceptible to cheating. The test-makers pulled the exam for months and implemented the changes I and others recommended—adding more questions, rotating pools, etc.) Question pools rotate every few months. Pools used internationally either just came from and/or will soon head back to North America. These pools are all (almost) perfectly calibrated with each other so that your score on one continent will be—within the margin of error—your score on another.
My suspicion is that you’ve heard some kind of urban myth that has its roots in:
- paranoia that U.S. schools are too full of Indians and want to restrict their numbers
- chauvinism that Indians are smarter/better at math