GMAT Myth – Random Guessing is better than Skipping Questions for Most Students

GMAT Random GuessingAlthough random guessing is a better option for students who are attempting 700-750 level GMAT Questions, the same result cannot be expected for students who are guessing 550-650 level GMAT Questions. The advice to pick Answer Choice A in the Verbal Section is a common one given by some well-known GMAT Prep companies. The logic behind this advice is that in GMAT Verbal section; around 12 of them are from Sentence Correction (SC) section. In GMAT SC, the first answer choice is the same as the underlined section in the question. If the sentence were correct in the original format, answer choice A would be the obvious choice. 15-20% of questions in GMAT SC would require no correction. However, betting entirely on random guessing in Verbal section based on the peculiarity of GMAT SC is counterproductive.

Based on data collected from Computer Adaptive Tests around the world, experts are of the view that Answer Choice C is a better option when it comes to random guessing. But if you read the paper written by Eileen Talento-Miller and Fanmin Guo - “Guess What?, you will learn that:

1) Random Guessing Works better for Quant than Verbal

“Average verbal scores for those who guessed five consecutive items were around 22 to 23, which approximately correspond to the 27th and 29th percentiles in the distribution of GMAT scores. For the quantitative section, the scores around 32 to 34 are also near the bottom of the distribution for that section, falling around the 34th and 40th percentiles”

2) When you reach the 700+ level Questions, guessing is better than omitting questions

“The most striking results are in the quantitative section and occur for the high ability group, with omitting items resulting in rapidly decreasing scores”

3) For the 600-700 GMAT Question level, the difference between guessing and omitting makes very little difference.

“The vast majority of cases observed no difference between the guessing and omission score”

4) Unlike other Computer Adaptive Tests, the effects of guessing in GMAT have different impact based on the section.

“The question of whether it is best to guess or to omit depends on how many test items are left, on one’s relative ability estimate up to that point, and on the specific section of the test being considered”

Random Guessing in GMAT - A Better Strategy

The stage of the GMAT test when you are guessing is also important. If you are guessing towards the end of the test, you will have a sense of the distribution of answer choices among A, B, C, D and E. But it would be unlikely that you would have noted the answer choices in your note board. But let us assume that you have a fair sense of the answer choice distribution. Since the probability to pick a correct answer choice is equally distributed between A, B, C, D and E, picking an answer choice that has been least represented by the previous questions will yield a better result. So make it a point to note down the answer choice at the corner of the noteboard, just in case you might have to make a random guess at the end of the test.

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