The GRE is most commonly administered as a computer-adaptive test. Computer-adaptive testing is a relatively new phenomenon, and many students may not be familiar with it. The unique feature of computer-adaptive testing is that the test automatically varies the difficulty of questions depending on the student’s performance. The process works as follows: you will be asked a question of approximately average difficulty at the beginning of each section. If you answer the question correctly, you then will be given a slightly more difficult question. If you answer the first question incorrectly, you then will be given a slightly less difficult question. This process is repeated throughout each of the multiple-choice sections of the GRE exam, so that the computer can gradually narrow down its assessment of your ability.
Testing researchers have determined that computer-adaptive testing is able to achieve an extremely precise evaluation of each student’s knowledge and ability. Because of this form of testing, however, students are often able to get an idea of how they are doing on the exam while they are taking it. For instance, if questions become increasingly hard, the student can assume that he or she has been doing well up to this point. In general, however, it is not a good idea to focus on this aspect of computer-adaptive testing; it is better to do one’s best on each question and allow the scoring system to do its work.