In layman’s terms, a computer adaptive test is one that relies on a large pool of potential questions ranging in difficulty from very easy to very hard. Each section of the test starts with a question of medium difficulty. If you answer the first question correctly, your next question will be harder, while if you answer the first question incorrectly, the next question will be easier. This process will continue until time expires for a given section, at which time your overall ability will be calculated and presented in terms of your score.

Your score is determined by:

• the number of questions answered

• whether you answered the questions correctly or incorrectly

• the level of difficulty of each question

The chart below shows how three different test takers might score on an adaptive test if each answers three questions correctly and two incorrectly. When a question is answered incorrectly, the score decreases, and when a question is answered correctly, the score increases. Each time the score increases, the computer will present a harder question, and each time the score decreases, the computer will present an easier question. 