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So you come out of the testing center feeling supremely confident but then fail. What went wrong? Well maybe you felt good about answer choices that were in fact wrong. Perhaps many of your correct choices were thrown out due to pre-test questions. Another possibility is that questions you got wrong were worth more than those that you got correct even if you answered more questions correctly. It could be a combination of the above reasons and maybe others.
Should you have experienced the opposite, then the reasons why you passed when you felt horrible about the exam are the opposite as well. For example, you felt bad about answer choices you got correct, many of your wrong answers were pre-test questions, and those you answered correctly were worth more than those that were answered incorrectly.
I personally have had both experiences with my AUD exam. In my first attempt, not only did I think I passed the exam, I actually thought I aced it (I keep this to myself though) but ended up failing. In my second attempt, I was unsure as to how I did and not feeling to good about it but ended up passing.
A more generic explanation as to why this occurs might be that when we pass, we get relatively more difficult questions creating uncertainty but this also means we actually did better. When we fail, we get relatively easier questions in the proceeding testlet giving a sense of the exam being “easier” when in reality we did poorly, hence the easier questions.
Another issue is that when we assign level of difficulties to questions, it is purely subjective and doesn’t necessarily correlate to how much the question is worth. For example, you may find a MC question extremely “difficult” but was only worth 1 point while you found a SIM to be “easy” but was worth 7 points. In addition, the 3rd testlet as a whole was worth more points even though you found it to be easier than the first 2 testlets, given a sense of doing poorly on the exam.
In a previous blog, I gave a tip on how not to get carried away with how you did on the exam, especially if you felt good to minimize disappointment should a failing score be received. It’s also not good to feel horrible prior to receiving a passing grade because negativity, feeling discouraged and low self-esteem are never good especially in the midst of trying to get motivated to study for a new section.