If you are planning to apply to business school in the near future, you may have heard about the new GMAT exam that will be launched later this year. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) announced the launch of a new GMAT exam on March 8, 2023, featuring a shorter, more flexible format and a reduced test time. The new exam is called GMAT Focus Edition and it is designed to measure your skills and abilities that are most relevant for business school success.
The rationale behind these changes is to make the GMAT Focus Edition more aligned with the skills and knowledge that business schools and employers are looking for in candidates. According to GMAC, this new exam will reflect “the rapidly changing business landscape and what you need as you plan your future”. The GMAT Focus Edition will also be shorter than the current GMAT exam, lasting about two hours instead of three hours. This will reduce test fatigue and allow candidates to showcase their best performance.
In this blog post, we will explain what are the main changes in the new GMAT Focus Edition, when it will be offered, and what are the implications for test-takers.
A List of All Changes in the New Focus GMAT
Testing time: The new exam will take only 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete, compared to 3 hours and 7 minutes in the current version. This will reduce fatigue and stress for test takers and allow them to schedule their test more conveniently.
Section structure and content: The new exam will consist of three sections instead of four: Quantitative Reasoning (QR), Verbal Reasoning (VR), and Data Insights (DI). The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) and Integrated Reasoning (IR) sections will be eliminated from the new exam. The QR and VR sections will have 25 questions each and the DI section will have 15 questions. Each section will last for 45 minutes.
The GMAT Focus Edition will still consist of four sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and an optional Online Whiteboard. The Verbal Reasoning section will test candidates’ ability to read critically, analyze arguments, and correct written material using standard written English. However, it will no longer include sentence correction questions, which test candidates’ knowledge of grammar rules and idiomatic expressions. Instead, it will focus more on critical reasoning and reading comprehension questions, which test candidates’ ability to evaluate evidence, draw inferences, and understand logical relationships between ideas.
Another change is the removal of some topics from the Quantitative Reasoning section, such as geometry, coordinate geometry, and solid geometry. These topics are considered less relevant for business school admissions and more time-consuming for test-takers.
The Quantitative Reasoning section will test candidates’ ability to solve problems using mathematical concepts and techniques. However, it will no longer include geometry questions, which test candidates’ knowledge of shapes, angles, lines, and formulas. Instead, it will focus more on algebra, arithmetic, and data analysis questions, which test candidates’ ability to manipulate equations, perform calculations, and interpret data sets.
The optional Online Whiteboard will allow candidates to use a digital tool to write notes, draw shapes, and perform calculations during the exam. It will be similar to a physical whiteboard or paper scratch pad but with some additional features such as eraser, undo/redo, clear screen, text box, and colour options.
Section order selection: The new exam will allow test takers to choose the order in which they complete each of the three sections: QR, VR, and DI. This will enable them to play to their strengths and preferences and optimize their performance .
Adaptivity: The new exam will still be question-adaptive, meaning that the difficulty level of each question will depend on your previous answers. However, the adaptivity algorithm will be more transparent and consistent across sections and test takers.
Question review & edit: An exciting new feature of the GMAT Focus Edition is the option to review the questions and edit the answers in each section before the section time runs out. Now, this feature is not unlimited. The GMAT Focus Edition is still a question-adaptive exam. So, for the scoring algorithm to work, most of your answers in a section must remain unchanged. Nevertheless, you will have the ability to edit up to 3 answers in each section.
Scoring: The new exam will have a total score range of 200-800 points, similar to the current version. However, the score breakdown will be different. The QR and VR sections will have individual scores ranging from 6-51 points each. The DI section will have a score ranging from 1-8 points. There will be no separate scores for AWA or IR sections.
Score reporting: The new exam will offer more flexibility and control over your score reporting options. You will be able to preview your unofficial scores at the end of your test and decide whether to accept or cancel them before leaving the test center. You will also be able to select up to five schools to send your official scores for free at any time before or after your test date. Additionally, you will be able to retake the GMAT Focus Edition as many times as you want (subject to availability), but only once every 16 days.
When will the new GMAT be offered in 2023?
The GMAT Focus Edition is expected to launch sometime in the second half of 2023. The exact date has not been announced yet, but GMAC will provide more information and updates on their website and social media channels. The current GMAT will remain available until at least early 2024, so you will have the option to choose which exam format suits you best.
Implications of the new GMAT for GMAT Test-Takers
The GMAT Focus Edition is a major change in the GMAT exam that will affect many aspects of your test preparation and application process. Here are some of the implications that you should consider:
- Test content: The new exam will emphasize your skills and abilities in data analysis and interpretation, which are essential for business school success. The DI section will test your ability to analyze data from various sources, such as tables, charts, graphs, and text, and draw logical conclusions. The QR and VR sections will also include some questions that require data analysis skills. You will need to familiarize yourself with the new question types and formats and practice them extensively.
- Test strategy: The new exam will offer more flexibility and control over your test experience. You will be able to choose the order of the sections, review and edit your answers within each section, and decide whether to accept or cancel your scores. You will need to develop a test strategy that works best for you based on your strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and goals.
- Test preparation: The new exam will require a different approach to test preparation than the current one. You will need to adjust your study plan accordingly and focus on the areas that are most relevant for the new exam format. You will also need to use updated study materials that reflect the changes in the test content and structure. You will also need to take practice tests that simulate the new exam environment and features.
- Application process: The new exam will have an impact on your application process as well. You will need to research the admission requirements and preferences of your target schools and see if they accept both the current and the new GMAT formats. You will also need to consider the timing of your test date and score reporting options in relation to your application deadlines.
The new GMAT will also impact test-takers in multiple ways in terms of the mechanics of the test itself:
- The new GMAT will now be more efficient, flexible, and insightful for candidates who want to showcase their higher-order critical reasoning and data literacy skills that are relevant for the business environment of tomorrow.
- It will be shorter and less stressful for candidates who struggle with test fatigue or time management. It will also allow candidates to save time and money on test preparation and test fees.
- It will be more aligned with the expectations and preferences of business schools and employers who value candidates’ ability to solve complex problems using data from multiple sources and formats.
- It will be more challenging for candidates who rely on memorizing grammar rules or geometry formulas to score well on the current GMAT exam. It will also require candidates to develop new skills and strategies for tackling the new Data Insights section.
- It will be more competitive for candidates who aim for top business schools that have high admission standards. It will also require candidates to differentiate themselves from other applicants by highlighting their personal and professional achievements beyond their test scores.
So, what should you do next?
The GMAT Focus Edition is a significant change in the GMAT exam that will offer a shorter, more flexible, and more relevant format for business school applicants. The new exam will launch later this year and will coexist with the current version until at least early 2024. If you are planning to take the GMAT soon, you should familiarize yourself with the changes in the new exam and prepare accordingly. You should also keep an eye on the official announcements from GMAC and your target schools for more information and updates.
We hope this blog post has helped you understand what the GMAT Focus Edition is and what it means for you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below. We wish you all the best in your GMAT journey!