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Statement on the GMAT “Focus Edition”

The maker of the GMAT, GMAC announced the details of the new exam format. Here is our take on the news.

The structure

  • Quantitative Reasoning: 21 questions, 45 minutes (no data sufficiency)

  • Verbal Reasoning: 23 questions, 45 minutes (no sentence correction)

  • Data Insights: 20 questions, 45 minutes (mix of IR and data sufficiency)

There are two significant changes, the inclusion of Integrating Reasoning (IR) in the third section and the drop of sentence correction. Overall the test is a slightly longer version of the Executive Assessment (EA) that we have been teaching for years.

The time

2:15 is the overall length. GMAT says this is shorter than the current test. However, this is not really true. The scoring part of the GMAT only included Verbal and Quant and was just over two hours. Many test-takers skipped the essay and IR, so it’s not really shorter.

The essay gets dropped.

Good riddance. A small minority of our clients wrote it. It was a waste of time that nobody cared about. It was scored separately and did not affect the score. We have been advising to skip it for years.

IR counts

We wondered if this would happen. IR appears in the Data Insights section with data sufficiency. This is a highly trainable section that is arguably more relevant to modern analytical work. This move makes sense to us, but there are many types of charts and questions to prepare for.

Sentence Correction is gone.

This was the part of the test that was most easily improved. We are sorry to see it go. Our students improved English skills and used this section to achieve higher scores. This means that there is no grammar component to GMAT anymore.

What is means to applicants.

The new GMAT goes live next year, in 2024. No exact date is set Applicants should take the test now because in our view the changes are cosmetic and are unlikely to truly benefit the applicant. The time of the test is actually longer than the previous version not counting the non-scoring sections (IR + AWA).

  • The loss of sentence correction is an easy source of points. The inclusion of IR type questions is overall a student friendly development. However, The actual form and scoring weight of these questions cannot be appraised. There are no new prep materials, even official ones.

  • The scoring is also a black box, especially how schools will use the scores. We saw that with EA it took years for meaningful statistics to emerge.

Bottom line: Take the test now.

There will be a transition period of uncertainty until study materials can be developed and statistics interpreted.

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