The New GMAT Focus Edition Changes How We'll All Be Taking the GMAT
The New GMAT Focus Edition - What is it? How is it different? How will it impact admissions?
NOTE: The GMAT Focus Edition is slated for release later this year, but the exact date of its release has not been announced yet. However, the current version of the GMAT exam will be available until June 2024.
YOUR PLANS: If you’ve already started prepping for the exam, and intend to apply in Round 1 or 2 this year, do not change your plans. The timing of the rollout later this year isn’t yet confirmed, and bugs or glitches are probably likely.
GMAC (The Graduate Management and Admissions Council), the creators and administrators of the GMAT have announced the launch of a new GMAT exam called the GMAT Focus Edition, which is intended to focus on higher-order critical reasoning skills and data literacy.
The exam duration will be 2 hours and 15 minutes, and will consist of three sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Data Insights. The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section will be removed altogether, and the new test will continue to assess the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning abilities of the candidates, but with a more significant emphasis on higher-order reasoning skills, particularly in the Verbal Reasoning section.
The GMAT Focus Edition will also introduce a new section called Data Insights, which is designed to test candidates’ ability to analyze and interpret data. The Data Insights section is expected to be similar to the current Integrated Reasoning (IR) section, but with a greater emphasis on data analysis (it also appears that Data Sufficiency will be moved from the Quant section into the Data Insights section).
The new test is intended to be more comprehensive and discerning at measuring the core skill set admissions committees look for, presenting a new set of challenges and opportunities for candidates aspiring to join top-tier business schools.
Now, let’s dive into the details and answer some important questions about this new test.
GMAT Focus Structure & Features
The exam duration is 2 hours and 15 minutes
The test consists of three sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Data Insights
All questions are multiple-choice
Each section is 45 minutes long
Test-takers can choose the order in which they take the sections
The test offers flexibility, allowing users to bookmark and review questions and change up to 3 answers per section
After taking the test, users can send their scores to up to 5 schools for free
The new official score report provides detailed insights into a user's performance
First up, how is the GMAT Focus Edition likely to be different from the current test? Well, for starters, there will be three sections instead of four. The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section will be removed altogether, and the new test will continue to assess the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning abilities of the candidates, but with a more significant emphasis on higher-order reasoning skills, particularly in the Verbal Reasoning section. This adjustment reflects the evolving needs of business schools and employers who are looking for candidates with a high level of critical reasoning and data literacy skills. Certain subjects (including Geometry in the Quant section and Sentence Corrections in the version section) appear to have been removed.
So, what does this new GMAT test mean for MBA admissions? Well, in theory, it means that business schools and employers will now have a more comprehensive assessment of candidates’ skills in areas that are particularly relevant and applicable in the business environment of tomorrow. With the new GMAT, candidates will be assessed not only on their ability to solve problems but also on their ability to analyze and interpret data. This is a valuable skill set that is in high demand in today’s business world, but we have yet to determine how well that skill set will be captured in the new GMAT.
Now, what do we not know about the test? Well, the GMAC plans to roll out the GMAT Focus Edition later this year, but we don’t have all the details yet. However, we do know that the current version of the GMAT exam will be available until June 2024. So, if you’ve already started with your GMAT preparation, we recommend that you continue.
Let’s move on to some predictions about the new GMAT. Firstly, we predict that the new test will have a unified scoring system. The current GMAT gives out three scores – a core Quant and Verbal score out of 800, an AWA score, and an IR score. This can be confusing for business schools, as some are purported to find it difficult to evaluate three scores and combine them to create one unified ability metric for the candidate. With the new GMAT, candidates will likely receive a single score that unifies their Quant, Verbal, and IR scores, which might make it easier for admission officers to evaluate them.
Secondly, it appears that the new Data Insights section will be more robust than the current IR section. The new Data Insights section will be 45 minutes long, which is 50% longer than the 30-minute IR section in the current GMAT. This extra time will allow the GMAC’s algorithm to evaluate candidates’ data literacy skills in greater depth, potentially making the section more discerning. Additionally, GMAC is putting the weighting of the Data Insights section on par with the Quantitative and Verbal sections, which are the currently the most weighted and valued sections of the current GMAT in the admissions process.
What do we not know about the test?
While the GMAC has provided some insights into the new GMAT test, there are still several unknowns about the test. For example, we do not know the exact nature and format of the Verbal Reasoning and Data Insights sections. We also do not know the scoring algorithm for the new test, which will determine how candidates’ scores will be converted into a single unified score.
Moreover, it is unclear how business schools will interpret and use the scores of the new GMAT test in their admissions process. While it is expected that the new test will be more comprehensive and discerning than the current version, it remains to be seen how it will impact the admissions decisions of top-tier business schools. Additionally, a new GRE to GMAT equivalency rubric will have to be developed once a representative body of data is accumulated.
What does it mean?
For candidates aspiring to join top-tier business schools, the GMAT Focus Edition will present a new set of challenges and opportunities. On one hand, with a longer, higher weighted IR section (Data Insights), and without sectional scoring the new GMAT Focus exam could be more challenging and demanding for some than the current version. On the other hand, the new GMAT Focus Edition could reduce the impact of test fatigue, and it could provide an opportunity for candidates who possess strong critical reasoning and data literacy skills to stand out in the application process, and potentially in the job market if internship interviewers decide to consider the GMAT Focus in their hiring process.
It appears that when the GMAT Focus Edition is ready for prime-time, candidates will likely need to prepare differently. They will need to apply particular weight to their critical reasoning, and data analysis skills. Skills can’t be memorized. Skills require training, so mastering the techniques and tactics will likely enable EMPOWERgmat test-takers to excel.
EMPOWERgmat Focus Edition Program
We will be actively developing our Focus Edition platform and curriculum as new details continue to come to light.
The GMAT Focus Edition is a major test change designed to assess skills that are particularly relevant and applicable in the business environment of tomorrow. By removing the AWA section and introducing a new Data Insights section, the new test is intended to provide a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of candidates’ skills in areas such as critical reasoning and data analysis.
The GMAT Focus Edition has the potential to be a positive development that hopefully fulfills its objective of enabling business schools to make more informed admissions decisions. Whether it provides a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of candidates’ skills remains to be seen. We also don’t know how smooth and bug-free the release will be. With any type of major change or rollout, bugs or frustrating kinks are probably likely.
Meanwhile, if you’re preparing for the GMAT now, stay on track with your current training, and don’t plan to take the new exam until we can confirm it’s stable, and frustration-free.