Launched in 1954, today the GMAT is accepted by more than 2,400 business schools worldwide. It remains a key step in the admissions process for more than 7,700 programs, including MBAs, Executive MBAs, and a range of business masters degree types.
Earlier this year, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) announced new changes to the exam, aiming to provide a more flexible and efficient test taking experience. The changes were designed in collaboration with business schools, recruiters, and potential students.
“Our shared priorities are to ensure that the GMAT Focus Edition assesses the most relevant and in-demand skillsets like data analytics, problem solving and critical reasoning, and to help each candidate perform at their best by putting them in control of more flexible testing and score sending options,” said Joy Jones, CEO of GMAC.
So, as testing for the new exam begins, if you’re considering applying to business school and taking the GMAT you need to be aware of what’s new.
Here are three big changes the GMAT Focus Edition brings for test takers.
1. A shorter, more flexible test
The streamlined GMAT Focus Edition format comprises three 45-minute sections, bringing the total test time to two hours and 15 minutes and reducing the time by one hour. Test takers no longer have to complete an essay, with all questions now multiple choice.
To provide added flexibility, GMAC has adjusted the test taking process allowing candidates to change some of their answers, an option that was not available with previous versions of the exam.
The new ‘Question Review & Edit’ feature gives test-takers the ability to bookmark questions as they move through the test and review them later. Each time a test-taker finishes a section they are taken to the ‘Question Review & Edit’ page, which displays a numbered list of all questions and indicates any bookmarked questions. Candidates can review as many questions as they like and edit a maximum of three answers per section.
While the current GMAT offers a choice of three section orders, GMAC has added the ability to fully customize the order in which candidates complete the exam.
2. An updated structure
GMAC says it has adapted the questions within the GMAT Focus Edition to focus only on skills that are relevant in the business school classroom, including data literacy and critical reasoning.
Now, 64 questions are spread across the three test sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and the new Data Insights component. Each section takes 45-minutes to complete, with candidates allowed an additional 10-minute break.
The Quantitative Reasoning section is reduced from 31 to 21 questions. This section measures candidates’ arithmetic and problem-solving ability as well as elementary algebra. It no longer contains the data sufficiency questions that appear in the current version of the GMAT.
The Verbal Reasoning section, which measures reading comprehension and critical reasoning, now has 23 questions, down from 36. This section also no longer includes sentence correction questions.
The new Data Insights section has 20 questions, some of which test integrated reasoning—a core section in the current exam—while others test data sufficiency. This section requires test-takers to analyze information provided in a range of formats—including text, graphics, datasets, and tables—to find connections and make informed decisions.
Data Insights is the only section where an on-screen calculator is available, with questions testing a combination of math, data analysis, and verbal reasoning skills. GMAC says this section is designed to measure candidates’ digital and data literacy skills, which are fundamental to business today.
3. A new scoring system
Changes to the scoring system with the GMAT Focus Edition mean scores now range from 205 to 805, with score intervals of 10 points. Each test taker receives a score ending in five (for example someone might score 655, and the next highest score would be 665).
While GMAT Focus Edition scores may look similar to the current GMAT Exam score—which range from 200 to 800—they represent different performance levels and skills and are not comparable.
With GMAT exam results valid for five years, this scoring convention ensures there is a clear distinction between test-takers who took the current GMAT and those who have taken the GMAT Focus Edition.
After finishing the exam and receiving their scores, the GMAT Focus Edition allows both online and test center exam takers to select their target programs and send their reports within 48 hours. Registrants can send scores to five schools for free.
Updated score reports also now include more detailed insights on candidates’ performance. Whereas in the current GMAT Exam candidates receive one total score, the GMAT Focus Edition provides further insights by including a score for each of the three sections. Scores for Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Data Insights range between 60 to 90.