GMAT Focus Edition: What To Expect?

GMAT Focus Edition: What To Expect?

Gaurav Srivastava from GMAC sheds light on the new format of GMAT, a shorter version without the dreaded analytical writing section.

Lavanya AhireUpdated: Monday, February 26, 2024, 11:53 AM IST
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GMAT Focus Edition: What To Expect? | LinkedIn

The Graduate Aptitude Management Test (GMAT), one of the leading admissions tests for business management students, announced last year its transition into a new and shorter version—the GMAT Focus Edition.

The new version boasted its convenience and accessibility to test takers. Instead of a three-hour-long test with a lengthy writing section, the new version is a two-hour-long test without the dreaded analytical writing section.

Gaurav Srivastava, the regional director of South Asia, the Graduate Management Admission Council that conducts GMAT, spoke to The Free Press Journal (FPJ) regarding the new changes in the exam format.

FPJ: Why was the decision to change the classic GMAT to the Focus Edition taken?

Srivastava: The Council keeps updating the exam to ensure that candidates find it convenient and business schools find it meaningful. GMAT originally was a very U.S.-centric exam and it slowly started getting more acceptability across different parts of the world, we wanted to streamline and make the test accessible.

Over the last few years, we got feedback that the exam was very long. Thus, we decided to make it shorter to a two-hour Focus Edition.

Starting this month, the existing GMAT has its sunset so in a couple of months we will drop that Focus Edition nomenclature to be called just the normal GMAT.

FPJ: Could you elaborate on these differentiating features?

Srivastava: We have completely done away with the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section and now there are only three sections of the exam—Quantitative Reasoning (QR), Verbal Reasoning (VR) and Data Insights(DI). One major change is the addition of DI, an enhanced version of Integrated Reasoning (IR).

Earlier, AWA and IR were not part of the overall 800 score. Now all three sections form the overall score.

FPJ: How do you think that students could prepare better for the new edition?

Srivastava: The first advice would be to check the official website for curriculum, changes in the exam pattern and resources. It has some step-by-step guides and free sample tests also that candidates can try out.

Also, now candidates can select which section they want to finish first, which makes the exam flexible. Test takers can bookmark questions and there is a review and edit feature.

Another great feature we have added is giving candidates insights into their exams. Prep companies, coaching centres and candidates gave us feedback that they wanted to know where test takers were going wrong. It is an enhanced report which will tell candidates how they have performed in each section, how they have answered each question and answer any doubts that candidates might have.

FPJ: How has the response been?

Srivastava: GMAC is very conservative so we wanted to try this out before implementing it but we were very pleasantly surprised and happy to note that after the US, India was in the second position as far as the registrations for the new Focus Edition were concerned.

Candidates believe that it is a better quality test and a better experience, and started registering for it. Our focus numbers are doing better than what we had forecasted for India.

FPJ: Will the Focus Edition affect the difficulty of the test?

Srivastava: Experts have made sure that the difficulty level remains uncompromised. We have conducted various validity studies with business schools to ensure that in the new GMAT Focus Edition, there is absolutely no compromise to the standard of the exam. The score is absolutely fair and we have also started normalising scores because after a while scores start to get inflated in any exam.

FPJ: Do you think non-STEM students could be negatively affected?

Srivastava: That was something that we very carefully thought through. The schools told us that they use their own writing tests. Several schools that I work closely with only look at the QR and VR performances. Schools which did look at our AWA section told us that they were happy to use their own writing tests. No candidate will be at a disadvantage.

FPJ: Can a fee hike be expected?

Srivastava: Even after the introduction of new features, we did not increase prices. We are treating this as a pure investment. There is no plan to increase the price as of now, not even in the near future.

FPJ: What subjects do you now think students should focus on?

Srivastava: QR and VR more or less remain unchanged. Candidates already are well-versed in those sections. DI on the other hand is a new section. Earlier, it was IR which had around 12 questions and was not a part of the total score. Now, DI has 20 questions, which candidates would want to prepare for. It helps in measuring the candidates' data literacy skills. It helps to interpret their ability to analyse and interpret the data and how to apply it to real-world business scenarios.

Sentence correction has also been removed. My only suggestion would be to constantly practise preparation material. I normally tell people the rule of thumb is 100 days for exam preparation because one cannot spend more than a certain number of hours every day, especially a working professional.

I also encourage a lot of young undergrad people to apply because during college they are in a study mode and have no work pressure. GMAT scores are valid for five years. After the exam, they can gain work experience for two to three years and then focus completely on applying to colleges instead of the GMAT.

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