Mumbai: New changes in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), which include a shorter duration coupled with the removal of the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section and the introduction of Data Insights, will be part of the new GMAT Focus Edition set to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2023.
The new measures will be significant for India as over 170 colleges and universities accept GMAT scores in the country.
AWA adds pressure to an already tough exam, say candidates
Though GMAT can be taken around the year as there’s no specific period or a fixed date for the test, students who are planning to appear for the same by the first quarter of 2024 believe AWA’s removal to be a sensible decision.
“Though AWA is not extremely difficult, it can get immensely tiring as you are spending 30-40 mins solving an argument. You already have Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning that you have to deal with which in itself takes a lot of time,” stated Jai Jain, a GMAT candidate.
GMAT's losing credibility major factor behind new moves
The updated GMAT, which is witnessing some of the biggest changes since it was moved from paper to computer-based test in 1997, has been plagued by dropping test volumes as public filings show that the programme revenue in 2020 fell 33% to $60.4 million, down from $89.8 million in 2019.
According to an analysis conducted by PoetsAndQuants, which is devoted to news coverage of B schools around the globe, GMAT tests taken worldwide fell by 42% in the past five years to 156,452 in the testing year 2021. In 2016, more than 260,000 GMAT exams were taken; in 2011, 286,529 GMAT tests were administered.
“The change is in line with losing ground to GRE as a preferred choice for MBA admissions. They are trying to be more competitive and attractive for the candidates,” stated Manish Gupta, Chief Consulting Officer, MBA Crystal Ball.
Questions have also been raised by B school experts such as Manish on how exactly these new measures will help in GMAT’s quest to regain popularity.
“We are not sure of the Data Insights section – new additions like these can take years before they get accepted as the norm. For instance, the IR section that was introduced many years back is still to find much ground with most b schools,” added Manish, who believes an AWA section would have been useful for admissions officers to assess a candidate’s ‘real’ abilities to write in the age of Artificial Intelligence tools like ChatGPT.
Lesser duration not a cakewalk
The GMAT now has four sections and a duration of three hours, and seven minutes, not including optional eight-minute breaks, which will change with the new test as it will only take two hours and 25 minutes and three sections to complete the same. But some students believe less duration will not be all hunky-dory.
“Usually 62 mins are set for QR, 65 mins for VR, and 30 mins for IR. Though the questions could be fewer and we will have fewer topics to prepare for, the inclusion of Data Insight will lead to time constraints while writing the paper,” explained Apurv Mhatre, an Engineering graduate who is set to take GMAT in December 2023.
GMAT’s Sentence Correction questions, which used to account for 40% of the total questions asked in the standardised exam, will also not be included in the new edition.
“Not having to go through Sentence Correction would be a relief for Indian students from vernacular medium, rural areas who wish to appear for GMAT,” stated Shailesh Otari, Head of Academics, Study Abroad, at IMS Learning Resources.
New focus, alternatives possible in GMAT
According to Shailesh, the new changes, which have a data-laden focus, signal that GMAT is trying to shift away from old-school methods and see what’s relevant 20 years from now.
Alternatives to the AWA section need to be holistic and complete, as per B school professors who aim to be in sync with the new modifications adopted by GMAT.
“A writing module that focuses on facets of storytelling in a data-driven context/business situation would ensure a perfect mix of creative and critical skills and therefore ensure a more holistic and complete test of analytical writing,” suggested Prof Ruchi Tewari, Co-Chair of Admissions at MICA.
(We are on WhatsApp. To get latest news updates, Join our Channel. Click here)