The GMAC, the parent body administering the GMAT, has announced the dates for the release of the GMAT Focus Edition.
This move makes a lot of sense.
The number of GMAT test takers has been steadily dropping over the last few years, and it is definitely the right time to introduce a shorter, more real-world-focused test. Almost an hour and a section shorter, the GMAT Focus is surely the next big thing.
From what we know now, GMAT test takers now have the option to choose between the GMAT Focus edition and the current edition until the current version gets retired sometime in 2024. We also know that the present GMAT will be valid all the way until early 2024.
How do we know? This is what the official page announcing the new GMAT Focus edition had to say:
Sounds simple enough, but there are still a ton of questions that you might have about GMAT Focus.
How is the GMAT Focus different from the current GMAT?
Do I take the current GMAT or the GMAT focus? Or both 😣
What does it mean for my chances of admission to a business school?
Heck! How does this change affect me?
We’re going to look at everything we know so far and try to understand how you can make the best decision that works for YOU.
Click here if you want to get a list of the differences at a glance.
Before we begin…
If you are someone who is preparing for the GMAT, then DO NOT PANIC.
These are changes that will not come into effect until the end of 2023 – and the scores from this test will therefore be used only for the next admissions cycle in 2024.
How is the GMAT Focus different from the current GMAT?
Here are the 7 main differences between the two versions:
1. Three sections instead of four
The current GMAT has four sections:
- Analytical Writing Assessment
- Integrated Reasoning
- Verbal Reasoning, and
- Quantitative Reasoning.
However, the GMAT Focus edition has three sections instead of four:
- Verbal Reasoning
- Quantitative Reasoning, and
- Data Insights or DI.
Yes – you read it right!
The GMAT is introducing a new section that will have questions on data sufficiency, along with questions on multi-source reasoning, table analysis, graphics interpretation, and two-part analysis.
Note: Those of you who are familiar with Integrated Reasoning, or IR in its current format, know that these are all question types that we have already seen in IR.
2. No AWA section
The GMAC seems to have acknowledged what has been the popular opinion for a while now:
The AWA lost its importance a long time ago.
AI tools like Chat GPT have pretty much killed the need to have writing as a skill.
If you think about it, from a student’s perspective, having the AWA section meant nothing but an extra half an hour of writing.
From the point of view of the GMAT, the AWA section did nothing but raise the cost without adding any real-world value.
So, overall, this seems to be good news. But since the AWA did not impact the overall score, the impact of this change is minimal.
3. No Sentence Correction Questions
Mba.com clearly tells us that the Verbal section will not have sentence Correction Questions anymore.
The screenshots of the content page of the 2023 Official Guide showed that Sentence Correction questions were missing in the verbal section of the new OG.
From a testing standpoint, Sentence Correction is one of those questions that can be done in like 90 seconds.
You can’t do that in CR or RC questions.
Right? So it’s a bummer if it’s going to be taken out after being on the GMAT since its very inception.
But wait! This could be good news for some test takers.
Navigating Sentence Correction questions can be a daunting task, as it involves learning a plethora of grammar rules.
This experience can be overwhelming and slow you down, leaving you anxious about mastering all the rules before even attempting the questions.
As if that wasn’t enough, once you push past a V40, you might find that the grammar rules become murkier and less straightforward.
But don’t fret!
The new GMAT Focus comes to your rescue, especially for those who aren’t fans of Sentence Correction.
By eliminating this hurdle, the GMAT Focus allows you to concentrate on other areas and boost your overall performance.
4. No Geometry Questions
Wait! There is more.
As can be seen on mba.com, the quant section will only have Problem Solving questions that require “some knowledge of arithmetic and elementary algebra.” This means, no more Geometry!
This is also probably good news.
Normally, one sees only about 5 to 6 geometry questions in the GMAT, but there’s a lot of prep needed to learn to tackle these questions.
But should GMAT candidates be tested on every topic?
The GMAT has recognized that while arithmetic and algebra hold significant value in today’s world, geometry isn’t as crucial.
Likewise, the test-takers understand that a large part of modern work relies on the ability to interpret data. As a result, they’ve introduced the Data Insights section, focusing on the skills that truly matter.
By simplifying the test, the GMAT lets candidates focus on fewer, more important topics. This makes their preparation more efficient and effective.
5. Fewer Questions. Lesser time
Let’s look at the time that the test will now take.
Each of the three sections will take 45 minutes, which means the test will take 2 hours and 15 minutes instead of 3 hours and 7 minutes.
The updated verbal section has 23 questions, and you will have about two minutes to answer each one. That’s usually the time you’d need for Critical Reasoning (CR) and Reading Comprehension (RC) questions.
Moving on to the quant section, it now consists of 21 questions. This means the time allocated per question remains unchanged at two minutes.
Lastly, let’s talk about the new Data Insights (DI) section that will feature questions from the erstwhile Integrated Reasoning (IR) section. The DI section will now include 20 questions, giving you slightly over 2 minutes per question.
So, from a timing perspective, there’s no need to feel stressed — just breathe and tackle those questions!
The good part is that a shorter test means you are NOT going to tax your brain as much as you would have to on the current (longer) version of the GMAT.
With fewer questions to tackle, candidates will be able to better manage their time and maintain their focus throughout the exam. This shorter format will help alleviate test fatigue, ensuring that students remain sharp and engaged during the entire testing process.
So, test-takers are likely to feel less nervous and do their best, showing business schools what they are really capable of.
6. Bookmark and edit questions
Two new features have been introduced in the GMAT Focus edition.
1. The bookmark feature allows you to click on a particular question and bookmark it in case you want to come back to that question.
If you think about it, this is a small change, but it will reduce a great deal of stress.
Taking the GMAT can be quite nerve-wracking due to its adaptive algorithm, which decides the next question based on your performance in the previous one.
This often causes stress, leading test-takers to spend too much time on a question or second-guess their answers.
However, bookmarking offers a sense of relief by allowing you to go back, and so it eases the pressure as you don’t need to be sure about every single answer.
2. The edit feature allows you to edit three answers.
This is a feature that most candidates will absolutely love!
But now that test-takers can change up to three answers, they need to come up with a new plan to figure out which questions to go back and change.
Thankfully, the limit of three prevents you from getting overwhelmed and attempting to change every response – a move that would undoubtedly harm your test-taking strategy.
Note: This feature raises an intriguing issue that GMAC will need to address. As the GMAT is a question-adaptive test, the next question depends on the accuracy of your previous answer. Allowing test-takers to modify three responses could potentially disrupt the algorithm’s effectiveness, creating an interesting challenge for GMAC to resolve.
7. Select colleges after the test
An additional advantage of the GMAT Focus Edition is the flexibility to choose the colleges you wish to target after receiving your scores.
In contrast to the current format, which requires selecting schools before taking the test, this updated approach allows you to make a more informed decision.
In the GMAT Focus, you can first assess your scores and then strategically identify the schools that best align with your performance. This will increase your chances of securing an admission to a program that best suits your abilities.
This change eliminates the need for guesswork and enables you to confidently target the right schools based on your actual GMAT scores.
So with that out of the way, let’s look at the all-important question:
Do I take the current GMAT or the new GMAT Focus
Let us use the following pros and cons
Pros of the Current GMAT:
- There is a wealth of information available on the current GMAT format, including test-taking strategies, tips, and tricks.
- There are thousands of practice questions and many practice exams, including the six official tests offered by the GMAT.
- The current GMAT format has been in use since 1998, so there is a lot of data available to help you understand what the test expects of you.
- If you are already in the middle of your prep, the current GMAT might be a better choice since you already have a clear picture of what the test expects of you.
Cons of the Current GMAT:
- The current GMAT format has been in use for over two decades, which means that many test-takers have already studied and practiced extensively for this format, potentially making it harder to stand out from the crowd.
- The current GMAT has a strict score range of 200-800, which means that many top schools may not consider scores below 700, creating a potential disadvantage for test-takers who score below this threshold.
Pros of the New GMAT Focus:
- The new GMAT Focus will be shorter and have fewer questions, which may help reduce stress and make it easier to focus during the test.
- The new GMAT Focus will have a separate section called Data Insights, which will test your ability to understand data, a skill that is highly valued in many industries today.
- The new GMAT Focus will have a potentially new scoring system, which could create opportunities for students to apply with scores without the bias from strict cut-offs.
Cons of the New GMAT Focus:
- There is still a lot of ambiguity surrounding the new GMAT Focus, including the scoring scale, the distribution of sections, and specific test day strategies.
- The new GMAT Focus will have fewer questions per section, which may result in harder questions and a more sensitive algorithm, potentially making it harder to achieve a top score.
- There may be limited prep materials available for the new GMAT Focus in its early days, which may make it harder for test-takers to prepare adequately.
In conclusion, if you’re already preparing for the GMAT or prefer a familiar and well-documented format, the current GMAT might be the better choice.
Continue with your prep. Don’t lose the momentum. If nothing else, CR, RC, and the quant section are not going to change.
However, if you struggle with specific sections and believe the GMAT Focus could cater to your strengths, it could be worth considering as a Plan B option.
Is there any other aspect of the GMAT Focus that you’d like to find out more about?
Please comment and let us know.