What do changes to the GMAT test mean for your business school applications? | TopMBA.com

What do changes to the GMAT test mean for your business school applications?

By Laura L

Updated Updated

The Graduate Management Admission Council™ (GMAC) is introducing a new GMAT™ exam following extensive research involving hundreds of business school professionals and thousands of students around the world.  

Registration for the GMAT™ Focus Edition, an updated version of the GMAT™ exam, will open on 29 August 2023 and will feature three 45-minute sections: 

  • Quantitative Reasoning – examining problem-solving skills 

  • Verbal Reasoning – evaluating critical reasoning and reading comprehension but no longer incorporates sentence correction 

  • Data Insights – measuring candidates’ data literacy and ability to analyse and interpret data and apply it to real-world business scenarios 

The Analytical Writing Assessment has been removed too and as a result of these changes, the exam is almost one hour shorter than the current version.  

TopMBA.com spoke to Nalisha Patel, Regional Director for Europe at the Graduate Management Admission Council, to find out the reasons behind the new exam and what it means for your business school applications.  


A bigger emphasis on problem solving and data analysis 

According to Patel, the changes are essential in reflecting what business schools are looking for from applicants in today’s world.  

She said: “We’ve really homed in on the areas we think are essential to make complex judgement calls because that’s what the world needs now, when nothing seems to be binary or straight forward. 

“The new exam focuses on critical thinking, problem-solving skills and data analytics. The ability to read, process and communicate decisions through data is a necessary addition to bridge the gap in the leadership that’s needed today.” 

A shorter test  

Almost one hour shorter than the current exam, the GMAT™ Focus Edition requires less content to prepare and allows test takers to bookmark as many questions as they want, review questions within the remaining section time, change up to three answers per section and to complete the three sections in any order.  

Patel added: ‘’High-quality assessment of readiness is essential to us, so we’re really pleased to be able to ensure the same validity and reliability measures with a shorter length test. For candidates this means less exam fatigue, better exam experience and the ability to optimise their performance with a more personalised exam strategy. 

Free resources to help you prepare 

Official GMAT Focus Edition preparation materials will be available on mba.com from 6 June 2023, with a free study planner to help test takers stick to a schedule, inform prep activities and track progress.  

You can also access a free starter kit with 70 real GMAT questions and two full-length practise exams to help you establish a performance baseline.  

Patel said: “We’ve always been committed to offer study guides, practise exams and starter kits to provide business school applicants with the opportunity to be as ready as possible. That’s something we’ll continue to do and expand on.  

“Many of our test takers are finishing university and have exams to contend with. Some of them have other responsibilities like families or busy work schedules and we understand those pressures. We’re trying to ensure we can support people through their journeys with helpful resources.” 

Enhanced preparation for your business school experience 

Graduate admissions tests help to demonstrate your readiness to take on a business leadership programme and so preparation for the exam is preparation for your education.  

Patel said: “It’s not just preparation for the exam and then that preparation is lost. It prepares you for the way you must think on your MBA journey or in your business master’s. When you get to business school, it’s intense from day one and you haven’t got much capacity beyond your business education. So, we think we have a role in preparing students for that journey too.”  

Joy Jones, CEO at GMAC said: “We want to encourage people with a broad set of qualifications, undergraduate backgrounds and lived experiences to understand the richness of their choice and take that leap forward on their business school journey. 

“It’s our belief that the GMAT Focus Edition will allow candidates to optimise their preparation for graduate business education while helping schools attract a global pool of qualified and diverse applicants.” 

Will the new test impact my application?  

According to Patel, the new GMAT Focus Edition exam will not impact your application to business school if you’re suited to graduate management education.  

“It’s not detrimental to your business school application. It’s about improving the user experience. Those in the process of preparing and taking the current exam will be assessed equally and all GMAT exam scores – whether they are of the current GMAT or GMAT Focus Edition – continue to be valid for 5 years. 

“It’s about recalibrating and ensuring that business schools are benchmarking in reflection of today’s global context. We’re working closely with schools to ensure that students who take either exam are assessed fairly during the transition.” 

The company is encouraging students and business schools to compare the percentile rankings rather than total score, for a more meaningful and accurate comparison of performance between the original GMAT and GMAT Focus Edition exam.  

As GMAT Focus Edition rolls out for the remainder of 2023, the current version of the GMAT exam will continue to be available to candidates until early 2024 to facilitate in-progress preparation and applications for business school. GMAT Focus Edition fees will remain the same as the current GMAT exam.   

For further information and advice, head to gmac.com.  

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

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