Is the New GMAT better?

Is the New GMAT better?

Is the new and shorter GMAT better than the old one?

Over the past couple of years, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has been making small but test-taker friendly changes. 

The most beneficial of which has been the ability to choose the order of attempting sections, viz. analytical writing assessment (AWA), integrated reasoning (IR), quantitative reasoning (QR), and verbal reasoning(VR). Post July 2017, you could select from 3 options to choose the order in which you attempt the test. The options are :

Option 1: The same structure as before

AWA-IR-Quantitative-Verbal

Option 2: Verbal section first

Verbal-Quantitative-IR-AWA

Option 3: Quantitative section first

Quantitative-Verbal-IR-AWA

There is no denying the benefits of this option.

If you are someone who likes to ease into the test then you go for option 1 where you spend the first hour warming up while attempting the AWA and IR. On the other hand, if you are jittery about the verbal or the quantitative sections and would like to attempt one or the other first and get it done with, then you could go for option 2 or 3 respectively. In general, if you would rather focus first on the sections that contribute to your score out of 800 then you would again choose options 2 or 3, leaving the IR and AWA for the end. It all depends on your priorities and comfort. However, a substantial case can be built for pushing the IR and AWA as far down the test as possible. So options 2 and 3 certainly help. Thank you GMAC!

A few things to note: 

A. You don’t need to select the options beforehand. You do it on test day when you start the test.

B. The “Select Section Order” screen appears with a 2 minute timer. The test taker must make this choice in 2 minutes. Otherwise, the test begins using the current default structure (Option 1).

C. The official score reports do not display order of test taking to the colleges.

Now for the next major change: the GMAT is 30 minutes shorter.

In April 2018, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) made yet another change to the GMAT.

The GMAT is now almost 30 minutes shorter. The new exam will last for three and a half hours instead of four from April 16, 2018.

The GMAT is reducing the number of un-scored, research questions in the verbal and quantitative sections. Some tutorial and instruction screens have also been simplified. All this has reduced the total test time by 30 minutes.

The Quantitative section will now contain 31 questions (instead of 37) to be attempted in 62 minutes (instead of 75)

The Verbal section will now contain 36 questions (instead of 41) to be attempted in 65 minutes(instead of 75)

There are no changes to the Analytical Writing (AWA) or Integrated Reasoning (IR) sections.

According to GMAC, this change will not affect GMAT exam scoring as the number of scored questions will not change.

So basically, the content of the exam, the question types and the average time per question are not changing, the final scores will be comparable and the test is shorter.

It’s been more than a year and a half since the new GMAT was introduced and it’s time to examine the implications for students.

It can be argued that this change had more to do with GMAT competing with the GRE. The new GMAT is 30 minutes shorter than the GRE and that can certainly make it appear more attractive to a prospective test taker who can choose between the two tests to use for application to most B-schools. (The GRE is now accepted at all MBA programs). That is not to say, that these changes help the student significantly.

The greatest advantage is for older test takers. Test takers with 8 to 10 years of work experience find longer tests more grueling than do those with 5 years of work experience. The longer work experience often means that the test taker hasn’t taken a full length test in a while and a 30 minute reduction does help a lot. 

However, test-takers need to be mindful of the disadvantages that the shorter test brings

  • Earlier you could save a few minutes on your sentence correction questions and use that for the reading comprehension or do the same with arithmetic questions to pass on the benefit to data sufficiency. With fewer questions the time savings and adjustments are also lesser.
  • Also, those who need a little time to get in the groove will find the shorter duration to be a serious disadvantage. Starting slow and easing into the section is no longer an option.
  • The massive reduction in un-scored questions means that each question you encounter now has a higher probability of being an actual test question. So every time you use the ‘guess and move on’ tactic you run the risk of doing so for an actual test question.

The new changes do help in easing the pain of sitting through a longer test but provide no other major benefits and test-takers would do good to focus more on accuracy now. The new GMAT seems to demand it.

Anirban Bose

Anirban Bose

Anirban is passionate about teaching and mentoring. He has more than 16 years of experience preparing students for GRE, GMAT and SAT.

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