Updated version of the most widely used business school admissions exam in the past seven decades aims to help candidates achieve success in the business world of tomorrow
RESTON, Va. (March 28, 2023) – The Graduate Management Admission Council™ (GMAC), a global association representing leading business schools, today introduced an updated version of the Graduate Management Admission Test™ (GMAT™) exam, the GMAT™ Focus Edition. The test was redesigned with a more efficient test taking experience and flexible new features to better support candidates on their business school journey. Schools will benefit from it as an improved element in their holistic admissions process and attract a more diverse global applicant pool.
In 2021, GMAC kicked off a robust research program through a third-party firm to objectively understand the needs of schools and candidates to evolve the GMAT exam. After speaking with over 65 school professionals representing a wide mix of program types and sizes at schools from around the world and in-depth concept testing with nearly 5,400 prospective candidates globally representing a mix of demographic characteristics, GMAC was able to identify several driving themes to inform its direction.
“Since its launch in 1954, the GMAT has been the gold standard and has continued evolving so it remains a highly relevant indicator of candidate preparedness for graduate business degree programs. We’ve been working tirelessly and collaboratively with business school admissions professionals, faculty, and leadership as well as our partners to determine how to keep it the best assessment for business education,” said Joy Jones, CEO of GMAC. “Our goal is to ensure that today’s pipeline of diverse candidates have a testing experience that helps them and the schools they aspire to assess their readiness for the academic rigor of business education.”
New Features of GMAT Focus Edition put test takers in the driver’s seat
The GMAT Focus Edition is more efficient, more flexible, and more insightful. With only three 45-minute sections and the removal of the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), it is nearly one hour shorter than the current version of the GMAT and therefore requires less content to prepare. New features include Bookmarking, which allows test takers to note any – and as many as they want – questions they feel unsure about as they complete the exam; Question Review & Edit, which allows test takers to review questions within the remaining section time and change up to three answer responses per section; and Select Section Order, which allows the three sections to be completed in any order.
In addition, the improved Official Score Report now offers detailed performance insights at no additional cost and enables candidates to assess strengths and focus areas. Furthermore, test takers no longer have to select programs for score sending before they sit for the exam at a test center; for both test center and online testing of GMAT Focus Edition, they can send up to five free score reports by selecting schools up to 48 hours after receiving their Official Score Report.
“These new and improved features of GMAT Focus Edition are providing greater confidence to test takers in their decision to pursue business education,” said Ashish Bhardwaj, senior vice president and head of market development at GMAC. “We believe the test will continue to give aspiring candidates the competitive edge they need to stand out not just in school applications but also in scholarships and the financial aid process. As GMAT Focus Edition encourages candidates to prepare for and take the test efficiently, it will expand and diversify the candidate pipeline for business schools while helping more candidates achieve the life-changing benefits of graduate management education.”
Higher-order critical reasoning skills and data literacy are the focus
The GMAT Focus Edition now features only three 45-minute sections: Quantitative Reasoning, which examines problem solving skills; Verbal Reasoning, which evaluates critical reasoning and reading comprehension but no longer incorporates sentence correction; and the newly developed Data Insights section, which measures candidates’ data literacy skills and ability to analyze and interpret data and apply it to real-world business scenarios.
“Questions in Data Insights may require math, data analysis, verbal reasoning, or all three, and ask test takers to assess how multiple sources and types of information – including graphic, numeric, and verbal – relate to one another and can be integrated to make informed decisions,” said Manish Dharia, director of product development at GMAC. “Within GMAT Focus Edition’s updated test design, Data Insights leverages the currently available Integrated Reasoning section, and the Data Sufficiency question types that used to fall under Quantitative Reasoning, to measure a newly calibrated digital and data literacy dimension – one of the most relevant and in-demand skills in the business world today.”
Test questions remain computer adaptive and without bias
The GMAT exam is among the first worldwide testing programs that utilized computerized adaptive testing (CAT). The CAT algorithm maximizes measurement efficiency, allowing the test scores to be the most accurate and reliable in assessing the test takers with the least amount of time required for candidate to sit through the exam. In other words, it produces a much shorter exam time while retaining high test score reliability. Even with the added feature of Question Review & Edit, GMAT Focus Edition remains computer adaptive, meaning the test automatically adjusts to test taker’s ability level, presenting harder or easier questions based on whether the test taker answered previous questions correctly.
“The GMAT exam – and the GMAT Focus Edition – have been designed so that each test question, or what we call ‘item,’ is free of bias. Every potential test question is subjected to a rigorous seven-step development and review process before it can be used in operational exams. On average, the cycle of GMAT item development takes about 12 months and only items that successfully pass all content and statistical review processes will be considered for inclusion in the operational GMAT exam,” said Chris Han, head of test development and psychometrics department at GMAC. “On top of the rigorous item development process, I am excited to share that GMAC has developed and applied a new, groundbreaking psychometric methodology called Residual-based Differential Item Functioning to ensure the fairness of GMAT Focus Edition scores across groups of all demographic, geographic and cultural background.” The new method was featured in a peer-reviewed article and later recognized with an Outstanding Paper Award in 2023 by the National Council of Measurement in Education (NCME), the largest and most influential association in the field of psychometrics.
Candidates are encouraged to proceed as planned with either current or updated version of exam on their journey to business school
GMAT Focus Edition will be rolled out in 2023, while the current version of the GMAT exam will continue to be available to candidates until early next year to facilitate their in-progress preparation and applications for business school. GMAC will make the Official Prep for GMAT Focus Edition available by the end of Q2, registration for GMAT Focus Edition open in Q3 and testing available in Q4 2023. With the advance announcement of the new edition, GMAC encourages candidates to proceed with registering and taking the GMAT exam in ways that best enable their pursuit of graduate management education. GMAT™ Official Prep material will also be available to support candidates in achieving success on either version of the exam, and all GMAT exam scores continue to be valid for 5 years.
Candidates and schools are encouraged to sign up on mba.com and gmac.com, respectively, to get the latest updates on the GMAT Focus Edition, including exam content, official prep options, and all detailed date announcements.
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is a mission-driven association of leading graduate business schools worldwide. GMAC provides world-class research, industry conferences, recruiting tools, and assessments for the graduate management education industry as well as resources, events, and services that help guide candidates through their higher education journey. Owned and administered by GMAC, the Graduate Management Admission Test™ (GMAT™) exam is the most widely used graduate business school assessment.
More than 12 million prospective students a year trust GMAC’s websites, including mba.com, to learn about MBA and business master’s programs, connect with schools around the world, prepare and register for exams and get advice on successfully applying to MBA and business master’s programs. BusinessBecause and GMAC Tours are subsidiaries of GMAC, a global organization with offices in China, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
To learn more about our work, please visit www.gmac.com
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