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GMAT Transition News

GMAC Sets Sights on Next Generation GMAT

Advancements in technology and measurement are making a significant impact on assessments. At the same time, more specialized master’s programs and more variations on the traditional MBA are available worldwide. As the business marketplace has changed, so, too, has graduate management education. All of these factors have inspired GMAC to take an innovative approach to the GMAT exam.

The Next Generation GMAT, slated for completion in 2013, will build on the solid foundation of the current exam, while utilizing advances in testing technology and science to provide better, even more precise measures of skills. It will also offer measures of additional skills applicable to both traditional MBA and new business programs. The development process is rigorous, detailed, and collaborative, so that the Next Generation GMAT can provide the right information to help schools admit the best students for their programs.

Developing the Next Generation GMAT involves three phases over the next five years: skills research, pilot testing, and operational readiness. GMAC is strongly committed to seeking input and feedback from business school faculty and administrators throughout each stage. GMAC also plans to provide regular updates to business schools.

Now in Phase 1, GMAC is identifying and reviewing potential new skills that the GMAT could measure. An advisory group of faculty members from leading business schools around the world met on February 11 to review and rate the importance of various skills and recommended changes for the GMAT based on evolving expectations of students.

“The process of preparing for the Next Generation GMAT has been both well-planned and extremely sensitive to the needs and concerns of business schools,” said Luis Palencia, associate dean, MBA Program, IESE Business School. “If this first stage is an indicator of the final result, I know that the new exam will be innovative, valuable, and successful.”

GMAC is also surveying business faculty worldwide, asking professors to rate the importance of skills that should be measured and the mastery that they expect students to demonstrate in such skills.

During Phase 2, GMAC will utilize the first phase research to design and pilot-test enhancements to meet the needs of business schools. The goal will be to determine the most effective approaches to measuring the skills that are valued in a graduate management program classroom and creating the optimal test-taker experience.

Before launching the new test, GMAC will ensure that it is easily accessible. In Phase 3, test centers will be upgraded as needed. Test preparation materials will be developed and made available to candidates before the first new tests are delivered. GMAC will search for innovations to enhance access to the GMAT without compromising test security.

The GMAT exam is the only admissions test designed by business schools for business schools. It was created in 1953 by nine business schools that decided they needed their own special test to evaluate and admit the best students for their programs. Five decades later, the GMAT has regularly been shown to be the most reliable indicator of academic success in graduate management education. Today, it is used by more than 4,600 programs in 1,900 schools. In 2008, more than 260,000 GMAT exams were taken by prospective business students in more than 100 countries.

To ensure its high quality, reliability, and validity, the GMAT exam has undergone continuous improvement throughout its history. Some of the changes have been highly visible, such as the switch from paper to computer adaptive testing. Other changes have been “under the hood,” such as improved security, better processes for developing GMAT questions, and stringent procedures to ensure bias-free questions. In 2006, GMAC, Pearson VUE, and ACT conducted an in-depth curriculum study of a variety of business programs to confirm that the GMAT was continuing to perform at the highest level.

The exact form that the Next Generation GMAT will take is impossible to predict. GMAC is investing the requisite time and effort to conduct a thorough review and continual testing to ensure the Next Generation GMAT meets the needs of business schools and students well into the future.

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