By Stefan Maisnier
This March, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) announced the biggest change to the GMAT in decades – a new GMAT™ Focus Edition. This new admissions exam option is expected to launch sometime in the second half of 2023, while the current GMAT will remain available until at least early 2024. While very few specifics have been shared so far, this article will outline how this change should or, more importantly, should not change your test prep.
GMAT™ Focus Edition
The limited information provided so far focuses (pun intended!) on the main selling point of the exam – a shorter overall duration. The current 3+ hour GMAT will be shrunk to a 2-hour and 15-minute test for the Focus Edition. This has been accomplished primarily by removing the exam’s vestigial tail, the Analytical Writing Assessment. The essay has been a rightly ignored portion of the exam for a long time, so its disappearance is of little consequence. More importantly, each of the Verbal and Quantitative sections will now be only 45 minutes in length, so roughly a quarter shorter than their current 65- and 62-minute durations, respectively.
Similar to the currently available Executive Assessment exam, the content of the Integrated Reasoning section will be significantly more important to the Focus Edition. This part of the current GMAT, which used to largely be another afterthought because it is not incorporated into the classic GMAT 800 score, will now be folded into a new 45-minute section called Data Insights, contributing a unified GMAT™ Focus Edition score. The Focus Edition score scale has not yet been announced, but the individual section scores are also expected to go extinct as a result of the GMAC simplifying its score reporting.
Proceeding with the Current GMAT
If you’ve already been preparing for the GMAT for a month or longer and have potentially already scheduled an official exam date – maintain the course! There is no reason to change anything you have been doing, and you should just ignore the noise. It is exceedingly unlikely that the GMAT™ Focus Edition will be available soon enough to be a reasonable part of first round admissions for 2023, so the majority of those decisions will be based on the testing environment as it currently exists.
If you haven’t begun test prep
At this point there are a lot of uncertainties around the GMAT™ Focus Edition and the rumor mill is spinning fast! From surreptitiously taken screenshots of the (currently unavailable) Official Guide to the GMAT 2023-2024, many are speculating that both geometry and sentence corrections are likely to be excised from the new Focus Edition. A shorter exam is probably better for just about everyone as well, so starting GMAT prep as normal from scratch, possibly preparing for content areas that won’t be relevant next year, is not the best idea.
If you’re truly just getting started, focus your prep on the content that is guaranteed to be part of the current legacy GMAT, the GMAT™ Focus Edition, and even the GRE. This includes arithmetic, algebra, word problems, and data analysis on the quantitative section.
On the verbal side, each of the three exams will continue to have reading comprehension and critical reasoning questions. Practicing this content should give you more than a month’s worth of material to cover, and hopefully by April more details will be available from GMAC to better build a longer-term schedule. Regardless of your exact approach, know that this change was made with the test taker in mind, and I truly believe that once the shock wears off the GMAT™ Focus Edition will be seen as good news for all test takers!
For more free videos about content that is likely to be very similar to the GMAT™ Focus Edition visit this Executive Assessment Prep YouTube playlist.
About the Author
Stefan is an experienced education professional leading the effort at MyGuru to deliver uniquely engaging online tutoring. Under his guidance, MyGuru and Analyst Prep have launched an affordable GMAT prep course to cover all aspects of the exam. Stefan is also a test prep professor at Northeastern Illinois University holding a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Southern California and a Master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, who has participated as an invited test prep expert at live college admissions events globally for schools such as the University of Chicago and ESMT Berlin.