The GMAC offers a range of resources for those preparing for the GMAT. The Official Guide to the GMAT and GMAT Prep are invaluable to students, and we strongly encourage our students to purchase and download these resources for their preparation. Another resource available to students is the GMAT Focus® Online Quantitative Diagnostic Tool, which provides students with an assessment of their math skills.
In this article, I will discuss the different features of the GMAT Focus Tool, what is useful, and what I wish it had. I’ll conclude with who I think this product would be ideal for.
Facts & Features
Simply put, this is a 24 question GMAT Quantitative test that provides you with details about your strengths and weaknesses. Here are the details:
- 24 questions: 12 Data Sufficiency & 12 Problem Solving questions
- 45 minutes for entire test
- Easy to access—just need a computer with an Internet connection
- Computer-Adaptive Test
- Actual GMAT questions from old tests
- Four unique tests are available for purchase
- Answer explanations to all questions
- Estimated score range for Quantitative section
- Tracks time for each question and compares student’s performance to average
- Breaks down performance based on question difficulty from Below Average to Excellent
- Start and stop test as many times as you want across multiple days
- Ability to mark questions that were guessed
- Emulates GMAT testing environment—not exactly the same since you can stop the test and you can finish the test when time expires
When I took a diagnostic test, I saw questions covering these concepts, which closely matches the frequency of these concepts on the GMAT:
- Number Properties
In the list of features, GMAC states that there are four unique tests. But they don’t tell you that you have to pay for each one you take. They have two options—single use and a bundle of three—giving a slight discount for purchasing more tests.
- Cost for One Test: $29.99
- Cost for Three-Test Bundle: $79.99
GMAT Focus has some undeniable advantages over other diagnostic tools. For one, it is the only CAT diagnostic tool that uses real GMAT questions. The universe of practice tests and problems for the GMAT is flush with low to middling quality content that can give students inflated or deflated score predictions.
Another great feature is the score predictor. Instead of giving students an exact prediction of their score, such as 43, students receive an estimated score range. Giving students an exact prediction is misleading and underestimates the complexities of GMAT scoring. The GMAT Focus predicted score hints at these complexities by providing a score range and further detail about a students ability at different levels; students are given probabilities of landing within a certain range.
Besides the predicted score, the student’s score report is useful. A table breaks down performance in four difficulty levels—Below Average, Average, Above Average, and Excellent. Students can easily see how they performed at each level and the likelihood that they would score within a difficulty level. And although it only gives percentages, a student can get a sense of how many of each type they saw on the assessment.
Finally, the assessment provides a unique piece of information I haven’t seen elsewhere. The assessment separates questions into real math and formula-based math. At Magoosh, students sometimes write in, asking for all the formulas they need to memorize for the GMAT, which is a good question, but won’t prepare students for the real world math questions. Plenty of problems on the test are not about how well a student can recall a formula and use it. Many questions test a student’s ability to reason and use math to sort through a situation. This table gives students a picture of how dedication to formulas and memorizing patterns will only get them so far on the test.
There are some features that I would’ve liked or that I expected in the GMAT Focus tool. For one, I was expecting to have a more granular assessment of math concepts. Right now, the assessment only tells students about their performance in Algebra and Arithmetic operations. Not only is this incredibly general, but it also leaves out other subject areas on the GMAT, like geometry. I would’ve liked to see Algebra broken up into small concepts and topics, like Inequalities, Linear Equations, or Proportions.
GMAC seems to have missed an opportunity to tie in this assessment with their other official material. To really make a useful assessment aimed at helping students improve, to provide actionable information, GMAC could’ve suggested practice problems in The Official Guide to the GMAT. Students could then go straight to the book and know what problems they could work on to improve. Instead, students are left to do this on their own.
The test is not cheap. $30 is a steep price for a one-time diagnostic tool. Everything surrounding the GMAT seems to be more expensive than necessary. I think that $10 would’ve been a much more reasonable price for this tool, especially considering the free practice tests online that students can take to get similar, if not as detailed, information.
The score report is not as clear as it could be. This information could’ve been presented in an easier-to-consume format.
Finally, why isn’t there a verbal section? Seems strange to only have this tool for the Quantitative section but not the verbal section.
The GMAT Focus Quantitative Tool is ideal for a person who is just starting to study for the GMAT. The assessment will tell students what general areas to focus on as they begin to study. Students will have a sense of their level and how far they have to go to improve.
Is this tool vital for preparing for the GMAT? No. Will it help you get a high score on the test? Unlikely. Will some students benefit from the information provided by the assessment? Yes. What it really comes down to is the student and how much she wants to know about her math skills. For some, this information will not be useful, but for others, it will provide a snapshot of their level, allowing them to use their time wisely when they study for the GMAT.