GMAT Focus Edition: the Key Changes

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In November 2023, GMAT launched major updates to the GMAT exam and called the updated version The GMAT Focus Edition. However, that name won’t last much longer. Why change it again? Here’s the latest from The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC): “The ‘GMAT Focus Edition’ name served as a crucial distinction between it and the previous version of the GMAT while both were in the market in late 2023 and early 2024. With only one version of the exam available, we are transitioning back to using the ‘GMAT Exam’ name from July 1, 2024 onward.”

Now that we’ve addressed the next change to expect (dropping Focus Edition from the name), let’s talk about the timing and structure changes that were introduced this fall (2023).

GMAT Timing and Structure: What Changed?

The GMAT Focus Edition introduced several important updates aimed at enhancing the test-taking experience. These changes are outlined below:

  • Reduced Exam Duration: The GMAT Focus Edition has three 45-minute sections. This makes the test significantly shorter, giving test takers back an hour or so of their time.
  • Streamlined Content: The GMAT Focus Edition retains the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections. Quant will continue to test problem solving skills, but the Data Sufficiency question type has been moved to the new Data Insights section (more on that in just a bit). Verbal now focuses only on critical reasoning and reading comprehension. Sentence corrections have been removed. The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section has also been removed. The old Integrated Reasoning section has been completely overhauled and repackaged into a new section, The Data Insights section. Data Insights is intended to measure your skills in analyzing different types of data from multiple sources.
  • Flexible Testing Features: The Focus Edition does not limit user ability to bookmark questions or review questions within their currently tested section. However, the test remains question-adaptive, which means that you cannot skip questions. You must submit an answer to move on to the next question. Still, the updated test does now allow a test taker to change up to three answers as long as though changes are made within each section’s time limit. One of the most significant changes is that you can now complete the test sections in any order.
  • Enhanced Reporting: The new GMAT aims for more relevance to test-takers and the business schools to which they apply. Therefore, test results will include not only the Total Score (205-805), but also a detailed breakdown of insights to help the students assess which skill areas were more challenging, and which were strongest.

What if I took the Older Version of the GMAT?

Don’t worry! GMAC supports all GMAT scores as valid for 5 years, so there will be an extended transition period from the old to the new test scores.

In the meantime, its important to keep in mind that the scores do not translate. Here’s it’s worth quoting GMAC themselves: “Because the Total Score scale and the score scale distribution have both changed, comparing total scores or section scores from the current version of the exam to the GMAT Focus Edition is not appropriate, accurate, or a meaningful comparison of performance. Scores of 600 and 605 may look similar, but they represent very different performance levels on different skills.”

Preparing for the GMAT Focus Edition

The introduction of the GMAT Focus Edition is a significant change in the business school application process. By understanding the updates and utilizing the available prep resources, aspiring graduate students can confidently navigate these changes and excel in their applications. At Magoosh, we’re ready for the changes and ready to help you you prepare. Stick with us for all the latest GMAT news and insights.

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