The GMAT is A-Changin’

On June 25th a short press release from GMAC provided the first details on the previously announced changes to the GMAT that were announced late last summer. The press release coincided with the company’s Annual Industry Conference (AIC) in sunny San Diego, California. As is often the case, the AIC was a gathering place for the GMAC member schools and business school industry members. Our very own Akil Bello not only presented a workshop at the conference, but was also able to learn more about the upcoming Next Generation GMAT.

Here’s what we know so far about the new GMAT:

Testing Changes – Integrated Reasoning

  • The big one is that one of the essays for the AWA is going to be scrapped in favor of a new 30-minute section called Integrated Reasoning. Integrated Reasoning will include questions that ask test-takers to assimilate, interpret, or convert information from graphs and/or charts.
  • Instead of being presented 2 AWA essays candidates will be presented with either an analysis of an issue or an analysis of an argument once the new test launches.
  • Other questions in the Integrated Reasoning section will also ask test-takers to evaluate outcomes.
  • The format of questions on Integrated Reasoning will also change. Some questions will now allow for multiple correct answer choices, have multiple tabs with different information on each tab, and have “drag-n-drop” answer completion.
  • GMAC is also currently testing a listening component for the Integrated Reasoning section. Current tests are focusing mainly on how such a component would affect non-native speakers of English.
  • The Integrated Reasoning section will NOT be adaptive.
  • The score for Integrated Reasoning will NOT be figured into the 200-800 scaled score we’re all so familiar with. It will be given its own score component as part of your score report.

Other Change – Score Reports

Schools may have to wait longer to receive test scores, thus some GMAT deadlines might change.

What’s NOT Changing?

Pretty much everything else:

  • The Quant and Verbal sections of the test will remain unchanged. Sub-scores for these sections will be used to generate the 200-800 scaled score as in the current incarnation of the GMAT.
  • Total testing time will remain largely the same, with the 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section replacing one of the AWA essays of the same length, but is currently expected to come after the Verbal section.

So When is This Happening?

The press release indicates the launch date for the new GMAT is June 2012. We were able to find out a bit more info about the time line for significant development points in the process that may be relevant to test-takers:

  • Pilot 1 (already occurred – April 2010) – several test items (what laymen refer to as questions) were tested on a group of business students. You can see a video of some of the reactions here.
  • Pilot 2 (November 2010) – For one testing week in November, anyone who registers and sits for a GMAT test will be given an experimental Integrated Reasoning Section. The section will NOT be optional, but will also not be computed in scores. To eliminate any impact of an experimental section on performance, it will be the last section of the test, after the regular Quant and Verbal sections have been administered. After this round of testing question types will be finalized.
  • Pre-testing (July-August 2011) – A broader implementation of the Next Generation GMAT will be administered.
  • Standardizing Scores (by September 2011) – After pre-testing, score scales will be set and put in place for the new section.
  • Field Testing (January 2012) – Full testing of Next Generation GMAT will take place.
  • Launch (June 2012) – The old GMAT is no more. Hello Integrated Reasoning!

Why is GMAC Doing This?

Their position is that the time was right to further improve the validity of the GMAT as a predictor for business school potential. Their decisions to make the changes arose chiefly out of a four year study, which included feedback from a large number of business school faculty. Other reasons for the change and the timing of it include:

  • Changes in the student/test-taking population
  • Changes in school curriculum
  • Advances in technology
  • Advances in measurement/assessment capabilities.

It’s also possible that the revisions to the GMAT are designed to keep it as a more effective measurement tool for business school in the face of developments with other standardized tests (notably the GRE).

Hear from GMAC CEO Dave Wilson on the changes to the GMAT by clicking here.

What Do You Need to Do?

For now, you don’t really need to do anything, particularly if you’re looking to take the GMAT in the next 12 to 18 months. Even if you should sign up for the test in the window for which Next Generation GMAT testing will be occurring, there shouldn’t be any reason for concern or worry about the new section impacting performance.

GMAC has indicated they will be publishing sample material to the general public in the near future.

Stay tuned and we’ll provide more information and insight as the whole process unfolds.

-The Bell Curves Team

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