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What is the GMAT Focus Edition? Everything You Need to Know

On March 8th, 2023, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) announced the biggest changes to the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) since the inception of the test in 1954. 

Designed cooperatively with leading business schools, the new version of the GMAT, called the “GMAT Focus Edition,” became available on November 7, 2023.

The current version of the GMAT will be available until January 31, 2024. After this date, the GMAT Focus Edition will be the only version of the GMAT available.

GMAT Focus Edition — Quick Facts

While the GMAT Focus Edition is still a developing story, here is what we know for sure from MBA.com:

GMAT Focus Edition Introduces a New Section: Data Insights

According to MBA.com, “the Data Insights section measures candidates’ ability to analyze and interpret data and apply it to real-world business scenarios.”

The Data Insights section consists of 20 questions, some of which may require “math, data analysis, verbal reasoning, or all three.”

Question types within Data Insights include:

You should use GMAT Focus Official Prep materials to prepare for this section, practicing your critical reasoning and data literacy skills.

New GMAT Focus Edition Differences

The new GMAT exam differs from the classic GMAT in terms of test sections, length, and tested subject matter. The new GMAT Focus Edition combats test-taking fatigue, lasting 2 hours and 15 minutes, almost an hour shorter than the classic GMAT exam, two hours shorter than the GRE general test, and 45 minutes longer than the Executive Assessment (EA).

However, some similarities exist, as both exams test relevant business skills, reading comprehension, and data analysis skills. Further, like the current GMAT, the GMAT Focus Edition test remains a question-adaptive exam and can be taken online or at a test center.

The GMAT Focus Edition prioritizes higher-order critical reasoning, especially in the Verbal Reasoning section, and analyzing data, adapting to the rapidly changing business landscape.

Although the Quantitative Reasoning section no longer tests Geometry questions, test takers still need to understand coordinate plane geometry, as it is categorized as algebra on the new GMAT Focus Edition.

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GMAT Focus Scoring System

Business schools rely on GMAT scores when deciding which prospective business school candidates most deserve an offer of admission.

The GMAT Focus exam boasts an improved official score report with detailed performance insights. Due to the removal of the Integrated Reasoning section, GMAT Focus Edition scores cannot be compared to the original GMAT test.

The total score factors in all three sections of the exam, discouraging test takers from heavily prioritizing studying for one section over the others.

The GMAT Focus better accommodates diversity in test takers, resetting the score distribution. The score distribution of the old GMAT exam had become uneven, due to the rise of GMAT scores over time, making the updated scoring system necessary for schools to better judge the meaning of an applicant’s total score on the GMAT exam.

Our Recommendation for Students

It may be a confusing next couple of months as the new test is rolled out and the current version continues to be administered. 

We advise the following to our current students and those who are interested in signing up:

At this point, we do not know exactly how MBA programs will use the two different exam versions for their application decisions. 

Final Thoughts

As the GMAT Focus Edition will be the only admissions exam accepted at today’s graduate business programs after January 31, 2024, you need to focus on official practice exams designed specifically for the redesigned GMAT exam if your test date is February 1, 2024, or later. Official practice tests are available on mba.com.

Although still a rigorous and challenging exam, the new GMAT Focus Edition offers a less stressful testing experience, with fewer sections, less time spent at test centers, and a new question review and edit feature. The GMAT Focus Edition continues to prioritize critical thinking and verbal skills, in the format of a question adaptive test.

What we can say confidently is that this shift in the exam favors the style of preparation that we have always used in our curriculum: strategic and analytical preparation vs. content-based preparation. The goal of the GMAT has always been to assess higher-order thinking, and this new GMAT focus exam will shift even more from assessing “who knows things” to “who thinks the right way” to succeed in business school.