# How Changes to the GMAT Will Affect You

## The GMAT will contain a new section in 2012.

July 9, 2010
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This June, the Graduate Management Admission Council announced that the structure of the Graduate Management Admissions Test—better known as the GMAT—will be changing in June 2012. The test won't take any more time, but one of the two 30-minute writing sections is being replaced by an integrated reasoning section. The new section is the result of schools telling GMAC that they wanted a new way to measure students' potential performance in business school. "The test shouldn't be that much more difficult," says GMAC's CEO Dave Wilson. "It's just a different section testing different skills."

The change has significant implications for students and young professionals who are considering applying to business school in the next few years. While Wilson maintains that the test will be no harder than its previous iteration, studies performed by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions indicate that test scores tend to dip in the few years following major format changes because of general unfamiliarity with new question types. GMAT test scores are valid for five years, so Andrew Mitchell, director of GMAT programs at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, recommends that people who may want to go to business school within that time frame take the test before the format change. "For someone who's looking to take the GMAT now, who is looking at business schools seriously within the next five years, they should just go ahead and take the test," Mitchell says. "The year after a test change and also in following years, scores tend to go down, just because there's so much to learn about the new section."

While the GMAC has yet to announce how many questions will be in the new 30-minute integrated reasoning section, the new section itself will most closely mirror the data sufficiency problems that exist within the GMAT's quantitative section. Data sufficiency problems present test takers with a question and two statements and ask them to determine if either statement answers the question, neither statement answers the question, one statement provides an answer, they answer the question in concert, or they both answer the question independently. Data sufficiency questions don't exist on any other test and are oftentimes considered the hardest for which to prepare. "As a GMAT teacher, I can attest that it's the most feared, even loathed, type of question on the test," Mitchell says. "It's foreign and, therefore, people often fall into traps when they're not familiar with the question type."

The quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT will still be scored on a 200-to-800-point scale and the integrated reasoning section will not factor into that score. Like the writing section, the integrated reasoning section will be scored separately on a yet-to-be determined scoring scale. Though it's not lumped in with the primary GMAT score, GMAC is confident that business schools will place tremendous value on the section's score because their feedback and input has been, and continues to be, integral to the new section's development. "[Our goal is] to make the GMAT the best possible test for business schools, and it's certainly getting that response," says Wilson, GMAC's top executive.

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I've reviewed the new types on the gmac site. They look a bit challenging. They have some similarity to GRE data interpretation.

Kaplan's point about scores being lower after a change seems to miss the fact that the scaled scores are on a curve. If everyone does worse, the curve is just lower.

Kaplan is hardly an objective source for an article like this. Most of what they say is PR, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, the new section will be a significant challenge. It is possible that schools will not quite know what to make of it for a few years. Not a bad idea to take the test before the change.

Based on 20 years of teaching the GMAT, I'd say the new section will be learnable if you can find an actual test prep specialist, as opposed to the inexperienced teachers hired by companies like Kaplan.

Jay Cutts

Director, Cutts Graduate Reviews

Lead Author, Barron's Test Prep Publications

www.cuttsreviews.com

When will people realize that standardized testing does NOT measure how clever or smart one person is? Isn't the current economy a good example? All those top MBA students that get recruited to work on wall street and top investment banks surely send this economy on a turmoil. What about the ethical, decision making sills and leadership skills required to make sound decisions that do not negatively impact the economy and the world in effect? Instead greed took over the economy and now the most vulnerable person is suffering because this so called "SMART/CLEVER" MBA'S that get into this top schools because they got top scores on the GMAT decided to make decisions that would benefit them. How ironical.

Those b-school students (future managers) need to know how to view the whole system analytically, not just be limited to some highly specialized areas of concentration.

And for the love of God, force them to come in the doors more well-rounded.

Imagine watching an organizational group struggle to improve sales numbers, yet have no concept that what's part of the problem is that the entire organization is so into cost-cutting that they're operating with a skeleton crew (part-time HR, managers off the actual sales floor most of the week, sparsely supervised work units bickering constantly among themselves as a result of little supervisory presence for extended periods of time, and no top leadership to pull the entire mess together).

The liberal arts majors should not have to come into organizations and do the analysis that the b-school people should be capable of doing.

Yes. Score them on integrated reasoning before they get into b-school.

It could mean better profits for the organizations those future managers end up joining.