New GMAT Format from 2012

GMAC, the makers of the GMAT, has announced a major change to the exam coming in 2012: one of the Analytical Writing sections will be replaced by a new thirty-minute section, Integrated Reasoning.

The new section will test students on how they assimilate data from multiple sources. For instance, students will have to read passages, graphs as well as tables and spreadsheets in order to ferret out bits of information from each to answer a question. Students will be asked to analyze information, draw conclusions and discern relationships between data points, just as they must do in business school.

The Graduate Management Admission Council, the body that conducts GMAT, decided to introduce new section after surveying B-schools across the world in last three years. The overall length of the GMAT exam (three and a half hours) will not change. In conjunction with adding a new 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section, the Analytical Writing Assessment will be streamlined to include only one essay prompt instead of two.

The GMAT exam’s Verbal and Quantitative sections will not change. As a result, when the new section is introduced in June 2012, tests will be scored on the same 200–800 scale used today. Test takers will receive a separate score for the essay—as they do now—and a separate score for the new Integrated Reasoning section.

These questions are on the lines of those testeed in the data interpretation section of the exams such CAT (the entrance test to join the IIMs in India). However, the question types that are likely to appear in the GMAT seem quite different from the reasonably plain vanilla variants that you get in the CAT.

Students, who are currently preparing for the GMAT, have nothing to worry about — scores will be valid for five years. Nevertheless, the optimal strategy for test-takers will be to prepare for three to four months, and take the test before the format changes.

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