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In face of the increased competition from GRE, administered by the ETS, and the changes in admissions processes preferred by business school worldwide, Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) has decided to add a new section, Integrated Reasoning, to its challenging Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).  This new section of the exam is designed to test advanced reasoning skills and is separately scored from the total 800 score of verbal and quantitative sections. It is to launch in the 10th edition of the GMAT on June 4, 2012, less than two years away from now.

In spring 2010, GMAC piloted the new section with current MBA students and plans to pilot it again with thousands of students this fall.

GMAC states: “The new section will replace one of the two writing sections currently on the exam.  It will be scored separately and have a new audio component for some questions.  The test’s current verbal and math sections will remain unchanged.”  The new changes in the exam are the following:

  • Test takers will need to interpret charts, graphs, and spreadsheets, and answer interactive questions that will test their analytical skills.
  • Test takers will be asked to analyze information, draw out conclusions and determine relationships between data points.
  • Test takers will wear headphones while taking this portion of the test.  The use of headphones is a new feature that will help schools assess students’ auditory learning style.
  • Rather than just multiple-choice questions, test takers will drag-and-drop data points, as well, as write mini-essays.

GMAC has released a sample question similar to questions that will appear on the new test. Students are asked to look at a table that sorts like a spreadsheet and detail the number of passengers and airline movements at 21 airports around the world. They are then presented with a list of statements about the information in the table and asked to determine which of the statements are true based on the data in the spreadsheet. Other exercises include using the same table to evaluate the reason for or likelihood of certain outcomes, or to use the table to determine where other airports rank.  Some other possible questions may be to determine a country’s plans for a road.  This would include looking at maps and government data.

Below is a sample question with the data tables and charts test takers will see in the new version of the GMAT. To view the data table and graph click on the link below!

Sample Question Data Table/Graph

1. Of the models with Gasoline Engine Type, the model with the greatest ratio of City MPG to Highway MPG is also the model with the greatest difference between Highway MPG and City MPG.

2. The minimum City MPG for a Toyota make is less than the maximum City MPG for a Volkswagen make.

3. A model chosen at random from those models with a Highway MPG greater than 30 miles per gallon has a 50% chance of being a Toyota.

4. The median carbon footprint for all models is greater than the mode carbon footprint for all models.

5. The standard deviation of the Highway MPG values for all BMW models is lower than the standard deviation of the Highway MPG values for all Toyota models.

Integrated Reasoning Answers: Statements 1 and 4 are FALSE; Statements 2, 3, and 5 are TRUE.

Why the new changes?  These changes are due to the evolving trends seen in business school classrooms.  This is a way to distinguish between those students who will adapt well in the classroom rather than just score a high score on the GMAT, making it easier for business schools to select who to be admitted. This new change is welcomed with great enthusiasm by business schools. GMAC created the section after b-school faculty members expressed a preference for proof that students could read, synthesize and reason well from a set of data within a limited amount of time without relevant in-depth knowledge and any memorization.

The addition of 30-minute Integrated Reasoning in replacement of one of the Analytical Writing Assessment sections is the biggest change to GMAT since it became a computer-adaptive test in the late 1990s. Other recent year changes occurred in 2006 after the switch over of the test administration from the ETS to Pearson. However those changes are more in rules and format, less in content.

Some students may fear that with this new section added to the GMAT, their score may not be as high than with the old exam.  Fear not.  GMAC is planning outreach and educational programs for business school faculty and students.  These programs will include information sessions and details on the new tests.

To get a better sense on the new integrated reasoning section click on the title below:

 Next Generation GMAT Question Demonstration

We at Manhattan Review wholeheartedly support such a constructive change on the GMAT and are prepared to incorporate the teaching of the new section into our curriculum. We strongly feel that without changing the existing verbal and math questions and one of the writing sections, the new Integrated Reasoning section will make the test much improved and effective while minimizing implementation costs. A win-win solution for all parties involved! However, this new section does seem to put more emphasis on extensive data analysis, which might be a challenge for students who are not used to seeing a large amount of data in a spreadsheet format. 

Posted on June 28, 2010 by Manhattan Review

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According to the recent GMAC London Summit on September 17th, students who study for the GMAT well in advance do better on the test than those who don’t.

Dr. Lawrence Rudner presented an enlightening seminar on the GMAT, presenting research that shows an interesting statistic: the older you are, the worse you perform on the exam.  The “peak” of a GMAT test-taker appears to be at the age of 27 or 28, and older people tend not to take as much test prep and score, on average, 30 points lower.

What are some other interesting facts according to the GMAC seminar in London?

•    the GMAT is testing math skills at a 10th grade level
•    geographic trends are the reason for declining percentiles with a large increase in the average quantitative score but not much change in the verbal
•    there are more than 50% non-U.S. GMAT test takers
•    students receive a fixed number of data sufficiency, reading comprehension, critical reasoning, problem solving and sentence correction questions

Want a piece of important advice from the test owner of the GMATIt’s better to guess than omit questions, as there is a severe penalty for not completing the test.

Posted on October 5, 2009 by Manhattan Review

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why is palm vein scanning more desirable than digital fingerprinting?

According to GMAC, palm vein scanning is virtually impossible to forge, extremely accurate, and the digital encryption involved cannot be read by other systems. There is no smudging involved as there is with digital fingerprinting and is more accessible for some individuals with disabilities.

The system is straightforward. Applicants place their hands several inches above the sensor and the sensor then records each applicant’s unique vein pattern.

You will have your palm vein patterns recorded when you arrive at the testing center to enroll for the GMAT exam. Your pattern will be matched when you return to the testing room after a break. A flash video of what occurs upon arrival at a testing center can be found here: http://www.mba.com/mbasite/resources/globalgmat/

No. Check-in time for those taking the test the first time will be shorter than fingerprinting. Return testers should expect only an additional 15-30 seconds for the check-in process.

Yes. The light source is akin to that of the infrared light used in remote controls and applicants never touch the sensor.

Privacy is protected in various ways. Once the scan is complete, it is saved as a digital template. After the exam, an encrypted transmission is sent containing the template to Pearson VUE where it is stored separately from other information about the applicant. The vein scan is disclosed to entities outside Pearson VUE only when required by law to detect fraud or prevent illegal activity. Schools do not receive applicants’ vein scans.

Not if they intend to take the GMAT.

Posted on June 8, 2009 by Manhattan Review

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In an effort to prevent cheating and to maintain test integrity, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has begun to require that test takers receive a palm vein scan before taking the GMAT at testing centers in the United States and worldwide. The new identification method, initiated in Korean testing centers in July 2008, is scheduled to completely replace the prior method of identification by digital fingerprint during 2009.

The new technology comes in the wake of concerns over so-called “proxy” test taking, a manner of cheating in which testers hire others with a track record of high scores to take the place under a false identity. Because the new scan records applicants’ unique vein patterns beneath the skin rather than patterns on the skin’s surface, false identification is extremely rare: less than 0.00008% of scans administered.

Scanning is performed by Fujitsu’s PalmSecure sensor, which requires an applicant to place his or her palm several inches above the square sensor while the sensor records applicants’ vein patterns, a copy of which is stored as a digital template and sent to the Pearson VUE testing service. While palm vein recognition is a relatively new development in the West, it has a precedent for protecting a variety of vital data in Japan, finding use in ATMs, libraries, and hospitals.

Even so, any new technology invites a host of questions, especially when the technology involves biometrics as a means of identification. Some privacy advocates have argued that the palm-vein scans should be disposed of after a reasonable period of time following testing. Joel Hagberg, a vice president at Fujitsu says students should not worry about their privacy, since “You can’t leave a vein pattern at a crime scene.” At this time the Business Admission Council has stated that it intends to make the scans a part of applicants’ permanent records.

New Testing Center Registration Requirements:

· All applicants require a valid photo ID;

· All applicants must have a photograph of them taken at the testing center;

· All applicants must sign a digital signature pad;

· First-time testers must scan both palms at the testing center;

· Applicants who retake the test and have a fingerprint on file must provide a matching fingerprint and scan both palms at the testing      center.

Your first year of business school is likely to be a busy one. Adjusting to a new place, meeting new people, learning new things, and opening new doors will make it an exciting, even thrilling experience. Yet, the best way to ensure that you will enjoy your first-year of business school is through preparedness. There are essentially three key ways in which to prepare, and thereby easily clear some of the main hurdles of the first-year.

1: Math Prep

Before you arrive on campus, you should focus on academic preparedness for the Math aspect of business school. If you feel a little weak on your quantitative skills prior to beginning your MBA, you are not alone. Approximately a third of MBA entrants need a full Math review course before they begin classes, and an additional third are weak in some area—whether accounting, statistics or excel spreadsheets—and need to spend some time working on it in the summer prior to beginning school. This does leave an additional third—these engineers, accountants or “traditional” candidates, who have been working in the finance industry prior to starting their study. If you fall into this category, you are unlikely to need much additional quantitative before your first-year classes begin. There are also diagnostic tests you may consider taking if you are uncertain of whether or not you are ready for MBA math.

Review Options

o Many business schools offer a math camp or quantitative review to students prior to entering the fall semester. Check with the school you will be attending to see what summer programs they offer. (It’s also a good networking opportunity.)

o GMAC sells a Quantitative review program called MBA Survival Kit, including 4 CDs covering finance, accounting, math and statistics skills. Each CD may be purchased separately. Available for $60 each or $155 for the complete set.

o MBA Math is an online math review course modeled on the Math Camp at Dartmouth University’s Tuck Business School. It’s available for $99.


o Seek out a program that is approved or recommended by the school you are going to attend. Many schools offer their own Math Camps during the summer.

o If you do fall into a category like “career-changer” (those out of practice in terms of quantitative skills), take a course. Not doing so will leave you in a position of having to catch up with your classmates, many of whom are accustomed to using analytical or quantitative skills daily. Not taking the time to review will make your first-year a much less pleasurable experience—academically, professionally, and socially.

Posted on January 5, 2009 by Manhattan Review

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Another recent study conducted by GMAC examined the accuracy or validity of the GMAT as an indicator of success in PhD programs in management.

The need for such a study arises from the increased pressure to know whether or not standardized tests are useful indicators of success. Tests, such as the SAT, have recently been under a great deal of scrutiny. Accusations have been made by parents and the media that the SAT in particular privileges certain groups of students. The GMAT, not unlike other standardized tests, has recently been under pressure to demonstrate whether it is indeed a factor that should be granted so much weight in graduate management educational admissions decisions.

The recent study based on data provided by US PhD programs and PhD students themselves indicates overall that the GMAT is a useful predictor of first-year success in PhD programs. Data even suggests a greater correlation between first-year success and GMAT results than first-year success and undergraduate grade point average. The study of the performance of non-native English speakers on the GMAT, in particular, the Verbal and Writing Assessment sections of the test, display a clear association between scores and success in their programs.

These results are helpful in acknowledging the usefulness of the GMAT as an indicator of success to admissions committees. However, the results are not conclusive. Further inquiries into correlations between success and GMAT are necessary. As the GMAC maintains, these results in the study are relevant only to PhD students in management programs, a unique and small subgroup of GMAT test takers.

The above discussions are based on the GMAC research report written by Kara O. Siegert, “Predicting Success in Graduate Management Doctoral Programs,” as of 12 July 2007.

Posted on May 6, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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A recent study conducted by the GMAC suggests that MBA graduates are largely satisfied with their decision to attain an MBA. The study is based on factors such as increased long-term income and financial stability, connections gained as a result of their MBA, increased confidence, and respect accorded to them after their MBA. The study chooses not to focus on immediate financial rewards as these, though motivating factors in seeking an MBA, are not necessarily representative of overall satisfaction.

The study is based on recipients of full, executive, and part-time MBAs (online and distance MBAs etc. make up only 1% of those surveyed). A majority of those surveyed (58%) were in full-time MBA programs.

Especially interesting are the high satisfaction ratings among MBAs who desired to change or switch careers following their programs. Among these MBA recipients, very high rates of satisfaction are expressed in the areas of post-MBA marketability as well as post-MBA long-term financial stability.

MBAs were also surveyed as to the degree to which they feel satisfied in their skill development as a result of their MBA program. Skills such as strategic thinking and technological skills among others were included in the survey. In terms of skill improvement, it was again evident that those interested in career change were more satisfied. However, those MBAs who pursued the degree with the intention of enhancing their pre-MBA career expressed lower degree of satisfaction in their skill improvement.

This survey did not take into account additional demographic factors (location, ethnicity, nationality and race). Such factors too might have resulted in interesting findings.

The above discussions are based on GMAC Research Report “Satisfied MBAs: Career Switchers and Career Enhancers from Around the World,” written by Sabeen Sheikh & Kara Siegert on 7 June 2007.

Posted on April 30, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Women are in demand in graduate management educational programs of all kinds.

Let us take a look at the 2007 statistics released by the GMAC in reference to gender representation. In part-time MBA programs, women represent 37% of the total. In full-time MBA programs, just 27% of MBA students are women. In EMBA programs, a meager 22% of students are women. Though women represent a larger percentage of the student body in non-MBA management education including undergraduate and master’s programs, it is still the case that in all categories women represent a minority of applicants.

Though overall far fewer women than men pursue Graduate Management Education, numbers of women applicants are on the rise. In 2007, applications from women increased overall. These increases are in large part due to greater recruitment efforts. 56% of full-time MBA and 78% of EMBA programs are actively recruiting among women. Such recruitment seems to have a direct correlation to increases in the volume of women applicants.

Posted on April 16, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Repeat Test Taking

Much of the conference hosted by the GMAC that we discussed earlier also focused on the extensive research that the GMAC has conducted on test takers, and how they score on the GMAT. The GMAC included 27,763 candidates in its comprehensive study. The retake rate is 18%.

Who retakes the GMAT?

  • Candidates with lower than average Total scores
  • Higher percent of non-native speakers of English
  • About the same number of men as women
  • Test takers that did not finished Quantitative section
  • Test takers with a high discrepancy between Verbal and Quantitative scores

27.4% of retake candidates took their second exam between 31 and 60 days after their first test date while 20.4% of candidates retook within the first 30 days. Only 15% of students retake after 180 days from their first exam date.

The highest gains in score for retake candidates usually occur in the GMAT Quant percentile.

Who gains the most from retaking?

  • High discrepancy score
  • Below-average first scores
  • Did not finish Quantitative section
  • Young test takers who are 24 years and younger
  • Native English speakers

Posted on February 18, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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GMAC Conference

In the fall of 2007, Manhattan Review was invited to attend an insightful and interactive conference hosted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). After a busy season launching a spectrum of new products and services, we have taken some serious looks at the conference notes and materials along with various, in-depth reports published by the GMAC.

Mr. David Wilson, President and CEO of the GMAC, was the keynote speaker. Major issues that he addressed in his humorous, yet informative introduction included:

  • GMAC works together with MBA programs in maintaining quality of business school education by upholding high testing standards
  • The demographics of MBA applicants (and GMAT test-takers) are constantly changing. Some MBA programs are demanding more work experience from candidates. Some MBA programs are more active in recruiting college graduates with little experience
  • Undergraduate students should think about taking the GMAT before they graduate. Test scores are valid for 5 years

Mr. Wilson also described recent expansion and plans at GMAC for further growth in Europe and Asia.

Before we continue on with detailed analysis of GMAT trends, we would like to share a few findings of ours based on what is published about Mr. Wilson’s impressive track record: A professor and a former partner at Ernest & Young, Mr. Wilson graduated from Queen’s University in Canada, received his MBA from the University of California (Berkeley), and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. It is not surprising that the GMAC has grown by leaps and bounds (from 6 staff members in 1994 to 100+ staff members currently) under Mr. Wilson’s leadership, while making the MBA an internationally recognized high-value degree.

Study Time and GMAT Score

At the conference, GMAC senior managers shared some interesting data about the number of hours test takers study and their scores. The numbers provided by GMAC prove that as the number of hours a student prepares for the exam increases, the student’s self-reported GMAT score increases correspondingly. For example, students who reported that they spent 84 hours (equivalent to 8-9 weeks assuming an average weekly study time of about 10 hours) preparing for the GMAT on average scored in the 500-540 range. Students that studied 20 hours more (equivalent to 10-11 weeks with the same assumption earlier) scored 100 points more, scoring in the range between 600 and 640.

Similarly, results from GMAC show that the number of weeks of advanced preparation directly correlate to test takers’ scores. Test takers that study 10 weeks are 13 percent more likely to score over a 600 than students who study 1 to 3 weeks.

At the conference, the GMAC also released information collected from surveys of test takers. 29 percent of GMAT test takers spent 20 or less hours preparing for the exam. 24 percent of test takers prepared for 21 to 50 hours. In the next bracket, 24 percent of test takers spent 51 to 100 hours preparing. Another 24 percent studied 101 or more hours.

When asked how far in advance test takers began to study, 5 percent answered that they spent no time preparing. 9 percent started preparing less than one week before taking the test. 23 percent prepared 1 to 3 weeks in advance. 26 percent prepared 4 to 6 weeks in advance while 17 percent prepared 7 to 9 weeks. Finally, 21 percent prepared ten weeks or more.


Make the extra effort and go the extra mile – the rewards will definitely come your way! Hard work and determination are certainly good friends with luck.

We are here to provide cost-effective and time-effective preparation courses for all of you so that you can get a leg up over your peers, but nothing replaces your own self-study.

Posted on February 15, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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