The GMAT Focus Edition: A snapshot
GMAC launched GMAT Focus
By now, you will have heard that the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) has launched the GMAT Focus Edition, a new version of the GMAT test. The business environment is constantly and rapidly evolving, and the skills required to succeed in the global economy continue to change, so do the instruments used to measure such skills. The GMAT Focus Edition brings big and important changes to how the test is set up, what it covers, and even how it is scored. As these changes will have an impact on both your GMAT preparation and your testing experience, it is important to educate yourself on the details of the GMAT Focus Edition.
In this blog, you will learn all we know about the new GMAT Focus Edition so far. We explain how it is different from the current GMAT, such as how the verbal, quantitative, and integrated reasoning sections have changed, in addition to changes in specific question types and both section and test length.
What Is the GMAT Focus Edition?
This newer version of the GMAT—GMAT Focus Edition—is, according to GMAC, "a more focused test-taking experience that hones in on the higher-order critical reasoning and data literacy skills that are especially relevant and applicable in the business environment of tomorrow." With this test, there is a heightened focus on efficiency, flexibility, and providing test-takers with greater insights into their performance, allowing those who take the test to be as informed as possible about their abilities and educational options.
While these changes have been made in response to the increased importance being placed on critical reasoning and data analysis skills in the business world, the fundamental purpose of the test remains the same: the GMAT Focus Edition will still be a standardized test that business schools use to assess the skills of MBA and EMBA aspirants. The goal of any standardized test is to accurately evaluate the abilities of the person taking the test, and even with the changes discussed in this blog, the GMAT Focus Edition will be a rigorous and challenging exam that requires careful preparation to truly master. Since the essential goal of the GMAT remains unchanged, the skills you need to demonstrate on the current GMAT will essentially be the same on the GMAT Focus Edition.
When Is the GMAT Focus Edition Scheduled To Be Rolled Out?
The GMAT Focus Edition Official Prep is available from June 6, and registration for GMAT Focus Edition will open on August 29 for testing starting in Q4 2023.
If you are currently preparing for the GMAT, do not worry! The current edition of the GMAT and current official GMAT materials, such as official practice tests, will continue to be accessible until early 2024. So, those students and professionals who are currently preparing for the GMAT and have upcoming business school application deadlines will not have their plans delayed or disrupted.
How is the GMAT Focus Edition Different from the Current GMAT Edition?
Let's examine the changes in format and content between the GMAT Focus Edition and the current GMAT.
With the upcoming Focus Edition, the GMAT's format will undergo significant changes, specifically in the areas of test time, section order choice, adaptability, question reviewing and editing, scoring, score reporting, and enhanced score reports.
One of the most significant changes to the GMAT is the duration of the test. The GMAT Focus Edition is just 2 hours and 15 minutes long (excluding breaks), while the current GMAT is 3 hours and 7 minutes long (excluding breaks).
Thus, the GMAT Focus Edition is approximately 1 hour shorter than the current GMAT. This change is due to the removal of the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section. According to the GMAC, the goal of offering a shorter exam is to make the testing process more efficient and less time-consuming for candidates, in addition to reducing test-taking fatigue and allowing test-takers to perform at their best over the course of the entire exam.
See the table below for a breakdown of GMAT Focus Edition timing by section and question.
GMAT Focus Edition Structure
|Quantitative Reasoning||Verbal Reasoning||Data Insights|
|Section Time||45 minutes||45 minutes||45 minutes|
|No. of Questions (64)||21||23||20|
*Data Sufficiency is sub-section is moved to Data Insights section
*Sentence Correction is excluded
Data Sufficiency (New)
|Av. Time Per Question||2 minutes 9 seconds||Appx. 2 minutes||2 minutes 15 seconds|
|Total time||2 hours 15 minutes|
Section Order Choice
Choosing the order in which you complete test sections will be more flexible in the GMAT Focus Edition—another welcome step. On the current GMAT, test-takers are given three options for section order (Option 1: AWA and IR-Quant-Verbal; Option 2: Verbal-Quant-AWA and IR; Option 3: Quant-Verbal-AWA and IR). In comparison, the GMAT Focus Edition will let you take the three sections in whatever order you wish.
So, instead of the three options you have now, you'll have six, allowing you to choose any order from Data Insights (DI), Quantitative Reasoning (QR), and Verbal Reasoning (VR). Taking the exam in the order you prefer gives you greater control over your testing experience, allowing you to obtain your best score.
The most significant change to the adaptive nature of the test is that all three sections of the Focus Edition are adaptive. This means the Data Insights (DI) section, which is called Integrated Reasoning (IR) on the current GMAT, will also be adaptive. The Verbal and Quantitative sections will, of course, also be adaptive. This simply means that the GMAT Focus Edition will adapt based on your performance, using your response to one question to determine the difficulty level of the next question you will be presented with.
Question Review and Edit
One especially welcome feature on the GMAT Focus Edition is that you can go back and change your answers to questions in each section.
Unfortunately, this functionality is not unlimited, since the GMAT Focus Edition continues to be a question-adaptive test. For the scoring system to function, the majority of your responses in a section must stay unaffected. Because of this, you can change up to three responses in each section, which is still an improvement over the current GMAT, which doesn’t allow candidates to change any answers.
In addition, you may review your responses to as many questions as you want in each of the three sections; the bookmarking option allows you to mark as many questions as you like so that you can simply return to them later.
So, let's say you bookmarked six questions in a section because you were uncertain of your responses. Understanding that you can only change responses to 3 questions, you could, if time allows, revisit and review them, then decide which 3 responses need to be changed. It is important to note that this is time-dependent and if you have run out of time, you will not be able to go back and change any of your answers.
The GMAT's scoring system will also undergo a significant change. In addition to your Quantitative and Verbal scores, your Data Insights (DI) score, which substitutes for Integrated Reasoning (IR) on the current GMAT, will contribute equally to your GMAT Total Score. As you may be aware, the IR section of the current GMAT is scored separately and does not contribute to your GMAT Total Score.
Scores on the GMAT Focus Edition also look a little different. Each section is scored on a scale of 60–90 with 1-point increments, and the Total Score is on a scale of 205–805 with 10-point increments.
GMAT Focus Edition Scoring
Hence, the maximum possible score on the GMAT Focus Edition is 805, as opposed to 800 on the current GMAT. Since Integrated Reasoning (IR) is no longer a part of the Focus Edition, its 0–8 score is irrelevant. According to the GMAC, this means that GMAT Focus Edition scores cannot be compared to scores from the previous version of the exam. The score scale on the Focus Edition has been adjusted to better reflect changes in the test-taking population, which has become increasingly diverse and global over the past few years. Scores have risen significantly over the time the GMAT has been in use, and this has resulted in an uneven score distribution. Updating the score scale will even out score distribution, helping schools to understand and differentiate your test performance more accurately.
Reporting of Score
With the new edition of the GMAT, score reporting is also being updated, and test-takers will certainly benefit from the changes.
With the GMAT Focus Edition, like with the current GMAT, test-takers will be able to send their scores to up to five schools for free.
In addition, any Official Score Report you send will not include your entire GMAT score history—it will only include a single score, and that single score will be your latest GMAT score. So, after taking the GMAT Focus Edition and seeing your score, you can decide to send it to a few colleges (up to five) for free. The schools you select on your test day will only see your score from the most recent test you took, not your scores from the previous five years. Hence, you are not required to disclose past results to colleges if you choose not to. With the current GMAT, you are prompted to select up to five schools to send your test results to before you begin the exam. With the GMAT Focus Edition, you are prompted to send your score up to five schools after you have completed the exam and viewed your final score. This new feature is consistent across both the online and the test center version of the GMAT Focus Edition.
Enhanced Score Report
Currently, test-takers may ask for an Extended Score Report (ESR) for $30 after taking the GMAT. The ESR provides more information on the test-taker’s performance across the many test sections and question types than is available on the normal score report.
With the GMAT Focus Edition, test-takers do not need to apply for an ESR in order to obtain this sort of performance data. Instead, each GMAT test-taker will receive "personalized insights" about their performance in a full and expanded score report that is included as part GMAT registration.
While GMAC has not yet specified what "detailed performance insights" in the ESR would include, the information is intended to help you assess your strengths, as well as any areas that would benefit from additional focus or preparation.
Now that we know how the GMAT Focus Edition is different from the current GMAT in terms of structure, let's explore the changes in content.
Changes in Content
The majority of the GMAT Focus Edition's content will be the same as what the current GMAT covers. Nonetheless, there are significant changes to be aware of in all sections of the test. Let's begin with what might the biggest change of all: the GMAT essay.
The GMAT Focus Edition will not have an essay section. So, unlike the current GMAT, all questions on the new GMAT will be multiple-choice.
The AWA has been a part of the GMAT for more than two decades but given the changing nature of the business world and the importance placed on higher-order thinking by business programs, this section will not be part of the GMAT Focus Edition. Greater emphasis is being placed on critical reasoning skills, and the AWA has been removed to reflect this. Since the AWA takes up 30 minutes of the current GMAT's test time, its removal from the GMAT Focus Edition is one of the reasons why the new GMAT is quite a bit shorter.
The Quantitative section of the GMAT Focus Edition retains the Problem-Solving problems that the current GMAT has. Nevertheless, the GMAT Focus Edition Quant section will no longer contain Data Sufficiency problems, which is a significant shift. Data Sufficiency problems have been moved to the new Data Insights (DI) section.
All topics that are covered in the current GMAT quant section are retained in the Focus Edition with one important exception: geometry. Geometry will no longer be tested in the Quant and Data Sufficiency sections, and the GMAT Focus Edition will only focus on algebra and arithmetic.
As Geometry does not feature on the Executive Assessment (EA), which the GMAT Focus Edition mimics on numerous respects, the absence of Geometry from the GMAT Focus Edition does not surprise us.
Additionally, while the current Quants section of the GMAT has 31 questions, this section on the Focus Edition will only have 21 questions. Test-takers have 45 minutes to complete this section.
When we compare the current GMAT to the GMAT Focus Edition, it’s obvious the Verbal section has undergone the most significant changes. The Verbal section of the GMAT Focus Edition will consist only of Reading Comprehension (RC) and Critical Reasoning (CR) questions. Thus, the Verbal section will not feature any Sentence Correction (SC) questions.
In the current GMAT, about one-third of the Verbal section is comprised of Sentence Correction problems. Many GMAT test-takers find Sentence Correction to be the simplest sub-section of the Verbal section, both in terms of their knowledge of the content and their ability to answer problems correctly. So, the absence of Sentence Correction may make the Verbal section appear more difficult than ever to some test-takers.
On the current GMAT, the Verbal section is comprised of 36 questions. On the Focus Edition, the Verbal section contains 23 questions. Test-takers have 45 minutes to complete this section.
Integrated Reasoning (IR)—Transforming into Data Insights (DI)
In contrast to the Verbal and Quantitative sections, which are both experiencing reductions in question types and the number of questions provided, the GMAT's Integrated Reasoning section is broadening and has been renamed Data Insights. This change is directly related to the rapid changes in the ever-evolving business world, where skills in data analysis and interpretation are more in demand than ever. Digital literacy and the ability to quickly and accurately interpret data are crucial, and this importance is reflected by the Data Insights section.
The Data Insights (DI) section of the GMAT Focus Edition has the same Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR), Table Analysis (TA), Graphical Interpretation (GI), and Two-Part Analysis (2PA) problems that feature on the current GMAT's Integrated Reasoning section. In addition, the DI section will contain the Data Sufficiency problems that were traditionally included in the Quant section.
There are 20 questions in the Data Insights section, and test-takers have 45 minutes to complete this section.
Consequences of the Content Changes
GMAC claims the GMAT Focus Edition to be "more efficient" and "more focused" on pertinent business skills than the current GMAT. The current GMAT can be thought of as assessing general business skills, whereas the Focus Edition purports to assess “relevant” business skills. The omission of Geometry and Sentence Correction has reduced the number of topics on the GMAT, which means there may be less content to study.
The relocation of Data Sufficiency to the Data Insights section will likely have little effect on test-takers. Students will still need to understand the ideas and techniques necessary to answer Data Sufficiency questions, which we do not anticipate changing much, if at all.
The GMAC also claims that students will be able to prepare for the Focus Edition faster than they can prepare for the current GMAT. Reduced preparation time likely reflects the removal of the AWA section, meaning test-takers now only need to prepare for three sections rather than four. However, since the aim of the Focus Edition is the same as the current GMAT—to accurately assess a candidate’s readiness to perform well in a business program—reduced content and subsequently reduced preparation time do not mean an easier or less challenging exam. The GMAT Focus Edition will place more emphasis on applying relevant business skills in order for test-takers to demonstrate competency in the areas of data analysis and critical thinking. Preparation will still be important to obtain the high score business programs want to see.
Major Differences Between the GMAT Focus Edition and the Current GMAT
GMAT Focus Edition Vs. the Current GMAT
|Current GMAT||GMAT Focus Edition|
|Total Test Time (exl. breaks)||3 hours 7 min.||2 hours 15 min.|
|No. of Sections||4||3|
|Section Types||AWA, IR, Quant, Verbal||Data Insights, Quant, Verbal|
|Question Types||AWA: Essay; IR: MSR, TA, GI, TA; Quant: PS, DS; Verbal: SC, CR, RC||DI: DS, MSR, TA, GI, TA; Quant: PS; Verbal: CR, RC|
|Questions Per Section||AWA: 1 prompt; IR: 12; Quant: 31; Verbal: 36||DI: 20; Quant: 21; Verbal: 23|
|Time Per Section||AWA: 30 min.; IR: 30 min.; Quant: 62 min.; Verbal: 75 min.||DI: 45 min.; Quant: 45 min.; Verbal: 45 min.|
|Time Per question||AWA: 30 min.; IR: 2.30 min.; Quant: 2 min.; Verbal: 1 min. 48 Sec.||DI: 2 min. 15 Sec.; Quant: 2 min. 9 Sec.; Verbal: 2 min.|
|Review and Bookmarking||No||Yes (edit up to 3 responses)|
|Section Order Choices||3||6|
|Section Score Range||6-51||60-90|
|Total Score Range||200-800||205-805|
|Score reporting||Select five schools before seeing score; schools see all previous scores||Select five schools after seeing score; schools do not see previous scores|
|Enhanced Score Report (ESR)||$30||Free|
- The GMAT Focus Edition is about an hour shorter than the current GMAT.
- The GMAC will roll out the GMAT Focus Edition by the Q4 2023.
- The current GMAT consists of four sections; however, the GMAT Focus Edition comprises only three: Quantitative, Verbal, and Data Insights.
- Unlike the current GMAT, in which the Total Score consists of scores from only two sections Quantitative and Verbal, the Total Score for the GMAT Focus Edition will consist of scores from all three sections Quantitative, Verbal, and Data Insights.
- For the first time, test-takers have the option to bookmark and review as many questions in each of the three sections as they like. Candidates will be allowed to change up to 3 test answers per section, provided there is still time remaining in the exam.
- A detailed score report is included as part of registering for the GMAT Focus Edition, and test-takers will not need to pay $30 for an enhanced score report like with the current GMAT.
- With the GMAT Focus Edition, test-takers can view their final score and then chose if they want to send it to up to five schools, rather than being prompted to designate recipient schools before taking the exam.
- Content-wise, the GMAT Focus Edition is virtually identical to the current GMAT, with the exception of Geometry and Sentence Correction questions having been removed.