GMAT Focus Edition – Everything You Need to Know
Are you planning to take the GMAT soon? Then you’ll be excited to hear about the GMAT Focus Edition, the latest version of the exam by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The GMAT Focus Edition brings significant changes to the test structure, content, and scoring, and it’s important for prospective business school applicants to be aware of these changes.
In this article, we’ll give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about the new GMAT. We’ll cover the test structure, content, and scoring changes that are taking place, and explain why they matter for prospective business school applicants like you.
What is the GMAT Focus Edition?
The GMAT Focus Edition was released on November 7, 2023. The current version of the GMAT will still be available until January 31, 2024. Starting February 1, 2024, the only version of the GMAT available for you to take will be the GMAT Focus Edition.
According to GMAC, the new version of the GMAT is designed to “home in on the higher-order critical reasoning and data literacy skills that are especially relevant and applicable in the business environment of tomorrow.” This means that the test content will place more emphasis on skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and data analysis, all of which are essential for success in modern business.
The GMAC has worked collaboratively with business school professionals representing a wide mix of program types and sizes from around the world to redesign the exam. In-depth concept testing with candidates globally representing a mix of demographic characteristics has also been conducted to ensure the exam’s effectiveness.
It’s important to note that the fundamental purpose of the GMAT is not changing with the introduction of the GMAT Focus Edition. Rather, the new version is simply a revised and updated version of the exam that aims to better assess the skills that are most relevant to business school success. As such, the skills needed to perform well on the current GMAT will largely remain the same for the GMAT Focus Edition. This means that if you’ve already been studying for the GMAT, your preparation won’t go to waste, and you can continue studying for the GMAT Focus Edition with confidence.
GMAT Focus Edition: Format Changes
The GMAT Focus Edition introduces significant format changes to the test. Instead of four sections, it now features three 45-minute sections consisting entirely of multiple-choice questions. This new format makes the exam about an hour shorter than the current GMAT, which takes just over three hours to complete.
Section Order Selection
One significant benefit for test-takers is the new section order selection feature. The GMAT Focus Edition allows test-takers to choose the order in which they complete each of the three sections. This means that individuals can start with the section that they feel most confident about or are more comfortable with, which can help reduce test anxiety and improve performance.
Question Review and Edit Answers
On the current GMAT, when you confirm your answer to question 9 of a given section and the screen advances to question 10, you have seen question 9 for the last time – you will never get another chance to see it or to change your answer. The GMAT Focus Edition will change this aspect of the test. On the Focus Edition, you must answer every question in a section before you can see any of them again, but once you have answered every question, you can see all of them again and change up to three answers.
What everyone needs to remember is that the GMAT Focus Edition will still be an adaptive test. This means that when you get a question wrong, the test adjusts the difficulty of the next question accordingly. Going back and changing the answer later doesn’t change the “path” of questions you stepped onto as a result of having gotten that answer wrong the first time. If you had spent the time to get the answer right, you would have stepped onto a more challenging “path” – one with a higher potential score.
If the Focus Edition uses the same adaptive algorithm as the current GMAT, the impact of a given question on your “path” will start out very high at the beginning of each section and decrease as the section progresses. This has to do with the test’s “confidence” in determining your ability level. The more questions you have answered, the more data the test has to work with. As you approach the end of a section, the test has acquired enough data and knows you well enough that it doesn’t drastically decrease the difficulty of the next question if you get a certain question wrong.
At the beginning of a section, the opposite is true. If you miss question 3, the official difficulty of question 4 (not necessarily its perceived difficulty for you) will be significantly lower than that of question 3. There is a big “swing.” Since these “swings” are drastically reduced in size as the section goes on, missing a few questions near the beginning of the section can set you on a “path” from which there is no recovery, depending on your goal score. It is important to make a great “first impression” on the GMAT in each section. If you make a bad first impression and the GMAT decides that you don’t know what you’re doing, you may not be able to change its mind later – no matter how many answers you can change.
Bottom line: These three answer changes are not free skips. Depending on how early in a section you decide to guess and change your answer later, you could derail your plans for a great score. A good rule of thumb would be to do your very best to answer every question correctly in the first half of each section. After this point, you can start to think about using one or two of your “skips” on questions that threaten to eat up your time.
Official Score Report
Currently, GMAT test-takers can purchase (for $30) an Extended Score Report (ESR) for any administration within the last five years. The ESR provides performance data for each section and each question type, including time management breakdowns. GMAC has publicized that these reports will be improved for the GMAT Focus Edition and that they will be free. Every time you take the GMAT Focus Edition, you’ll receive a document with a detailed breakdown of your performance and time management.
Every time you take the current GMAT, you can send a score report to up to five business schools for free. However, you must select these schools before you see your scores. On the GMAT Focus Edition, you will select these schools after you see your scores. This means you should never cancel your scores on the GMAT Focus Edition.
When you send GMAT Focus Edition scores, you only send the scores for that single administration of the test. This is a change from the current GMAT format, where sending scores means that the schools receive a report displaying all your GMAT scores from the last five years. With the GMAT Focus Edition, each school will only ever see the scores you want them to see.
GMAT Focus Edition: Content Changes
The GMAT Focus Edition brings some significant content changes to the Verbal and Quantitative sections, as well as a new section called Data Insights. These changes are aimed at evaluating critical reasoning and data literacy skills.
Data Insights Section
The most significant content change in the GMAT Focus Edition is the addition of a new section called Data Insights, which replaces the Integrated Reasoning section of the current GMAT. The new GMAT Focus Edition section leverages Integrated Reasoning and Data Sufficiency question types to measure a newly calibrated digital and data literacy dimension. Thus, the Data Insights section on the GMAT Focus Edition is an essential component that measures your ability to analyze and interpret data, which is highly relevant in today’s business environment.
- The Data Insights section is composed of 20 questions that assess how multiple sources and types of information relate to each other and can be leveraged to make informed decisions.
- You can use an on-screen calculator while working on this section.
- The new Data Insights section will be adaptive, unlike the current GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning.
The question types you’ll find in this section include:
- Data Sufficiency: Measures your ability to analyze a quantitative problem, recognize relevant data, and determine when there is enough data to solve the problem.
- Multi-Source Reasoning: Measures your ability to examine data from multiple sources, including text passages, tables, and graphics, and to analyze each source carefully to answer multiple questions.
- Table Analysis: Measures your ability to sort and analyze a table of data to determine what information is relevant or meets certain conditions.
- Graphics Interpretation: Measures your ability to interpret information presented in a graph or other graphical image to discern relationships and make inferences.
- Two-Part Analysis: Measures your ability to solve complex problems involving both quantitative and verbal reasoning.
Quantitative Reasoning Section
The Quantitative Reasoning section in the GMAT Focus Edition aims to evaluate the examinee’s understanding of fundamental arithmetic and elementary algebraic concepts and their ability to apply that knowledge to solve complex problems.
- The new section features 21 Problem-Solving questions and has been shortened to 45 minutes,
- Data Sufficiency questions have been removed from this section and added to the Data Insights Section.
- Also, geometry questions have been eliminated from the GMAT Focus Edition.
- The use of calculators is still not allowed in this section.
Verbal Reasoning Section
The Verbal Reasoning section on the GMAT Focus Edition assesses your ability to comprehend written material, evaluate arguments, and reason logically.
- Sentence Correction questions are no longer included in this section.
- The section consists of 23 questions on Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning.
The Reading Comprehension questions will test a candidate’s ability to understand words and statements, infer relationships between significant points, make inferences, and follow the development of quantitative concepts. The questions will assess specific reading skills such as identifying the main idea, supporting ideas, inferences, application, logical structure, and style.
On the other hand, Critical Reasoning questions will evaluate a candidate’s ability to assess and formulate arguments, and to evaluate a plan of action. These questions are based on a short reading passage, typically under 100 words, and come with a question that requires the candidate to choose which of the five answer options either strengthens or weakens an argument, tells why the argument is flawed, or strongly supports or damages the argument. The questions do not require any specialized knowledge of the subject matter.
Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
Another notable change is the removal of the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section from the main GMAT Focus Edition exam. This change reflects the increasing importance of critical thinking skills in the business world, and allows candidates to better focus their preparation efforts for each section of the exam.
GMAT Focus Edition: Score and Percentile
GMAC has released charts correlating current GMAT scores and percentiles with GMAT Focus Edition scores and percentiles. Although the 205 to 805 score range for the Focus Edition looks like a mere shift of the 200 to 800 range for the current GMAT, GMAC is stressing the point that a GMAT Focus Edition score of 725, for example, cannot be equated with a 720 score on the current GMAT.
GMAT Focus Edition: Official Prep Materials
The GMAT Focus Edition official prep materials include the following resources:
- 70 sample questions (free)
- A six-week study planner (free)
- Six official practice exams (two free, four more available for purchase)
- GMAT Official Guide 2023-2024 (print and e-book)
- Quantitative Review 2023-2024 (print and e-book)
- Verbal Review 2023-2024 (print and e-book)
- Data Insights Review 2023-2024 (print and e-book)
- Practice Questions – Quantitative*
- Practice Questions – Verbal*
- Practice Questions – Data Insights*
*online product purchased from and accessed via mba.com
The Structure of the GMAT Focus Edition Prep Materials
This slate of resources is essentially identical to the existing suite for the current edition of the GMAT. The current free sample question set has 90 questions covering all verbal, quantitative, and integrated reasoning question types. Since the Focus Edition omits sentence correction from the verbal section and geometry questions from the quant section, it is likely that the new set of 70 questions is simply the existing set of 90 questions with the sentence correction and geometry questions deleted.
Like the platform for the current GMAT, the Focus Edition prep platform will have a total of six official practice exams, of which the first two are free and the remaining four are available for purchase. These six GMAT Focus Edition practice exams will simulate the real test and employ the same scoring algorithm as the real test – so you can use them to learn both what the test is like and how you can expect to perform on it. However, like the set of 70 free sample questions, the question banks for these six practice exams might be pared-down versions of the question banks for the current GMAT’s six practice exams.
Potential Drawbacks of the GMAT Focus Edition Prep Materials
In other words, if you are interested in the GMAT Focus Edition practice exams mainly as a source of never-before-seen practice questions, you might be disappointed. And if you have taken practice exams 1 and 2 for the current GMAT, you might be familiar with many of the questions presented to you on practice exams 1 and 2 for the GMAT Focus Edition. Still, the official GMAT Focus practice exams will be a valuable resource for candidates preparing for this new version of the test.
Official Guide and Review Books Integration
GMAC has clarified that there will be only one Quantitative Review book, accompanied by a Verbal Review book and a Data Insights Review book. So there will be one Official Guide covering all sections of the test, and there will be three review books – one for each section – containing practice questions not included in the Official Guide. Each of these four books will also have an online version of its practice question set. We don’t know whether this will be hosted by mba.com or by Wiley Efficient Learning like the questions for the current books. In either event, you will be able to use the online version of the practice question set to filter questions by category and by difficulty level.
MBA.com Practice Question Packs
mba.com will also sell unique practice question packs for each of the three sections of the GMAT Focus Edition (the last three items in the list above). GMAC has not specified the number of questions contained in these packs, but none of them will be repeated from the Official Guide or the review books. So although only 70 official practice questions will be free, there will be plenty of official practice questions available for purchase. Taking information from the images of the book covers, we can begin to count up all the official practice questions that will be available for the GMAT Focus Edition:
|Resource||Number of Questions|
|Free Sample Set||70|
|GMAT Official Guide 2023-2024||650+|
|Quantitative Review 2023-2024||150+|
|Verbal Review 2023-2024||200+|
|Data Insights Review 2023-2024||200+|
GMAT Focus Edition vs. GMAT Exam: Key Differences
|GMAT Focus Edition||Current GMAT|
|Test Time||2 hours and 15 minutes||3 hours and 7 minutes|
|Number of Section||3||4|
|Section||Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Data Insight||Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment|
|Score Reports|| || |
|Section Order Selection||Completely flexible||Partially flexible|
In conclusion, we hope this article has given you a comprehensive understanding of the GMAT Focus Edition. Remember, the GMAT Focus Edition is designed to test the skills that business schools seek in their students and is a shorter, more flexible, and more insightful version of the exam.
If you have any questions about the GMAT Focus Edition or want to inquire about Apex’s test preparation services, please don’t hesitate to book a 30-minute complimentary call. We are here to help you achieve your business school goals. Additionally, we will continue to provide updates on the GMAT Focus Edition as more information becomes available.
Contributor: Cynthia Addoumieh and Elijah Mize (Apex Instructor)
FAQs about the GMAT Focus Edition
Can I Take the GMAT Focus Edition at Home?
Yes, it is likely that the GMAT Focus Edition will be available for both in-person testing and at-home online testing, as the current version of the GMAT is already available for both formats. However, GMAC has not yet confirmed the exact testing options for the GMAT Focus Edition.
When will the GMAT Focus Edition be available?
The GMAT Focus Edition Official Prep, registration, and appointment availability:
Official Prep Available Now
Registration Opens – August 29, 2023
Testing Starts – November 7, 2023
Can I still take the current GMAT after the GMAT Focus Edition is released?
Yes, the current GMAT will still be available for testing until early 2024, even after the GMAT Focus Edition is released.
Can I change the order in which I take the sections on the GMAT Focus Edition?
Yes, the GMAT Focus Edition allows test-takers to choose the order in which they complete the three sections, offering flexibility and control over the exam-taking experience.
Should I Prepare for the GMAT Focus Edition or the Current GMAT?
If you are already preparing for the GMAT, there’s no need to change anything. However, if you’re planning to take the exam in late 2023 or beyond, the GMAT Focus Edition may be a better option. Keep in mind that the GMAC has not yet released all the details about the new exam, so it’s important to wait for further information before making any decisions about your test preparation.
Is the GMAT Focus Edition Easier Than the Current GMAT?
The GMAT Focus Edition is not necessarily easier than the current GMAT. While the GMAT Focus Edition places more emphasis on critical reasoning and data literacy skills, the same fundamental skills are still necessary for success on both exams. It’s important to prepare for the GMAT Focus Edition with the same rigor and dedication as you would for the current GMAT.