In September, GMAC held a Summit for the benefit of the test prep crowd – all of us, basically. We’ve talked already about a lot of the information that came out of that conference, and we’ve got one last topic for you today: the Next Generation GMAT. As many of you have heard, the GMAT is changing in June of 2012.
The below quotes are all from GMAC or Dr. Lawrence Rudner (Chief Psychometrician, GMAC) and all quotes are copyright 2011 Graduate Management Admissions Council. The headers below are the names of the individual articles from which the information and quotes came.
How is the GMAT changing?
Currently, the GMAT consists of two essays scored on a 0 to 6 scale, a quantitative section and a verbal section, each scored on a 1 to 51 scale, and a total combined score for the quant and verbal sections scored on a 200 to 800 scale.
The new test will drop the Analysis of an Issue essay but keep the Analysis of an Argument essay, scored on the same scale. The quant and verbal sections and scoring, as well as the total score, will also remain the same. A new 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section will be added and it will have its own separate scoring scale; we don’t currently have information about this because they are still in the final stages of determining the scoring system. GMAC has said it expects to release the IR scoring scale in April of 2012.
Initially, test takers will continue to receive quant and verbal scores immediately (at the test center) and the Integrated Reasoning score will be available approximately 20 days later. Eventually, we expect that the IR score will also be available immediately after the test.
What does that mean for me?
If you are taking the test before June of 2012 – and if you are leaving yourself enough buffer time to take the test again if you don’t get the score you want the first time – then this news means nothing to you (though maybe you’ll find it interesting!). If you may or definitely will take the new version of the test, then you’ll want to know some key dates.
First, the quant and verbal sections aren’t changing, so if you want to start studying before the new IR materials are available, you can use all of the existing materials for quant and verbal.
GMAC expects to release a new version of the Official Guide in April of 2012 and a new version of GMATPrepÒ (Mac-compatible!) around the same time. The OG materials will include 50 IR questions on what GMAC calls a “companion website”; this is presumably because many of the IR questions require us to be able to interact with the material on a screen (for example, by resorting the data in a table). The GMATPrep software will include 15 IR practice items with explanations, as well as the standard 2 full-length practice tests.
Additional IR example questions will be released in November of 2011 on www.gmac.com and examples will be released in December on www.mba.com (it’s unclear whether these will be the same examples posted on gmac.com).
If you are considering taking a course or purchasing IR books from a test-prep company, those materials will likely be available within a month of the release of information from GMAC. It’s possible that they will pre-release some information to the test-prep folks, in which case new books and courses should be ready to go around the same time as the release of the new OG and GMATPrep.
What are the new questions going to be like?
We’ll be given 12 questions “prompts” but that will translate into more than 12 questions, as some of the prompts will be associated with multiple questions. We’ll also have access to an on-screen calculator that can perform basic operations and will also provide square root, percent and 1/x keys. There are four main question formats (source: Dr. Rudner, GMAC):
“Multi-Source Reasoning. Questions are accompanied by two to three sources of information presented on tabbed pages. Candidates click on the tabs and examine all the relevant information – which may be a combination of text, charts, and tables – to answer questions.
“Table Analysis. Candidates are presented with a sortable table of information, similar to a spreadsheet, which must be analyzed to determine whether answer statements are accurate given the information presented.
“Graphics Interpretation. Candidates are asked to interpret a graph or graphical image and select options to make response statements accurate.
“Two-Part Analysis. A task is presented that involves two components for solution.”
Answers can be in multiple forms. We may be asked to fill in a blank using a pull-down menu that offers multiple-choice options, or to answer a traditional multiple-choice question. We may also be asked to select certain options in a table, or to answer four statements on a yes/no or true/false basis.
Want to see more? You can see four sample questions (one of each type) on this page: Next Generation Question Samples.
For a discussion of the first problem (the one about the airports), click here. Note that since that article was first published, GMAC altered the screen and the question a bit; read my 26 October 2011 comment in the comments section before you begin reading the full article.
(1) The test is changing, but not until June of 2012. If you want to ensure that you can take the old version, then plan to take the GMAT no later than April. That will give you enough time to fix any problems and take the old version again in the event that you don’t like your first score.
(2) If you’re planning to take the next generation test, you can start studying for quant and verbal at any time, as those sections are not changing. Integrated Reasoning material will begin to be released in March or April of 2012.
* All quotes copyright and courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this material does not imply endorsement by GMAC.