How Is the GMAT Changing in 2017?
This change will allow students to decide among three GMAT section orders:
- Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal (which is the original order)
- Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment
- Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
All of the GMAT sections will otherwise remain the same—with the same time limits, types of questions, and optional breaks as in the past. The only difference is that you will be able to choose when the sections appear on the exam.
This change will affect every GMAT test-taker differently, so how can you make the most of the GMAT’s new “Select Section Order” feature? What is the best GMAT section order for you? Here are three strategies for maximizing this GMAT update:
GMAT strategy #1: stick with the original order
Students who are taking the GMAT for the second or third time, and who are familiar with the test, may wish to select the first GMAT section order: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. Since you have experience working through the exam in its original order, you may benefit from keeping that aspect of the GMAT the same. Work on strengthening other test-taking skills, like pacing yourself throughout the Integrated Reasoning section, or structuring your essay for the Analytical Writing Assessment. Maintaining consistency in section order as you practice for the GMAT will help you hone in on the techniques you need to perform your best on the exam. However, if you think changing the GMAT section order may increase your score, then try out the two other options to see if you generate better results.
GMAT strategy #2: start with the Verbal portion
The second GMAT order is Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment. Students who are stronger on the Verbal section may wish to select this GMAT order, as it will allow them to get the easiest questions out of the way first. It also pushes the Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment to the end, which means you may have less energy for these sections, or you will be warmed up and ready to approach that material after completing Verbal and Quantitative. If you think this GMAT section order would be a good option for you, then take one or two GMAT practice tests, and see how it affects your performance on each portion.
GMAT strategy #3: start with the Quantitative section
Conversely, students who are stronger on the Quantitative section may wish to select the third GMAT section order—Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment. Like the second option, the Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment sections still appear at the end of the exam. You can build your confidence by starting with math questions you know you can solve easily, and use your energy working through the subsequent sections. Again, take a sample GMAT exam with this section order, so that you can see how beginning with the Quantitative portion affects your performance on the other sections as well.
The GMAT “Select Section Order” feature will help you do your best on test day. Having the ability to choose among three options for the exam will give you more control over your GMAT experience, so use this flexibility to enhance your performance on each section. Even though you know the pros and cons, you may need to try out the different orders as you prepare for the GMAT. Therefore, practice taking the test in each order ahead of time to determine which of the three options will work best for you come exam day.