3 Things You Need to Know About the New GMAT Focus Edition

The new GMAT Focus Edition will be accepted by many schools in 2024. If you're applying in the 2024-2025 application cycle or later, here are three things to know as you prepare for this standardized test.

Bruce H.

By Bruce H.

Posted March 13, 2024

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The GMAT Focus Edition marks a significant evolution in the Graduate Management Admission Test. This revamped edition introduces key changes to better align with the needs of today's test-takers and business schools. The test is almost an hour shorter than the previous test and no longer includes an essay portion. For more information on what's changed, head to: GMAT Focus Edition 2023: What to Know for 2023 and Beyond

Thing #1

Focus scores will be significantly lower compared to the old GMAT scores based on percentile ranking.

GMAT scores have been steadily creeping up over the years. The median GMAT score for my incoming class at Wharton in 2002, for example, was around 680. Now the median is around 730.

To combat this phenomenon, the GMAT is using the Focus as an opportunity to reset scores. Below is a chart comparing a selection of new Focus scores to old GMAT scores and percentile performance. A complete chart detailing score comparisons can be found on the GMAC website here.

Before you freak out, remember that the business school admissions departments are all well aware of the score changes and will be comparing new scores and old scores appropriately.

By the way, the SAT famously did a similar score reset in the 90s and I got dumber 10 years after I graduated from college.

Thing #2

You can change up to three answers on each section – but you probably shouldn’t.

One of the strangest things about the GMAT is the scoring algorithm which cares much more about how hard the questions are that you get right or wrong rather than the number of questions you get right or wrong. In fact, regardless of whether you score a 550 or a 750, you are likely going to miss about one-quarter to one-third of the questions in each section.

The optimal strategy on the GMAT has never been to try and get all the questions right. Instead, it’s always been to trade off missing (or taking educated guesses on) a few questions to save time so you have more time to nail the hard questions that drive your score higher. That same strategy holds true for the Focus.

There is nothing wrong with marking questions you aren’t sure of and coming back to them if you have time at the end. But trying to rush through a section to make sure you have time to come back to questions isn’t the best strategy. You want to use your time to nail harder questions – not finish early.

So manage the test like you always would. That usually means ending the section just about when time runs out. If you happen to have time at the end, then go back and look at any marked questions.

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Thing #3

The Integrated Reasoning section is now called Data Insights and it has some important changes.

First and foremost, it now counts as part of your overall score. On the old GMAT, Integrated Reasoning was scored separately and did not count as part of your overall score.

The questions on the Data Insights section are adaptive. On the old GMAT, the Integrated Reasoning sections were NOT adaptive (everyone got the same questions). The Data Insights section IS adaptive. Just like the quant and verbal sections, it will give you harder or easier questions depending on your answer to the previous question.

The question types you know and love from the old Integrated Reasoning section are back on the Data Insights section: graphics interpretation, table analysis, two-part analysis, and multi-source reasoning.

The big news is that data sufficiency questions will appear on the Data Interpretation section. And, this is the only section in which Data Sufficiency questions appear - the quant section will not have Data Sufficiency questions.

Dates and More Information

It’s worth noting that the old GMAT will NOT be offered after January 31, 2024. So, starting in February the old GMAT will be entirely replaced by the GMAT focus.

If you’d like more information about the GMAT Focus, you can check out the GMAC website.

Bruce H. is a Wharton MBA and professional test prep coach. He is a former Curriculum Development and Test Prep Instructor at UCLA and has more than ten years of experience helping hundreds of students reach their target scores. Book a FREE intro call with Bruce today!

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