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What’s new with GMAT?

From June 2012, test takers will have to prepare for a new, integrated reasoning section, with 12 new questions

education Updated: Dec 14, 2011 10:36 IST
Gauri Kohli

B-school applicants taking the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) have an additional task to perform. There’s now a new integrated reasoning section to be added on from June 2012.

With registration for the new test already on, and the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) also releasing new sample questions from the integrated reasoning section on its website, there’s more clarity on the new GMAT.

The next-generation GMAT will help B-schools measure skills among candidates in a better way while providing continuity with the existing exam and scores. Elaborating on the changes, Lawrence M Rudner, vice president, R&D, GMAC, says: “We’ve added one section on integrated reasoning. The total number of sections will now be four as compared to three earlier but the duration of the test remains the same – which is three hours and 30 minutes. The analytical writing assessment will be streamlined from two 30-minute essays to one analysis of an argument essay. Soon after the essay question, the integrated reasoning section will start. Test takers will have optional breaks before and after the quantitative sections.”

The integrated reasoning section will have 12 questions, which will include questions on graphics interpretation, table analysis, multisource reasoning and two-part analysis. Like the quantitative and verbal sections, test takers will have to answer each question before proceeding to the next.

According to Ashok Sarathy, vice president of the GMAT programme at GMAC, “The new section is designed to measure a test-taker’s ability to simulate information presented in various ways, which includes interpreting visual information and converting data into graphics. Today’s world demands managers who can make sound judgements, distinguish patterns, and combine verbal and quantitative reasoning to solve problems.”

These skills were identified in a survey of 750 management faculty worldwide. The integrated reasoning score will provide a new data point for schools to differentiate among candidates for their programmes. “As per the feedback by the students who participated in the pilot test, the skills are highly relevant at the workplace,” adds Sarathy.
GMAC also plans to launch the new version of GMAT prep and the GMAT guide in April next year.

The Indian head count
There are approximately 23,000 Indian residents who take the GMAT. The Indian population is the third largest group globally to take the test behind the US and China.

India stands in fifth place among the nations to which score reports are sent. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has also endorsed the GMAT.
About 68% of test takers in India are from the science and engineering background with only 5% studying social science. “Engineers come with a range of qualities but it’s important to churn out experts in data analytics as well as other management areas. We have also done surveys of recruiters and gathered that different companies have different needs and that’s why we look to generate more diversity in the student population,” adds Rudner.

He also hopes to see more women test takers from India in the future. “Nearly 22% test takers in India are women as compared to about 70% in China. We would like to see a better representation of women in management,” he says.

GMAC’s research also suggests that Indians are very strong in the quantitative analysis section but their average in the verbal section is slightly lower than that of the Americans.

Test security
GMAC has also taken adequate steps to help the ‘honest test takers.’ “We’ve introduced state-of-the-art palm readers that are helpful in keeping records of those who sit for the test. In addition, we’ve developed software for documenting copyright infringement. Our aim is to protect the integrity of the honest test takers,” says Rudner.

Receiving test scores
When can test takers expect to receive their test scores? Unofficial score reports, containing the total score and verbal and quantitative section scores, will continue to be provided immediately after the test to those who accept their scores. Official score reports will be made available within 20 days of the test date. The scoring process and scale for the IR section is still being analysed before a score scale can be set.

Evolution of the test
* There have been nine versions of the test since it was introduced in 1954
* 1970s: Analogies and antonyms were dropped
* 1980s: Critical reasoning section was added
* 1990s: Analytical writing was added
* 1997: The test became computer-adaptive from the paper-pencil format
* 2012: Integrated reasoning will be added

Why taking the test now is not such a bad idea
* Learn to pace yourself well during the test
* If you’re an undergraduate, it’s advisable to take the GMAT now as the score is good for five years
* Remember, anyone with the aptitude, not just engineering or business students, can excel in management education
* GMAT is your chance to prove yourself irrespective of your degree or area of specialisation