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The GMAT gets shorter in new exam update

Monday, April 30, 2018
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The GMAT gets shorter in new exam update
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Good news: Your time in the exam room is about to drop. The Graduate Management Admission Council announced a shortened version of the Graduate Management Admission Test at the beginning of April. Launched April 16, this updated exam is now available worldwide.

Here's what you need to know about the most recent GMAT refresh:

computer lab for GMAT examTest takers should be aware of the format changes made to shorten the GMAT.

The details
The new exam shaves off 30 minutes from the testing time, bringing it down to 3.5 hours instead of four. The changes come in the two longer sections, reducing the Quantitative Reasoning section to 31 instead of 37 questions and the Verbal Reasoning section to 36 from 41. This question reduction accounts for 23 minutes in time savings, with the additional 7 minutes due to cutbacks in additional time and content across non-exam screens at the test center, such as tutorials and instructions. The Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning sections, optional break times and Score Preview time remain the same.

The redacted questions are unscored research ones, which means there are no changes to how the exam is scored. Further, the content and question types will stay in place. GMAC also confirmed that GMAT scores before and after the change will remain the same and be comparable across time. The council further assured test takers that the quality of the exam remains in tact, relative to reliability, validity, security and integrity.

"Candidates enjoy an improved testing experience, and scores are still high-quality, reliable and fair."

The reasons
Vineet Chhabra, senior director of product management for GMAC, explained the changes as part of the efforts to create a candidate-friendly test taking experience that's always improving.

"We are always looking for ways to help build candidate confidence and streamline the test experience, all with one goal in mind - to help GMAT test-takers do their very best on exam day," he said.

While candidates enjoy an improved testing experience, business schools can rest assured that the scores are still high-quality, reliable and fair. 

Dennis Yim, director of academics at Kaplan Test Prep, offered another reason to BusinessBecause: "It can't be lost on business schools or test takers that with this change the GMAT will be 15 minutes shorter than the GRE." Thus, competing for market share and reversing test-taking trends may be additional motives for GMAC to shorten the exam.

The effects
According to Chhabra, the belief is that "candidates will have less anxiety and feel better prepared, which can contribute to a better reflection of their true performance on the exam."

Test takers should also keep in mind that with fewer total questions, there will be an increased importance on each of the remaining questions.

The preparation
Should you alter anything about your studying habits to better prepare for the updated version? Yes, but there's no need to make drastic changes. The test content itself will remain the same, so your preparation strategies should need to shift relative to only the format changes - and GMAC is providing the tools to help.

As the shortened test reduces the screen tutorials on exam day, GMAC is providing new online versions to mimic these exam-day tutorials. That way, test takers can access the GMAT Online Tutorial prior to the exam as many times as they wish. Of course GMAC will also update the official preparation tools to match the structure of the shorter exam. The council plans to release these tools online for easy access, so make sure you're prepping for the test with the most recent materials.

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