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GMAT Exam: Comprehensive guide for 2024

In this blog post, we will delve into the details of the GMAT™ Focus Edition, including the timeframes for Official Prep, registration, and testing availability, as well as the exam overview and test structure.



Excerpts from the Live QnA about the GMAT exam with Ms. Seema, Associate Manager, Outreach, GMAC Team


Q1: What are the latest updates on the GMAT exam?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

Starting from July 1, 2024, there's a nomenclature change. The GMAT Focus Edition is now simply called the GMAT exam. The earlier version of the GMAT exam is now referred to as the 10th edition—not the classic GMAT, not the earlier version, just the 10th edition. So, if you go on to mba.com or our official channels, you won't see "Focus Edition" anymore. Don't get confused; we're talking about the current version of the exam.


This change happened after a very long period in GMAC history. Since the exam was first administered in 1954, there have been changes, but the recent change aims to improve the candidate experience and align with what business schools are looking for. The GMAT is supposed to ensure that business schools find the right fit candidates with the necessary skill sets. 


If you look at the Focus Edition, you'll find that whether it be quant reasoning, verbal reasoning, or data insights, it's been streamlined to make it a shorter, more candidate-friendly exam. It tests all the essential skills needed to perform well in business school and demonstrates to employers that candidates have the necessary skill set to succeed in their future job roles.


The primary change towards a 15-minute shorter exam is very attractive, along with many other features. If you want to dive into the details, I'll be happy to answer any questions. Overall, the new features and the removal of certain content have made it a less stressful examination than it was earlier.


Q2: Can you explain the computer-adaptive nature of the GMAT exam now?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

The GMAT remains question-adaptive, but there have been improvements to the algorithm to ensure it is even more fair and unbiased. While it's important to understand the types of questions and skills tested, diving too deeply into the algorithm can be counterproductive. The algorithm remains proprietary, and focusing too much on it can lead to unnecessary stress. Instead, trust the process and concentrate on understanding and practicing the questions.


Q3: Is there a penalty if someone doesn't complete a section on the GMAT exam?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

Yes, there is a penalty for not completing a section, and it affects your score scaling. It's recommended to complete your exam, which is why the question review and edit feature in the newer exam is significant. It allows you to make an educated guess and move on, ensuring you complete the rest of the questions. Use this feature wisely to maximize your score.


Q4: Is it true that getting the first 10 or 15 questions correct guarantees a high GMAT score?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

It's not that simple. While the difficulty of previous questions does impact your score, it's not the sole deciding factor. The GMAT algorithm considers multiple factors, and focusing only on the first few questions can be misleading. It's essential to perform consistently throughout the exam.


Q5: How do we interpret the scores between the two versions of the GMAT?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

The earlier GMAT version had a score range of 200 to 800, while the new GMAT exam has a range of 205 to 805. The earlier exam had two sections contributing to the total score, whereas the new version has three. Comparing the two versions directly is not feasible, so we use a concordance table available on mba.com to align the scores. Business schools also use percentile rankings to compare scores, which provide a better indicator of performance. It's essential to understand how schools view the scores and check with them directly.


Q6: Have you observed any trends regarding whether schools focus on sectional percentiles or overall GMAT score percentiles?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

Different schools have different preferences. Some focus on sectional percentiles, while others look at the overall score. It's crucial to check with each school to understand their specific requirements. During this transition period, communication with schools is essential to ensure clarity on how they evaluate scores.


Q7: What are some GMAT test-taking strategies that stand out, and how close is the mock test score to the actual score?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

The strategies for approaching GMAT questions have not changed, as the questions themselves remain consistent. It's essential to understand the skills tested, such as data literacy, problem-solving, and critical reasoning. Taking GMAT practice exams helps familiarize candidates with the format and types of questions. The official practice exams use the same algorithm as the actual GMAT, ensuring accurate representation. Consistency in practice and understanding personal learning styles are key. Creating a realistic study plan that accommodates work and personal commitments is crucial. Practicing with official materials, understanding the concepts, and managing time effectively are the best ways to prepare for the GMAT.


Q8: Can you share some tips for preparing for the GMAT data insights section?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

Candidates often find data insights questions time-consuming rather than difficult. The key is to practice and find the most efficient approach to filter relevant data and answer questions quickly. Data insights test a combination of math, verbal, and data skills. Experiment with different approaches to find what works best for you. Understanding the types of questions and practicing consistently will help improve performance. The section is essential as it reflects real-world business scenarios, making it crucial for candidates to excel in it.


Q9: Are there any additional materials for GMAT preparation beyond the official guide that you recommend for quant and data insights?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

The official guide, supplements, question banks, and practice exams provide ample material for preparation. The quality and accuracy of official materials are unmatched. While additional resources can help understand specific concepts, sticking to official materials ensures the best representation of actual exam questions. Properly reviewing and understanding what you did right and wrong in practice questions is more important than completing a vast amount of material.


Q10: What kind of reading should one do to prepare well for the GMAT verbal section?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

Developing a reading habit can be beneficial but is not essential for GMAT preparation. The GMAT tests your ability to establish relationships, find logic, and draw inferences from the text. Practice with reading comprehension questions in the official materials is sufficient. Reading editorials and other materials can help improve critical thinking, but focusing on the specific question types and skills tested on the GMAT is more important.


Q11: What can you tell us about the GMAC business writing assessment required by HBS for students submitting GMAT focus scores?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

The business writing assessment is not required for application or admission; it is part of the interview process if required. It's different from the traditional AWA assessment that was removed from the exam. The assessment is specific to certain processes and not a general requirement for all schools.


Q12: Any last tips for people preparing for the GMAT exam?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

Stop focusing on irrelevant factors and avoid unnecessary pressure. Use public forums wisely, but don't let them scare you. Create a realistic study plan, practice consistently, and understand what works best for you. Register for the exam well in advance to secure your preferred location and time. Focus on percentile rankings and use the concordance table for score comparison. Trust the process and concentrate on understanding and practicing the questions. The GMAT is just another exam, not an insurmountable challenge.


Q13: Can you elaborate on the importance of looking at GMAT scores from the percentile perspective rather than just the final score?


Ms. Seema, GMAC Expert explained:

Absolutely. Get used to the percentile ranking and look at the concordance table if you haven't already. Sectional percentiles and total GMAT score percentiles are both important, depending on what the business schools are asking for. Percentile rankings provide a clearer indication of your performance compared to the raw score alone.


Updates on 2024 GMAT test acceptance in MBA Programs:


GMAT Focus Edition Exam Overview:

  1. The GMAT™ Focus Edition is a 2-hour and 15-minute exam (with one optional 10-minute break) that comprises 64 questions in total.

  2. There is no AWA Essay section in the GMAT Focus Edition.

  3. Test Structure - Three 45-minute Sections, No Essay

  4. The GMAT Focus Edition consists of three sections, each lasting 45 minutes, and there is no essay section.

  5. The Quantitative Reasoning section comprises 21 Problem Solving questions and lasts for 45 minutes.

  6. Verbal Reasoning Section duration is 45 minutes and has 23 questions. Each question will have five answer options that can either strengthen or weaken an argument, explain why the argument is flawed, or provide strong support or damage to the argument. Data Insights Section.

  7. The Data Insights section comprises 20 questions and lasts for 45 minutes. The Data Insights section of the GMAT Focus Edition exam requires analysis graphical, numerical, and text information, to evaluate how they relate to one another.

  8. The Question Review & Edit feature allows test-takers to bookmark and review questions as many times as they want.

  9. They can also change up to three answers per section, giving them more control over their exam-taking experience.

  10. The Select Section Order feature enables test-takers to take the exam in any section order they prefer, providing them with greater flexibility and allowing them to play to their strengths.

  11. The Improved Score Report provides detailed performance insights with each exam, allowing test-takers to see where they excelled and where they can improve.

  12. During the exam, you have the option to mark questions for review and return to them later in the section. However, if you run out of time in the section, you will not be able to access the Question Review & Edit screen and will move on to your optional break or the next section.





Target GMAT Scores for ISB PGP and other Business Schools ( Tentative)


PERCENTILE

GMAT FOCUS EDITION

GMAT CLASSIC EDITION

BUSINESS SCHOOLS

99.40%

735

760

M7 to Top 20

99.20%

725

760

M7 to Top 20

98.70%

715

760

M7 to Top 20

98.60%

715

750

M7 to Top 20

98.10%

705

750

M7 to Top 20

97.90%

695

750

M7 to Top 20

96.90%

695

740

M7 to Top 20

96.70%

685

740

M7 to Top 20

96.10%

685

730

M7 to Top 20

95.20%

675

730

M7 to Top 20

94.00%

675

720

ISB

93.20%

665

720

ISB

92.60%

665

710

ISB

89.60%

655

710

ISB

89.30%

655

700

IIMA, IIMB, IIMC

86.70%

645

700

IIMA, IIMB, IIMC

85.10%

645

690

IIMA, IIMB, IIMC

83.50%

635

690

IIMA, IIMB, IIMC

82.70%

635

680

IIMA, IIMB, IIMC

80.10%

625

680

IIMA, IIMB, IIMC

80.10%

615

680

IIMA, IIMB, IIMC


How is the GMAT Focus Edition be scored?

  1. Each section is scored on a scale of 60 to 90, with a standard error of measurement of 3 points. For the GMAT Focus Edition the test score starts from 205 with the maximum score being 805, with score intervals of 10.

  2. It's important to note that the Total Score values in the GMAT™ Exam - Focus Edition end in 5, which is different from the previous version of the GMAT.

  3. The reason for this change is to provide more granularity in the scores, enabling better differentiation between test takers' performance levels.

  4. On each of the sections from the Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Data Insights, an individual can score from 60 to 90.

  5. In terms of the standard error of measurement, the Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Data Insights sections have a standard error of measurement of 3 points, while the Total Score has a standard error of measurement of 30-40 points.


What is the difference in the score interpretation of the existing GMAT exam vs GMAT Focus Edition?


If you're preparing for the GMAT exam, you might have heard of the GMAT Focus Edition, a computer-adaptive test designed to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses before taking the real thing. But how do the scores on the GMAT Focus Edition compare to those on the GMAT exam?


Here's what you need to know:

  1. For a score of 660 on the GMAT exam, you can expect a 605 on the GMAT Focus Edition with a 75 percentile ranking.

  2. A score of 670 on the GMAT exam is equivalent to a 615 on the GMAT Focus Edition with an 80 percentile equivalence.

  3. A score of 680 on the GMAT exam would translate to a 625 on the GMAT Focus Edition at an 83 percentile.

  4. If you score a 690 on the GMAT exam, you would likely score a 635 on the GMAT Focus Edition at an 85 percentile.

  5. Similarly, a 700 on the GMAT exam would be comparable to a 645 on the GMAT Focus Edition with an 89 percentile.

  6. For a GMAT Exam score of 710, you would compare with a 655 on the GMAT Focus Edition, amounting to a 93 percentile.

  7. A 720 GMAT scorer would have a close cousin with a GMAT Focus edition scorer at 665 at a 94 percentile ranking.

  8. The 730 on the GMAT exam score would on the GMAT focus edition become a 675 at a 96 percentile ranking.

  9. With a 740 on the GMAT exam, you would probably score a 685 on the GMAT Focus Edition at a 97 percentile rank.

  10. A 750 GMAT exam score with 98 percentile rank would be a 695 on the GMAT Focus Edition.

  11. The game changes once more at the 99 percentile and above. While on the GMAT exam, a 760 is the 99th percentile rank, on the GMAT Focus Edition, it could be a 705 or a 715 or a 725.

  12. Similarly, while an 800 on the GMAT Exam is the 100 percentile, on the GMAT Focus Edition, it could be a 735 or a 745 or a 755 or a 765 or a 775 or a 785 or a 795 or an 805.

Here are some key points to consider regarding the section-wise percentile benchmarks for the GMAT Focus edition:

1. Quantitative Reasoning Section of the GMAT Focus Edition:

  • Scoring an 81 lands you in the 71 percentile

  • Scoring an 82 brings you to the 76 percentile

  • Scoring an 83 relates to 81 percentile

  • Scoring an 84 on this section places the applicant in the 85 percentile

  • Scoring an 85 means that you are in the 89 percentile

  • Scoring an 86 brings you to the 92 percentile

  • Scoring an 87 is equivalent to the 94 percentile

  • Scoring an 89 is equivalent to the 97 percentile

  • Scoring a 90 brings you to the 100 percentile

2. Verbal Reasoning Section of the GMAT Focus Edition:

  • Scoring an 81 lands you in the 70 percentile

  • Scoring an 82 brings you to the 79 percentile

  • Scoring an 83 relates to the 86 percentile

  • Scoring an 84 on this section places the applicant in the 91 percentile

  • Scoring an 85 means that you are in the 96 percentile

  • Scoring an 86 brings you to the 98 percentile

  • Scoring either 87 or 88 is equivalent to the 99 percentile

  • Scoring a 89 or 90 is equivalent to the 100 percentile

2. Data Insights Section of the GMAT Focus Edition:

  • Scoring a 78 gets you to the 73 percentile

  • Scoring a 79 brings you to the 79 percentile

  • Scoring an 80 relates to the 86 percentile

  • Scoring an 81 is equivalent to the 90 percentile

  • Scoring an 82 brings you to the 94 percentile

  • Scoring an 83 is equivalent to the 96 percentile

  • Scoring an 84 brings you to the 98 percentile

  • Scoring between 85 to 88 lands you in the 99 percentile

  • Scoring between 89 to 90 is equivalent to the 100 percentile.

These percentile benchmarks provide valuable insight into how the GMAT Focus edition scores compare to the previous version of the exam. By understanding these benchmarks, test-takers can accurately assess their competitiveness and identify the right scores for applying to their desired business schools.


It is not only the score that is important, but also the percentile ranking on the GMAT Focus Edition. To accurately assess your competitiveness based on the GMAT™ Exam - Focus Edition, it is recommended to compare percentile rankings instead of total scores when comparing it to the previous version of the GMAT™ Exam. This is because the percentile ranking takes into account the performance of other test-takers, giving a better indication of where you stand in comparison to others.


Top Indian Schools that accept GMAT Score For the One year MBA program are ISB Hyderabad, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta .


Therefore, while the scores on the GMAT Focus Edition and GMAT Exam may differ, understanding the percentile ranking can help you gauge your strengths and weaknesses, and work towards improving your chances of success on test day.


Get in touch to discuss your profile and get application assistance for applying to MBA programs with an MBA admission consultant at GOALisB. Email us at contact@goalisb.com or Call us @ +91 7719497187.


Stay tuned for more insights and updates as we continue to explore the dynamic realm of management education in India and beyond. Get in touch with an MBA admission consultant at GOALisB for a profile evaluation.

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