The GMAT Focus is a new, next-generation version of the classic GMAT exam. It’s still the flagship exam used for admission to MBA and other graduate management programs.
The GMAT Focus will launch on November 7, 2023; registration is now open. The classic GMAT is expected to be retired in the January to March 2024 timeframe.
|Take the Classic GMAT if:||Take the GMAT Focus if:|
|You are applying in the fall of 2023 (including Round 2 deadlines* in early January of 2024)||You are applying for any later date|
(it’s less onerous to study for!)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What does the GMAT Focus cover?
- What is on the GMAT Focus?
- Is the GMAT score scale changing?
- Is GMAT Focus still adaptive?
- What’s tested on the GMAT Focus?
- How can I prepare for the GMAT Focus?
How is the GMAT changing? What does the GMAT Focus cover?
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) has been the flagship global business school entrance exam for more than 50 years. GMAC, the test makers, have specifically designed the new GMAT Focus Edition to target the current-generation skills that are most relevant to success in graduate management programs.
Compared to the classic version of the GMAT, the new GMAT Focus has dropped all grammar, most of geometry, and the essay. The GMAT Focus also weights data analysis skills more heavily in your score.
By the way, if you’re not super comfortable with data analysis, consider this an opportunity. You’ll be analyzing data every day in business school; use your GMAT Focus studies as a chance to build up solid foundational skills so that you aren’t scrambling to catch up from the very first day of your program.
Business schools use your GMAT scores in conjunction with a host of other details, including your academic record in undergrad, your essays, and your work experience and recommendations, to assess your readiness for the advanced quantitative and analytical work that will be required in your program. You’re not expected to know that advanced material yet—it’s their job to teach you that when your program starts—but a test like the GMAT allows the school to determine whether your fundamentals are solid enough that you’ll likely be able to succeed in their program.
What is on the GMAT Focus?
The GMAT is primarily a test of your analytical and quantitative reasoning skills, tested in a time-limited format. Basically, they want to know how well you think strategically and logically, including about quantitative / data-based topics.
The three sections on the GMAT Focus test a mix of overlapping skills, all tested using multiple-choice question formats:
|GMAT Focus Test Section||Time||# of problems||The section tests…|
|Quant||45 min||21||– Fractions, percents, and ratios|
– Story problems
– Number properties
|Verbal||45 min||23||– Critical / analytical thinking|
|Data Insights||45 min||20||– All quant skills|
– All verbal skills
– Data analysis
– Logical reasoning
The exam will also include one optional 10-minute break and you can take the three sections in whatever order you prefer.
[ RELATED: GMAT Focus Time Management]
Is the GMAT score scale changing?
Yes, the GMAT Focus score scale is different from the legacy GMAT scale.
On the new GMAT exam (GMAT Focus), all three sections (Q, V, and DI) factor into your total score on a scale of 205 to 805 in 10-point increments. On the old GMAT exam, only the Quant (Q) and Verbal (V) sections factor into your Total score.
You will also receive individual section scores for each section. The new scoring scale for each section is 60 to 90 in 1-point increments.
On the GMAT Focus, you can send your results from just one test date, so you can choose your best set of scores to send to schools.
Is GMAT Focus still adaptive?
Yes, GMAT Focus is still a question-adaptive exam, like the old GMAT; this structure is the gold standard for standardized exams. The drawback: On any question-adaptive exam, you have to answer the current question on screen in order to advance to the next question—and you can’t go back once you’ve answered. That can be stressful.
But there’s a twist. GMAC has found a way to allow GMAT Focus test takers to change up to 3 answers per section. This is impressive—they’re basically reinventing question-adaptive testing. They (and the business schools) still get the vast advantages conferred by having a question-adaptive test, while extending some flexibility to test takers.
You will still need to choose an answer to each problem as you go. Then, at the end of the section, you’ll be able to review any problems you want and change up to 3 answers. (You’ll also have access to a bookmark feature throughout, so that you can quickly find again the problems that you want to review.)
I’ve heard some people say that being able to change just 3 answers is a source of stress in itself. That’s true to a certain extent, but I’m actually glad that this limitation exists. You’d never want to take an exam where you answer all the questions…and then second-guess yourself and change half of your answers. That’d be a terrible strategy—for a test or in business itself.
So the limit will force you to really think about what you’re doing:
|Objective reasons to change||– Found a careless mistake|
– I remember some fact/rule/process I’d forgotten 15 minutes ago
|Don’t change!||– Second-guessing myself but not really sure|
– Panic-changing as the clock ticks down
– Agonizing between two answers
It basically comes down to this: Do you have an objective reason to know that your first answer is wrong? If so, change it. If not, your first answer is your best answer; stick with it. (This applies both in the moment and after the fact, by the way, so it’s also true for the old version of the GMAT.)
What’s tested on the GMAT Focus?
|Quant problem type||– Problem Solving|
|Data Insights problem types||– Data Sufficiency|
– Multi-Source Reasoning
|Quant/DI topic areas||– Arithmetic (including number properties)|
– Fractions, ratios, percents
– Word Problems (including sets, probability)
|Verbal problem types||– Critical Reasoning|
– Reading Comprehension
While geometry was removed from the GMAT Focus, coordinate plane geometry is actually considered algebra—so coordinate plane can still appear on the GMAT Focus.
In addition, Data Sufficiency problems will no longer be given in “pure” math form. Some DS problems will still test math concepts but only in “applied” (ie, story / translation) form—and some of them may even include graphs to interpret. In addition, DS problems will expand to include more logic-type problems.
Free event series: Twitch the GMAT Focus!
Manhattan Prep 99th percentile GMAT instructor Ryan Jacobs is going to Twitch the GMAT Focus: in three separate 1-hour sessions, he’ll take a section of the exam live, showing you his work and letting you hear his thoughts. Immediately afterward, Stacey Koprince (99th percentile GMAT instructor and Director of Content and Curriculum for Manhattan Prep) will interview Ryan about what he did, why he made the decisions he made, where he thinks he could do better next time, and more. This will give exceptional insight into this brand new GMAT format.
What: Twitch the GMAT Focus Edition
Who: Ryan Jacobs (Twitcher) and Stacey Koprince (Moderator)
When: Three dates available (all 8-9pm ET)
|Session #1: Tuesday, October 24th|
|Session #2: Thursday, November 16th|
|Session #3: Monday, December 4th|
How can I prepare for the GMAT Focus?
Official GMAT prep materials for the GMAT Focus were released in June 2023, including the Official Guide 2023-2024 edition and the official practice tests. (Note: If you are studying for the classic GMAT, use the Official Guide 2022 edition; the latest 2023 edition will not adequately prepare you for the classic GMAT.)
Our new GMAT Focus courses have launched, as has our GMAT Focus Self-Study Toolkit (and we do still offer courses and study materials for the classic GMAT). It takes many months to publish new books, of course, so we’re still in the process of updating those, but there is significant overlap between the two versions of the GMAT. Our GMAT Focus courses use our current books in combination with supplemental PDFs to address the details that are new for the GMAT Focus. We’ll tell you exactly what you need to study and what you can happily ignore. (Also: Our GMAT Focus courses include both the latest Official Guide and the official practice tests—we bought them for you, so you don’t have to.)