The GMAT Focus Edition and What it Means for Your MBA Applications


GMAT Focus Edition test takers

GMAC’s announcement of the updated version of the GMAT called the GMAT Focus Edition has generated quite a bit of excitement within the business school community. But since the test hasn’t been launched yet, MBA hopefuls are left wondering what to expect. What will this new version of the GMAT be like and what will it mean for your MBA applications? Read on to find out and learn other essential things every GMAT-taker needs to know about the GMAT Focus Edition.

Why was there a need to update the GMAT?

There has been a material increase in the number of people who apply to business school with a GRE score in recent years. As such, GMAC looked at ways to make the GMAT more user-friendly for test takers while also ensuring it was testing the most relevant skills needed to succeed in the MBA classroom (i.e., what the adcom folks care about). The GMAT Focus Edition is designed to provide a more personalized and adaptive assessment of the skills required to succeed in the modern business world.

The new test assesses higher-order critical reasoning skills and data literacy while featuring an adaptive testing algorithm that adjusts the difficulty of the questions based on each test-taker’s performance. Additionally, it is made to provide test-takers with more personalized feedback which is helpful in allowing takers to better understand their performance and areas for improvement.

According to Ashish Bhardwaj, senior vice president and head of market development at GMAC, “These new and improved features of GMAT Focus Edition are providing greater confidence to test takers in their decision to pursue business education.”

What’s the difference between the legacy GMAT and the GMAT Focus Edition?

The major difference between the old and new GMAT is the level of personalization of the test. For sure, both tests are challenging but the older version doesn’t provide personalized feedback to test-takers, unlike the new version. Aside from this, other key differences include the following:

Focus on higher-order critical reasoning skills and data literacy

The GMAT Focus Edition places a greater emphasis on higher-order critical reasoning skills and data literacy – skills that are considered to be more relevant and applicable in the business environment of tomorrow.

Shorter exam length

The new GMAT is expected to be shorter in length than the current GMAT with an estimated testing time of two hours – one hour shorter than the current version.

Fewer question types

Feature fewer question types than the existing GMAT, the updated version will focus on integrated reasoning, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning.

Different scoring scale

The GMAT Focus Edition will likely have a similar scoring scale to the existing GMAT, but it’s possible that the scoring algorithm may be different because of the greater emphasis on critical reasoning and data literacy skills.

When will the GMAT Focus Edition start?

According to the GMAT website, the official preparation materials for the GMAT Focus Edition are expected to be available on June 6, 2023. This includes study materials, practice exams, and other resources that takers can use to prepare for the exam.

By August 29, 2023, test takers will be able to register for the exam through the official GMAT website or through authorized test centers; they can begin taking it in Q4 2023.

How will the update affect upcoming application cycles?

Given the timing of the roll out, the GMAT Focus Edition will not be available to Round 1 applicants in the upcoming cycle and very few Round 2 applicants will have taken it. Since most applicants apply in either Round 1 or Round 2 (we don’t recommend applying Round 3 in the vast majority of cases), it really won’t have an impact until the 2024-25 application cycle.

At this point, as more test-takers begin to take the new test, it’s likely that business schools will begin to recognize and acknowledge the differences in the scores of applicants. The legacy GMAT will be phased out in early 2024, but, as scores are good for 5 years, there will be a mix of test types in the next several application cycles. We expect that business schools will take the differences into account when evaluating applicants and may adjust their admissions criteria accordingly.

Applicants who perform well on the GMAT Focus Edition may be more competitive in the admissions process. Meanwhile, those who struggle with the new exam may find it more difficult to stand out in a highly competitive applicant pool.

Despite this, it’s essential to remember that business schools also consider other factors in their admissions process, such as work experience, academic performance, and extracurricular activities. A student’s GMAT Focus Edition score won’t be the only basis for assessment, but a strong score can help applicants stand out from the crowd and increase their chances of admission.

In Summary…

The new GMAT is an exciting development for test-takers and business schools alike. With its personalized approach and adaptive format, the GMAT Focus Edition has the potential to help test-takers improve their performance and achieve their goals of attending top business schools around the world.

If preparing for the GRE, GMAT or GMAT Focus Edition is in your plans, here are a few other articles you may find interesting:

GMAT and GRE Myths Debunked – Vantage Point MBA

What GMAT Score Do I Need for Harvard | Vantage Point MBA


Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the scoring system for the GMAT Focus Edition?

The GMAT Focus Edition will use the same scoring system as the current GMAT, with a total score ranging from 200 to 800, and separate scores for each section of the test.

How can I prepare for the GMAT Focus Edition?

The best way to prepare for the GMAT Focus Edition is to familiarize yourself with the skills and content areas that the test will focus on. Develop a personalized study plan that takes into account your strengths, weaknesses, and learning style. This may involve self-study, a guided course, private tutoring or a combination of these.

What score should I aim for?

Keep tabs on the class profiles published by your target programs. Always aim to be in this range if you can and, if not, ensure that other components of your application exceed the adcom’s expectations.

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