Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Semiconductor Guy
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Wharton | Mr. Sr. Systems Engineer
GRE 1280, GPA 3.3
Darden | Ms. Unicorn Healthcare Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Darden | Mr. Stock Up
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Classic Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Cambridge Judge Business School | Mr. Social Scientist
GRE 330, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Federal Consultant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.26
INSEAD | Mr. Consulting Fin
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Enlisted Undergrad
GRE 315, GPA 3.75
INSEAD | Ms. Hope & Goodwill
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Milk Before Cereals
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3 (16/20 Portuguese scale)
Chicago Booth | Mr. Guy From Taiwan
GRE 326, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Leading Petty Officer
GRE (MCAT) 501, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Sales To Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 3.49
Columbia | Mr. NYC Native
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Tepper | Mr. Leadership Developement
GMAT 740, GPA 3.77
Harvard | Ms. Athlete Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Education Consulting
GRE 326, GPA 3.58
Harvard | Ms. Ambitious Hippie
GRE 329, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Unrealistic Ambitions
GMAT 710, GPA 2.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Equal Opportunity
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0

GMAT Exam Might Change (Again)

test

Would you rather tackle the most important sections (quant/verbal) of the GMAT first and leave the essay and IR for last? In the not too distant future you may have this option.

This past week, a number of MBA aspirants  received an invitation to take a newly formatted GMAT as part of the GMAT pilot program that will run for a limited time from February 23 to March 16. With this special GMAT the order of the sections is in your hands. You could do the quant first, the essay last, or any other ordering of the four sections. Provided that the results of the pilot program satisfy the higher ups at the Graduate Management Admission Council, this new GMAT may soon be coming to a test center near you.

DOES ORDER REALLY MATTER?

GMAC has cited two reasons for the pilot: to improve test efficacy and to improve user experience. Many testers feel somewhat exhausted by the time the verbal (the last of the four sections – about 2.5 hours into the test) rolls around. If verbal is your weaker section then you might do better hacking at it while you are fresh. GMAC wants to test whether this is true. If it is, the test would need an adjustment so that all test takers are treated equally.

Why should a certain group do better because of the order of the sections? The GRE addresses this issue by randomizing the order of the sections. GMAC also wants test takers to feel positive about their test day experience. Does choosing your own destiny make you feel warm and fuzzy about the GMAT? I’d guess that having the option to boot the essay and the integrated reasoning to the end of the exam will make most people feel better.

THE TEST PREP COLD WAR

Why is this change happening now? Isn’t it obvious that the order of the sections could make a difference in the outcomes? Isn’t it also clear that most people would prefer to choose the order of the test, attacking weaknesses while fresh and relegating the less important bits of the test to the end? This potential update may be a new chapter in the arms race that the GRE and GMAT have been waging for the past several years as the jack-of-all-trades GRE has encroached on the GMAT’s MBA terroir. In its campaign for MBA admissions relevance, the GRE has offered up a bunch of user friendly test taking features ( a calculator, the ability to return to questions, score choice). The GMAT has fired back with its own set of conveniences (score preview and cancellation without penalty, 16 day re-takes).

A BOOST FOR INTEGRATED REASONING 

The new format could also nudge people to try harder on the IR section. Why? With the IR in the beginning of the exam it might make sense to take it lightly. Why burn energy when you have far more important sections ahead of you. With the IR at the end you no longer have the “I need to conserve energy” mentality and might be more willing to put your back into it for a better score and a slight advantage in admissions.

GMAC says that the sample size for this pilot is less than 1% of the total testing volume and was chosen as the minimum number of test takers required to obtain a meaningful analysis.  The chances of any single school receiving a substantial number of “pilot scores” is extremely low, according to the GMAC, so it is unlikely to impact the admissions pool at any given school.

Motives for the pilot aside, the competition for standardized test supremacy seems to be benefiting the consumer. This is a positive change that should make for a more pleasant if not fairer GMAT experience.

Andrew Geller of Atlantic GMAT

Andrew Geller of Atlantic GMAT

A tutor since 2002, Andrew Geller currently heads Atlantic GMAT, a leading private tutoring service that serves clients nationwide. Before that, he prepped GMAT test-takers McElroy Tutoring, where he held a 9.9 rating (i.e. “Exceptional”) from clients. A consummate teacher, Geller joined the Poets&Quants team in 2014, providing readers with expert advice on topics ranging from bumping up quant scores to setting priorities. 

DON’T MISS: INCREASING YOUR GMAT SCORE — THE BEST OF ANDREW GELLER