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The GMAT Just Got A Little Shorter

2018 GMAT Updates

by Rich Carriero

On April 4th, the GMAC announced that as of April 16th of this year, the GMAT test will be shortened by approximately 30 minutes. Specifically, the tutorial at the beginning of the test will be streamlined and there will be fewer questions in the quantitative and verbal sections.  According to GMAC, this reduction was achieved by cutting out some of the unscored, experimental questions. The same number of scored questions will be found in the new version of the GMAT and, according to GMAC, the scoring formula itself will not be changed.  Additionally, there are no planned changes to the Analytical Writing or Integrated Reasoning sections.

The number of quantitative questions on the GMAT will be reduced from 37 to 31 questions, while the allotted time will drop from 75 to 62 minutes.  The time per question has decreased slightly from 2 minutes 1.2 seconds to exactly two minutes. On the verbal section the number of questions will decrease from 41 to 36 while the allotted time has dropped from 75 to 65 minutes, resulting in a slight reduction from 1 minute 49.75 sections to 1 minute 48.3 seconds per question.

The tutorial that precedes the GMAT will live on in extended form on the GMAC website.  To view the full GMAT tutorial, click  Feedback collected by the GMAC apparently indicated that GMAT test takers felt rushed while reviewing the tutorial on test day.  By moving the extended version online, test takers can now spend as much time as they like reviewing the test instructions. At Next Step, our GMAT tutors are already encouraging students to review the tutorial and know the directions well ahead of taking the exam: preparing for the rigid format of a standardized test in advance is a fundamental piece of advice you should expect to hear in any GMAT class setting.

Regarding the changes to the math and verbal sections, the GMAC has stated their organization “is committed to continuously improving the GMAT exam experience for all test-takers. We are always looking for ways to help candidates build confidence and control, reduce anxiety, and streamline the test center experience in a way that continues to maintain the high quality and integrity of the GMAT exam.” While this statement is ostensibly made from concern for the time and satisfaction of GMAT test takers, the growing popularity of the GRE as an option for business school applicants shouldn’t be ruled out as a consideration for the format change: among test takers, the GRE is often considered the easier and more user-friendly test. In June, 2017, however, the GMAT began allowing test takers to take the sections of the test in one of three different orders.  Now, shaving off 30 minutes reduces the total time needed to take the GMAT to just over three hours while the GRE currently requires approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes. These two changes may make the GMAT a more attractive option for business school applicants.

The GMAC has stated that GMAT test preparation shouldn’t need to change any advice or methodology because the content, format and time per question will remain the same.  GMAT prep materials will, however, need to reflect these changes. The GMAC has stated that a new version of the GMAT practice test platform will be released in conjunction with the switch to the new format.  Details of this change to the GMAT practice tests, however, will be released at a later time.

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