GMAT: Embrace the new

CHANGE IN PATTERN

The Graduate Management Admission Test will include a new section from June 2012 . Read on to learn more

The format for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), gateway to more than 2000 B-schools across the globe will have a few changes from June 5, 2012. These include:

*The modified format will have a new section called Integrated Reasoning (IR).

*In the writing section, only one essay will be there instead of two in the current format.

The quantitative and verbal sections will remain as they are now. There will also be no change in the total test duration of 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Integrated Reasoning section
As the name suggests, the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section tests the ability to integrate one’s quantitative and verbal skills and apply them to solve problems that are much closer to real life problems that a manager is likely to face. Hence, performance in this section can be a good indicator of a skill that is relevant to management graduates. B-schools are likely to give more importance to this section in future.

This section contains 12 questions to be answered in 30 minutes. The 30-minute time limit should be sufficient for most test takers. An on-screen calculator will also be available for the IR section. The scoring pattern for this section is yet to be finalised.

The IR section will have four question formats:
*Graphic interpretation that tests the candidate’s ability to understand graphs and draw inferences from them.
*Two-part analysis that measures one’s ability to understand the relationship between two entities.
*Multi-source reasoning that measures one’s ability to assimilate information from multiple sources of information. The sources can be tables, graphs, emails, etc.
*Table analysis that presents questions based on a sortable data table
Sample questions are available on the official GMAT website — www.mba.com. The questions are not difficult to master. Skills acquired while preparing for quantitative and verbal sections of GMAT will help in tackling the new IR section. However, the real challenge is to apply them together at the same time. Also familiarity with various formats of graphical and tabular data representation are required.

Students can visit www.mba.com and try the sample questions available. More questions will be provided on the official website soon. “The Official Guide for GMAT Review – 13th Edition” that will be released in April-2012 will have more practice questions. Students can also look at the practice questions developed by GMAT coaching institutes for more practice.

Old or new?
Whether it is better to take GMAT in the current pattern or the new pattern depends on individual abilities. Students are advised to look at the sample IR questions available on www.mba.com and see if they are comfortable with the new section and then make that decision.

A good score in the IR section will send a strong signal about one’s managerial abilities to B-schools and work in his/her favour. However, if one is not very confident with those questions, and is not in a position to invest more time to practice those new question types, it is better to take the GMAT in the current pattern before June 5, 2012.  The change in pattern will not reduce the life of the scores obtained from the current pattern and they will be valid for five years from the test date.

Applicants should also keep in mind that it is advised that the test be taken at least a month before application deadlines. This gives them a chance to retake the test if they get a score much below their expectations. It is also not wise to take GMAT without sufficient preparation. Hence aspirants should take these two factors also into consideration apart from the change in pattern.

(The author is Course Director for GMAT, T.I.M.E. Institute)

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