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GMAT to Replace One Essay with Analysis

By June 2012, the GMAT will have a new section, designed to test the advanced reasoning skills of would-be MBA students. Test-takers will have to analyze and integrate information from multiple sources charts, graphs, spreadsheets to solve complex problems.
BY Uttara Choudhury |   01-04-2012

NEW YORK – With breaks, the overall length of the GMAT exam should still last approximately four hours and will not change. The new Integrated Reasoning section will be 30-minutes long and will replace one of two 30-minute Analytical Writing Assessment essays that are part of the existing GMAT test, announced the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The test's current verbal and math sections will remain unchanged.

“The new Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT will be a microcosm of today’s B-school classroom,” said Dave Wilson, president and CEO of GMAC. “These questions will provide critical intelligence to schools about the ability of prospective students to make sound decisions by evaluating, assimilating or extrapolating data.”

Examinees will be asked to analyze information, draw conclusions and discern relationships between data points and answer interactive questions that test their analytical skills.

Students taking the GMAT currently plod through questions consisting of a quantitative section, a verbal portion and two essays. But the new exam, to be launched on June 4, 2012 will feature a new section asking students to interpret charts, graphs, spreadsheets and data. Examinees will be asked to analyze information, draw conclusions and discern relationships between data points and answer interactive questions that test their analytical skills. During portions of the section, students will wear headphones, a new feature that will help schools assess students' auditory learning abilities. Questions won't be just multiple-choice.

GMAC has released one sample question that asks students to look at a spreadsheet and tell the number of passengers and airline movements at 21 airports. Students are then presented with a list of statements about the information in the spreadsheet and asked to determine which of the statements are true based on the data in the spreadsheet. Other questions ask students to use the same spreadsheet to weigh in on the reason for certain outcomes, or to use the table to determine where other airports rank.

Will questions have more than one right answer and if so, will test takers get partial credit if they get some parts right? The GMAC says that some of the new question types may have more than one correct response. But it has not yet been decided whether partial credit will be given.

During portions of Integrated Reasoning section test takers will wear headphones, a new feature that will help schools assess students' auditory learning abilities.

The GMAT exam’s verbal and quantitative sections will not change. As a result, when the new section is introduced in June 2012, tests will be scored on the same 200–800 scale used today. Test takers will receive a separate score for the essay — as they do now — and another distinct score on the new Integrated Reasoning section.

GMAC has spent $10 million in developing the new questions, and will be relying on audio technology designed by its testing administrator, Pearson Vue. GMAC pilots the exam this year as it prepares to launch it in 2012.

The changes to the exam mirror shifts in the business school classroom in recent years, as schools have changed their curriculums to emphasize problem-solving and critical thinking, says Peg Jobst, senior vice-president for GMAC services.

The new section essentially provides business schools with a window into how prospective students respond to the kinds of complex challenges they will encounter as managers in today’s information-rich business environment.

GMAC says the alteration is the biggest to the test since the GMAT test switched to its computer-adaptive format in the late 1990s.

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Comments:
Ch.Ravindranath Tagore
The section should preferably include case studies to enable the aspirants a virtual corporate scenario.
20 November 2010


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