Hello there! As a GMAT tutor, I would like to share with you some insights on the upcoming GMAT Focus Edition. This new version of the GMAT will bring some changes to the current test format, particularly in the way test-takers can review and change their answers. While this change may seem beneficial to some, it is important to understand how it will affect your score and test-taking strategy.
Question Review and Edit Answers
On the current GMAT, when you confirm your answer to question 9 of a given section and the screen advances to question 10, you have seen question 9 for the last time – you will never get another chance to see it or to change your answer. The GMAT Focus Edition will change this aspect of the test. On the Focus Edition, you must answer every question in a section before you can see any of them again, but once you have answered every question, you can see all of them again and change up to three answers.
Many test-takers are happy about this change, but I am giving this feature its own section in this article because of what it doesn’t mean for test-takers.
As a GMAT tutor, I am really worried about how test-takers will handle this feature. I can imagine a test-taker encountering a relatively challenging question, thinking to himself, “Whatever, I can just pick something random and change my answer later,” and moving on to the next question. This strategy is likely to hurt your score, not help it.
What everyone needs to remember is that the GMAT Focus Edition will still be an adaptive test. This means that when you get a question wrong, the test adjusts the difficulty of the next question accordingly. Going back and changing the answer later doesn’t change the “path” of questions you stepped onto as a result of having gotten that answer wrong the first time. If you had spent the time to get the answer right, you would have stepped onto a more challenging “path” – one with a higher potential score.
If the Focus Edition uses the same adaptive algorithm as the current GMAT, the impact of a given question on your “path” will start out very high at the beginning of each section and decrease as the section progresses. This has to do with the test’s “confidence” in determining your ability level. The more questions you have answered, the more data the test has to work with. As you approach the end of a section, the test has acquired enough data and knows you well enough that it doesn’t drastically decrease the difficulty of the next question if you get a certain question wrong.
At the beginning of a section, the opposite is true. If you miss question 3, the official difficulty of question 4 (not necessarily its perceived difficulty for you) will be significantly lower than that of question 3. There is a big “swing.” Since these “swings” are drastically reduced in size as the section goes on, missing a few questions near the beginning of the section can set you on a “path” from which there is no recovery, depending on your goal score. It is important to make a great “first impression” on the GMAT in each section. If you make a bad first impression and the GMAT decides that you don’t know what you’re doing, you may not be able to change its mind later – no matter how many answers you can change.
Bottom line: these three answer changes are not free skips. Depending on how early in a section you decide to guess and change your answer later, you could derail your plans for a great score. A good rule of thumb would be to do your very best to answer every question correctly in the first half of each section. After this point, you can start to think about using one or two of your “skips” on questions that threaten to eat up your time.
Scoring Reports and Score Reporting
Currently, GMAT test-takers can purchase (for $30) an Extended Score Report (ESR) for any administration within the last five years. The ESR provides performance data for each section and each question type, including time management breakdowns. GMAC has publicized that these reports will be improved for the GMAT Focus Edition and that they will be free. Every time you take the GMAT Focus Edition, you’ll receive a document with a detailed breakdown of your performance and time management.
The GMAT Focus Edition will also improve the free score reporting feature of the test. Every time you take the current GMAT, you can send a score report to up to five business schools for free. However, you must select these schools before you see your scores. On the GMAT Focus Edition, you will select these schools after you see your scores. This means you should never cancel your scores on the GMAT Focus Edition. If you want to go to HBS or Wharton but get a GMAT Focus Edition score that isn’t M7-worthy, you can simply send your scores to some less competitive business schools. When you send GMAT Focus Edition scores, you only send the scores for that single administration of the test. This is a change from the current GMAT format, where sending scores means that the schools receive a report displaying all your GMAT scores from the last five years. With the GMAT Focus Edition, each school will only ever see the scores you want them to see.
GMAT Focus Edition Timeline
GMAC has released a general schedule for the introduction of the GMAT Focus Edition:
Official Prep Available – June 6, 2023
Registration Opens – August 29, 2023
Testing Starts – Q4 2023
Additionally, GMAC has stated that the current version of the GMAT will be available through “early 2024.” There will be a period during which both versions of the test are available, and this period is likely to be at least three months long, beginning in Q4 of 2023 and ending in Q1 or possibly even Q2 of 2024.
The Official Prep for the GMAT Focus Edition coming June 6 of this year will include the new Official Guide, the Verbal Review book, and the Quant Review book, which is now actually two books – one for Problem-Solving and one for Data Sufficiency. The current version of the Official Guide is the 2022 edition, which was published back in May of 2021. GMAC broke from their pattern of releasing yearly OG’s by skipping a 2022 publication of a 2023 Official Guide. Instead, the new, Focus Edition OG will be released (presumably in June 2023) as the “GMAT Official Guide 2023-2024.” GMAC is beginning a new publication pattern in which new editions of the OG and other books are released only in odd-numbered years.
The Official Prep should also include some free online questions and, most importantly, practice tests, which every test-taker should use. The expert tutors at Apex will run many trials of these practice tests to start decoding Focus Edition’s scoring algorithm.
Be on the lookout for more GMAT Focus Edition articles from Apex in the coming months as the official prep materials are rolled out. And if you have any questions, book a complimentary consultation with one of our top tutors now!
Contributor:Elijah Mize (Apex Instructor)