On March 8, 2023, GMAC announced the upcoming version of the GMAT called the GMAT Focus Edition. In what ways is the test changing? And what does this mean for you as an MBA candidate? Here we’ll provide all the details to help guide you through the transition to the new and improved GMAT.

The Current GMAT VS. GMAT Focus Edition

Let’s begin with a helpful chart to outline the updates coming with the GMAT Focus Edition.

Current GMAT GMAT Focus Edition
Sections and Timing
    • Quant:  62 minutes
    • Verbal:  65 minutes
    • IR:         30 minutes
    • AWA:    30 minutes
  • Total:   3 hours, 7 minutes
  • Freedom to choose from three section orders
    • Quant:              45 minutes
    • Verbal:              45 minutes
    • Data Insights:  45 minutes
    • No AWA section
  • Total:   2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Freedom to choose any section order
    • Quant:  6 to 51
    • Verbal:  6 to 51
    • IR:        1 to 8
    • AWA:    0 to 6 (half-point increment)
  • Overall: 200 to 800

(from quant and verbal)

    • Quant:            60 to 90
    • Verbal:            60 to 90
    • Data Insights: 60 to 90
  • Overall: 205 to 805

(from quant, verbal, and data insights)

Quant Section
  • 31 questions
  • 2-minute pace
  • Geometry included
  • 21 questions 
  • 2-minute 8-second pace
  • No geometry
Verbal Section
  • 36 questions
  • 1-minute 48-second pace
  • Sentence Correction included
  • 23 questions
  • 1-minute 57-second pace
  • No Sentence Correction
IR (current)


Data Insights (Focus)

  • 12 questions
  • 2-minute 30-second pace
  • Non-adaptive
  • 20 questions
  • 2-minute 15-second pace
  • Adaptive
  • Data Sufficiency questions included
  • Question-level adaptive
  • No reviewing questions or changing answers
  • Question-level adaptive
  • After answering all questions in a section, freedom to review all questions in the section and change up to 3 answers

GMAT Focus Edition Changes From The Current GMAT

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) Changes on The GMAT Focus Edition

Many candidates will be pleased with the elimination of the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). Even if you wouldn’t have spent precious prep time on essay-writing, this is one less thing you have to do on test day. The omission of the AWA, together with the shrinking down of the quant and verbal sections, reduces the length of the test by nearly an hour. However, earning a great overall score will still require plenty of stamina.

Data Insights on The GMAT Focus Edition

The Integrated Reasoning (IR) section has evolved into Data Insights, and on the GMAT Focus Edition, your Data Insights score will weigh equally with your quant and verbal scores in the calculation of your overall score, just as your IR score does on the Executive Assessment. This means that the length of time you spend answering questions that count towards your overall score has actually increased slightly, from 2 hours and 7 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes. Thankfully, the GMAT Focus Edition will give each test-taker full freedom to select the order of the three sections, so you can decide which section to “warm up” with and which section to leave till the end, when you might be running out of steam.

The new Data Insights section will be adaptive, unlike the current GMAT’s IR section. And interestingly, Data Insights will include Data Sufficiency (DS) questions, a longtime staple of the quantitative reasoning section. The quant section of the Focus Edition will have no DS questions – only problem-solving (PS) questions.

The consideration of the Data Insights score in the grand total is an update reminiscent of the Executive Assessment, where your IR score plays the same role. In fact, you might have noticed other Focus Edition changes, such as the elimination of geometry from the quant syllabus (hallelujah), that essentially bring the GMAT more in line with its little cousin, the Executive Assessment. Although GMAC has not released any information about the future of the EA, and test prep industry insiders have had little to say about it, it seems unlikely that GMAC will continue to offer two tests that are so similar to each other. We expect an announcement sometime this year about the retirement of the Executive Assessment.

Sentence Correction (SC) Changes on The GMAT Focus Edition

Another significant change is the elimination of Sentence Correction (SC) from the verbal section. Since the current GMAT verbal section has 13-14 SC questions, the shrinking of the verbal section from 36 questions to 23 questions results entirely from the elimination of SC. The Focus Edition verbal section will probably have 9-10 Critical Reasoning (CR) questions and 13-14 Reading Comprehension (RC) questions, just as the current GMAT verbal section does.

The elimination of SC is likely to be a welcome change for many test-takers. But some test-takers rely on SC to help their verbal scores and will be disappointed about its elimination from the test. Even so, without SC, the GMAT verbal syllabus shrinks significantly. Geometry and SC were not necessarily the most difficult portions of the GMAT, but they did require mastery of many rules and principles. Most test-takers should be happy about these changes.

Be on the lookout for more GMAT Focus Edition articles from Apex in the coming months as the official prep materials are rolled out. Schedule a complimentary 30-minute call with our expert tutors to start preparing for the GMAT Focus Edition.

Contributor: Elijah Mize (Apex Instructor)