GMAC Test Prep Summit 2011


On Thursday, September 15th, GMAC held the latest installment of its every-other-year Test Prep Summit. At the summit GMAC updates the test prep industry on the GMAT and business school. Bell Curves was happy to be in attendance, and the event was chock-full of info pertinent to anyone planning to apply to business school in the next year. Below is a blow-by-blow of the biggest news from the summit.

Next Generation GMAT

The latest iteration of the GMAT is still on schedule to be rolled out in June 2012.What you need to know:

  • Analysis of an Issue will be the essay topic dropped in favor of the new Integrated Reasoning (IR) section.
  • IR is confirmed to be the second section (after Analysis of an Argument and before the Quantitative section). Prepare to be a little more taxed before heading into the all-important Quant and Verbal portions.
  • There will be 12 prompts in the IR, and it will be allotted 30 minutes. It is not yet known how many questions will accompany these 12 prompts, but you can (obviously) bank on at least 12 question, and likely much more. It is also not yet known what the scoring rubric will be.
  • Everything else about the test – specifically Quant, Verbal, and Analysis of an Argument – will remain exactly the same (which means no calculators on the Quant section).

GMAC Products

 Official Guide to GMAT Review, 13th Edition. (OG 13) – The latest OG will be available by April 2012, and will include a code to access online practice questions for integrated reasoning. It will contain a number of new questions, none of which will overlap with questions in other GMAC products (as we’ve seen in the past).

Next Generation GMATPrep - Everyone’s most valuable practice test software for the GMAT is getting an upgrade as well. It’s going to have a host of features people have been clamoring for for years, including the ability to always access your scores (no more one and done, yes!) as well as the ability retake multiple times and retain previous scores. You’ll also have more practice content, as well as difficulty and timing info – not to mention explanations – for that practice content. The practice tests will also provide question breakdowns and timing info. The interface is also more user-friendly, and is designed to completely mimic the interface on the real test. Lastly, there will also be the opportunity to purchase an additional 250-275 practice questions. And here as well, there is to be no overlap between the practice questions you purchase and questions in other GMAC products, meaning those practice questions will be unique and unavailable anywhere else. Next Gen GMATPrep will be available from April 2012.

Best of all? It’ll be Mac compatible!! You should have heard the roaring applause when Dr. Lawrence Rudner (the gregarious and interesting impresario of the event, and GMAC’s VP of R&D) announced this. About time…

GMAT Write – GMAC officials at the summit touted their online essay service, which people can purchase online. Essays are entirely scored by a computer algorithm. GMAT Write joins GMAT Focus – Quant as additional online practice available for purchase. No word yet on when GMAT Focus – Verbal will be made available.

Interesting Tidbits

  • GMAC officials believe that initially, admissions officers will find the new IR section interesting, but won’t necessarily know how to take it. GMAC’s belief is that over time the IR will become an integral part of the GMAT’s role in assessing candidates. One pundit in our office thinks this is just the first step to GMAC going all in on IR and making the entire test integrated reasoning format. You heard it here first!
  • GMAC officials also believe the GMAT is still the pre-eminent test to assess business school candidates, and will continue to be so for years to come. There was no shortage of skepticism about ETS’ rush to get the test out there, such that a 3-month testing window was needed to calibrate scores before releasing them (which is why anyone that takes the test in August or September isn’t going to get scores until November).
  • This author finally heard confirmation from GMAC officials that essentially the primary use for the GMAT Essays is to have a standard writing sample on file for candidates should questions arise over the authenticity of the essays submitted with an application. Those of you sweating bullets about the essay, rest easy: just write to the best of your abilities (and write your own B-school essays). You’re not getting in or not getting in because of your GMAT essays.
  • GMAC also switched from ETS to ACT as a provider for GMAT content a while back. We heard that one area particularly impacted by the change is in Sentence Correction. As newer SC questions from ACT come out and replace older ones from ETS, the focus of SC is going to change. It’s going to be less about grammar and more about reasoning. There will even exist the possibility of more than one grammatically correct answer choice, which will require test-takers to reason through what the best answer should be.

 

That’s the latest straight from GMAC via Test Prep Summit 2011. We’ll be keeping an eye out as the new products are introduced and as Next Generation GMAT launch date draws near. Visit us at gmat.bellcurves.com for all your GMAT needs, or follow us on Facebook to get timely updates and insights on all things test prep.

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