Next Gen GMAT: “Locking in your 700+ before the Test Changes”?


Today I received an email from a test preparation company (no, I didn’t email myself…this time). The subject line of the email actually read “Locking in your 700+ before the test changes.” I won’t say which test prep company sent this email, but I will say that the subject line intrigued me…just not for the reasons you may think.

Let’s take a look, and along the way divulge what little information is available on the Next Generation GMAT (NGG) to help everyone reduce their stress a little bit regarding changes to the Big, Bad GMAT.

An email with a subject line like the one above would catch my interest because it is wholly disingenuous. The subject line seems to imply that the changes to the GMAT could impact one’s ability to get (or “lock in”) a 700+ on the test. Such a subject line also feeds into test-taker fears about changes to the test, fears which are almost entirely unfounded.

 

The test is barely changing.

The bottom line is this: nothing is changing about the Verbal or Quant sections. Nothing is changing about how those sections are scored, or how the total (200 – 800) score is generated. GMAC has been patently clear about this, stressing over and over that the only change happening is the replacement of 1 AWA (the Analyze an Issue Task) with the Integrated Reasoning (IR). Given this, “locking in a 700+” should be no more difficult after the test changes than before.

 

720 is the new 700 – or not

The body of the email went on to say that they’ll show you why “720 is the new 700,” which likely speaks to the fact that while b-school applications have gone down the past year or two, the quality of the candidates – including their GMAT scores – have gone up. This also a bit of fear mongering if you ask me. Anyone that gets a 700 or above on the GMAT isn’t getting into – or being denied by – a school because of that score. You’re getting in or denied based on your essays, your work experience, and your ability to distinguish your particular personality and “fit” for the school when compared to other candidates.

 

Just the facts, ma’am

Getting back to Next Generation GMAT, let us say that there is nothing to fear in the impending changes. While there isn’t a wealth of information available yet, there is enough to share to set people’s minds at ease. Instead of implications and alarmist statements, let’s take a look at some of the facts:

  • First day of NGG testing – June 5th.
  • Last day of current GMAT testing – June 2nd. This is important to note for people working with testing deadlines around the beginning or middle of June. No testing will be offered on the 3rd or 4th of June so that test centers can switch over to the new test.
  • Length of the NGG – about 3.5-4 hours, same as the current version.
  • Types of question formats in the new IR section – Graphics Interpretation, Two-Part Analysis, Table Analysis, Multi-Source Reasoning. To see sample questions for each type, click the respective links.
  • Format of the IR section – 12 questions; 30 minutes. Not Computer Adaptive.
  • Scoring – they haven’t shared that yet. Scoring rubics will be available in April 2012.
  • Official preparation material – New prep material – including revamped GMATPrep, Official Guide 13th Edition, and IR-specific practice questions – will be available in April as well.

So that’s what we know. You’ll notice that lots of information and resources aren’t even going to be available until April 2012. Now for a little conjecture:

  1. There’s no reason to rush to take the test. You only need to plan accordingly. Take the test when you’re ready to take the test. If that’s after June 5th, you’ll have materials to prep with. If it’s before, then great. Either way…
  2. Don’t sweat the IR scores (whenever they become available). GMAC isn’t even releasing scoring info until April. In our estimation, admissions officers are as uncertain about how they’ll interpret and use the IR scores as anyone else. It will likely be at least a couple years, after much data and discussion has been generated, before anyone has a real clue about the value and role of the IR scores. And this assumes that the IR will at some point actually play a significant role in admissions, unlike, you know…the AWA.
  3. Don’t sweat the IR scores pt. II. Scores are good for five years. If the IR scores were going to play a significant role, what are all those people who haven’t taken NextGen GMAT supposed to do. GMAC and b-school officials have already gone on record saying that the new GMAT won’t somehow outweigh the old GMAT. If that’s the case, really, how serious should people be taking the section?
  4. Prepare and you’ll be fine. If you end up taking NGG, prepare with the same focus and intensity you would the quant and verbal and you’ll do fine.

There’s nothing to fear or get anxious about with the Next Generation GMAT. Start early, plan accordingly, get the help you need, and conquer it in the same fashion you would the old one.

Stay tuned for more updates as things develop. We’ll be rolling out Integrated Reasoning Prep materials in late April or early May, plenty of time to get you ready for your NGG should you be going that route. Any course we offer that finishes after June 5 will dedicate time to getting you prepared for the new IR section.

 

For more information, check out this page from mba.com and this page from GMAC.

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