GMAC has introduced a significant change (GMAT Select Section Order) to the way the GMAT exam is administered and has also introduced another relatively minor change that will help remove an irritant when you take the test.
1. Select section order of the test starting July 11, 2017
What it was – till July 10, 2017?
The GMAT test was administered to all students in a uniform order. AWA – Integrated Reasoning – Quant – Verbal. The test taker has no choice in selecting the order in which he attempted these sections. This rigidity is set to change from July 11, 2017.
What will it be – from July 11, 2017?
Starting July 11, 2017 GMAT test takers will be able to select the order in which they would like to attempt these 4 sections. Well, not entirely – you will be presented with 3 section orders and you have to choose one of them. The GMAT select section order choices available are
- The original: AWA – Integrated Reasoning – Optional 8 minute break – Quant – optional 8 minute break – Verbal section
- Verbal – optional 8 minute break – Quant – optional 8 minute break – Integrated Reasoning – AWA
- Quant – optional 8 minute break – Verbal – optional 8 minute break – Integrated Reasoning – AWA
When do you have to exercise this choice? And what if you do not?
You will be able to make this choice on the day of the test, at the test center, on the computer in which you will be taking the test before the test begins. You will have 2 minutes to make the choice. By default, option 1 – the original section order will be selected. If you do nothing, at the end of 2 minutes, the GMAT select section order feature will by default select the first option and the test will be administered in the original order.
Here are some FAQ about GMAT Select Section Order that you may want to know
- Will my score card report the order in which I took the test?
NO. None of your reports – unofficial, official or enhanced score report (ESR) will have any mention about the order in which you took the test. The schools to which you report your GMAT score WILL NOT know the order in which you took the test.
- Will there be a difference in the way I will be scored based on the order in which the test is taken?
GMAC did a pilot testing of this change in 2016 Feb – Mar and determined that the integrity of the test was not affected by the order in which a student took the test. So, there is unlikely to be any change to the way you will be scored – your score will only reflect how many questions you answered right and whether you attempted all questions.
- Will the practice tests available on the official mba.com site include this functionality?
The present version available for download on the official mba.com site does not have this functionality. However, GMAC has mentioned that the updated version of the software will be available not later than July 31, 2017. The section order selection functionality will available for both the free and the paid test packs.
The key question: Which section order should you choose?
One thing is very clear to me – I will certainly not choose the default option.
If your AWA score is above hygiene levels – 5 or above, it will not impact the admission decision of B schools. Over 40% of the GMAT test takers get 5 or more. So, it is not all that difficult either. As long as it is not below 5, it does not matter what you score in the AWA. So, it does not make sense to expend your precious time and energy upfront on this section.
Many schools view your IR score on the same lines. As long as your score in the IR section is 6 or more it will not make much of a difference to a vast majority of the schools. So, why focus on these two upfront.
That leaves us with option 2 and 3.
I will recommend that you experiment with both options in the first 2 to 4 practice tests that you will be taking. Find a sweet spot that works best for you and hone it to perfection in the last 2 to 4 tests.
Personally, I will start the test with the verbal section. I have always felt that I was exhausted by the time reached the verbal section in the default format. For starters, I can no longer use that excuse.
2. Update profile on mba.com website
A second change introduced – a relatively minor one – but one that will mitigate an irritant on the day of the test. You can update your undergraduate score, preference for course and region etc – essentially your profile before or after the test on mba.com website.
Earlier you had to do this on the day of the test when you took the test. It was as if the test was not long enough, one also had to endure the ordeal of completing one’s profile when you took the test. GMAC has removed this irritant by allowing test takers to update profile at a time of their convenience on the mba.com website.
Best wishes for your GMAT prep.