The GMAT exam is changing from late 2023: Everything we know so far

gmat exam
The GMAT Focus Edition will update the GMAT exam structure — and here's what you need to know. Source: Brandon Bell/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

The Graduate Management Admission Test, commonly known as the GMAT exam, is about to get a makeover.

Its new “GMAT Focus Edition” is launching in late 2023. This will be a more streamlined and practical option for both business schools and applicants, says the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which administers the test.

Some changes applicants can expect include a shorter test duration and a major revamp to the GMAT exam structure, such as removing the analytical writing section. 

These changes come amidst declining GMAT test-taking participation and a growing post-pandemic trend of business schools that either accept the Graduate Record Examinations General Test in lieu of the GMAT or go completely test-optional with their admissions decisions, according to US World News and Report.

“We try to continue to evolve the test, even when we are not doing a big launch of a product, for example,” Nalisha Patel, Regional Director for Europe at Graduate Management Admission Council, tells Study International.

“Now, what we wanted to do at this point is take stock of where the digital ecosystem is. Hence, the addition of the data analysis pieces — which we think is essential to all roles in the current workforce.”

The GMAT exam is still a vital component of the admission process at many business and management schools.

If you’re taking this test in 2023, here’s everything you should know about the GMAT Focus Edition:

GMAT Focus Edition: All you need to know about the new GMAT exam structure

1. The exams will be shorter

The GMAT Focus Edition will feature three 45-minute sections: 

  • Quantitative Reasoning: Examines problem-solving skills 
  • Verbal Reasoning: Evaluates critical reasoning and reading comprehension (it will no longer incorporate sentence correction)
  • Data Insights: This newly developed section measures a candidate’s data literacy skills, ability to analyse and interpret data, and how they apply these skills to real-world business scenarios. 

“We really consulted with schools [and] corporate recruiters,” says Patel. 

“We get feedback from a lot of different lenses about what was required in managing management and leadership roles, and therefore what was needed for [applicants] to be ready for business schools.”

2. You will have more flexibility in taking this exam

Text takers can bookmark as many questions as they want, review questions within the remaining section time, and change up to three answers per section — features not available in the current GMAT exam structure.

“It helps that users have a less stressful, more seamless experience while also being able to deliver and demonstrate their readiness and capabilities,” says Patel.

gmat exam

The GMAT Focus Edition will feature a different scoring scale to set itself apart from the previous exam structure. Source: Christophe Archambault/AFP

3. The GMAT scoring system will change

The scoring scale will be altered slightly for the GMAT Focus Edition, ranging from 205 to 805. Currently, the GMAT exam score ranges from 200 to 800.

This change ensures that test takers and schools can distinguish which test a score is from.

With the GMAT Focus Edition’s new score scale, test takers and schools are encouraged to compare percentiles rather than scores, explains Manish Dharia, director of product development at GMAC, in a press release.

“Because the Total Score scale and the score scale distribution have both changed, comparing total scores or section scores from the current version of the exam to the GMAT Focus Edition is not appropriate, accurate, or a meaningful comparison of performance,” says Dharia.

“Scores of 600 and 605 may look similar, but they represent very different performance levels on different skills.”

4. An enhanced Official Score Report will offer detailed performance insights

Upon completing the exam, the GMAT Focus Edition will provide test takers with an enhanced Official Score Report. 

This is particularly useful for students who need to retake the test so they know which areas to improve, Ashish Bhardwaj, senior vice president and head of market development at GMAC, told US World News and Report.

gmat exam

GMAT exams have been a vital component of the admission process to many business and management schools. Source: Glyn Kirk/AFP

5. You can still access your scores before sending them to schools — with one major change

Those taking the GMAT Focus Edition can still send their scores to five business schools at no charge, but the new format will allow test-takers to access their scores first and have up to 48 hours to decide which school they’ll send their scores to.

If you are not happy with your score, you can wait 30 days to take the test again rather than going through the current process of cancelling a test before it gets sent to schools.

With every attempt, you can send your scores to five schools for free within 48 hours of receiving scores, Bhardwaj explains.

Here’s the catch: you can only choose your best total score to send.

6. GMAC will facilitate this transition process

Registration for the GMAT Focus Edition will open Aug. 29, with the test set to debut toward the end of this year. 

The current version of the GMAT exam will continue to be available to candidates until early next year to facilitate their in-progress preparation and applications for business school. 

GMAT Focus Edition fees will remain the same as the current GMAT exam.

What’s more, all GMAT exam scores — whether they are of the current GMAT or GMAT Focus Edition — will continue to be valid for five years.  

gmat exam

“We are trying to build a community network as well,” says Nalisha Patel, Regional Director for Europe at Graduate Management Admission Council. Source: Philippe Lopez/AFP

How can international students prepare for these changes?

Official GMAT Focus prep materials will be available on on June 6, 2023, with a free study planner of only six weeks to help test takers stick to a schedule, inform prep activities, and track progress. 

There is also a free GMAT Focus Official Starter Kit that comes with a sampler of 70 real GMAT questions and two full-length practice exams. 

GMAC is trying to build a community for students to meet others who are planning to take the new exam format.

“A lot of our candidates might still be finishing up their undergraduate studies. Getting ready for business school, even if you haven’t been in education for the last few years, helps you transition to do that as well,” says Patel.