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Exciting news on the GMAT front: Beginning April 16th, the exam will be more than 20 minutes shorter! The scoring will stay exactly the same and the test will still contain all of the usual question types and content areas.
The Quant and Verbal sections will each have fewer questions. The overall section time will get shorter as well, but average timing is essentially the same. The IR and Essay sections are staying exactly the same. Everything that you’re studying still applies and you don’t have to learn anything new.
Here’s what it will look like:
They are going to accomplish this change by getting rid of a bunch of experimental questions in each section, so the scored part of the test is literally not going to change at all—what they need to figure out your score will all still be there. It will just be shorter for us test takers because we won’t have to answer as many experimental questions (that never counted towards our scores anyway). Yay!
Standardized tests are basically a mental marathon, so chopping off 10 to 13 minutes for each section is a big deal. I talk to students all the time who do just fine for the first two-thirds or three-quarters of a section but then run out of steam and crash. Now, you won’t crash—the section will be over!
This is a great change. I just announced this to my Tuesday night class (shoutout to Spring D!) and everyone was excited to hear this after asking certain “Wait…let me just make sure…” questions. The studying you have done to date was not wasted. The test isn’t going to get harder or require you to learn something you didn’t have to learn before. The average timing for each question type is the same.
Everything is the same! It’s literally just going to get shorter, and shorter is better. There’s zero drawback to this announcement.
And it’s pretty exciting that a standardized test organization is actually instituting changes to make it easier for us to take the test. That’s not typical in this industry—so props to GMAC (the organization that makes the GMAT) for doing this!
By the way, here’s the official FAQ page for this change if you want to get into all of the nitty-gritty details.
What if I’m already scheduled to take the test before April 16th?
If you’re already scheduled to get in there before this change is implemented, you have a choice to make.
If you feel ready to go and are prepared for the current version of the test, then you may want to keep your test date as is.
If, on the other hand, you’re excited about taking advantage of this change, you can reschedule your test for a later date without paying the normal change fee by calling GMAC; you have to reschedule on or before April 11th. State that you are rescheduling due to this change and they will waive the change fee.
I’m already scheduled to take the test after April 16th…but now I want more time to prepare!
Anyone scheduled to take the exam on or before May 6th can reschedule for a later date without paying the test fee. Click that link in the prior paragraph and call GMAC on or before April 11th. State that you are rescheduling due to this change and they will waive the change fee.
How can I practice this?
GMAC has announced that their official practice exams will be updated by the end of April. We’re hard at work on updating our exams right now.
So, right this instant, you can’t practice exactly what the real test will be. But the good news is that by taking the “old” version, you’re overtraining. If you can get your desired score answering 37 Quant questions and 41 Verbal questions, then you should be fine to do the same on a 31-Quant, 36-Verbal test.
And you’ll be able to practice the new format soon!
How should I manage my time in each section?
This is the one thing that will change—whatever strategy you currently use to track your time across the entire Quant and Verbal sections will need to change to adjust for the new details in these two sections. I’m still working on exactly what to do here.
I was happy already with our Yellow Pad Quant strategy (discussed here) and we can tweak that strategy just a little bit to fit the new numbers. If you’re already familiar with the existing strategy, here’s the new way to set up your paper. You’ll do 3 problems on the first page and 4 on every page after that—plus you get an extra page of scratch paper at the end—like so:
If you’re not already familiar with the above, just wait a few days to give me time to update the full article and then you can take a look at that.
On the Verbal side, I haven’t been super-thrilled with our current way of tracking time, so I’m going to take more time there to brainstorm some new ideas. If you are already using the current Yellow Pad method, though, and it’s working for you, here’s your tweaked version of that for the updated test:
That tweak actually does make the Yellow Pad method easier for Verbal—so I might end up sticking with this. I just want to take some time to think about it first and practice some other possible ways.
One More Thing: This Change is a Good Change!
When you’re preparing to take a test like the GMAT, any change can feel stressful, even when it’s a good change. (And this one is definitely a good change!) So if your immediate reaction was, “Oh, no, the test is changing?? WHYYYY are they doing this to meeeee?” then take a deep breath (or two or three).
First, you may want to use this as a sign to look into some ways to better manage your stress levels. (That’s useful for life, not just the GMAT!) And then tell yourself, “This is a good change. In fact, it’s going to make the test easier to take, so this is a great change! I’m lucky I’m taking the GMAT now!” And then get back to your studies. ☺
Questions, comments, or concerns? Let us know what you’re thinking, right here in the comments of this post or on our forums.
Good luck and happy studying! 📝
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Stacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California. Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.