05 Jul 2017

Changes to the GMAT

For years, the order of the sections on the GMAT has remained the same. Even when GMAC added the Integrated Reasoning section in 2012 it just replaced a second essay slot, keeping the remaining timing and order of the sections. In early 2016 GMAC tried a pilot program where select test takers could choose the order of their test sections. According the GMAT, “statistically, the integrity of the GMAT scores was not impacted by candidates taking the exam with different section orders.” Meaning, overall the score distribution remained the same even while offering increased flexibility in section ordering.

Starting on July 11, 2017, you will have the ability to choose the order of the sections on the GMAT. For some this will be welcome news, for others this may just add to the confusion of the test. Here is the run down of what the change means for all you test takers.

First, here are the 3 options you may choose from just prior to the start of the actual exam questions. You get 2 minutes to choose which order you prefer. If no selection is made the “original order” will be chosen.

• Analytical Writing Assessment (30 mins), Integrated Reasoning (30 mins), Break (8 mins), Quantitative (75 mins), Break (8 mins), Verbal (75 mins) (original order)
• Verbal (75 mins), Break (8 mins), Quantitative (75 mins), Break (8 mins), Integrated Reasoning (30 mins), Analytical Writing Assessment (30 mins)
• Quantitative (75 mins), Break (8 mins), Verbal (75 mins), Break (8 mins), Integrated Reasoning (30 mins), Analytical Writing Assessment (30 mins)

What this means for you. The lack of statistical deviation signifies that there should be no advantage or disadvantage to taking the test in a different order. It seems like any benefit would be mainly psycological. That being said, I’m sure that for some people different orderings may make a significant impact.

Here is my opinion on the orderings. The only positive about following the traditional order with AWA and IR first is that it may provide a warm up before jumping into the quant section. The main negative is that by the end of the verbal section you may be drained and not as focused. This will be the major drawback for any section that is last. The other two choices only differ in which long section, quant or verbal, you want to tackle first. I suggest that you choose the section that requires the most effort first and get it out of the way unless you need the warmup. Generally speaking, this means starting with the quant section, but for those that struggle with verbal, doing verbal first may not be a bad choice.

Ultimately, the main determinate of how well you do on the GMAT, regardless of section order, is how well you have prepped before taking the official exam. Make sure you give yourself ample time to prepare for the test. As always we are here to help.

You can check out the official information at www.mba.com/global/frequently-asked-questions/gmat-select-section-order.asp