Acing the GMAT Focus Edition: Everything You Need to Know


The Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT is a globally recognized test that students need to take to get admitted into a top B school. Many business schools require the score of the GMAT as a part of their admissions process. It is a time-bound computer adaptive test conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council or GMAC.
With the introduction of the GMAT Focus Edition, there are certain changes in the GMAT Exam.

Format that one should know before appearing for the test

  1. Time: The GMAT Focus Edition is shorter with a total time of 2 hours 15 minutes and an optional break of 10 minutes.
  2. Sections: In place of 4 sections, there are 3 sections in the GMAT Focus Edition Test. They are Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Data Insights. The test taker has the authority to select the section preference. 
  3. Evaluation: Unlike the previous pattern, there is one unified score which ranges from 205-805 and the scoring is based on the levels of difficulty of each question and not merely on how many questions are correct on the GMAT exam.
  4. Section contribution: All three sections of the GMAT exam will now contribute equally to the final score.
  5. Adaptivity: The GMAT Focus Edition test is adaptive by question. I.e. Within a section, the difficulty level of the subsequent question is affected by the previous response. 
  6. Flexibility: The GMAT Focus Edition tests allow bookmarking, reviewing, and alteration of answers for three questions.
Feature GMAT Focus
Duration of the exam 2 hours 15 minutes
Number of sections 3
Question type All multiple – choice questions
Sections covered Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Data Insights
Evaluation Simple unified score
Score range 205-805
Flexibility Save and review as many questions and can modify up to 3 answers per section
Score submission Can select up to 5 schools after receiving scores

The GMAT Exam Pattern of GMAT Focus Edition consists of three sections namely Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Data Insights that contribute equally to the final score of 205-805. The total time of the test is 2 hours 15 minutes.

GMAT Exam Format: Verbal Reasoning
Duration available: 45 minutes
Number of Questions: 23

As the name suggests, this section will measure the ability of a test taker to read and comprehend literary pieces and critically evaluate them with logical reasoning. Reading Comprehension questions will test the vocabulary, the ability to draw logical connections among concepts, infer conclusions based on data given, and state the relevance of certain pieces of information given in the text whereas critical Reasoning questions will assess the ability to understand arguments, it’s part and logically validate its strength or weakness. All questions in the Verbal Reasoning Section are multiple choice with 5 answers and the score ranges from 60 to 90 in 1-point increments. The Verbal score contributes to the overall score of 205 to 805 overall. The Verbal Section comprises questions of two types: Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning and it has 23 questions which are to be solved within 45 minutes/ The Verbal section can include 13 or 14 Reading Comprehension questions and 9 or 10 Critical Reasoning questions. To get a good score in the verbal section, one must start with strategic planning and focus on initial questions more because the questions towards the end will get harder as the test is adaptive. Getting a good score doesn’t only depend on getting many questions correct but also on accuracy and the difficulty level cracked.

GMAT Exam Format: Quantitative Reasoning
Duration available: 45 minutes
Number of Questions: 21

This section aims to gauge your algebra skills and basic knowledge of arithmetic. How you reinforce the algebra and arithmetic knowledge to tackle problems will be tested. Students must have basic to medium knowledge of the topics of algebra and arithmetic. Bringing accuracy to solve these problems would only be possible if and only if you have good logical reasoning and an excellent understanding of numbers.

Types and topics of the question you should be good at:

  1. Word-Questions: Distance or speed or rate, mixtures, Overlapping Set of information, time-work.
  2. Arithmetic and Algebra Questions: Functions giving absolute value or Modulus function, customized functions, ratio, fraction, decimal numbers, solving inequalities, minimum or maximum values, must be or could be true phrase questions, powers or exponents, percentages, simple or compound interest, root values, roots of an equation, patterns, and sequences.
  3. Number theory Questions: Factors of a number, multiples of a number, remainder.
  4. Statistics & Probability: Probability, permutations and combinations, and definition of set.

Quick measures to boost your scores:

  • All of the questions would have a question stem and one answer has to be picked out of the listed 5 answers. A good idea is to maintain scratch paperwork and keep writing keywords as you read a problem. 
  • Read in pieces and then comprehend how fast you can get closer to what has been asked in the final question. Always take clues from the answer choices if the question alone doesn’t give you an idea.
  • Always assess fast by just reading the final question if at all you miss what has to be reported as an answer.
  • Re-reading the question back and forth will consume a lot of time.

GMAT Exam Format: Data Insights
Duration available: 45 minutes
Number of Questions: 20

GMAT Exam Format for Data Insights will consist of:

Data Sufficiency Problems

This section tests your skills either only of quant reasoning or only of verbal reasoning or a mix of both.

A. Data Sufficiency Problems: This section tests your skills either only of quant reasoning or only of verbal reasoning or a mix of both.

B. There used to be an Integrated Reasoning (IR) section on the old GMAT which appears in the Data Insights section now along with Data sufficiency (DS) questions. IR as well as DS both are tricky types of questions.

Let’s see how differently you’re tested with Integrated Reasoning on the GMAT Focus:

  1. Interpretation of Graph Format: How good you are at analyzing data will get you a good score. Your skills in comprehending various types of graphs viz-a-viz scatter plots, graphs having x and y axes, bar charts, pie charts, and curves related to statistics.
  2. Multi-Source Reasoning MSR Format: Like those of RC-reading comprehension questions, this type tests your logical and data-analytical skills through passages, tables, graphs, or a combination of these present in different tabs which you can switch to any in between. Questions will ask you to find logical errors or bring out inferences or may test you on the relevance of the data available to answer particular statements. 
  3. Analysis of Table Format: It gauges your understanding of the SORT tool available, whether to finish calculations or not, or if decide to finish then whether to use a calculator or not. You will be asked to infer with a Yes or a No at times from the data available in the table.
  4. Analysis in Two-Part Format: Logical, quantitative, and analytical skills, all are tested in this format where the same set of answers appear for two different column headings (2 parts) and you have to pick the correct positioning of your answers for each column. This may give analysis only based on quant reasoning and verbal reasoning or a mix of both. Simultaneous interpretation of equations or developing relationships between the parameters etc may turn up.

Order Preferences on the GMAT Focus Edition

A test taker has the authority to choose the order of sections before the test. The GMAT Exam Pattern will offer the following 6 orders of section selection. A test taker, depending upon her/his area of strength can choose any of the following:

Order 1 Order 2 Order 3 Order 4 Order 5 Order 6
Verbal Quantitative Quantitative Verbal Data Insights Data Insights
optional 10 minutes Break (One only either after 2 sections or 1 section)
Quantitative Verbal Data Insights Data Insights Verbal Quantitative
optional 10 minutes Break (One only either after 2 sections or 1 section)
Data Insights Data Insights Verbal Quantitative Quantitative Verbal
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What is the major change in the GMAT Focus Edition Test or the new GMAT Exam Format?

The GMAT Focus Edition Test or the new GMAT Exam Format is shorter than the previous GMAT Test. It no longer has the AWA Section. Sentence Correction questions are no longer a part of the Verbal Section and Integrated Reasoning has an addition of a few more topics and is now known as Data Insights. The GMAT Focus Edition or the new GMAT Exam Format also allows bookmarking and changing of answers to up to three questions.

What is the total duration of the GMAT Focus Edition Test as per the new GMAT Exam Format?

2 hours 15 minutes.

How many sections are there in the GMAT Focus Edition Test?

The GMAT Focus Edition Test contains three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative, and Reasoning, and Data Insights.

How is the GMAT Focus Edition scored?

All three sections viz Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Data Insights will give you points from 60-90 and your performance/percentile in each of the individual sections will contribute to a total score of 205-805.

What is new in the Data Insight Section as per the new GMAT Exam Format?

Data sufficiency questions and Integrated Reasoning (Interpretation of Graphs, Multi-Source Reasoning, Analysis of Table, and Analysis in two parts) questions will now come in one of the sections called the Data Insights section.

Are there any changes to the Verbal Reasoning Section as per the new GMAT Exam Format?

Yes, sentence correction is no longer a part of the Verbal Reasoning Section. So that leaves the verbal section with two question types: Critical Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning.

Is there a change in the Quantitative Reasoning Section as per the new GMAT Exam Format?

Yes, geometry will not be tested anymore and chunks of coordinate geometry in the form of equations may turn up as a part of algebra specifically. Also, the data sufficiency questions that earlier used to appear in Quants will now no longer be a part of the Quantitative Reasoning section as it will only have problem-solving questions.

Should I panic or get worried about getting low scores on the new GMAT Exam Format as I got a really good score on the older version of GMAT?

Since Integrated Reasoning is contributing towards your final score, the average score has dropped. Students should not worry but rather prepare vigorously as there are charts dispatched by GMAC stating somebody getting a 700 score earlier will mean a 655 or 645 score on the GMAT focus edition. Score comparisons between the Old GMAT and the GMAT Focus can be viewed here. Time management and more of the analytical skills being assessed currently are the key focus areas a student should focus upon.

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