How Will the New GMAT Section Affect MBA Admissions?

by Vault Education Editors | June 25, 2010

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A new development has emerged in the GRE vs. GMAT battle. At its annual conference yesterday, GMAC announced a new section of the GMAT that will be added to the test in June 2012. It is called the integrated reasoning section and will replace one of the writing sections (AWA). Says BusinessWeek, the section will ask test-takers to review spreadsheets, charts, graphs and other data points and analyze the information therein. It will also include an auditory section to test "auditory learning styles."

Business school applicants taking the GMAT examDave Wilson, president and chief executive of GMAC and who announced the new integrated reasoning section, told BusinessWeek Bloomberg, "These questions are really microcosms of what goes on in the MBA classroom, and it will help schools identify students [who] will thrive in the classroom, not just survive."

The business school deans and admissions directors in attendance are excited by the new section, as it will give them more information about how a candidate will perform if accepted to the MBA program. "We see lots of candidates with high testing scores, GPAs, and resumes, and sometimes it is very difficult to pick the folks who are the best match for the faculty and the rigor of the program," says Alex Sevilla, assistant dean and director of the MBA program at the UF Warrington College of Business Administration. "If this can be a tool to help us make better decisions on that front, it will be an enormous victory for business schools."

There is some concern that the new integrated reasoning section will be too dramatic a change from the traditional GMAT. That said, the new section won't appear on tests for another two years, and GMAC has organized outreach to students, admissions and others to make them acquainted with the new questions. Chad Troutwine, CEO and co-founder of Veritas Prep, told BusinessWeek: "As the test evolves, we'll just change along with them." However, Troutwine also points out that "there will likely be a race to take the old version of the test before the deadline," because prospective MBAs may decide to take the old GMAT without integrated reasoning, since their scores will be good for five years. Or will it mean that more applicants choose to take the GRE?

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