The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) announced the inauguration of Select Section Order, a new feature that will allow candidates to customize their GMAT experience by selecting the order in which they feel most comfortable taking the exam. Select Section Order will be offered to test takers worldwide beginning July 11, 2017.
According to Ashok Sarathy, VP Product Management at GMAC, “The idea of being allowed to choose the section order has been commonly requested by test takers. We conducted a pilot in 2016 to test this feature and received overwhelmingly positive feedback, with 85% of participants surveyed expressing that this new feature boosted their confidence prior to even taking the exam. Our pilot findings also concluded that taking the exam in different section orders continues to maintain the quality and integrity of the GMAT scores.”
Test takers will choose their desired section order at the test center on exam day, immediately before the start of the exam. The options for section order are:
• Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal (original order)
• Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
• Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
How to Choose Your Order
We spoke to Rich Carriero from Next Step Test Prep and asked him what we thought was the next obvious question: How should test-takers make this decision? Here’s what he shared with us:
“First – and this will be the more common – you have students who only really need to achieve the highest score possible on their quant/verbal scaled score. Typically students in this position will still need to keep their IR and AWA scores respectable but they are afterthoughts compared with the 200-800 score. For this type of student, the logical approach is to take the test in decreasing order of strength and preference.
“If you are strongest on quantitative, do that first while you have the most energy and attention. Squeeze as many points out of your strongest section as you possibly can to compensate for your weaker section. The only risk to this approach is a student having too much nervous energy – like a baseball pitcher who is too pumped up – and making careless mistakes. But paying attention to detail and avoiding mistakes is always the paramount concern when it comes to quant and verbal anyway.
“The other scenario is the student who has to achieve certain sub-scores across the board. If particular scores are more important to your application chances, then you should take the test in order of importance, again, approaching the preferred topics when you have the most energy and attention.
“Finally, I would caution anyone who is taking the test soon after July 11th and has been studying for some time up to this point to consider very carefully whether or not they want to take the test using an alternative section order. If you’ve been practicing the traditional section order for months and are achieving your target scores with it, I’d think long and hard about changing your approach. Certainly anyone who is contemplating the change should make a point of taking a few practice tests in their preferred order to see how it feels.”
GMAC’s Efforts to Improve the Test-Taking Experience
Since 2014 GMAC has taken various steps to improve test takers’ GMAT experience, including:
• Introducing GMAT Score Preview which allows test takers to preview their unofficial scores before deciding whether to report or cancel them
• Introducing GMAT Enhanced Score Report, which gives test takers access to an in-depth breakdown of their overall GMAT performance
• Removing cancelled scores from school reports
• Reducing the retake period from 31 days to 16
• Enabling test takers to access their official score report online using their date of birth in place of an authentication code
Sarathy further stated, “The GMAT exam shows business schools that the test taker is serious about earning a graduate business degree and demonstrates the individual’s commitment and readiness for the rigors of a graduate business program. Today 9 out of 10 new MBA enrollments at the top 50 US full-time MBA programs are made using the GMAT score.”
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