When the existence of “Next Generation GMAT” was announced, the blogosphere lit up. The rationale was probably best captured in the following comment to a blog post:
“Thanks for an interesting article. I note the following paragraphs:
“The GMAT was created in 1953 by nine business schools as their personal test to evaluate and admit the best students for their programmes. Five decades of research and continuous improvement have proven the GMAT to be the most reliable indicator of academic success in graduate management education. Today, it is used by almost 5,000 programmes in 1,900 schools.
In 2008, more than 250,000 prospective business students took the GMAT exam in more than 90 countries. The reach and stature of this computer-adaptive exam reflect its ability to help quality schools find the students around the world who are the best match for their programmes and for the demands of the marketplace. The process of continually reviewing and revising the exam is a rigorous one. An international panel thoroughly studies each potential new question before it is pilot tested with candidates who represent the diversity of the GMAT test taking pool. Questions are carefully screened to ensure they are bias-free.”
Since 1979, we have run Toronto GMAT Preparation Courses. As a result we have worked with thousands of students to improve their scores. Hence, my thoughts are based on many years of experiences with students, the paper based test and GMAT CAT.
What does the GMAT actually test? Why is it used? Should it be used?
1. The GMAT is a test of reading and reasoning skills. It is NOT a test of math. It is a test of your ability to understand what you read and to then reason using that information. Hence, most GMAT preparation is misconceived.
2. Why do the schools use the test? If they don’t use the test their rankings will fall. The Harvard Business school stopped using the GMAT for a period of about 10 years – during this decade its ranking dropped. It is interesting to me that Queen’s University in Canada created their own version of the GMAT which they call the QMAT. (This presumably – just my guess – was a way to ensure that nobody with a low GMAT score entered their Executive MBA progam.
3. Why is GMAT making the changes? Just my guess but: they are under intense competitive pressure from GRE (which is a comparable test). GRE is making changes. Hence, GMAT better make them too.
4. The format of GMAT questions has changed very little from the 1970s (when we started GMAT prep) and I expect not since the 1950s. The main change was to:
– remove a decision section called “Business Judgment” and replacing it with Critical Reasoning.
– change the form of the test from a paper based test to a computer based test.
5. GMAT or GRE – the choice may now be yours. A number of MBA programs are now allowing applicants to take either the GMAT or GRE.
My suggestion would be for the MBA programs to force GMAT to justify its value and validity. The fact the GRE is making fast inroads suggests that schools are open to alternatives. My suggestion: MBA programs should also accept the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) which is a better test of reading and reasoning than either the GMAT or GRE. I would be interested in any thoughts on this.