There has been quite a bit of buzz around the GMAT test changes linked to the Next Generation GMAT as the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) calls it. Many Indian applicants have been getting just a little jittery about it. GRE is also trying to capture a bigger chunk of the management test market (direct competition for GMAT). And the informal discussions on the numerous discussion forums aren’t helping as they trigger speculation and anxiety.
GMAC has been addressing many aspects about the changes on the official blog. But the content out there is from a global perspective. As Indian candidates make up a sizeable chunk of GMAT takers, the MBA Crystal Ball team thought it would be well worth the effort if we could reach out to credible sources to get the real story.
So we contacted GMAC with our list of questions to see if we could get some answers. The original email went out in early December 2010 and we got an enthusiastic ‘yes, we are interested’ response. After a few more follow-ups in January and February 2011, we got tired of waiting and decided to publish the query list without the answers in the hope that someone somewhere out there might help us get some answers.
The questions ranged from the very basic (for the sake of completeness) to some curveballs (from an Indian perspective). Here’s the complete list of questions.
Context: We know that the main test remains unchanged, the AWA format gets changed and test takers will get an additional component called the Integrated Reasoning to tackle. For most Indians, the earlier format was pretty nerve-wracking to begin with. Candidates based in India have never taken exams and tests (in school, college, universities or job recruitment) that have gone beyond 3 hours. Now there’s more work for them to do in those 4 hours.
Q. Why rock the boat when everything was going just fine for all these years?
Q. Is the test gradually becoming a test of endurance rather than a test of analytical and reasoning skills?
Q. Could the same faculties (quantitative/analytical/comprehension abilities) be tested in a shorter amount of time?
Context: A common perception is that the GMAT format and content puts international candidates and non-native English speakers at a disadvantage. Interestingly, Indian candidates tend to have high overall scores, but if you look at the quant versus verbal split, in most cases you’ll find them skewed. The verbal scores often tend to be on the lower side. Business language across the world has evolved, as more and more non-native speakers join the global party.
Q. Is it time that the traditional views on what’s right and what’s wrong in the area of business communication need to be reviewed from a fresh perspective?
Q. While working on the changes to the test format, did the team consider options to address this bias?
Context: The biggest MBA admissions test in India (CAT) underwent some changes recently. From a paper-based test, it graduated to an online avatar. And the first year had its share of teething problems. A lot of students went through considerable stress and the news got a wide coverage. Considering that this memory is still fresh in the minds of Indian MBA applicants, somewhere down in their psyche there might be the lurking fear that something similar might happen with the new GMAT as well (though the test changes are expected to be incremental as opposed to being dramatic).
Q. From an implementation, system and process perspective, what preparatory activities have been carried out to ensure that the changes don’t cause any disruption?
Context: As the score is valid for 5 years, for several years after the new GMAT is launched, there will be a weird scenario where 1 candidate has an old format score and the new candidates have a different format.
Q. How would this be perceived by business schools?
Q. Beyond the total score (which remains unchanged) how will they ensure that it’s an apple-to-apple comparison?
Q. Will candidates with the old scores be at a disadvantage vis-à-vis those with recent scores?
Context: In India, apart from the CAT (the main MBA entrance test), we also have 40+ other MBA entrance tests that are institute-specific. For students hoping to apply to multiple schools, that’s a logistical nightmare. Schools accepting the GMAT make that part easy for applicants. But all international schools do not look for the same elements in their incoming class. But with the GMAT dominating the MBA standardised test market globally, business schools don’t have any option but to go with what’s currently available as the cost and effort involved in designing and managing their own tests can be substantial.
Q. For schools based in various regions (US, Europe, Asia), rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, would a GMAT format with a more regional flavour be more appropriate?
Q. For Indian applicants earning in Indian Rupees, the cost of taking the GMAT can be pretty steep. With the new changes being introduced, will the test taking fee also be hiked up?