What Is the GMAT Focus Edition?

The GMAT Focus Edition is now the only version of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) after a previous version was sunsetted as of Feb. 1, 2024.
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Published on February 12, 2024
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  • The GMAT Focus Edition debuted last year and features a shorter testing time and more flexibility for students than the traditional GMAT.
  • The previous GMAT was sunsetted at the end of January 2024.
  • While the previous GMAT can no longer be taken, scores from that phased-out version will remain valid for five years after a test taker's appointment date.
  • The GMAT Focus Edition includes three 45-minute sections: quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and data insights.

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) Focus Edition is now the only version of the widely accepted graduate business school assessment after the traditional GMAT was sunsetted in early 2024.

The GMAT has long been used for admission by many graduate management programs, including master of business administration (MBA) programs. More than 7,700 programs across more than 2,400 institutions use the GMAT as part of their admissions, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

As businesses and business schools alike shifted in recent years, the GMAC decided to revamp the popular admissions assessment. The GMAT Focus Edition debuted last year with the aim of testing relevant skills and boosting accessibility. GMAC CEO Joy Jones said in a press release that the feedback on the new format has been overwhelmingly positive so far.

I believe that we have achieved what we set out to do at the inception of the redesign more than two years ago, allowing business school aspirants to best demonstrate their capabilities in the most relevant and in-demand skillsets like critical thinking and data intelligence, Jones said.

We are confident that business schools will benefit from the uptick of demonstrated interest and commitment from a more expansive and inclusive global applicant pool.

Here’s what you need to know about the new test format.

How Is the GMAT Focus Edition Different From the Previous GMAT?

The GMAT Focus Edition was redesigned with a more efficient test taking experience and flexible new features to better support and encourage more candidates on their business school journey, according to a 2023 Graduate Management Admission Council release.

Jones said in that 2023 release that the new test focuses on key, high-demand areas like data analytics, problem-solving, and critical reasoning.

The test is also geared to be more flexible and accessible for test takers. The test is almost an hour shorter than its predecessor, featuring three 45-minute sections, and drops the analytical writing assessment featured in past versions of the test.

The three sections of the GMAT Focus Edition are quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and data insights. Quantitative reasoning is focused on problem-solving skills. Verbal reasoning is centered around reading comprehension, and data insights — a new section — focuses on interpreting and applying data.

The three sections can be completed in any order, and students can bookmark questions to return to later as they take the test.

The redesign makes the exam more focused, more accessible, and less daunting, Rodrigo Malta, managing director of MBA recruitment and admissions at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, said in the 2024 GMAC release. But more focused doesn’t mean easier or less valuable. It just means smarter.

Why Was the Previous GMAT Phased Out?

Both the GMAT Focus Edition and the GMAT were used from the end of 2023 and into early 2024 to help test takers transition to the new format.

While the old version of the GMAT is gone, students who took the exam before it was sunsetted can still use their scores for admission to colleges. Scores from the traditional GMAT will be valid for five years after a test taker's appointment date, according to the GMAC.

The GMAT isn't the only test being revamped to be shorter and more accessible. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as of last year halved the amount of time it requires to take.

Do MBA Programs Require the GMAT?

Many full-time MBA programs require students to submit GMAT or GRE scores for admission, although policies vary by school. Some MBA programs don't require the GMAT.

The University of Cincinnati is among the schools not requiring a GMAT for admission to its various graduate programs. Students are still able to submit tests for that program, but school officials said in a blog that test scores are one piece of the puzzle of admissions pictures.

We leave it to the applicant to provide as much detail and information in their application and in interviews as they can to demonstrate their ability to succeed in the topics to be studied, Jeffrey Franke, assistant dean of graduate programs at the University of Cincinnati's Carl H. Lindner College of Business, said at the time.