Concerns are growing that the new GMAT text, which GMAC will introduce in June 2012, will require test-takers to study for an extra 30 or 40 hours if they want to get a high score. While the existing GMAT starts with two essay questions, the new test will replace one of the essays with an integrative reasoning test.

Andrew Mitchell, director of pre-business programmes at Kaplan Test Prep, warns prospective students that if they wait until July 2012 to take the GMAT, they could need to prepare for longer to get a high score.

In addition to the two essay questions, today’s GMAT includes a quantitative section and a verbal section. The first requires students to answer two formats of questions, the latter a further three formats. The new verbal reasoning section has four more types of questions, says Mr Mitchell. At the moment test-takers study for around 100 hours, according to research carried out by GMAC. But Mr Mitchell believes that this could potentially rise to 130 or 140 hours with the new test.

Though Kaplan makes its money from would-be MBAs and therefore has a vested interest in promoting test preparation, Mr Mitchell says there are real concerns that many busy applicants will not do the test until the last minute, submitting their applications towards the end of 2012 for 2013 entry. “People applying next fall may not be aware of the issues.”

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) which is increasingly being accepted by business schools as an entry test to the MBA, changed its examination and scoring system in August this year. So far anyone who has sat the exam since then has not yet received their scores, says Mr Mitchell. He does not forsee the same delays with the GMAT. GMAC, which administers the GMAT is already collecting research data to enable it to standardise scores for the new verbal reasoning section before the August launch.

According to a recent Kaplan poll of more than 250 business schools, more than 50 per cent of them accept the GRE as well as GMAT. However, the number of applicants submitting the GRE at most schools is very small, according to Mr Mitchell. “The GMAT sends a strong signal that you are interested in business.”

Mr Mitchell says most business schools are in favour of the new GMAT, as many were involved in developing the new section, which requires test-takers to reach judgements based on input from several sources - similar to real life business decisions. But few business schools have actually seen the new test questions, he says.

According to GMAC there is no optimum study period for test-takers - it all depends on the individual.

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