Gmat Focus

Gmat focus edition

The GMAT underwent a transformation on 31st of January 2024 and became what is called ‘GMAT focus’. The purpose was to offer a better testing experience to MBA candidates applying to business school, and offer business schools a better tool for assessing business school readiness.

The main premise behind the change is the creation of a leaner testing experience that delivers a more convenient testing environment and options to MBA business school candidates and richer more relevant data to admissions committees.

GMAT focus is not a condensed version of the classical GMAT, but a refined version that does more with less.

In the following guide I will explain in detail the GMAT focus exam, how it is better than the classic GMAT, and how this new version fortified the GMAT as the preferred test for business school admission.

A clarification to avoid confusion

The classic GMAT is NO LONGER offered. It is discontinued as of 31st January 2024.

Now using the word ‘GMAT’ generally refers to the GMAT focus edition. If you hear someone saying ‘GMAT’, they refer to what is currently called GMAT focus. As you read this guide, note that the classic GMAT / old GMAT is discontinued.

So as you are reading this guide, don’t worry whether you have to decide between the GMAT focus or class GMAT.

If you are reading this and planning to take the GMAT, you will be taking the GMAT focus edition.

note: a variation of the classic GMAT called the executive assessment (shorter form EA), is still offered, and is more designed toward candidates apply to an executive MBA instead of a standard MBA. In this guide, I will not be discussing the EA.

The short version of the changes that happened

Sections removed: analytical writing assessment.

Question removed: sentence correction.

Topics removed: geometry

New/Transformed section: Data insights, which is a combination of what was called integrated reasoning (IR) and data sufficiency question type.

Sections that changed:

Quantitative reasoning is now only problem solving questions.

Verbal reasoning is now only critical reasoning and reading comprehension.

Scoring: All three section are now 45 minutes each, count the same towards the final score, which ranges on 205-805

Test structure

There are 3 sections in the GMAT focus edition.

GMAT FOCUS : 64 Questions | Score range: 205 – 805 | Total time: 2 hours 15 minutes
QuantVerbalData Insights
21 questions | 45 minutes23 questions | 45 minutes20 questions | 45 minutes
•Problem solving•Critical reasoning
•Reading Comprehension
•Multi-Source Reasoning
•Table Analysis
•Graphics Interpretation
•Two-part analysis
•Data Sufficiency
Total Score = Quantitative Reasoning + Data Insights + Verbal Reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning

According to the GMAC™, the quantitative reasoning section of the exam tests:

How well you reason quantitatively, solve math problems, and interpret graphic data. All the math needed to answer the questions is generally taught in secondary school (or high school) math classes.

The concepts you need to know are relatively speaking few, and in fact quite simple. This chart shows the main concepts tested

That the list is relatively short and the concept simple can be misleading however. Do not confuse simple with easy. In fact, difficult GMAT problems are quite elegant. Even though a concept may be simple, its application requires comfort in application and complete mastery of the underlying principle. On average you have ~2 minutes per question, and any weakness in the underlying concept or skill required to solve the problem compiles.

Consider the following question. Be ready before pressing the timer. You have 3 minutes to solve the question.

Verbal Reasoning

What this section measures

According to the GMAC™,

The verbal reasoning sections measures your skill in reasoning, understanding what you read, and evaluating arguments.

There are two types of question in the verbal reasoning section

TypeCritical reasoningReading Comprehension
FormatPassage of about 100 words or less and one question. Passage of about 200 to 350 words and several questions
RequirementLogically analyze, evaluate, or reason.Understand, analyze, apply, and evaluate the passage’s information and concepts

Data insights

What this section measures

According to the GMAC™, the Data Insights section measures:

your skill at analyzing data shown in formats often used in real business situations.

Rules / Guidelines for taking the test

In what order can you take the sections on GMAT focus?

You can take the three sections in any order you want. The optional 10-minute break can be taken after the first or second section.

Do all sections have an equal weight?


Is the GMAT focus adaptive?


Can you change answers on the GMAT focus or go back and change answers?

You can change a maximum of three answers per 45-minute question.

GMAT focus vs. classic GMAT : which is harder?

The answer depends on your preferences in regards to the different test structure and question types. But, this question really is no longer relevant. Also keep in mind that the pool of candidates is much larger. If we can assume that there is an objective measure of ‘difficulty’ and that the gmat focus is indeed more difficult, it will be so for everyone else.

Which one do business schools prefer?

This question is perhaps relevant only for those who have already taken the classic GMAT and are considering a retake. Even though the scoring table is different, what matters is the percentile. The average classic GMAT score at top-20 business schools ranges between 680 to 730. Now this range will change at some point to reflect the new gmat sore ranges. What will probably not change however is how well you need to perform in comparison to others. In other words, what will matter is your percentile.

GMAT focus score charts and Percentiles

The average gmat focus score is ~546

What score do I need on the GMAT focus for scholarships?

What matters is the percentile. Consider this example:
A business school you’re interested in or a scholarship you’re applying for required a 720 on the old GMAT. A 720 on the old GMAT was around the 94th percentile. In the new gmat focus, a 94th percentile score is around 675. So that should be the score you aim for.

How you can prepare for the GMAT focus

Most of the skills required to do well on the old/classic GMAT are still required. On the new GMAT focus, you need to demonstrate your ability to interpret charts and tables. A GMAT prep course you take must factor that in.