Delivery Beginning in 2006 You may have heard that beginning in January 2006, ACT will develop the GMAT and Pearson VUE will administer the exam (currently it’s developed by ETS and administered by Thomson Prometric). Although no changes to the exam’s format are currently planned, you should be aware of the upcoming changes.
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) decided to change providers in large part to improve test security and to increase the number of test centers outside the U.S. Pearson VUE will implement new security measures, such as the use of digital fingerprinting. Though the test centers administering the GMAT will change, the number of test centers in the U.S. will remain about the same. The number of centers outside the U.S. will increase. Currently, some overseas test centers deliver paper exams, and starting in 2006, all centers will deliver exams on computer.
The change in test centers will have little impact on students taking the GMAT in the U.S. Provided there are no problems with the international expansion, access to testing for students taking the GMAT outside the U.S. should improve.
After the switch, test takers will still be able to register online at mba.com. Registration by phone and mail will continue to be available, although the phone numbers and addresses will change. Walk-in registration at test centers will no longer be accepted. Registration for 2006 exams will open on October 1, 2005.
Though we urge students to register well in advance of when they plan to take the GMAT, some students wait to register until the last minute. Right now, they are sometimes able to get appointments by calling or stopping by individual test centers. Students won’t be able to do this after the end of 2005 when Thomson Prometric centers will be winding down GMAT delivery, and Pearson VUE centers will be gearing up. GMAC is confident the transition will go smoothly, but unexpected difficulties can crop up. We urge everyone planning to test in December 2005 or January 2006 to make their test reservations as far ahead of time as possible.
The Testing Experience
Pearson VUE centers have a standardized design, so the testing experience will be largely the same for everyone. At Thomson Prometric centers, proctors sit outside the testing room and observe examinees via video camera. They occasionally patrol the testing room, a practice many examinees find disconcerting. At Pearson VUE centers, the proctor will sit in a booth at the center of the testing room. Each testing room will have from three to fifteen workstations, and large test centers may have several testing rooms.
Test takers will no longer be given scratch paper and pencils to work out problems. Instead, each test taker will have an erasable tablet - a white board, essentially. The tablets are approximately the size of a sheet of paper. We don’t know yet what kind of markers and erasers will be provided, but will keep you informed as soon as we get more information.
Finally, there will be minor upgrades to the test interface and the font will look and feel more contemporary.
Test takers will no longer have to wait two to three weeks to get their official score reports by mail. They’ll be able to access score reports and send reports to schools through a secure online system. It’s not yet clear how soon after the exam essay grades and the complete report will be available.
GMAC will offer “Paper in a Pinch” score reports for those who don’t have access to a computer. There will be no fee associated with this score report delivery method.
GMAT scores remain valid for five years, and those who have scores from the past five years will still be able to request reports. Scores between five and ten years old can also be reported, though test takers have to make that request through GMAC’s call center.
The reports provided to schools will change in one way. Currently, if an examinee has taken the GMAT several times, GMAC reports scores from the three most recent exams. Starting in 2006, GMAC will report all scores from the past five years. Based on the information provided, we believe the online reporting system will be an improvement over the current one.
GMAC will perform trials on the new delivery system with real GMAT takers between July 15 and August 15 in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Nashville, San Francisco, and some overseas centers. These trials will be open to first-time test takers who submit information for prequalification at mba.com between April 1 and June 27. If selected, examinees will be allowed to register for the exam at the new centers.
GMAC will reimburse the $250 registration fee for those who complete the exam and answer an exit survey. Scores from these exams will be official, and test takers will be able to use them to apply to schools. Score reports will be delivered on paper.
Official Guide and GMAC Software
The 11th Edition of The Official Guide for GMAT Review will debut this summer. The 800 questions in the Guide are retired GMAT questions, most of which have not appeared in previous editions. The new guide opens with a diagnostic section, consisting of approximately 50 Math and 50 Verbal questions. You don’t get a score after completing the section, but you do find out your level of possible performance (below average, average, above average, etc.) on each question type. GMAC will also be releasing two supplemental texts - The Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review and The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review. Each guide will have about 300 questions. The questions in the supplements differ from those in the 11th Edition, though all can be found in the 10th Edition.
GMAC has made an effort to improve the explanations in all of its guides and claims they will be much clearer in the new books. Two practice exams will be available via download and CD, just as they are now, but the software will be new. It will go under the name GMATPrep, rather than the current PowerPrep name. The questions on PowerPrep software largely overlap with the 10th Edition of the Official Guide. GMAC says that the new tests will have no overlap with the questions in the new guides