GMAT Loses 30 Minutes

Change comes amid increased competition from the GRE.

April 9, 2018

The business school group that runs the Graduate Management Admission Test, historically the dominant test in M.B.A. admissions, announced last week that the test time is being cut by 30 minutes, down to three hours and 30 minutes. While some sections will be shorter, there will not be any subject matter eliminated from the test.

The change comes at a time of heightened competition in M.B.A. admissions testing, with the Graduate Record Exam attracting business schools and would-be business students. The GRE has been 15 minutes shorter than the GMAT and is now 15 minutes longer.

The GMAT announcement said time savings would be achieved by dropping "unscored research questions" from the GMAT's quantitative and verbal reasoning sections. The changes will make the GRE more "candidate-friendly," the announcement said.

The Educational Testing Service, which offers the GRE, declined to comment on the change. But GRE advocates have been making the case that it is more friendly to test takers than is the GMAT. (GMAT questions do not focus on business or economics, leaving the test open to competition.)

Dennis Yim, director of academics at Kaplan Test Prep and a longtime GRE and GMAT instructor, said he saw the change as "no doubt a bid to make the exam a more attractive option for future applicants who may be tempted to take the GRE."

He said test takers are bound to notice (and appreciate) the shorter time frame.

But Yim cautioned against thinking this would make the GMAT easier than it has been in the past. "There is no change in the content. Students are unlikely to do worse or better because of this, though endurance may be less of an issue for some."

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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