Tuesday, June 29, 2010

GMAT change…and for the better

The news about the replacement of one of the essays on the GMAT with an ‘integrated reasoning section’ is splashed all over the place.

The current scenario
The GMAT has been a reasonably good indicator of one’s aptitude given that it tests quantitative, reasoning and verbal areas involving a good range of component skills- reasoning in a quantitative setting, ability to interpret and conclude from verbal data, identify, analyse and evaluate arguments to list a few. The writing section also tests, to some extent, analytical and evaluation skills. The argument essay prompts test one’s ability to analyse and evaluate arguments similar to critical reasoning questions of the verbal section.

Now one step ahead
No doubt the new change is in the forward direction. The integrated reasoning section appears to incorporate more complexities that would better reflect the modern day Bschool rigour. If reports were to be believed, the new test design would integrate data in numbers, symbols and words. This involves skills similar to those necessary to critically analyse, assemble and evaluate data collected from various sources and of various forms( audio, tabular and textual) into meaningful new inferences and conclusions that form the case studies and project assignments that constitute B school work.

Don’t these also reflect as well as test an aspirant’s ability to assimilate complex data drawn from various sources, processed and used in the world of business decision making?

Which essay topic can be dropped?
If I can be allowed to speculate, I would say the argument essay may be dropped.
I present two cases for this guess
A. Critical reasoning of the verbal section tests the same skills as those in argument essay.( in fact one can see a lot of overlaps between the two, except the skill of verbalizing one’s reasoning.
B. The proposed ‘integrated reasoning’ section can test more complex reasoning skills that the current argument essay task tests.

Visit www.semanticslearning.com to read two more analyses on the GMAT integrated reasoning.
• Does the GMAT reflect B.school curriculum
• Dummys can tumble out of your GMAT test

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