Business school, medical school assessment exams to become more challenging

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Students applying to graduate business schools have four more months to take the current version of the Graduate Management Admission Test before the test’s format becomes more challenging this June.

Beginning June 5, the “next generation GMAT” will include a new integrative reasoning section designed to measure test takers’ ability to analyze information from multiple sources and formats, according to a Feb. 8 press release from Kaplan Test Prep.

“It will be a more difficult test,” said Andrew Mitchell, director of pre-business programs at Kaplan. “What integrative reasoning questions ask you to do is reflective of the kind of skills you need in business school.”

The new section will replace one of the essays in the current version of the test, Mitchell said. The section will be comprised of four question types that will gauge how applicants respond to the kinds of complex challenges they will encounter in the workplace as managers, the press release states.

The addition of questions that involve skills such as table analysis and graphics interpretation come as a result of an evolving business environment which has become more “data driven” as a result of technology, according to the GMAT website.

However, should students hoping to attend business school take the test within the next four months in its current version, the scores will remain valid even after the new exam’s implementation, up to five years after the exam date.

“What it might mean for test takers is that if an individual has mastered answering (integrative reasoning) questions, then they might do better on the test,” Mitchell said. “Other test takers may have a more difficult time.”

The drafting of the new test occurs along with changes to two other giant tests for admission to graduate education programs: the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

The revised general test of the GRE was released August 2011 and has an “increased emphasis on data interpretations and real-life scenarios,” according to the test’s website.

Additionally, Kaplan announced Feb. 21 that the exam for medical school admissions will be revamped  in 2015 to challenge test takers. The test’s duration will increase from five and a half to about seven hours long and will include changes such as the addition of behavioral and social sciences.

Kevin Wong, UC Berkeley junior and president of the Asian Business Association, said the new section on the business exam, in addition to helping out admissions officers, will benefit test takers as well.

“Business schools now have an additional indicator of how an applicant’s skill level matches up to its standards, which could bring in more qualified students,” Wong said in an email.

Geena Cova covers academics and administration.