How should students approach the GMAT Select Section Order?

How should students approach the GMAT Select Section Order?

Starting July 11, you will have the option to select the order of the sections in which they take the GMAT. You have to choose between the following three GMAT Select Section Order options:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal (original order)
  • Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

So, which GMAT Select Section Order should you choose?

That’s the million dollar question! The GMAT Select Section Order poses an interesting challenge in front of the test takers. Which section order should you choose? Well, our guess is that the first (and the original order) will be the least popular bet this year. That’s simply because students spend an hour taking the analytical writing assessment and integrated reasoning sections, before you come to the more critical quantitative and verbal sections.

Essentially, there are three approaches to make this selection:

  1. You want to get rid of your weakness first – Many students are unnerved with their weaker sections in the exam. For such students, attacking the weakest section when they are in the freshest mind-space might work well. So, if verbal is your weaker section, you might want to take the section first and then feel comfortable during the rest of the test. The flipside: If you do not end up doing well on this section, your entire GMAT performance might be affected! So, tread carefully with this one.
  2. You want to optimise your strengths – This is perhaps the safest bet for most students. Having a go at your strongest section first and doing well on the section might set the tone for a good exam performance. This will give you a great shot at raising your GMAT score. The only problem with this approach is that you may be slightly fatigued by the time you get ready to take on your weaker section.
  3. You prefer the status quo – We all prefer the known devil to the unknown, right? Even though the analytical writing assessment and integrated reasoning might not be the core sections, the hundreds of hours spend on taking practice questions and mock tests have perhaps primed you for this section order. Especially, if your exam date is approaching fast, it might serve some students better to stick to the original order. The comfort and familiarity of a known format might keep you more comfortable on the exam day. The question you have to ask yourself – Are you losing out on the benefits the new Select Section Order brings to the more flexible test takers among your peers?

The mock test conundrum

The big problem in front of the students who are taking the GMAT soon is that there is no official mock test available with the new Select Section Order feature. The official full-length practice exams will be available only by July 31, 2017. While students can build their confidence by designing their own test to reflect the new Select Section Order feature, we strongly recommend students to take a couple of official mock tests if you want to choose option 2 or 3. If you want to stick to the original order, then there is nothing to worry.

Should you reschedule the GMAT?

If you want to choose between option 2 or 3, it will make sense to reschedule the GMAT to familiarise yourself with the new Selection Section Order feature. This will help you leverage the feature to your advantage. Also, many students might consider retaking the GMAT, if you they feel that the new changes will make a positive impact on their scores.

The impact on average GMAT scores

It is highly likely that the GMAT Select Section order will result in higher average GMAT scores for most b-schools in the Fall 2018 admission season. That means the admissions will get more competitive at leading business school. To put your best put forward, you need to choose among the three approaches we mentioned earlier and then put yourself in the right bracket. That will be the key to improved performance on the GMAT exam.

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