GMAC launches Select Section Order!
Test takers will soon be allowed to select the order in which they want to attempt their GMAT sections. This new feature will be available from July 11, 2017. More details here.
Just a quick summary: a little more than a year back, the GMAC had conducted a pilot program in which they allowed a number of (not all) people taking the exam again ("retakers") the opportunity to choose a different order. It was always clear that test takers were going to respond positively to this feature: a test taker who is strong at quant but weak at verbal, for example, could feel more confident attempting verbal first. What was not clear was whether this would affect the validity of the GMAT exam. After all, all the testing that the GMAC has done till now has been with the current order (AWA, IR, Quant, and then Verbal).
What we can see from this move is that the GMAC validity study looking into this has concluded that changing the order of sections will not affect the validity of the exam, so the feature is a GO. Test takers will now be able to choose one of the following three options:
AWA, IR, Quant, and then Verbal (the current format)
Verbal, Quant, IR, AWA
Quant, Verbal, IR, AWA
This choice has to be made at the test center itself, just before starting the exam.
The GMAT is clearly looking at keeping AWA and IR together as one "block". Anyone looking to split these up is out of luck, as is anyone who wants to "reorder" these two sections. Options 2 and 3, however, take care of what most students ask for.
Together with the new score preview, score cancellation, and score reporting policies, select section order seems to be a great addition to the the GMAC's new suite of features that put the test taker (while still maintaining validity!) first.
So, even though I love IR (sorry, AWA), I'll have to go with option 3. It'll be interesting to see which one test takers are interested in!
(Originally published on June 15, 2017)