About GMAT Exam
The Graduate Management Admission Test, aka the GMAT, is a multiple-choice, computer-based and computer-adaptive standardized exam that is used globally for admission to graduate management / business programs (such as MBA programs). It consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. The test is designed to evaluate candidates abilities in analytical writing, data interpretation, problem-solving, and verbal reasoning skills. The GMAT is scored on a scale from 200 to 800, with separate scores for the individual sections. Test-takers must register online, select a test date and location, and pay the required fee.
WHAT IS ON THE GMAT?
While the GMAT does test facts and rules, including grammar as well as quantitative concepts in arithmetic, algebra, statistics, and geometry, the exam is first and foremost a test of your critical thinking skills. It tests your ability to analyze and evaluate quant and verbal material, think logically, and solve problems under time-limited conditions. Knowing how to reason through and analyze information efficiently is the key to a great GMAT score.
WHAT ARE THE GMAT SECTIONS?
The GMAT contains four distinct section types, although you’ll use the same critical thinking and analysis skills throughout the test, as you will during your MBA coursework. The content on the GMAT is broken down into four scored test sections, each of which is scored separately. Two of the sections, Quant and Verbal, are also combined to generate your Total score:
- Integrated Reasoning
- Analytical Writing Assessment
GMAT test takers are able to choose the order in which they take GMAT test sections. You will choose your section order at the test center, just before you begin your test. There are three orders you will be able to choose from:
- Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal
- Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
- Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
Approximately half of test takers choose to start with the Quant section (order #3) and around one-third choose to start with the Verbal section (order #2), because the Quant and Verbal sections are generally the two most important sections for your admissions chances.
The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA or Essay) section of the GMAT is scored separately from 0 to 6 in half-point increments. The Integrated Reasoning (IR) section is scored from 1 to 8 in one-point increments. The Quantitative (Quant) and Verbal sections each have an official scaled score of 0–60, but in practice only the scores 6 to 51 are used. Your Quant and Verbal scores are also combined to generate your Total score, which is given on a 200–800 scale in 10-point increments. The Total score is the score that a majority of business schools care most about.The mean Total score is typically in the 560 to 570 range. The mean Verbal score is typically in the high 20s and the mean Quant score is typically in the high 30s or low 40s.
WHEN IS THE GMAT OFFERED?
The GMAT is administered year-round in two formats: in person at a testing center and online. Create an account on the official GMAT site to view a full list of testing centers and seat availability for both the testing center and online formats of the exam.
Most schools will accept your scores as long as you take the test by their application deadline date. It is highly recommended that you do your research, though. If a school requires your score to be officially processed by its deadline, then take the GMAT at least three weeks before your deadline.While score processing typically takes about a week, it can take up to 20 days.
During popular testing times, seats in testing centers can be limited; you’ll have a lot more flexibility taking the GMAT Online, which offers testing appointments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can take the GMAT up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period (365 days) and up to eight total times, regardless of testing format. Within one format, you must wait 16 days to retake the exam. For example, if you take the GMAT Online, you will need to wait 16 days before you take the GMAT Online again. There is no waiting period if you switch formats.
WHEN TO TAKE THE GMAT?
Because MBA and other business programs have a wide range of application deadlines, you’ll want to research your programs of interest ahead of time to ensure that your GMAT score can be reported in time for your earliest deadline. Keep two other data points in mind: Your GMAT score is good for five years and applications take quite a lot of time to complete. If possible, it’s a good idea to start studying for your exam at least a year and maybe two years before you want to apply.
Keep in mind that many MBA programs accept applications in “rounds” that can end as early as September for Round 1 at highly competitive programs and can go as late as the following April or May for Round 3 or even Round 4.
Most people spend about 2–5 months studying for the GMAT, depending on starting score and goal score. According to GMAC, GMAT test takers who score in the 90th percentile or higher typically study more than 120 hours for the exam.