What is the GMAT?

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)
(pronounced G-MAT)
–a standardized, computer adaptive test (CAT) that measures aptitude to succeed academically a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree. Business schools use this test  as a standardized way of assessing individuals globally who come from different backgrounds and have attended schools with different grading systems. The test is administered in English and costs $250 globally.

The GMAT score is only one of several factors that business schools use to make admissions decisions. Given the intense work required to prepare a business school application, it is a good idea to reach your target GMAT score in as little time as possible so that you can focus on your extracurricular activities and essays.


Part IA: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) – [1 Essay + IR, 60 minutes]
A. Analysis of an Argument (30 minutes)
B. Integrated Reasoning (30 minutes)

5 min break

Part II: Quantitative Section (37 questions, 75 minutes)
A. Problem Solving (23 or 24)
B. Data Sufficiency (13 or 14)

5 min break

Part III: Verbal Section (41 questions, 75 minutes)
A. Critical Reasoning (14 or 15)
B. Reading Comprehension(4 passages, 12-14)
C. Sentence Correction (14 or 15)

How does the Computer-Adaptive Format of the test work for the Verbal and Quant sections?

The Computer-Adaptive Test (CAT) is new to most people. It helps to understand how it works, but don’t get too bogged down on the details.  The test is administered at testing centers throughout the world. Just visit www.mba.com to register for the one nearest you at your earliest convenience.

  • The Verbal and Quant sections are multiple choice
  • Each section starts with a medium-level question
    • If you answer correctly, your next question is harder
    • If you answer incorrectlym, your next question is easier
  • The computer will keep adjusting to find an accurate assessment of your ability level in that subject area
  • Every test contains trial multiple-choice questions that are being pretested. Technically, they do not count in your scoring. However, it is impossible to identify them.

Many students panic when they see an “easy” question on the GMAT exam, indicating they probably just got the previous question wrong. You should not be focusing on these little details because they can detract from your psychological stamina during the exam. What you should be focused on is getting whatever question is thrown at you correct and moving on to the next one in a timely manner.

The # of questions you answer correctly out of 37 Q questions is translated onto a Quant raw score of 51, weighted on level of difficulty and other statistical characteristics of each question.

Likewise, the # of questions you answer correctly out of 41 V questions is translated onto a Verbal raw score of 51, weighted on level of difficulty and other statistical characteristics of each question.

Is the essay handwritten or typed?
The essays are typed. And yes, you can cut-and-paste.

How long is the GMAT score valid?
The score is valid for 5 years from the day you take the test.   So even if you are not sure about business school in the next year or two, it might be a good idea to take it earlier when you are more familiar with the test-taking process. If you take the exam multiple times, business schools will see all of your scores for the last 5 years.

How should I prepare?
You should first take a look at the
GMATPrep Free Software. Sign up for a login and download the program, which consists of used GMAT questions that are about as close to the real thing as you can get!

There are a variety of prep programs around. Many of them charge rates of $1,500+. However, don’t be fooled. High prices don’t necessarily equate to a better prep resource for you. You should evaluate how best you learn. If you you don’t feel like paying the premium for somebody’s time (as in tutoring or a prep course) then these options may not be for you.

So that’s the GMAT exam. Check out GMAT Vs GRE to find out how the GMAT compares with its sister test for MBA admissions.

The GMAT preparation experience does not have to be a stressful one. Find the method that works for you and you’ll be glad you did because you’ve got plenty to work on for your extracurricular activities!

To sign up for the GMAT and more details on that process, read my GMAT Test Date article.

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