Detailed Overview of the GMAT
GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission Test. This standardized test is required for admission at over 1,000 business schools worldwide. GMAT scores have proven to be a reliable measure of some developed skills that are important in business studies at the graduate level. Business schools use GMAT scores to objectively compare applicants, and to predict how those students will perform in their graduate business program (at least in the first year). Although your GMAT score is only one portion of your application, it’s often used to reduce the size of the applicant pool and is the single factor that all business school applicants will have in common. A high score will almost guarantee you acceptance in a lower-ranked school, as well as serious consideration at a higher ranked school (especially if you have some work experience). A high score might also mean a scholarship or an internship in fields that use GMAT scores as a way to field applicants.
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the makers of the test, "The GMAT® exam measures basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills that you have developed over a long period of time in your education and work. It does NOT measure your knowledge of business, your job skills, specific content in your undergraduate or first university course work, or your abilities in any other specific subject area.”
The test is administered using Computer-Adaptive Testing (CAT), as opposed to a paper-and-pencil test. There are many features of CAT that are different from paper-and-pencil testing, but the test is calibrated so that test-takers should receive approximately the same score using CAT as they would taking a paper-and-pencil test. The paper test was offered overseas, but that has become obsolete with Pearson VUE taking over as administrators.
The GMAT is given in English, and consists of the following four separately timed sections: Two Analytical Writing tasks (AW), Quantitative (math), and Verbal. The AW section is always first, followed by Quantitative and then Verbal. An optional break of 8 minutes is allowed before and after the Quantitative Section.
- Analytical Writing Assessment 1 essay, 30 minutes; the essay asks for an analysis of an argument.
- Integrated Reasoning Section 12 multiple-choice questions, 30 minutes; four question types: Graphics Interpretation, Two-Part Analysis, Table Analysis, and Multi-Source Reasoning.
- Quantitative Section 37 multiple-choice questions, 75 minutes; two question types: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency
- Verbal Section 41 multiple-choice questions, 75 minutes; three question types: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction.