This article comprehensively covers all aspects that a candidate, or in fact anyone interested, needs to know about GMAT exam. Graduate Management Admission Test which is popularly known as GMAT is owned and administered by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which is a non-profit organization of business schools across the globe. The GMAT is offered in 114 countries, and the GMAT score is accepted by more than 2300 graduate business schools offering more than 7000 programs. The GMAT is a multiple choice, computer-based, computer-adaptive standardized exam. The main objective of the exam is to measure your readiness for the business schools by measuring skills mandatory to the study of management with emphasis on critical thinking and reasoning in a time pressured environment. The performance on the GMAT is an essential part of business school application process along with your academic record, work experience, and other supporting materials. So, a high score on the GMAT definitely gives you an edge on your business school application.
GMAT Sections and Scoring
The GMAT is a 203 minutes long marathon with two optional 8 minutes breaks included. The GMAT comprises of four separate timed sections. Your critical thinking and reasoning skills will be required throughout the four sections of the test, as these are essentially required throughout your business school or MBA. The following are the four sections on the GMAT:
- Quantitative Aptitude
- Integrated Reasoning
- Analytical Writing Assessment.
GMAT gives you the flexibility of choosing the order in which the exam can be attempted. The three orders in which the exam can be attempted are as follows
- Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning (IR), Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA).
- Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning (IR), Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA).
- Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Quantitative, Verbal.
The Quant and Verbal Sections each have a scaled score from 0-60. These scores are then combined to generate a composite score on a 200-800 scale with 10 point increments, which is the score generally popular with students. GMAT assumes that any candidate who has cleared his undergraduate must have some aptitude. Therefore, the composite score is on a range of 200-800 and not 0-800.
The Integrated Reasoning (IR) section is scored separately on a 1-8 scale, with one-point increments.
The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section is also scored separately on a 0-6 scale with half-point increments.
|Test Section||Number of Questions / Time Limit||Question Types||Score Range|
|Quantitative Reasoning||31 Questions|
|Problem Solving, |
|Verbal Reasoning||36 Questions|
|Critical Reasoning, |
|Integrated Reasoning||12 Questions|
|Table Analysis, |
|Analytical Writing Assessment||1 Question|
|Analyzing an Argument||0-6|
Both the sections (Quant and Verbal) are computer-adaptive. So, you will not have the option to skip any question, return to any previously attempted question, and edit any answer. This makes GMAT, a hard pill to swallow for many test takers. The proprietary GMAC algorithm starts each of these sections with a mean level question (552 is considered a mean score in GMAT). As you keep on answering the questions correctly, the next question the algorithm throws at you is of a bit higher level. This process of chronological increase in difficulty of questions keeps on going till the point, you answer a question wrong. Once a question in answered incorrectly, the algorithm throws a question of lesser difficulty. The GMAT test adapts itself in real-time to your actual ability level, hence the name computer adaptive. The GMAT score obtained helps the business schools assess your potential with a higher degree of precision, as the GMAT score is trusted widely across the globe.
The sections, AWA and IR are not computer adaptive. The AWA section is scored by both a human grader and electronic scoring system. Both evaluate your essay based on a variety of parameters for writing. The IR is scored electronically based on the number of questions attempted correctly.
On a final note for scoring, every GMAT exam has experimental questions (which are not scored) mixed with the actual test questions. These questions can appear in any of the four sections. However, there is no way to identify these questions. So, best effort should be made for every question attempted.
|Questions||Time Duration||Score Range|
|Total: 31 Questions|
15-16 Data Sufficiency Questions
16-18 Problem Solving Questions
The Quant section on the GMAT tests your reasoning, content, and analytical knowledge of basic math concepts. The questions asked cover topics from Arithmetic, Algebra, Number Properties, Geometry, and Modern Math (Statistics, Permutations and Combinations, Probability).
Problem solving questions are standardized questions you have been practicing so far in your school and college. However, Data Sufficiency questions are an uphill task for students, as it is a new learning curve for most of new test takers. Since, most of the candidates writing the exam are accustomed to problem solving, they find Data Sufficiency questions difficult to handle. Instead as the name suggests, the basic purpose of Data Sufficiency questions is to determine whether the given set of Data is sufficient enough to answer or not, rather than solving the question altogether.
|Questions||Time Duration||Score Range|
|Total: 36 Questions|
10-13 Critical Reasoning Questions
10-13 Reading Comprehension Questions
12-15 Sentence Correction Questions
The Verbal Section tests your ability to read critically, skills in analyzing arguments, and command of standard written English. Broadly, the questions in the Verbal section can be divided into three categories: Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Sentence Correction.
- Critical Reasoning:
Critical reasoning is all about arguments: their construction, analysis and evaluation. You are presented with a short argument or a series of statements, and you are expected to answer a question on the basis of the same. Solving critical reasoning questions requires you to understand the structure of the argument thoroughly. One should have an eye for detail between the evidences provided and the conclusion drawn or inferred.
2. Reading Comprehension:
These questions present the candidate with a reading passage on topics related to social science, business, physical science, biological science etc. and 3-4 questions are asked based on the passage. These questions test your critical reading skills. It can be anything from making inferences based on the information in the passage, deduce the author’s tone, summarize the main idea, analyze the logical structure of the passage, and differentiate between the ideas stated explicitly in the passage to those implied by the author
3. Sentence Correction:
These questions test your critical reasoning skills about written English. What might sound right might not be actually correct. Here, you will encounter long and involved sentences. A part or the entire given sentence will be underlined. You are supposed to find the best version of the underlined section out of choices available in reference to written English. One needs to have an excellent command on grammar for solving these type of questions efficiently on the GMAT.
Integrated Reasoning (IR)
|Questions||Time Duration||Score Range|
|Total: 12 Questions|
Table Analysis Questions
Multi-source Reasoning Questions
Two-part Analysis Questions
Graphics Interpretation Questions
This section measures your Data Interpretation skills i.e. the ability to comprehend and assimilate data in written and visual forms such as graphs, charts, and tables. Also, you must be skillful in choosing the right information and discarding the unnecessary information. Some question test both your Quant and Verbal skills in parallel. The IR section is scored separately from the 200-800 score you obtain for Verbal and Quant.
Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
|Questions||Time Duration||Score Range|
|Total: 1 Question (Task)|
Analyzing an Argument
The AWA section presents you with a brief argument, something similar to critical reasoning questions in verbal section. This section is meant to assess your ability, to think critically and communicate your interpretation in writing. The main purpose is to be a critique of the argument presented and analyze the reasoning behind the given argument. The AWA section is scored by both a human grader and electronic scoring system. Both evaluate your essay based on a variety of parameters for writing.
PREPARING FOR THE GMAT EXAM
GMAT is a wonderful exam that basically tests your critical reading, writing, and reasoning skills. We call it wonderful, as it tests almost very skill you have developed over time. Secondly, any amount of cramming won’t work on the GMAT. However, the beauty of GMAT lies in the preparation phase, which when pursued in an effective manner changes your mindset altogether, not only for the GMAT but also your overall approach towards life as you start to take responsibility of every decision you make (no matter how small or big). This can be attributed to the clear thought process you develop when the GMAT prep is pursued in an efficient manner.
The term critical thinking involves the ability to actively and skillfully conceptualize, analyze, question and evaluate ideas and beliefs. Critical reasoning is the opposite of dogma. Dogma is unquestioned information — information that is embraced without the intervention of active thought or criticism. To reason critically is to question the ideas and beliefs of others and oneself and to challenge dogma and authority. The terms “critical reasoning”, “critical thinking” and “clear thinking” all mean the same. Critical reasoning is about arguments: their construction, analysis and evaluation.
The preparation for GMAT is very different as compared to preparation for any other standardized test. The reason is that GMAT never asks you even a single straight forward question. Each and every question on the GMAT requires you to apply the concepts learned till date in a strategic way. We have seen candidates, who are not able to improve their scores even after 5-6 attempts on the GMAT. We attribute this to the beauty of GMAT exam. Until and unless, there is a paradigm shift in your thought process, the way you approach the questions, the way you critically think, there will be hardly any or marginal improvement in your scores at best.
We at GMAT Gladiator have been pioneers in providing world-class online as well as one-on-one classes for the GMAT exam. It gives us great contentment to see our students realize their aspirations and potential through our guidance. We have catered to almost all parts of the globe as far as our students are concerned. Our students have got admitted to the most prestigious schools a child aspires to study. We have years of experience behind our back, which only increases our drive and confidence with each passing year to provide the best education for the GMAT exam. We have always believed that success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Since every person is unique, we at GMAT Gladiator also believe that every person has the potential though it just needs to be identified, nurtured, and polished. Each individual has unique strengths and weaknesses. The most important thing for a tutor or guide is to identify the gaps a candidate has and to work upon them slowly and steadily because both the gaps and the grasping power of each child is different, which cannot be identified in group classes. This is by far the most important thing required for a GMAT prep and that’s the reason we don’t do group classes, as we want to be sincere to our profession and one approach does not fits all. For us, money is not the only criterion, but imparting and imbibing valuable education to each person is our prime focus.
Also, the time for preparation for every individual varies, depending on the present scores level and your target score. We have even tutored candidates which saw a rise from 300 levels to 740 levels. We don’t boast that it was only because of us but also because of the sincere effort and determined focus of the candidate.
Our point of view – GMAT can be aced, but that surely requires the guidance of top GMAT instructors, which can effectively make a difference in your GMAT prep.
WHAT IS A GOOD GMAT SCORE?
A good GMAT score is a relative term depending on your existing score and the colleges you aim to target. However, generally speaking any score above 710 out of 800 puts you in the 90th percentile, which is considered good if not excellent.
The mean score of the GMAT exam is somewhere around 552 which means if you score a 552, 50% of students are ahead of your score and the rest 50% are behind. Regarding the individual sections, the mean score of the Quant section is approximately 40, whereas the mean score of Verbal section is roughly 26.
However, to know what a good GMAT score is for a specific individual, it is always advisable to look at the average GMAT score (mean) of the applicants admitted to the MBA programs you are considering.
WHEN IS THE GMAT OFFERED?
GMAT like the GRE can be taken at any time you feel ready for the test. However, it can be given a total of 8 times in one’s lifespan. Furthermore, you can give at most 5 attempts in a 365 day period with a gap of at least 16 days between the subsequent attempts. The GMAC advises to give the GMAT at least 21 days prior to your application deadline. Generally, the weekend dates tend to fill up more quickly. So, in case you plan to give your GMAT on a weekend, you must book a date well in advance.
HOW MUCH DOES THE GMAT EXAM COSTS?
The exam fee of GMAT is $250. GMAT allows you the flexibility to reschedule your test date. However, it charges additional $50 in case you reschedule the exam one week before the test date. Otherwise the whole $250 will be deducted. Also, $80 is deducted in case you cancel your exam.