The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is designed to
assess your ability to succeed academically in graduate business
studies. The GMAT is used in the United States, Canada and in many
international locations, the administration fee for test takers is
$250 (2007). It is commonly used as one of many selection criteria
for admission into an MBA program.
The GMAT covers three areas: verbal reasoning , numerical reasoning and analytical writing. You will be given three and a half hours to complete the paper and there are two 10 minute breaks between sections. Most international MBA programs take only the quantitative section into account, as the degrees they offer will not be taught in English. These areas normally demand a higher quantitative score and ignore the verbal sections.
The verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections are presented as a computer-adaptive test. This means that if you answer questions correctly, the next questions are harder. Whereas, if you answer questions incorrectly, the next questions are easier. The questions are taken from a large pool of questions and the individual questions that you are asked will depend on your running score.
Verbal Reasoning Paper (1 hour 15 minutes)
The verbal reasoning paper consists of 41 multiple choice questions. There are three types of questions: sentence correction, critical reasoning and reading comprehension.
Sentence Correction items consist of a sentence, all or part of which has been underlined, with five associated answer choices. You must choose the best way of rendering the underlined part. Your task is to evaluate the grammar, logic, and effectiveness of a given sentence and to choose the best of several suggested revisions. The goal is to choose the answer that results in the clearest sentence that does not change the meaning of the original.
Critical Reasoning items ask you to analyze and evaluate the reasoning in short paragraphs or passages. You need to select an answer that does not require making assumptions that violate common sense standards by being implausible, redundant, irrelevant, or inconsistent. These questions may ask you to draw a conclusion, to identify assumptions, or to recognize strengths or weaknesses in an argument.
Reading comprehension questions relate to a passage that is provided for you to read. The passage can be about almost anything, and the questions about it test how well you understand the passage. The GMAT uses reading passages of approximately 200 to 350 words. Each passage has three or more questions based on it. The questions ask about the main point of the passage, about what the author specifically states, about what can be logically inferred from the passage, and about the author's attitude or tone.
Numerical/Quantitative Reasoning Paper (1 hour 15 minutes)
The quantitative reasoning paper consists of 37 multiple choice questions. There are two types of questions: problem solving and data sufficiency.
Problem Solving questions present multiple-choice problems in arithmetic, basic algebra, and elementary geometry. Some problems will be plain mathematical calculations; the rest will be presented as real life word problems (numerical reasoning) that will require mathematical solutions.
Data Sufficiency questions consist of a question plus two associated statements that provide information that might be useful in answering the question. You must determine whether either statement alone is sufficient to answer the question; whether both are needed to answer the question; or whether there is not enough information given to answer the question.
Analytical Writing Assessment (1 hour)
This consists of two essays. Each essay is read by two examiners who each grade it from 0-6. If the two scores are within one point of each other they are averaged, otherwise they are marked by a third examiner.
How the GMAT is Scored
The ‘Total Score’ excludes the analytical writing assessment, and ranges from 200 to 800. The score distribution resembles a bell curve with a standard deviation of approximately 100 points. About two-thirds of test takers score between 400 and 600, with a median score of around 500.
Most business schools publish the average and median score of their latest intake which can give you an indication of the score that you will need for admission.