GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). The GMAT is known in over 110 different countries and widely accepted by universities and business schools where students want to enroll in a business management master’s program. The GMAT is a requirement in most countries to gain entry into an MBA program.
Schools that do not require GMAT or GRE scores generally have relatively lenient admission standards and/or are located outside North America. If you’re a business student hoping to build a successful career with an accredited business school on your resume, the GMAT is a great place to start.
Learn more about how the GMAT exams help you to prove your level in English and get through the MBA admissions process.
What is the GMAT Exam?
The GMAT is a standardized test in English set up by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The GMAT score range is between 200 (the lowest score) and 800 (the highest score).
Your score on the GMAT may dictate the university you are able to enroll in. For example, an average score of 550 is usually enough to go to an average university, whereas a higher score between 650 and 700 will help you get into lucrative schools like Harvard University or other Ivy League institutions.
The test measures candidates against one another. This means it’s a highly competitive process. Half the candidates will receive over 500 and the other half will mark below 500.
Universities can decide what score they require and you're graded on a curve. It’s definitely not the typical exam you’d take in an English class, with a set pass rate and incremental groups of scores.
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Which Organization Created the GMAT Test?
The GMAT is developed by GMAC (the Graduate Management Admission Council). This board determines which set of skills the GMAT should focus on and how they are measured.
While the GMAC initiates the core aspects of assessment, a different organization develops the questions, administers the test, and collects and reports test scores to the relevant schools on their behalf.
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The Basic Structure of the GMAT Test
Understanding the structure of the GMAT is an important first step to organizing your time to complete the test.
There are four distinct sections of the GMAT test and each section is scored separately. The separate scores are combined later to your final score.
The four sections are:
- Analytical Writing Assessment
- Integrated Reasoning Assessment
- Quantitative Assessment
- Verbal Assessment
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Scoring the GMAT Test
The Analytical Writing Assessment: This section of the GMAT is scored separately from the rest with a score between 0 to 6 available, rising in 0.5 increments.
The Integrated Reasoning Assessment: This section is also scored separately but this time on a 1–8 scale, and going up in full one-point stages.
The Quantitative and Verbal Assessment: These sections each have a scaled score of 0–60. The two are then combined to generate a score on the 200–800 scale, going up in 10-point increments. Your score on this scale reflects how difficult you found your set of questions using a special GMAC algorithm.
The mean scores for each section of the GMAT test are as follows:
- Analytical Writing Assessment: 4.4
- Integrated Reasoning Assessment: 4.2
- Quantitative Assessment: 39
- Verbal Assessment: 27
MBA programs will be most interested in your combined Verbal and Quantitative scores. The GMAT applies its algorithm and converts the two combined scores into the 200–800 scale. The mean score after this process is 552.
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Sections of the GMAT Test
The GMAT English test is interactive and changes based on your performance. For example, if you fail to answer the first questions correctly, the test will self-correct and give you less difficult questions as it goes on. The opposite is true if you’re performing well. The questions will increase in difficulty to put your English to the ultimate test.
Each section of the GMAT test is important for your overall success. Learn more about what each section of the GMAT exam will entail so you know what to expect.
Analytical Writing Section
The Analytical Writing Assessment is the essay component of the English exam. It involves long-form writing exercises that test your writing skills. The papers are marked by a computer and a person to determine the most accurate score. Students enrolling in an MBA program must demonstrate written communication skills and this section of the GMAT acts as a determinant.
What does the essay section of the GMAT include? First, you will be asked to critique a brief argument and offer a distinct opinion on the designated topic. Next, you will use written communication and research to back up your points.
This section also measures your analytical skills and your ability to formulate logical arguments in a written format. Your response should be thoughtful, informed, and critical while remaining clear and concise. Spelling and punctuation are important, however, the marker will also be judging your critical thinking skills.
Integrated Reasoning Section
To further understand your ability to think logically and be critical, the GMAT exam will test your skills in the integrated reasoning section. This section requires you to interpret data and solve complex problems.
Business students pursuing an MBA will continually use data to make strategic decisions. The modern business world revolves around analytics to arrive at objective company decisions. Although business leaders enlist their gut feelings and experience to make decisions, they primarily rely on tangible facts.
There are four different types of questions in the Integrated Reasoning Section (descriptions courtesy of the MBA website). These are:
- Multi-Source Reasoning: Measures your ability to examine data from multiple sources text passages, tables, graphics, or some combination of the three, and to analyze each source of data to arrive at a conclusion.
- Table Analysis: Measures your ability to sort and analyze a table of data, such as a spreadsheet, to determine what information is relevant.
- Graphics Interpretation: Measures your ability to interpret the information presented in a graph to find relationships and patterns in data.
- Two-Part Analysis: Measures your ability to solve complex problems. They could be quantitative, verbal, or some combination of both.
In this segment of the GMAT test, you will be able to use a calculator with basic mathematical functions to answer the questions. The answers to the questions are right or wrong, with no option for half points.
The Quantitative section of the GMAT is designed to test your analytical knowledge of basic math concepts, such as arithmetic, algebra, number properties, and geometry. The questions are split into two different categories:
- Data Sufficiency: This section consists of a question and two statements of data. You must decide whether the statements provide sufficient data to answer the given question or not. This is an important test of your analytical skills because in a real-world business setting you will need to make decisions based on sufficient data sets.
- Problem Solving: This section is a standardized multiple-choice test whereby you are presented with a question and five possible answer choices. This section uses school-level math questions combined with complicated mathematical concepts to test your critical thinking skills.
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The verbal section is similar to the analytical writing section because it requires you to read critically, analyze arguments, and correct the written language. The exam tests your proficiency in standard written English and includes three main parts.
- Critical Reasoning: The critical reasoning questions present you with either a short argument or a series of statements and a related question. It is up to you to provide a logical analysis of the points and come to a relevant conclusion.
- Sentence Correction: This section gives you the opportunity to correct the grammar, punctuation, and structure of the basic sentences. You will often be given a series of sentences and asked to select the best version. The sentence could be correct or contain multiple errors.
- Reading Comprehension: The final section tests your English reading comprehension skills. You will read a series of paragraphs and summarize the main points. You will also be asked to analyze the author’s tone and intent. The academic passage will be related to either business, biological science, social science, or physical science.
How Do You Study for the GMAT?
If you're interested in passing the GMAT with flying colours, you will need to learn how to organize your time efficiently and brush up on the basics with various GMAT resources.
Plan one or several hourly work sessions each week dedicated to studying for the GMAT in order to avoid procrastination and get ahead with your studies. Adding a structured study schedule will prevent you from cramming at the last minute.
Use GMAT resources to develop your English language skills over a long period of time before committing to the exam. There are many free and affordable resources you can use to prepare, including:
- Make reading a habit: Start reading at least one book per month to familiarize yourself with the English language and feel more comfortable analyzing long passages.
- Invest in a grammar book: Study the basics for approximately 10 to 15 minutes every day.
- Look for specialized GMAT study guides: These readers are full of useful study tips that will help you with your test-taking techniques.
- Try GMAT practice tests: Test your skills by completing a practice test and time yourself to learn how to manage your time more efficiently.
- Connect with a private English tutor: An experienced English tutor could offer you a specialized GMAT prep course and help you land a higher score.
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Benefits of Hiring a Private GMAT Tutor
Hiring a private GMAT tutor could make the difference that allows you to get into your dream school. GMAT tutors who have experience with the GMAT exam are knowledgeable about the in’s and out’s of the test and can offer unique study programs that help you succeed.
A GMAT tutor can help you:
- Create a study program that works with your strengths and weaknesses.
- Motivate you when you don't feel self-motivated to study.
- Explain advanced mathematical concepts.
- Teach you techniques that help you manage your time and answer questions strategically.
Final Tips for Getting a High Score on the GMAT
The GMAT is a challenging exam that requires preparation, commitment, and dedication to land a high score. You are competing with other self-motivated individuals and it’s important to take every opportunity to improve your score. Engage in the following simple techniques when it’s time to sit down and write your exam:
- Read the statements carefully before finalizing an answer.
- Work on a scrap piece of paper to work through your rough ideas.
- Keep an eye on the clock and manage your time accordingly.
- Rule out the answers that are “obvious no’s” first.
- In the sentence correction section, if you’re stuck between two options, choose the shortest.
- In the reading comprehension section, read the questions before reading the text. This will allow you to actively and effectively read the text since you know what information you’re looking for.
If you have any questions or need any help preparing for the GMAT or English exams and tutorials, don’t hesitate to check out the tutors on Superprof.