Written on 20 Jul 2017.
The GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) is a standardized test, used by reputable business schools all around the world to get an idea of how well a candidate is likely to perform in the classroom. It is often feared or loathed by potential candidates but this is generally due to a lack of understanding of what the exam actually entails. We’ve come up with a brief summary to put your mind at rest.
There are 4 sections:
Analytical writing and Integrated Reasoning take 30 minutes each and are done before the Quantitative and Verbal sections. They give a separate score of 1-6 and 1-8 respectively. As these scores do not impact the overall score out of 800, they are rarely taken into consideration by business schools.
The GMAT test comprises a Quantitative section made up of 37 questions to test quantitative analysis and logical reasoning, and an English Verbal section involving 41 questions based on reading comprehension, grammar and analytical writing. 75 minutes are allocated to both sections. The Maths in the Quant section is not as hard as many fear. It is 11th Grade level, but calculators are not allowed.
The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test (CAT) meaning the level of difficulty of the next question depends on how you perform in the previous question so your score depends on the level of difficulty of the questions you answer and the percentage of questions you answer correctly. It’s important to spend time on the first few questions in particular to allow a higher score. All answers are final.
Few candidates score over 700 so it’s comforting to know that you can re-sit the test just 15 days later if necessary. However, at $250 a time, it is best to revise hard before your first attempt! While all reputable MBA programmes require a GMAT score for application, schools use this score in different ways. At EDHEC, we evaluate candidates in a holistic manner and the GMAT is one element of the evaluation.
Test centres are few and far between so it’s best to book a test date early and then plan and adhere to a revision schedule to prepare yourself.
Why do the GMAT?
While there is a lot of debate into how relevant the GMAT is in an MBA programme, the EDHEC Global MBA admissions service is firm that no waivers should be granted. The GMAT is an excellent warm up exercise for an MBA programme. It puts candidates back into a test taking situation, obliges them to face the constraints of revision and generally reminds them of what it’s like to be a student again. Sure, it doesn’t test leadership skills or guarantee how well the candidate will perform in some of the more creative classes, but these are elements that are evaluated elsewhere in the application. The GMAT puts everyone on the same level and gives the selection committee an idea of who is ready to put in extra effort. Schools offering GMAT waivers tend to have lower admissions standards so while this might seem attractive, candidates should consider what this probably means in terms of the quality of the rest of their peers. The EDHEC Global MBA scholarship policy encourages candidates to perform well on GMAT and invites the possibility to retake in order to benefit from a scholarship upgrade.
So, all in all, the GMAT is a good pre-MBA exercise and the best time to start working on it is now!