GMAT*. For most it is synonymous with fear and dread, and yet the Graduate Management Admissions Test is nothing more than a standardized test, used by reputable business schools throughout the world to get an idea of how well a candidate is likely to perform in the classroom.
Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be running a short series on GMAT information and test-taking tips to help you on your way to a higher score.
So, what’s it all about?
The GMAT test comprises a total of 4 sections, two of which form the bulk of the test:
- Analytical writing
- Integrated Reasoning
- Quantitative section
- Verbal section
Two sections called Analytical writing and Integrated Reasoning, both of which take 30 minutes are done before the subsequent Quantitative and Verbal sections and give a separate score of 1-6 and 1-8 respectively. These scores do not influence the overall score out of 800, so 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 considered 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 so you can’t have second thoughts.
Few candidates score over 700 so it’s comforting to know that you can re-sit the test 31 days later if necessary. However, at $250 a time, it’s best to revise hard before attempting a first go! While all reputable MBA programmes require a GMAT score in their application pack, schools use this score in different ways. An engineer or scientist with a logical/analytical mind will probably do better than a creative profile so measure the time needed for revision and plan accordingly. Test centres are few and far between so it’s best to book a test date early and work towards it with a revision schedule.
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,” explains Nikki Harle, Global MBA Admissions Manager. “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 tell us how well the candidate will perform in some of the more creative classes, but these are elements that are tested elsewhere. The GMAT puts everyone on the same level and gives the selection committee an idea of who is willing to accept rules or 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. Besides, our scholarship policy encourages candidates to perform well on GMAT and invites the possibility to retake in order to benefit from a scholarship upgrade.”
Look out for GMAT Tips in our next newsletter…