What is GMAT – GMAT stands for Graduate Management Entrance Test and is a computer adaptive test (CAT) used to evaluate particular quantitative, writing, verbal, analytical, and reading in written English skills for graduate management program admission (e.g MBA.).
Nine business schools came together to form the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), with the intention of creating a standardized test to aid business schools in making hiring decisions.
Just over 2,000 people took the exam, now known as the Graduate Management Admission Test, in its first year of availability; in more recent years, it has been taken more than 230,000 times annually.
GMAT requires knowledge of certain specific grammar and knowledge of certain specific geometry, algebra, and arithmetic. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) – the test owning company, GMAT assesses analytical writing and problem-solving abilities, while also addressing data sufficiency, logic, and critical reasoning skills which is believed to be vital to real-world business and management success.
It was initially used for admissions by 54 schools, but it is now used by more than 7,000 programs at approximately 2,300 graduate business schools around the world. On June 5, 2012, GMAC introduced an integrated reasoning section to the exam that aims to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate information presented in multiple formats from multiple sources.
Business schools use the test as a criterion for admission into a wide range of graduate management programs, including MBA, Master of Accountancy, Master of Finance programs and others. The GMAT exam is administered in standardized test centers in 114 countries around the world.
Despite the increasing acceptability of GRE, GMAT is still the number one choice for MBA aspirants – Kaplan Test Prep. According to GMAC, it has continually performed validity studies to statistically verify that the exam predicts success in business school programs.
Annual number of test takers: 261,248 (2016)
Knowledge / skills tested: Quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, integrated reasoning, analytical writing
Score / grade validity: 5 Years
Duration: 3.5 hours
Purpose: Admissions in graduate management programs of business schools
Countries / regions: 600 test centers in 114 countries.
HOW MANY TIMES CAN ONE WRITE GMAT?
The GMAT may not be taken more than once within 16 days but no more than five times in a rolling 12-month period and no more than eight times total, even if the scores are canceled.
The purpose of the GMAT is to predict student success in graduate business programs. According to GMAC, there is a .459 correlation (21% variance) between total GMAT scores and mid-program student grades based on data it collected between 1997 to 2004.
Independent research has also shown significant different results. Independent research has proved that the GMAT can explain only 4.4% of the variance in final MBA GPA (Grade Point Average) while undergraduate GPA can explain 17.4% of the variance in final MBA GPA. More so, recent independent research has shown that the GMAT does not add predictive validity after undergraduate GPA and work experience have been considered and that even undergraduate GPA alone can be used in lieu of considering the GMAT.
Three options will be available at the test center viz;
- Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal (original order)
- Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
- Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
In April 2018, the GMAC officially shortened the test by a half hour, shortening the verbal and quant sections from 75 minutes each to 65 and 62 minutes, respectively, and shortening some of the instruction screens.
FORMAT & TIMING
The GMAT changed on April 16, 2018. The Quantitative Reasoning Section dropped from 37 questions in 75 minutes to 31 questions in 62 minutes. The Verbal Reasoning Section dropped from 41 questions in 75 minutes to 36 questions in 65 minutes. GMAC has elected to reduce overall exam time from 4 hours to 3.5 hours (including breaks and instructions) by reducing the number of unscored questions used for research on the exam.
|Duration in minutes
|Number of questions
|Analytical writing assessment
The quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT exam are both multiple-choice and are administered in the computer-adaptive format, adjusting to a test taker’s level of ability. At the start of the quantitative and verbal sections, test takers are presented with a question of average difficulty.
As questions are answered correctly, the computer presents the test taker with increasingly difficult questions and as questions are answered incorrectly the computer presents the test taker with questions of decreasing difficulty. This process continues until test takers complete each section, at which point the computer will have an accurate assessment of their ability level in that subject area and come up with a raw score for each section.
On July 11, 2017, the GMAC announced that from now on the order in which the different parts of the GMAT are taken can be chosen at the beginning of the exam.
ANALYTICAL WRITING ASSESSMENT (AWA)
The AWA consists of one 30-minute writing task—analysis of an argument. It is important to be able to analyze the reasoning behind a given argument and write a critique of that argument. The essay will be given two independent ratings and these ratings are averaged together to determine the test taker’s AWA score.
One rating is given by a computerized reading evaluation and another is given by a person at GMAC who will read and score the essay themselves without knowledge of what the computerized score was. The automated essay-scoring engine is an electronic system that evaluates more than 50 structural and linguistic features, including organization of ideas, syntactic variety, and topical analysis.
If the two ratings differ by more than one point, another evaluation by an expert reader is required to resolve the discrepancy and determine the final score.
The analytical writing assessment is graded on a scale of 0 (minimum) to 6 (maximum) in half-point intervals (a score of zero means the answer was gibberish or obviously not written on the assigned topic or the test taker failed to write anything at all on the AWA).
ESSAY SCORE DESCRIPTION
|An essay that is deficient.
|An essay that is flawed.
|An essay that is limited.
|An essay that is adequate.
|An essay that is strong.
|An essay that is outstanding.
Integrated Reasoning (IR) is a section introduced in June 2012 and is designed to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate data presented in multiple formats from multiple sources. The integrated reasoning section consists of 12 questions (which often consist of multiple parts themselves) in four different formats: graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning.
Integrated reasoning scores range from 1 to 8. Like the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), this section is scored separately from the quantitative and verbal section. Performance on the IR and AWA sections do not contribute to the total GMAT score.
The integrated reasoning section includes four question types: table analysis, graphics interpretation, multi-source reasoning, and two-part analysis. In the table analysis section, test takers are presented with a sortable table of information, similar to a spreadsheet, which has to be analyzed. Each question will have several statements with opposite-answer options (e.g., true/false, yes/no), and test takers click on the correct option.
Graphics interpretation questions ask test takers to interpret a graph or graphical image. Each question has fill-in-the-blank statements with pull-down menus; test takers must choose the options that make the statements accurate.
Multi-source reasoning questions are accompanied by two to three sources of information presented on tabbed pages. Test takers click on the tabs and examine all the relevant information, which may be a combination of text, charts, and tables to answer either traditional multiple-choice or opposite-answer (e.g., yes/no, true/false) questions.
Two-part analysis questions involve two components for a solution. Possible answers are given in a table format with a column for each component and rows with possible options. Test takers have to choose one response per column.
The quantitative section of the GMAT seeks to measure the ability to reason quantitatively, solve quantitative problems, interpret graphic data, and analyze and use information given in a problem. Questions require knowledge of certain algebra, geometry, and arithmetic.
There are two types of quantitative questions: problem solving and data sufficiency. The use of calculators is not allowed on the quantitative section of the GMAT. Scores range from 0 to 60, although GMAC only reports scores between 6 and 51.
The verbal section of the GMAT exam includes the following question types: reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. Each question type gives five answer options from which to select. Verbal scores range from 0 to 60; however, scores below 9 or above 44 are rare.
According to GMAC, the reading comprehension question type tests ability to analyze information and draw a conclusion.
The total GMAT score ranges from 200 to 800 and measures performance on the quantitative and verbal sections together (performance on the AWA and IR sections do not count toward the total score, those sections are scored separately). Scores are given in increments of 10 (e.g. 540, 550, 560, 570, etc.).
The score distribution conforms to a bell curve with a standard deviation of approximately 120 points, meaning that about 68% of examinees score between 430 and 670. More precisely, over the three-year period 2014–2017 the mean score was 556.04 with a standard deviation of 120.45 points.
The final score is not based solely on the last question the examinee answers (i.e. the level of difficulty of questions reached through the computer adaptive presentation of questions). The algorithm used to build a score is more complicated than that. The examinee can make a mistake and answer incorrectly and the computer will recognize that item as an anomaly. If the examinee misses the first question his score will not necessarily fall in the bottom half of the range.
After previewing his/her unofficial GMAT score, a GMAT test taker has two minutes to decide whether to keep or cancel a GMAT score at the test center. A test taker can also cancel a score online within the 72 hours after the scheduled exam start time. A cancelled score can be reinstated for 4 years and 11 months after the date of the test for a fee of $50.
SCHEDULING AND PREPARING FOR THE EXAM
Test takers may register for the GMAT either online at mba.com or by calling one of the test centers. To schedule an exam, an appointment must be made at one of the designated test centers. Official GMAT exam study materials are available on the mba.com online store and through third-party vendors. The cost of the exam is $250. All applicants are required to present valid ID when taking the test. Upon completion of the test, test takers have the option of canceling or reporting their scores. As of July 2014, test takers were allowed to view their score before making this decision.
There are test preparation companies that offer GMAT courses. Other available test preparation resources include university text books, GMAT preparation books, sample tests, and free web resources.
In order to effectively evaluate all candidates, some graduate schools offer GMAT Waivers. A GMAT waiver is designed for working professionals who have multiple years of experience and would like to forego taking the GMAT. If requesting a GMAT waiver, you must include a letter with your professional experience. The programs evaluate GMAT waivers on a case-by-case basis.