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GMAT Test 101

The GMAT Test Basics

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GMAT Test 101
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What Is the GMAT Test?

The GMAT Test is a standardized exam used for admissions into graduate business and management programs around the globe, is a computer-adaptive assessment of the skills you need to be successful in grad school. Since hundreds of prospective grad students from various backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and undergrads are vying for positions in the top business schools around the country, the GMAT Test provides a reliable method of choosing the most qualified applicants without fear of favoring one person over another. It’s universal.

What Is on The GMAT Test?

Don’t sweat it. You’re going to do great on this thing – you always do, right?

Here’s what the GMAT Test measures:

  • Verbal Reasoning: In a nutshell - Can you read? Can you identify complex relationships between words and concepts? Do you understand the different parts of a sentence? Can you put together an answer from a passage you’ve dissected? Let’s hope so.

  • Quantitative Reasoning: In a nutshell – How’s your algebra? Geometry? Arithmetic? Quantitative reasoning? Math may be your strong point, but it’s a good idea to brush up those skills anyway.

  • Analytical Writing: In a nutshell – How good are you at explaining what you mean? Can you clearly support your ideas with evidence, reasons, and examples? Can you creatively focus your ideas into a well-organized, carefully-spelled, and grammatically correct composition? This section accounts for one full hour of the test, so you should prepare yourself accordingly.

Here’s what it doesn’t measure:

  • Knowledge of business
  • Specific content from your undergraduate course work
  • Your creativity
  • Your work ethic
  • Your motivation
  • Job skills

How Are the GMAT Sections Broken Down?

Schedule about three hours and thirty minutes for the test. You’ll have some optional breaks in there, but the testing will take you about that long. You’ll begin the test with Analytical Writing, continue with Quantitative work, and end with Verbal Reasoning. Here’s how it will look:

GMAT Sections

How Does the GMAT Scoring Work?

In truth, it’s complicated, especially because both the Quantitative and Verbal sections are computer-adaptive. The questions given to you reflect how you did on preceding questions and the requirements of the test design. So, if you’re answering all of the questions correctly, you’re going to start getting harder questions with more points available to snag.

When you finish the GMAT and get your official score report, you’ll see the four scores listed below. If you’re chomping at the bit to find out what you’ve done, you can record your scores after your testing session and receive the unofficial Verbal, Quantitative, and Total scores, but not the Analytical Writing, because it is scored independently.

  • Analytical Writing: Can earn you between a 0 and a 6 in half-point increments. The mean score is a 4.42
  • Quantitative: Can earn you between 0 and 60 points. Scoring less than a 7 and above a 50 is rare. The average is right around a 37.
  • Verbal: Can earn you between 0 and 60 points. Scoring less than a 9 and above a 44 is rare. The average is right around a 28.
  • Total Score:Can earn you between 200 and 800 points. Most test-takers score between 400 and 600, but your score needs to be considerably higher than that if you’re going to a top-ranking business school like Harvard or Wharton.

How Do You Prepare for the GMAT?

MBA.com offers free prep software for registered users of its website. The feedback from people who have used the course is positive overall. Plus, you can try these options:
  • Free GMAT Quiz: That's right. Try it here first, so you can see exactly what sections you need to brush up on.
  • Downloadable Practice GMAT: For the cost of a meal at Outback Steakhouse (forty bucks), you can download a practice GMAT, take timed GMAT essays, and get a detailed score report from 800score.com. Practice makes perfect, right?
  • Tutors: Kaplan offers GMAT private tutoring and a guarantee – if you don’t score higher after using the tutoring, you get your money back. It’s as simple as that. And as costly, too. Private tutoring will set you back some big bucks, but if it means getting into the MBA program you’d prefer, it might be worth the extra dime.
  • Books:Good old-fashioned paper is the way to go, especially if you need a little more face-time with the questions and solutions. Here are some of the top GMAT Test prep books recommended by our business schools guide.

You’ve come so far. Now, all you need to do is ace the GMAT and get on with your life. Good luck to you!

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