About the GMAT

What is the GMAT?

First created by the Graduate Management Admission Council in 1953, the GMAT is used for admissions by over 1,700 institutions worldwide. Traditionally the test has been used primarily for MBA admissions, but is today used for admission to a variety of programs, including Masters of Accounting and Masters of Public Administration. More business schools accept the GMAT than any other exam and many other graduate schools accept it as well. If you are considering any sort of graduate school, it is worth investigating whether you can submit GMAT scores. Here is a full list of schools that accept the GMAT: http://www.mba.com/us/the-gmat-exam/about-the-gmat-exam/schools-value-the-gmat/gmat-accepting-programs.aspx.

Test results are good for five years from the date of the exam. In other words studying hard and getting a stellar score now could potentially pay off returns for years to come.

The GMAT is a “computer adaptive test” (CAT). This means two things. First, is taken on a computer at a designated testing facility. Second, it uses technology to adapt to the test-taker. Every time you answer a question, if you answer correctly, the next question will be slightly harder, and if you answer incorrectly, the next question will be slightly easier. Over the course, of the exam, the software uses this method to zero in on questions that you will answer correctly roughly half the time.

What does the GMAT test?

The exam tests competency in analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills. Certain questions require knowledge of grammar and high school math, but it primarily assesses whether you possess the analytical mind for business school and for real world management success. A number of studies have confirmed that GMAT scores are indeed a strong predictor of success at business school.

The GMAT has four sections:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment: 1 essay analyzing a piece of writing, 30 minutes


  • Integrated Reasoning: 12 assorted questions, 30 minutes


  • Quantitative: 37 multiple-choice questions, 75 minutes
  • Verbal: 41 multiple-choice questions, 75 minutes

Sections of the GMAT

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

The GMAT starts off with an essay. This section tests your ability to quickly analyze a business situation and express your analysis clearly and concisely. You will have 30 minutes to read an opinion piece and write up an analysis of that opinion. Strong essays look at the problem from multiple angles, examine logical fallacies in the original argument, and present a clear stance on the validity of the argument.

Integrated Reasoning (IR)

The questions on this section of the GMAT are most similar to real world business problems. You will be required to examine a variety of charts, tables, and passages. You will then have to draw conclusions based on this information. Answers will often require information from several sources, testing your ability to quickly scan through documents and make deductions. Unlike the Quantitative section, the computer module for this section of the test includes a calculator; IR is designed to test analytical abilities, not mental math.

Quantitative (Q)

The Quantitative section tests your ability to apply mathematics, reason quantitatively, and determine which information you need to solve a problem.Topics include arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry, algebra, number properties, and probability. Questions in this section fall into two categories: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. Problem Solving questions are standard multiple choice mathematics questions. Data Sufficiency questions are unique to the GMAT and are reverse questions of sorts–whereas in normal questions you are given information and asked to find an answer, in Data Sufficiency questions you are given the answer, and asked to determine what information you need to find that answer.

For many GMAT test-takers, the Quantitative section is the most challenging. Fortunately, it is also the easiest to prepare for. Dedicated students can dramatically improve their Quantitative scores through familiarity with question types and understanding of key mathematical rules.

Verbal (V)

The Verbal section of the GMAT measures your ability to comprehend readings, apply English grammatical rules, assess the validity of arguments, and draw conclusions from limited information. Verbal questions fall into three categories: Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Sentence Correction. Critical Reasoning questions involve reading arguments and identifying things, such as which new pieces of information would weaken or strengthen the argument. Reading Comprehension questions test your understanding of a short passage. Sentence Correction questions require you to identify the grammatically correct sentence out of several options. Though each type of question is distinct, all three types will be intermixed on the GMAT, so a fully prepared test-taker will need to train for each variety.

How to Get Started?

First thing first, you will need to register to take the GMAT at http://www.mba.com/. Then the real fun can begin.

Preparing for the GMAT does not need to be a stressful process. A lot of students stress over the test and allow themselves to get psyched out by difficult questions. The test is supposed to be difficult. Not everyone will be able to get a perfect score, but with the right test-taking techniques, a fundamental understanding of the concepts tested, and an analytical approach to studying, everyone can maximize their chances of achieving a stellar score.

Here are some helpful links to get started on studying: