About the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

The Graduate Management Admission Test, commonly referred to as the GMAT, is taken by graduate candidates for business school as part of the grad school application process. For those pursuing a career in business, the GMAT is accepted at nearly every business school in the world; however, a growing number of graduate and business programs are now also accepting the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). As of June 2012, the GMAT, and therefore GMAT prep, has been revised to incorporate a new section on Integrated Reasoning.

About the GMAT

The GMAT is comprised of four sections: the Analytical Writing Assessment, the Quantitative section, the Verbal section, and the new Integrated Reasoning section. Your score report will include five separate scores: one score from each section as well as one total score. Total GMAT scores range from 200–800, with two thirds of test-takers receiving a score from 400–600. Top graduate programs typically look for candidates with scores above 620, although this varies by school. Look below for information on how GMAT prep can greatly improve your personal score. Nearly all schools now report their programs’ “middle 80%” GMAT range on their websites. If your score falls within your desired school’s 80% range, you stand a reasonable chance of being admitted. The Analytical Writing Assessment requires you write one essay based on analysis of an argument. Scores for this section range from 0–6 in half-point intervals. The Quantitative section contains 37 questions about data sufficiency and problem-solving. The Verbal section was developed to assess reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. Scores for the Quantitative and Verbal sections range from 0–60. The questions for the Integrated Reasoning section include questions about multiple-source reasoning, graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, and table analysis. Scores for the Integrated Reasoning section range from 1–8 in one-point intervals. Note that one of the multiple-choice portions of the Integrated Reasoning section is not scored to allow the creators of the exam to assess the reliability and validity of new questions that could potentially be incorporated into future tests.

GMAT Preparation

Many preparation materials for the GMAT are available online or in bookstores; however, the official GMAT website offers free GMAT prep software, which contains general advice, sample questions, and two full-length practice tests. Other helpful tips for GMAT prep include researching and understanding the full format of the GMAT, brushing up on your basic math skills, and practicing your essay-writing skills.

You should prepare as much as possible for the GMAT to achieve a competitive score your first time. Retaking the GMAT may not be helpful if you receive a low score because all scores for tests you have taken in the past 5 years are still reported to the graduate programs you had listed as score recipients. You do have the option of cancelling your scores; however, you only have this opportunity while at the test center before the scores have been displayed or reported to you. Your best bet is to start preparing 3 to 6 months in advance of the test date to achieve a high score the first time you take the test. If your desired graduate program requires you to take the GMAT, it is up to you to do the research and work on GMAT prep if you want to receive a competitive score.

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