The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardised, computer-based assessment that business schools around the world use as a selection tool for prospective students. The test is owned and administered by the non-profit Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and costs approximately US$250.00.
Most Australian business schools will specify a minimum required GMAT score as part of their entry requirements. It is one of many tools schools use to ensure they attract high-calibre students with the necessary skills to complete the rigorous standards required for an MBA. A high GMAT score will greatly increase your prospects for admission to your chosen school, particularly highly ranked schools in which selection is highly competitive.
The GMAT test does not measure your knowledge in business management. Rather, it will test some “soft” skills such as: thinking strategically; managing time well; setting priorities; communicating clearly, concisely and persuasively; building analyses based on facts and observation, not on thin air; evaluating critically the work of others; making the most of resources (including yourself); simplifying complex issues; making decisions and tolerating risk.
More than 5,400 programs offered by more than 1,500 universities and institutions in 83 countries use the GMAT exam as part of the selection criteria for their programs. The exam is administered in secure, standardised test centers in more than 110 countries around the world.
What does it measure?
The GMAT has been specifically designed, and is continually updated and modified, to be a highly predictive tool of test takers’ ability to succeed in the classroom.
While many schools emphasis the practical aspects of their courses the MBA is, and should be, a rigorous academic undertaking.
The content and structure of the GMAT provides business schools with a simple, quantifiable measure of a potential students’ ability to meet the academic requirements of their course.
The GMAC claims two main reasons why schools should use the GMAT to evaluate applicants;
- Reliability and validity: The GMAT exam is a reliable, valid measure of skills found to be important in graduate management study. In repeat research studies, GMAT scores have been found to be an accurate predictor of academic success in the first year of an MBA or other graduate management program.
- Standard measurement: Unlike grade point averages (GPA)—which vary in meaning according to the grading standards of each school—GMAT scores provide the same standard for evaluating all test takers. That’s why you can feel confident making direct comparisons among applicants’ GMAT scores.
Understanding how the GMAT works is essential to ensuring a high score. In ensuring standardisation and fairness for every test taker around the world, GMAC has built a test that ensures all test takers will:
- Be evaluated on the same number of questions
- Answer the same type of questions
- Be subject to time limits
- Be tested in similar conditions around the world
The GMAT consists of four main sections—Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. You have three and a half hours in which to take the exam, but plan for a total time of approximately four hours to include optional breaks.
The GMAT adjusts to your individual ability level, which both shortens the time it takes to complete the exam and establishes a higher level of accuracy than a fixed test.
At the start of each multiple-choice section of the exam, you are presented with a question of medium difficulty.
As you answer each question, the computer scores your answer and uses it—as well as your responses to any preceding questions—to determine which question to present next. Correct responses typically prompt questions of increased difficulty.
Incorrect responses generally result in questions of lesser difficulty. This process will continue until you complete the section, at which point the computer will have an accurate assessment of your ability level in that subject area.
In a computer-adaptive test, only one question at a time is presented. Because the computer scores each question before selecting the next one, you may not skip, return to, or change your responses to previous questions.
The following provides a quick snapshot of the different sections, number of questions, question types, allotted time for each section, and total time.
|Test Section||Number of Questions||Question Types||Score Range||Timing|
|Analytical Writing Assessment||1 Topic||Analysis of an argument||0-6||30 mins|
|Integrated Reasoning||12 Questions||Multi-source reasoning, graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis||1-8||30 mins|
|Quantitative||37 Questions||Data Sufficiency, problem Solving||0-60||75 mins|
|Verbal||41 Questions||Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction||0-60||75 mins|
|Total Exam Time||3 hrs 30 mins|