If attending a business-related graduate program at a top-rated school is something you want to do, you will have to take The Graduate Management Admission Test. The GMAT is a computer adaptive, multiple-choice exam used to assess critical thinking skills across multiple areas and determine candidates’ suitability and potential for management programs.
Whether you are a first-time test-taker or an experienced candidate, it’s essential to learn everything you can about the GMAT to help you be as prepared as possible.
- The Test is Required by Most Business Schools
In 1953, nine business schools devised the exam known today as the GMAT. They sought to create a more streamlined and standardized method of assessing applicants.
Over the past 68 years, the test has been fine-tuned and has become a widespread metric for measuring candidate suitability. Last year, more than 250,000 candidates sat for the GMAT in hopes of scoring high enough to gain admission to the around 6,000 top business programs worldwide that accept GMAT scores.
- Your Overall Score is the One that Matters
The GMAT is composed of four different sections:
- Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
- Integrated Reasoning
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Verbal Reasoning
While examinees will receive a score on each of these four sections, the total score is calculated based only on performance in the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections. Most business schools will be more interested in this total GMAT score, which will be a number between 200 and 800, rather than in your individual sectional scores. Any score above 690 will generally equip you to apply to most graduate business programs, and your score will stay valid for five years.
- The GMAT Uses Computer Adaptive Testing
One of the critical characteristics of the GMAT is its computer-adaptive testing algorithm, which allows the test to adapt to your answers as you progress and provide you with questions of varying difficulty. Computer adaptive testing works by:
- Initially offering you a randomly-selected choice of questions from a larger question bank.
- Deciding the difficulty of further questions and the estimated total score, based on your answers as you go. Correct answers lead to more challenging problems and a higher score approximation, while incorrect answers will result in more straightforward questions and a lower estimated score.
Remember that because challenging questions are more valuable to your score, the number of questions answered correctly is not necessarily a useful indicator of your final score. Correct responses to easy questions are not worth as much as correct responses to difficult ones.
- Practice Makes a Huge Difference
The GMAT is one of the most competitive exams globally, with many top business programs screening out candidates who fail to achieve a score of 700 or above. With an ever-increasing number of exam-takers, it is only becoming more competitive every year. Thorough and diligent studying can make a huge difference to your GMAT score and, therefore, your chances of acceptance into your dream program.
There are plenty of resources to assist in your preparation. Taking the best online GMAT test available can help you be prepared for the GMAT when your testing day arrives. You can also explore practice questions, test-taking strategies, and online study groups.
Even with significant practice, many examinees fall short of the score they are aiming for the first time they take the GMAT. For this reason, remember that there is no penalty for re-taking the test in order to achieve a higher score.
- You Will Be Penalized for Unanswered Questions
Unlike some exams, which do not penalize you for skipping questions, the GMAT computer-adaptive algorithm will dock you points for failing to select an answer.
You should also remember that you don’t need to answer every question right to fetch a high score. Unanswered questions have a more negative effect on your score than incorrectly-answered ones, so be sure to study the questions you find most challenging in advance so you don’t feel the urge to leave anything blank.
Information is Wealth
The GMAT is a highly competitive exam taken by thousands of prospective business students each year.
Preparing for the GMAT involves both studying for the individual questions and understanding the test as a whole. This means knowing what skills the examination assesses, familiarizing yourself with its pattern, and developing a strategy that works for you. This information will help you streamline your preparation and bring you closer to gaining admission to your top-choice business management program.