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GMAT: Introduction to the Graduate Management Admission Test


Getting ready to apply to business school? Then the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) should be on your to-do list. The GMAT measures a variety of skills that are thought to predict success in business school. It measures skills that you've acquired over the high school and college years. The GMAT is an aptitude test because it is meant to measure your potential to succeed in business school.

While the GMAT is only one of several criteria that graduate business programs use to evaluate your application, it is one of the most important. This is particularly true if your college GPA is not as high as you'd like. Exceptional GMAT scores can open up new opportunities for business school.

The GMAT contains sections that measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills.

Verbal Reasoning
The verbal section tests your ability to read and understand written material, to reason and evaluate arguments, and to correct written material so that it conforms to standard written English. Specifically, you'll answer three types of questions

  • Reading Comprehension Questions
    Reading passages of up to 350 words long are accompanied by interpretative, applied, and inferential questions. The passages discuss topics from the social and physical sciences, as well as business-related fields such as marketing and economics.

    This section does not assume detailed knowledge of the subject matter. Instead, the test measures your ability to understand, analyze and apply information presented in written form. All of the questions are to be answered based on what is stated or implied in the passage.

    These questions evaluate your ability to: (1) understand the reading passage, (2) follow the logical of the passage and evaluate the importance of the arguments presented, and (3) draw inferences.

  • Critical Reasoning Questions
    These questions test the skills involved in making and evaluating arguments as well as creating and evaluating plans of action. Items tap your ability to construct, evaluate, and form arguments and plans of action.
  • Sentence Correction Questions
    These questions test your ability to correctly express ideas in standard written English and to improve incorrect or ineffective expressions.

Quantitative Section
The quantitative section tests basic math skills and your ability to understand and apply quantitative skills to solve problems. Two types of questions appear:

  • Problem Solving
    Test basic math skills, the understanding of basic concepts and the ability to reason and solve quantitative problems
  • Data Sufficiency Questions
    Each item consists of a question and two statements that contain additional info. Your job is to decide if there is sufficient info to answer the question posed. This measures your ability to analyze problems.

Analytical Writing
The Analytical Writing Assessment tests your ability to analyze and evaluate issues and arguments. This portion of the exam consists of two 30-minute writing tasks

  • Analysis of an Issue
    Analyze an issue and explain your point of view, providing reasons and examples. Ability to form an argument.
  • Analysis of an Argument
    Analyze the reasoning behind an argument and write critique of that argument. this measures your ability to think critically.

Within each portion of the Analytical Writing Section, you are assigned a topic of general interest. It is not assumed that you will have any specialized knowledge of the subject. In correction the writing portion of the exam, raters consider: (1) your ability to organize and express your ideas, (2) your ability to use reasons and examples to support your statements, and (3)your use of standard written English.

GMAT Facts:

  • The GMAT is administered by computer year-round.
  • Schedule an appointment with a center near you.
  • Arrive at the test center 30 minutes early to complete any paperwork. If you arrive late, you may not be admitted and will not be refunded.
  • Bring identification to the test center.
  • Structure of the test:
    • Verbal Section, 75 minutes, 41 questions
    • Quantitative Section, 75 minutes, 37 questions
    • Analytical Writing Section, 60 minutes, 2 topics

Preparation Tips

  • Prepare extensively to ensure that you get the highest score possible. This is not the time to cram.
  • Buy a GMAT review book.
  • Download sample tests.
  • Try a practice test under conditions similar to the actual GMAT. Based on your practice score, devise a study plan to help you brush up on your verbal, quantitative, and writing skills.
  • Plan to take the GMAT well in advance of application due dates. Try to take it the spring or summer before you apply to grad school. You can always retake the GMAT, but remember that you're allowed to take it only once per calendar month. Because all prior scores are sent to the institutions to which you're applying, never take the GMAT as practice.
  • Get more info on the GMAT and register for it.
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