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The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is created and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Admissions officers use the GMAT to measure academic ability. In fact, ETS data has shown that GMAT scores are consistently good, though imperfect, predictors of academic success in the first year of business school. GMAT scores are also used by admissions committees as a useful guide in comparing the credentials of candidates from widely varying backgrounds.

Standardized = Predictable

The exam itself measures general verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills. It does not test business competence nor specific subject knowledge. The GMAT is a standardized test. Standardized tests by definition are predictable. Knowing the format and structure of the exam and applying certain strategies to address them can significantly increase score levels. In short, targeted preparation is the key to success on the GMAT.

Taking the Test

There are many test locations and you are advised to check the GMAT website for more information about locations of testing and how to book a test appointment, you can find all that information at


The GMAT consists of three sections, each providing a subscore that contributes to your overall score:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment
  2. Quantitative
  3. Verbal

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
The analytical writing assessment consists of two 30-minute typewritten essays. Topics tested include: Analysis of an argument and analysis of an issue

This section will take 75 minutes, and has a maximum of 37 multiple-choice questions. Questions includes problem solving and data sufficiency, on topics such as arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.

The verbal section takes 75 minutes and has a maximum of 41 multiple-choice questions. Question types include: Reading comprehension, sentence correction, and critical reasoning on topics such as speed reading, grammar, and analytical reasoning


How does a computer adaptive test work? The Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) is more than just a computerized version of a paper-and-pencil test. The GMAT CAT is called "adaptive" because the computer assigns questions based on your responses to previous questions. So, if you get the first question right, the second question should be a little harder and if you get the first question wrong, the second question should be a little easier, and so on. Harder questions generate higher scores and easier questions lower scores. The earlier questions of a GMAT CAT section are crucial in determining your baseline score, so invest the necessary time to try and answer these questions correctly. You must, however, pace yourself so that you have time to mark an answer for every question in the section.


In the first half of the Quantitative and Verbal Sections:

  1. Double-check your work to catch any sloppy mistakes.
  2. If you get the first few right, expect a very tough question early on.
  3. Don't worry if you can't answer an early question (even the first one).
  4. Don't over invest. Some questions yield to brute force, some don't.

In the second half of the Quantitative and Verbal Sections:

  1. You should feel challenged.
  2. Strategic guessing is ultra-important. Be willing to cut your losses.
  3. Take quick stabs whenever a question looks too time-consuming.
  4. Manage your time so you don't have to guess randomly on the last 10-15 questions.
  5. Missing any one question won't hurt your score (much), but missing a string of questions will.
  6. Assume the last questions are scored.
  7. You will be penalized heavily for not finishing the section.

Scoring on the GMAT

You will receive four scores on the GMAT:

  1. An overall score, ranging from 200 to 800.
  2. A math subscore, ranging from 0 to 60.
  3. A verbal subscore, ranging from 0 to 60.
  4. A score for the Analytical Writing Assessment, ranging from 0 to 6.

Your GMAT score is valid for five years.

Percentile Rank

Each of the aforementioned scores are accompanied by a percentile rank. The percentile rank highlights what proportion of test takers scored lower than you on the test. The higher the percentile rank, the better you did. For example, if you received a percentile rank of 56, you did better than 56 percent of test takers. This number tells business schools exactly where you fell with respect to other candidates who took the GMAT.

The Essay

Each essay is given a separate grade on a 0-6 scale by two different graders - a human and a computer named the "e-rater.". These grades are assigned holistically, taking into account all aspects of content, writing style, and grammar.

If the two grades for an essay agree, that score will be assigned. If the two scores are markedly different, then a third scorer, a person, will read the essay to determine its grade. In addition, business schools may receive copies of your typewritten essays.

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