The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is a standardised test that most business school applicants need to take in order to join credited MBA courses across the globe. While the admissions committees do consider many other factors (including your professional experience, college grades, transcript, essays, resume, and interview), it is important to do well on the GMAT if you hope to get into a competitive business school.
The GMAT is a 3.5-hour* long computer adaptive test offered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) at approved testing centres around the world.
Here is how the GMAT Test is structured:
- Analytical Writing Assessment Section (30 minutes) – Essay on analysis of an argument
- Integrated Reasoning Section (30 minutes) – 12 multiple-choice questions
- Quantitative Section (62 minutes) – 31 multiple-choice questions
- Verbal Section (65 minutes) – 36 multiple-choice questions
*Including 23 minutes tutorial time
There are two optional 8-minute breaks in between sections. On the test day, test-takers will have to choose a section order from one of the following before starting the exam:
- Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal (original order)
- Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
- Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
You must answer a question to get to the next question – which means you cannot skip a question or return to it. While you are not required to finish any of the sections, leaving questions unanswered does attract severe penalty.
Your GMAT score is determined based on the number of questions you answer correctly, the number of difficult questions you get right, and the number of questions you answer.
Medium difficulty questions come at the beginning of each section and are weighted more heavily than those that come at the end.
Business schools tend to focus on your overall (or composite) score. The composite score includes both the Math and Verbal sections of the test and ranges from 200 to 800 in 10-point increments. The AWA section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 and IR Section is scored on a scale of 1 to 8. Both the AWA and IR Sections are not included in your composite score.
Taking and Retaking the GMAT
The GMAT is offered on most weekdays throughout the year, as well as a few Saturdays. Register early if you want to take the test on a Saturday. You can retake the test five times in a 12-month period although you must wait 16 days in between test dates. With effect from 17th December 2016, a test taker is allowed to take the GMAT exam no more than eight times, being the lifetime limit.
Business schools will usually see your three most recent GMAT test scores from the last five years, so you should make sure you are prepared.