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GMAT: Graduate Management Admission Test

The Graduate Management Admission TestTM (GMATTM) is a standardized assessment, administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), that is used by many business schools worldwide to help evaluate candidates for their MBA programs.

The test contains three main sections: quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing. It evaluates skills and abilities that develop over relatively long periods of time, and does not test specific knowledge obtained in college course work.

The GMAT uses a so-called computer-adaptive format, which means that the test continuously tries to adjust to your individual level. You are presented with one question at a time, drawn from a large pool of questions that have been categorized by content and difficuly. The first question is of average difficulty. As long as you keep answering questions correctly, the following questions will keep getting more and more difficult. If you make a mistake, the next question will be slightly less difficult. In theory, by the time you finish the test, you should be answering about half of your questions correctly.

Some of the questions on the test do not count toward your score: they are being evaluated for future use (i.e., they may appear as "real" questions on the tests of future candidates). However, you will not be able to identify these questions, so you should try to answer each and every question correctly!

The test also contains an Analytical Writing Assessment, which is comprised of two essays topics selected by the computer, and which measures your ability to think critically and communicate complex ideas through writing.

The GMAT yields four scores: analytical writing, verbal, quantitative, and total. Analytical writing scores can range from 0 to 6 in half point intervals. The verbal and quantitative scores range from 0 to 60. Finally, total scores range from 200 to 800. Schools may not find all four scores equally important. Some schools may not even use the analytical writing score at all, unless there is a tie between two candidates. And if you are not a native speaker of English, admissions officers may take that into account by giving your quantitative score a higher "weight" than your verbal score. However, if the school to which you are applying uses the GMAT (not all schools do), it is in your best interest to get the highest GMAT score that you are capable of achieving!

There are no set "passing" or "failing" scores. Schools normally use GMAT scores as just one of multiple available sources of information about an applicant, along with applications essays, telephone or on-campus interviews, letters of recommendation, etc. It it sometimes said that, although a high score will not guarantee you admission, a low score can make it difficult for you to be admitted, unless you have a lot of "compensation" for your low GMAT score. (For example: excellent recommendations, or a very high undergraduate GPA.)

For more information about the GMAT, visit the web site of the Graduate Management Admission Council. It contains information about making an appointment in test centers around the world, sample GMAT questions, and much more.


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