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All you need to know about the GMAT

August 26, 2010 17:06 IST
If you're planning on studying a management course abroad, chances are you will need to take the GMAT. Here's what you need to know about the test...

The GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission Test. It is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and is primarily a multiple-choice test.

The GMAT is required for admission to most US, Canadian and European management schools and many business schools for MBA programmes globally.

It is a standardised test that most MBA programmes use to assess applicants. The test has three main sections -- verbal, quantitative and analytical writing. The test is only available as a computer adaptive test, meaning the test is taken at a computer terminal and questions vary from test to test depending on the test-taker's correct or incorrect answers.

The test can be given all year round with prior registration and depending on the availability of dates.

Test Pattern
The following table represents GMAT test format:

 

 

 

 

 

The test begins with the analytical writing assessment (AWA) section. Students need to type their essay on the computer, using a very basic word processor.

Each question must be answered before you can move on to the next question. Further, you cannot return to a question once you go to the next question. The first question will be of medium difficulty. If you answer it correctly, the next question will be a little harder. If you answer it incorrectly, the next question will be a little easier.

Because the GMAT "adapts" to your performance, early questions are more important than later ones. Along with the regular sections student have to appear for the experimental questions as well.

Experimental questions can be in any section and it is not included in the scores. The experimental questions can be standard math, data sufficiency, reading comprehension, arguments, or sentence correction. You won't know which questions are experimental.

Scoring pattern
The four major parts of the test are scored independently. You will receive:

  • Verbal score (0 to 60)
  • Math score (0 to 60)
  • Total score (200 to 800)
  • Analytical writing score (0 to 6)

There is no minimum score that students much achieve. The total score is a scaled combination of the verbal and quantitative scaled scores, and thus reflects a student's overall performance on the multiple-choice sections of the test. The AWA score is independent of and has no impact on the total scaled score.

The value of a GMAT score is determined by the percentile ranking assigned to that score. The percentile ranking expresses the percentage of the test-taking population that receives scores below a particular score.

The GMAT does not penalise you for wrong answers, so never leave any question unanswered. With the computer-adaptive test for GMAT, a student cannot return to a question once it has been attempted, so students should be very sure of their answer before proceeding. It is essential that students pace themselves properly and be very certain of their answers. 

Universities require the official score to be sent by students for the admission process. The official scores are sent to five universities that a student needs to select on the day of the exam. If students want to send the scores to more than five universities they need to order for additional scores which costs $28 (Rs 1,300 approx) per university. The universities will receive the scores in 20 calendar days. Students may request for additional scores online.

Exam preparation
There are various reference books and notes available for students to prepare. Generally the time needed for preparing for the GMAT is 2 to 6 months, depending on individual abilities. Practice is essential and there are a number of training institutes that offer mock tests before the exam, by which students can work on areas they are weak in.

Some students retake the exam to try and maximise their scores. In such a case, many business schools may consider the higher score or average of the scores.

Registration
Students can register for the test online at www.mba.com/mba. The other ways for registration are by phone, mail or fax.

Students will incur taxes to schedule an exam in certain countries. The details of the same is given on the site while going through the registration formalities. Students need to locate the nearest testing centre and check for the available time slot for the exam and book the same.

Online registration
If student chooses to schedule a test online, they must sign up as a registered user of the mba.com website. Students should be careful while entering the required basic details like name and birth date; these should be exactly as they appear on the identification they will carry at the time of the test at the test centre.

The current GMAT exam fee is $250 (Rs 11,600 approx) the payments can only be made by credit card or debit card.

Rescheduling
Students need to log in online with their account details to reschedule their exam date. If a student want to reschedule their appointment in a country other than the one in which they have scheduled their original appointment, they have to do it by phone.

There is a $50 fee charged to reschedule the date, time, or location of the test. Students should reschedule the date before seven calendar days or else they will have to pay the full registration fees.

Cancellation
If a student cancels his/her test appointment at least seven full calendar days in advance of the date and time of their test date, they will receive a partial refund of $80 (Rs 3,700 approx).

If they do not cancel their appointment within seven full calendar days of the scheduled test date and time, they will have to forfeit the entire registration fee.

Contributed by www.globaleducationcounsel.org