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What is the GMAT?

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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2016
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The GMAT® is the Graduate Management Admission Test®, a test meant for people who want to pursue graduate study of business. Most graduate schools of business use the test as one of the criteria by which they assess potential students. The weight given to the exam when applying to a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program varies from school to school, with some giving it a great deal of importance and others focusing much more on an interview or prior experience in the business world.

The exam is a standardized test that is somewhat similar to other admission tests, such as the SAT® or Graduate Record Examinations® (GRE®). It does cost money to take, and there are test centers throughout the world. The GMAT® consists of two main sections, a written section with two essays and a quantitative and verbal section.

The written section of the GMAT®, the Analytical Writing Assignment (AWA), is made up of two essays. In one, the test taker is asked to examine and analyze an argument, and in the other, the test taker is asked to consider and analyze an issue. The student is given half an hour for each essay, and they are graded on a scale of 0-6.

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The essays are first analyzed and rated by a computer program which looks at syntax, spelling, and the writing structure of the essay. They are then analyzed by a human who focuses on the treatment of the subjects as a whole. The human and computer scores are averaged to yield a final score, unless the difference in rating is greater than one point, in which case a second human reader is brought in to analyze them as well.

Both the quantitative and the verbal sections are taken on a computer, and the questions adapt themselves to the skill level of the test taker. This means that, if the test taker gets the first question correct, the next question is of a slightly increased difficulty level, while if the test taker answers incorrectly, the following question is slightly easier. Final scores on the test range between 200 and 800 points, and the questions start somewhere in the middle of this range of difficulty.

The quantitative section is made up of 37 multiple choice questions, which mostly test for an understanding of data presentation and problem solving. The test taker is given 75 minutes to complete this part of the test. The verbal section has 41 multiple choice questions that test comprehension of reading blocks, analytical reasoning skills, and ability to correct sentences for grammatical mistakes. This section is also to be completed in 75 minutes.

Different schools look for different final scores on the GMAT®, depending on how competitive they are and how much weight they give to the test. A low score may be mitigated by a high grade point average (GPA) during undergraduate schooling, a strong interview, or impressive business experience. A high score may help to make up for a lack of these things. For a good business school, a score should be in at least the mid-600s, if not the low- to mid-700s, for the applicant to have a serious chance at contending.

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anon174152
Post 4

Fantastic! Now read your blog, I am going to start looking for the best university, and studying hard for the test.

anon149434
Post 2

The GMAT is tough, but there are proven ways to improve your score. The average student studies between 20-100 hours, depending on the score they need. Certainly a test in patience and perseverance, just like b-school. Lee - The GMAT Coach

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