What is the GMAT?
The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a computer-adaptive, standardized exam that is required for admission to many business schools. The GMAT was created by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which designed the exam to test the skills necessary for being successful in the business world, skills such as critical thinking, logical reasoning, data analysis, and basic math and English skills. Business school admissions committees evaluate GMAT scores as key measures of how applicants are likely to perform in their MBA programs. Although most MBA programs now also accept the GRE, the GMAT remains the more commonly taken exam for admission to MBA programs.
Let’s take a closer look at how the GMAT is administered, what the format of the GMAT is and what kinds of subjects it tests, and how test-takers can prepare for the exam.
How the GMAT is administered
The GMAT is administered year-round at designated test centers in most countries around the world. A proctor administers the exam in a testing room where each test-taker sits at a computer station to complete the exam.
In 2020, GMAC introduced an online version of the GMAT, which test-takers can sit for at home. The GMAT Online exam has the same structure and content as the GMAT given at test centers, but the exam is monitored by a remote proctor through the test-taker’s computer.
Let’s look at what the structure and content of the GMAT are.
The format of the GMAT
The GMAT takes about 3.5 hours to complete (including two optional 8-minute breaks) and is made up of four individually timed sections:
- a 62-minute Quantitative Reasoning section consisting of 31 questions
- a 65-minute Verbal Reasoning section consisting of 36 questions
- a 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section consisting of 12 questions
- a 30-minute Analytical Writing Assessment consisting of 1 “Analyze the Argument” essay task
Test-takers receive a separate score for each section and a total score that is based on their performance in the Quant and Verbal sections. The total score is given in 10-point increments on a scale of 200 to 800.
With the exception of the essay task, all of the questions on the GMAT are multiple-choice. However, each section of the GMAT features distinct question types that test a broad range of skills and concepts. The Quantitative section features Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency questions that test high school-level math skills in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability, and basic statistics. The Verbal section features Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension questions that test your knowledge of grammar rules and your ability to analyze arguments and understand and interpret information in written passages. The Integrated Reasoning section features various question types that test Quant and Verbal concepts by presenting data in graphs, charts, and written formats.
With such a wide variety of concepts and question types to master for the GMAT, many students wonder how to properly and efficiently prepare for such a challenging exam. Fortunately, there are some great GMAT prep options out there for test-takers of all ability levels.
How to prepare for the GMAT
There are many GMAT study options available nowadays, everything from classes and tutors to books and self-study courses, and numerous options within each of those categories. It’s also easier than ever to find information about the most effective GMAT prep materials on GMAT-related websites and forums, where thousands of test-takers have posted course reviews and GMAT debriefs.
For test-takers who are studying for the GMAT on their own, online GMAT prep courses are a popular choice because such courses offer maximum flexibility and are particularly useful for staying organized and efficient throughout what can be a long and maze-like process. Target Test Prep, for example, offers a comprehensive online GMAT prep course that provides a customized, step-by-step study plan to guide you to your score goal, detailed analytics to track your progress and pinpoint your weakest areas, and thousands of realistic practice questions to prepare you for test day. And you can try the course out for just $1 to make sure it’s right for you.
Regardless of an applicant’s undergraduate GPA or work experience, business school admissions committees tend to pay close attention to test scores, so having a reliable and effective study resource is essential if you plan to take the GMAT. Just remember, not all GMAT study resources are created equal, so it’s important to do your research!