What is GMAT?

Who administers the GMAT test?

When is the GMAT held?

Eligibility and Fees

The GMAT-CAT : A Fact Sheet

Format of the GMAT test

Reporting Scores

The Scoring Pattern

Retaking the GMAT

What is GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test is a Standardized test that measures verbal, mathematical and analytical writing skills. It is intended to help the graduate schools of business assess the potential of applicants for advanced study in business and management. Nearly 900 management institutes all over the world (almost all of them in the US) require GMAT scores from each applicant. The GMAT tests the fundamental skills - Reasoning and Comprehension included - and does not require any subject-specific theoretical study.

The test is designed in such a way that it would be unlike any other test you would have taken at school or college. First, the test has no question paper or answer sheets, nor does it have the same set of questions for all the examinees. Further, it does not give you the option of not answering a question (unless, of course, you run out of time at the end). All this because the GMAT is now an entirely Computer based test - the keyboard and mouse do the work of a pen or pencil. The test is scored out of 800 (in multiples of 10), and most scores fall in the range of 500-600. However, a score of even 800 is not unheard of!

The GMAT test is only one of several parameters which the graduate schools look at to determine the selection of an applicant. A high score alone does not translate into an admission offer from a great school. But the test can be looked upon as the first major hurdle to be cleared in the process of getting admission into a B-school of your choice.

Who administers the GMAT?

The GMAT test is developed and administered by the US-based Pearson VUE under the direction of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a non-profit organization of graduate business schools worldwide. This implies that Pearson VUE conducts the test, and sends each examinee the score report. For the conduct of the test, Pearson VUE has appointed testing centers in various countries.

When is the GMAT held?

All-round-the-year. Unlike other exams, you can choose your own date and time for taking the GMAT! The test is administered in the above cities five-days-a-week (Monday through Friday), twice-a-day. September to December is the high season for GMAT, so in case you intend to take the test during this period, you need to register very early (say 90 days in advance) to get a date of your choice. Otherwise, registering at least 15 days in advance is mandatory. The GMAT test lasts roughly four hours.

Eligibility and Fees

Anyone and everyone is eligible for taking the GMAT - there are no restrictions based on age or qualifications. The test scores are valid for five years, that is most universities accept scores up to five years old. But it is always better if your scores are recent (not older than 2 years).The fee to take the Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT) must be confirmed GMAT site.

Preferred Forms of Payment
  • By credit card
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Preferred Forms of Payment

Telephone (toll-free): 1-800-717-GMAT (4628), 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Central Time
Telephone: 1-952-681-3680, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Central Time
Fax: 1-952-681-3681

Asia-Pacific Region (except India)

Telephone: +61 2 9478 5430, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. AEST
Fax: +61 2 9901 3330


Telephone: +91 (0) 120 532 4628, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Indian Standard Time
Fax: +61 2 9901 3330

Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) Region

Email: Telephone: +44 (0) 161 855 7219, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. BST Fax: +44 (0) 161 855 7301

What is a Computer-Adaptive GMAT Test?

In a computer-adaptive test, the computer screen displays one question at a time, which is chosen from a very large pool of questions categorized by content and difficulty. The first question is always of a medium difficulty, and each subsequent question is determined by your responses to all the previous questions. In other words, the CAT adjusts itself to your ability level - you’ll get few questions that are either too easy or too difficult for you.

Each question in the GMAT CAT has five answer options, and you are required to select one of these five as the correct answer by clicking on it. A subsequent question is displayed on the screen only after you have answered the previous question, so you cannot skip a question. You cannot also go back to a previously answered question to change your answer. Thus, if you guess a correct answer or answer a question incorrectly by mistake, your answers to subsequent questions will lead you back to questions that are at the appropriate level of difficulty for you.

Content and Format of the GMAT Test

The test has three distinct sections : Analytical Writing Ability (AWA), Quantitative, and Verbal. The Quantitative section has two types of questions, Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency, mingled throughout the section. The Verbal Section has three types : Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension; here too, the questions of each type appear in no set sequence. There are a total of 78 questions, 37 in Quantitative and 41 in Verbal. These have to be done in 75 minutes each.

The following table gives out the format of the GMAT-CAT :

Questions Timing
Computer Tutorial NA NA
Analysis of an Issue
Analysis of an Argument
1 Topic
1 Topic
30 min.
30 min.
Optional Rest Break NA 5 min.
Quantitative (Problem Solving & Data Sufficiency) 37 75 min.
Optional Rest Break NA 5 min.
Verbal (Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, & Sentence Correction) 41 75 min

The tutorial is meant to make you feel comfortable with the infrastructure and the environment and does not have a prescribed time limit. You are expected to be through with it in 15 minutes or so : it makes sense to acclimatize yourself fully with the setting even after you think you have understood how the system works.

Analytical Writing Assessment

The analytical writing section requires you to write - or rather type - two short essays in thirty minutes each. The first is the Analysis of an Issue, in which you need to analyze the issue presented and explain your views on it. The second essay is Analysis of an Argument, in which a given argument has to be critically analyzed and evaluated.

For both the essays, the emphasis is on the "Analytical" part, and not on the "Writing" part. This implies that a concise essay with well-reasoned points written in simple English will be looked upon more favourably than an essay which falls short on the analytical aspects even though it is high on writing skills.

A five-minute break follows the two essays. The computer gives you the option to take this break, or to move directly to the subsequent section. Even if you finish the essays before the stipulated sixty minutes, the break will still be of five minutes. It is advisable to utilize this break by gearing yourself up for the tougher sections that follow.

Quantitative Section

The 37 questions in this section comprise two kinds of questions : Problem Solving (PS) and Data Sufficiency (DS). The two kinds do not have a definite break-up, usually there are around 20 PS and 17 DS questions. The section tests you on a level of Maths that is comparable to the level of Class 10 exams, with questions on Number Systems, Percentages, Fractions & Decimals, Algebra (including Quadratic Equations), Geometry (including Basic Coordinate Geometry), Ratio & Proportion, Area & Volume of 2-D and 3-D figures, and Probability. This list is not exhaustive; questions from beyond these topics may also be asked

While the Problem Solving questions require you to solve a mathematical problem directly and choose the right answer, the Data Sufficiency is of a trickier variety. Each problem comprises a question followed by two statements, which may or may not lead to the answer to the given question. This is what you need to ascertain - whether the given statements can be used to answer the question or not, and if so, whether the statements can be used independently or in conjunction. Each of the five answer options present the five possibilities that arise in this case, and you have to apply the basic principles of mathematics with a strong dose of logic to get these right

Verbal Section

The verbal section in GMAT test requires the basic skills of correct English coupled with reasoning and analysis. The 41 questions, to be attempted in 75 minutes, consist of three types : Sentence Correction (SC), Critical Reasoning (CR), and Reading Comprehension (RC). The three types are intermingled, with no fixed number for each type. The break-up of questions among SC, CR, and RC could be 14-14-13 or 15-13-13, or any such combination.

Reporting the Scores

There is a provision of reporting your GMAT test scores to a maximum of five universities of your choice, the cost of which is built into the GMAT test fee you pay. But the catch is : you have to select these five universities/business-schools which will receive copies of your score report BEFORE you begin to take the test. This implies that even before taking the GMAT, you need to do some homework on which universities you’re finally going to apply, based on the score that you expect to attain.

For reporting to each additional university, the charge is US $28, payable by an international credit card or a dollar denominated draft. You will incur taxes when you request Additional Score Reports (ASRs) in certain countries. Please click tax rates to determine the tax you will have to pay in certain countries.

The Scoring Pattern in GMAT CAT

The GMAT test results comprise four different scores : a total score (which is the combined verbal and quantitative scores), a separate Verbal score, a separate Quantitative score, and an Analytical Writing score. The total score is reported on a scale from 200 to 800. The Verbal and Quantitative Scores are reported on a scale of 0 to 60. For the AWA score, the scale is from 0 to 6. Note that your AWA performance is not reflected in your total GMAT score (on 800). You get to know your total, verbal, and quantitative score immediately after taking the test. Official GMAT score reports, which include the AWA scores, are mailed approximately two weeks after you take the test and take another ten days or so to reach your address.

In addition to these scores, the score report also contains percents (%) below. These "% below" indicate the percentage of examinees who scored below you based on the scores of the entire GMAT testing population for the most recent three-year period. These percentages are important in considering how an applicant for admission to a particular management school compares with everyone in the specified period, with all other applicants to the same school, and with students already enrolled at the school.

The following table indicates the percentage of examinees tested from June 1995 through May 1998 who scored below specified total scores :

Score Percentage Below Score Percentage Below
770-800 Greater than 99 490 40
740-760 99 480 37
730 98 470 34
720 97 460 30
710 96 450 28
700 95 440 25
690 94 430 23
680 93 420 20
670 91 410 18
660 90 400 15
650 88 390 13
640 85 380 12
630 83 370 10
620 81 360 8
610 78 350 7
600 75 340 6
590 73 330 5
580 70 320 4
570 67 310 3
560 64 300 2
550 60 290 2
540 57 240-280 1
530 53 200-230 <1
520 50
510 47
500 43

No. of examinees : 602,037 Mean Score : 513

This table implies that if you end up with a score of 600 on the GMAT, 75% of the 602,037 examinees who took the GMAT between June 1995 and May 1998 got a score below yours.

Retaking the GMAT

Even though an "I could have done better" feeling is inevitable after any test, taking the GMAT again may not be helpful. Sometimes it is necessary to take the GMAT test more than once, like when a management school asks you for more recent scores than what you have. However, unless your scores seem unusually low compared to your performance in the practice tests, or if you have not been able to perform well because of a sudden illness or similar exceptional circumstances, it’s advisable not to succumb to the temptation of repeating the test. This is because, given the nature of the test, it is unlikely that your scores can substantially improve.

If you repeat the test, your scores from the latest test date and the two most recent test administrations in the last five years will be reported to the institutions you designate as recipients. In any case, you cannot take the test more than once in the same calendar month, even if you have taken the test and cancelled your scores

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