Your Detailed Guide to the GMAT
The GMAT or the Graduate Management Aptitude Test is a standardized computer-adaptive exam administered to test the aspirant’s aptitude for graduate business school. The score from this test is a mandatory requirement by almost all top international B-schools, and is seen as a good representative of the aspirant’s critical thinking, English language skills, analytical approach and mathematical background; elements considered key by the GMAC or the Graduate Management Admission Council which has been administering the test since 1954 in over 100 countries. The exam is often taken by aspirants who have a few years of work experience under their belt, because most B-schools ask that as a necessary requirement. All over the US it costs $250, but it could cost a little over that for international applicants.
About the Exam
Comprehensive information about the exam, what it tests, what the exam is all about, the time limit and the kind of practice you need to undertake is essential if you are planning on taking the test sometime soon. The test analyses your verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills. The test takes about 4 hours (approx.) to complete and the scores received are valid for up to five years. The maximum score that can be achieved on the exam is 800. The first section of the exam is the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) followed by the Quantitative (Math) section and the final section is the Verbal (Language) section. All of these are timed sections and are also computer-adaptive in nature, which means you have to answer each question in order to go on to the next. The level of difficulty will change in response to your answers. The questions are based on individual ability and no two test takers will get the same questions to answer.
The score for the exam is received in two ways; the raw score (which is a total of only the Quant and Verbal sections) is available right after the test gets over and the official score report is mailed to the aspirant within three weeks of the test. It is the AWA analysis which takes time to be scored as it is an essay section. The Quant and Verbal sections are multiple-choice based sections and therefore, the score is available immediately.
To know more on the exam sections is crucial. AWA is the first section and it tests the aspirant’s analytical and critical thinking and needs him to write two essays in 30 minutes each. In the first task, the student must analyze an argument and in the second, the student must analyze an issue. The grading of the essays is between 0-6 and it is done in two stages, one by a computer-based program and the next by an expert, the average scores from the two stages is the final score of the AWA.
Quant Section is the next section and is timed to 75 minutes with 37 multiple choice questions with varying difficulty depending upon the aspirant’s responses. It has two kinds of problems, i.e. on data sufficiency and problem solving. The score is between 0-60 for this section.
The final section is the Verbal section and it has 41 multiple choice questions, also timed to 75 minutes. This section has three kinds of questions based on reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction and it is advised that aspirants answer all the questions, as this is a computer-adaptive test and the aspirant will not be able to move to the next question unless he has answered the previous one.
As the exam is an exhaustive test of your capabilities, you need to be prepared to the hilt, both mentally and physically. Although the exam offers optional timed-breaks of 8 minutes each between the Quant and Verbal sections, you need to understand that it is a mentally rigorous exercise and being fully prepared is essential. If you exceed the time set for the scheduled breaks, it will be deducted from your exam time. It is mandatory that you discipline yourself into following a timed routine. Brushing up on math formulae, algebra, arithmetic, trigonometry and taking numerous practice tests on each section is a good way to start preparations for the test. Once you have scheduled your test date, give yourself at least 3 months of rigorous practice, depending on how well-informed you are about the exam content. There is a lot of practice material available on websites including the official website for GMAT, www.mba.com .Learn more about preparing for the test and download the GMATPrep software to take practice test and have a better understanding on where you lack in your preparation.
A Last word
Although a tough exam, the GMAT is nothing more than a test, and that’s important to remember. Not to let fear of the exam rule your judgment, but having motivation and thorough preparation as your backup is a good way to move ahead.