The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized test which has been widely used as part of the assessment process for admission to MBA programs in Business Schools for many years.

The test measures skills and abilities that develop over time. Although it is basically verbal and mathematical, the complete test offers a method of measuring overall ability. It doesn't test knowledge in specific subject areas.

The test has three main sections, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing. Each complete test has the same format and areas of content, but specific questions vary from one to another. The questions are continuously replaced, but must fit the overall content and statistical requirements for the test. The GMAT is only available as a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT).


The test scores are intended as one measure of your ability to do graduate work. The test aims to predict your chances of academic success in the first year of an MBA program. It yields four scores: verbal, quantitative, total, and analytical writing.

Quantitative, Verbal and Total Scores

Both verbal and quantitative scores range from 0 to 60, (scores below 10 and above 46 are unusual). These are on a fixed scale and can be compared across any individuals. They measure different things and are not comparable to each other. The total scores for the test ranges from 200 to 800.

Analytical Writing Score

The analytical writing score is an average of the ratings given to two writing tasks. Each response is given two independent ratings. Once both essays by a candidate have been scored, they are averaged to provide an overall score. This average score can range from 0 to 6 in half point intervals.

How Schools Use and Interpret Scores

Test scores have two important characteristics:

1.They are reliable measures of certain developed skills that have been found to be important in the study of management/business at the graduate level. They have been found to be good, but imperfect, in predicting academic success in the first year of study at Graduate Schools of Management.

2. Unlike academic grades, which vary in meaning across school, test scores are based on the same standard for all test takers.

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has published guidelines for the use of test scores. Because the test only measures some characteristics related to success in graduate school, schools usually use GMAT scores as one source of information. Undergraduate record and information obtained from applications, interviews, and letters of recommendation are other good predictors of success. Each school evaluates the scores in its own way. Some set and state a minimum total score for entry.


The test is available, year-round, at test centers throughout the world. In the United States, U.S. territories, Canada, and Puerto Rico, it may be possible to schedule your test within a few days of taking it, but popular dates (especially weekends) book up quickly. In some countries the test may be offered only once per year, so planning is essential. Refer to the admissions deadlines of the schools to which you are applying and make your appointment early enough to increase your chances of receiving your chosen test date and the test center most convenient to you. You cannot take the test more than one time in any calendar month, even if you have taken the test and cancelled your scores. If you test more than once in a calendar month, your new scores will not be reported and your test fee will be forfeited.


There are many organizations that will help you prepare for the test, such as 800score.com.

The following is some general advice:


Don't think that you can drop into the test testing center and cruise through the test with no effort. Think again. The test, if required by your chosen school, is important. You should take it very seriously.

Focusing on some areas only

Some candidates will focus on strengths at the expense of their weaknesses, while others will concentrate only on their weak areas and neglect their strong areas. Both approaches are dangerous. Your test score will be based on how many questions you answer correctly and their difficulty level, but also on the range of question types and specific abilities covered by those questions. Prepare carefully for all sections of the test. Also note that schools often have their own formula for weighing your individual scores. Try to perform your best on every section and every question type within each section.

Undue emphasis on practice test scores

Even though your preferred school may have a declared minimum total score for entry, setting a goal for your test score is understandable. Try not to concern yourself as much with your scores but with what you can usefully do between now and your test day to improve your performance.


Preparing for the test is like training for an sporting competition. Familiarize yourself with it and get comfortable with it. Build up your endurance. Aim to have your motivation, interest, and performance peak on the day. Preparation means getting comfortable with the test, correcting poor test-taking habits, developing an instinct for spotting wrong answer choices and finding your pace. But after a time additional practice will give little additional benefit. So don't over prepare by starting many months in advance or by postponing test dates to give yourself more time than you actually can usefully use need for preparation.

High expectations

In theory you are capable of attaining perfect scores, but you do not need to do so. Everyone is limited to some extent by their abilities. Accept your limitations. Prepare yourself so that you can do as well as you can reasonably expect.

The essays

Schools often clearly state their admissions requirements on Quantitative, Verbal, and Total scores, but they are often a lot more vague about their requirements for essay scores. This does not mean that you can take the test essay sections less seriously! The top school for you will look at all the evidence. Nothing is unimportant.

Negative views

Don't make the mistake of thinking, I'll give the GMAT one go, and if I do poorly, I'll not try for an MBA program. With time and effort you could do very well. See it as preparation for your study. Register for and take the real test once as a full practice, just to get comfortable with the testing environment. You'll be far more relaxed the second time around. More than 90% improve their score in the second test.



If you must guess the answer to a question, try to eliminate at least one answer choice, rather than just randomly guess. This improves the chances. In most questions, at least one answer choice will be obviously wrong. Eliminate it, then guess if you need to.

Look out for easy answer choices

Test-writers like to tempt you with plausible but wrong answer choices. So, remember:

-For problem solving questions, wrong-answer choices typically reflect common calculation errors. To avoid this, use your pencil and scratch paper and check your calculations. Establish the general size of the numerical value that answers the question.

-Verbal section questions often include a best response and a second-best response. So, don't rush to select an answer until you've read all the choices!

Pace yourself

Be sure that you have enough time to consider every available question. Check your pace after every 10 questions (three times during a section). Pay attention to where you are in the test, the number of questions that remain in a section, and the amount of time you have left. You will have 75 minutes for 37 quantitative questions and 75 minutes for 41 verbal questions. That's about 2 minutes for each quantitative question 1 3/4 minutes for each verbal question. If you do not know the answer to a question, or it's too time-consuming to figure out, guess. You cannot skip a question and go back to it, or change your answer once you have moved on to the next question. For the Analytical Writing Assessment, you will have 30 minutes to compose each of two essays.

Start slowly

The difficulty level of your test questions will be based on the correctness of your responses to first ones. If you answer the first questions wrongly the testing system will immediately move you down the scale of difficulty, and your reward for easier questions is less than for more difficult questions. For example if you give the testing system the impression that you're incapable of answering difficult questions, through carelessness on the early questions, you'll be at a disadvantage.

Don't aim to be perfect

Again, don't be a perfectionist. The design of the test may encourage this attitude, because the reward for correct answers to difficult questions is greater than for easier questions. But aiming to be perfect may reduce the number of questions that you attempt, and lower your score.

Attack every question

Do not become casual. Retain your concentration throughout. To score high on the test, think about each and every question fully.

Do your calculations on paper

On the quantitative section, only do the simplest calculations in your head; write down everything else. Under time pressures it's easy to make careless mental errors in manipulating numbers.


You cannot take the test more than once in a calendar month even if you have taken it and cancelled your scores. If you do test more than once in a calendar month, your new scores will not be reported and your fee will be forfeited. You may repeat the test once in any subsequent month. However, it is unlikely to result in significant increase in your score. The average gain from the first to second testing is approximately 30 points. Sometimes it is necessary to take the test more than one time. For example, a Business School may request more recent scores than you have on record. But taking the test again may not be helpful unless your scores seemed to you to be unusually low, or unless there are other reasons to think that you did not do your best.

If you repeat the test, your scores from the latest test and the two most recent test dates in the past five years will be reported to the schools you designate.


The Official Guide for Gmat Review

Pub-Graduate Management Admission Council,10th Edition, 2000, ISBN 0446396664

How to Prepare for the GMAT (with CDRom)

Pub-Barron's Educational Series,2001,ISBN 0764174592

Cracking the Gmat 2001(with CDRom)

Pub-Princeton Review,2000,ISBN 0375756248

Republished with permission from The MBA Program Information Site (www.mbainfo.com), a comprehensive source of information on MBA programs.