What Is A GMAT And How To Complete One?
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardised test that measures the ability of a candidate to undertake postgraduate study in business institutions, mostly associated with MBA and MiM.
Not all business schools will ask for a GMAT, these are mostly associated with schools in Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, although there are other countries too. The GMAT exams are done in English and involve a series of questions testing your numerical, reasoning, verbal, and writing ability.
If you’re thinking about taking a business-related Master’s, it’s worth checking if you need to take a GMAT. Preparing can take some time and you’ll need to register for a place in a certified test centre, so make sure you plan in advance. Achieving an above-average score will add valuable weight to your application to your prospective university as well as your employability.
The GMAT is a computer-based exam that consists of four sections with a 3-and-a-half-hour time limit. The four sections can be completed in any order of your choosing:
Analytical Writing Assessment
This section consists of just one question which you should aim to complete in 30 minutes.
You will have to write a short essay and evaluate the reasoning on an example argument.
This section consists of 12 questions which you should aim to complete in 30 – 40 minutes.
This section tests your problem-solving ability using data from multiple sources. The questions can come in four format variations; graphic interpretation, multiple-source reasoning, table analysis, and two-part analysis.
This section consists of 31 questions which you should aim to complete in 65 minutes.
This section requires a good knowledge of mathematics in the areas of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. The questions are broken into two parts; problem-solving and data sufficiency.
This section consists of 32 questions which you should aim to complete in 1 hour.
This part is designed to test your reading and comprehension skills.
*The quantitative reasoning and the verbal reasoning sections are both computer adaptive. This means the exam will adapt itself to your ability and your answer will determine the difficulty level of the next question.
Both sections will start with a medium-difficulty question. If you answer correctly, the harder your question will be, and vice-versa if you answer incorrectly. The exam will keep this format until you have answered all the questions. Once you’ve answered a question, you are unable to backtrack and change it.
Each difficulty has a score attached. The harder the question, the more you score.
What score do you need?
The maximum score on a GMAT is 800, but a majority of candidates achieve between 400-600. For a top-tier institution, you need to achieve a score of 700. However, a high score doesn’t guarantee you’ll be accepted into a competitive MBA program.
This is because the score is just one of the factors that play into an MBA application. There is the essay, the interview, your qualification and experience which are all taken into consideration as well. However, a lower score doesn’t always mean you’ll fail either.
The GMAT scores are valid for 5 years, or available to report on for 10 years.
Preparing for a GMAT
Preparation is a must if you want to achieve a good GMAT score. There are plenty of online resources, tips, and practice papers to help you out – as long as they’re from reputable sources. The Graduate Management Assessment Council (GMAC) offers a free starter kit which includes sample questions, past exams and computer-adaptive difficulty questions.
Post completion, the starter kit will give you a score that should give you a clear indication of your level. If you have a low score, this is an indication you need to take more comprehensive preparation. However, a high score doesn’t mean you can put your feet up and relax. You’ll still need to do some preparation before the actual test.
The exam costs $250. However, you can apply for a waiver form in some institutions if you are a financial disadvantage student.
Due to the pandemic, GMAC developed a fully-online version of the exam. The online GMAT costs slightly less to book, but you need to book a timeslot. The exam is not available in some countries, so make sure you look before paying.
The online version is similar to the normal exam in terms of questions and duration. Your score will be valid for 5 years and available to report for 10 years. You can find out more information about the online GMAT.
Financing your postgraduate course
Masters are career-changing degrees. Whether you are looking to progress on your current path or looking to change industries, a Master’s is a great way to leap yourself forward. But a Master’s can be expensive, especially for an international student and for a top-tier university.
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