Special Content

Special article vol.29

Easy ways to Crack Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

Rruchi Shrimalli

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) conducts the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) as a computer adaptive test to assess a person’s analytical, quantitative, and English reading, writing, and verbal skills. It is mainly which assesses a person’s analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal and reading skills in standard written English. This test is a requirement for admission to top MBA, Executive MBA, and specialized Master’s programmes offered by top international business schools.

Over 2,000 universities and institutions accept GMAT scores for admission to more than 6,000 graduate business programmes. Besides these, GMAT scores also come in handy to avail some of the prestigious scholarships. Some employers accept GMAT scores too, while screening candidates. While the average GMAT scores accepted by universities abroad vary, generally, top-tier universities require a GMAT score of above 710, while middle-tier universities accept a GMAT score of 600 or more.

The GMAT exam is a computer adaptive test. It means that candidates taking the exam see just one question at a time. The difficulty level of the next question is based on the accuracy of one’s previous answer. GMAT has recently introduced a mini-GMAT exam called Executive Assessment exam, which has been especially designed for EMBA applicants. The mini-GMAT exam tests the applicants’ analytical and logical thinking only, and is of shorter duration.The fees of full-fledge GMAT exam is $250, which translates to Rs 15,000 to 16,000 approximately.

GMAT Exam Pattern

The GMAT exam duration is 3 hours 30 minutes, during which candidates are tested for following skills:

*Analytical Writing: One gets 30 minutes for this section where one has to present the analysis of the given argument.

*Integrated Reasoning: This section has to be solved in 30 minutes too. It has 12 questions related to Table Analysis, Part Analysis, Multi Source Reasoning, and Graphics Interpretation.

*Quantitative Skills: One gets 75 minutes to solve 37 questions in this section which mainly assess candidate’s Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving skills.

*Verbal Skills: One gets 75 minutes to solve 41 questions in this section. Questions are related to Sentence Correction, Reading Comprehension, and Critical Reasoning.

GMAT scores are given in an increment of 10 points such as 550, 560, 570,…etc. The GMAT scores remain valid for five years. You need to take the exam before you apply to colleges. If you do not like your scores, you can cancel them immediately after you take the exam – at no additional cost.

Early in 2016, GMAC tested an option that might allow test takers to re-arrange the sections of the exam according to their preference. However, the GMAT may or may not have this feature according to the test results.

Recent Changes to the GMAT Exam

Is GMAT more difficult now?

An analysis of quant percentiles of GMAT section-by-section may give you a notion that it has become easier to score more in the ‘Quantative’ section while it has become slightly difficult to score well in the ‘Verbal’ section. However, experts have a different viewpoint.

According to the GMAT experts, the number of GMAT takers in China, India, and other Asian countries has increased considerably. Usually, these test takers have better math skills while their English skills are not as well-developed as English is a second language for them. Hence, it seems that more people are scoring more in the Quant section than the Verbal section. So, this percentile shift should not really worry you much.

Enhanced Score Report to help you analyse your performance

The default GMAT score report tells you about your raw scores, your section percentiles on Quant, Verbal, IR and AWA sections, and your overall scaled score. It is what you need for admission purposes. However, if you have not scored well in the exam, and want to know where you need to improve, you can now order an Enhanced Score Report – for an additional fee of $25. This score report includes details like how many correct answers you got, average time you took to solve each question, your percentile rank in each section and sub-section, and your rank in terms of time management.

Some GMAT sections are more important than others

The AWA and IR sections appear before the Quant and Verbal sections. However, only Quant and Verbal sections affect your overall scaled score. IR section tests how well you can interpret and analyze complex data, which might take a lot of time. However, be aware that it will be measured independently on a scale of 1 to 8. AWA section is measured on a scale of 1 to 6. AWA and IR section scores are mentioned separately on the report card.

So, while you need to perform well in the AWA and IR sections, it is advisable to focus on the Quant and Verbal sections more. The overall score is reported on a scale of 200 to 800. Most business schools do appreciate well-balanced scores and take a look at candidate’s AWA and IR scores too.

Retaking the Exam or Cancelling your Scores

 Earlier, you could retake the GMAT exam only after 31 days. However, since July 19, 2015, you can retake the test after just 16 days, just in case.

Another change that has been made is that if you cancelled your test score and retook the GMAT exam, the score card sent to your target colleges mentioned your cancelled score too. However, now, the score report does not mention your previously cancelled scores. Hence, students can take the test as many times as they want, without letting the college admission committees come to know about it.

More study material available from GMAC

GMAC’s official website – mba.com – offers an abundance of study material for the students. These include the free Testprep software, two more paid Computer Adaptive Tests (mock GMAT exam), the Official Guide, section-by-section review of your GMAT practice tests etc.

What is a good GMAT score?

Top 50 business schools in the world usually expect a GMAT score of 660 or more. Latest average GMAT scores of students admission to MBA programmes at Harvard Business School is 727, Standford Business School is 732, and Booth School of Business is 723.

The average GMAT score is slightly lower in European universities. London Business School and Oxford University admitted students with an average GMAT score of 698, while IE Business School accepted average GMAT score of 680.

Australian universities do not ask for GMAT scores specifically but some of them (like Macquarie Graduate School of Management) do accept GMAT scores. Macquarie had an average GMAT score of 680.

Nearer to home, Asian business schools accept GMAT scores too. IIM Ahmedabad and ISB Hyderabad accepted students with an average GMAT score of 711. China Europe International Business School had an average score of 692 while National University of Singapore had an average score of 672.

How long to study for the GMAT?

According to GMAC surveys, successful GMAT test takers invest about 100 hours in exam preparation. This includes about 40 hours of guided preparation (GMAT coaching), and 60 hours of self-study and practice.

So, if you have two to three months of time, you should have enough time to prepare for the exam. This may include 4 hours of intensive coaching during the weekends, and about two to four hours of self-study and practice during the weekdays.

Besides the official study material provided by GMAC, all the major coaching providers publish their own GMAT preparation books that you might use for the purpose. You may want to combine different study sources according to your starting level, budget, time frame available, and learning style.

Some of the mistakes you must avoid during exam preparation are:

Waiting for the last minute for exam preparation: While GMAC thinks it takes only two to three months to prepare for the exam, some test takers invest up to a year to prepare well for the exam. It might also be helpful for you to select the business schools you want to target first, and then, try to make it to them by getting the required GMAT score.

Having a goal in sight may increase your chances of actually make it to the required scores. Practice as much as you can, and if you have not been scoring well in mock tests, try harder. You might need time for this – hence, start as early as you decide to do MBA.

Focusing on just one section of the exam: The GMAT is a challenging exam. Being good in just English or in just the quantitative section won’t take you very far. GMAT tests four different skills for a reason. Focus on developing all the skills and aim for a balanced score, if you want to make it to the best business schools, give a boost to your career, and get the best scholarships for business students.

Refusing to seek help: Self-study might give you the satisfaction of being more intelligent but it might hurt your scores. Some people may need help with Maths, while others need help with English. The Verbal section of GMAT requires you to know complex vocabulary and intricacies of grammar. If you are not doing well in mock tests, seek help in time. Professional instructors can help you master GMAT-specific approaches for each section and may offer you excellent and time-tested tips to handle different types of questions.

If you insist on studying on your own, master one type of question first and then move on to tackle other types of questions. Monitor your progress regularly by taking as many practice tests as you can.

In the end, regular practice and sustained momentum is the key to get your highest GMAT score. Build up your speed and accuracy by taking actual practice tests every day, and you should achieve what you are aiming for.


(The Author is a columnist. Email:rruchishrimalli@gmail.com)