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The Beginner’s Guide to the GMAT Exam

05 April, 2023 By Parthiva Mewawala, IMS India

Every year thousands of aspirants apply to some of the most prestigious management and MBA programmes around the world. While the selectors assess the applications holistically and comprehensively, they do give significant weightage to the GMAT exam. If you’re planning to pursue an MBA abroad or in India, chances are you, too, have come across the GMAT. The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is a critical yardstick that the world’s best universities use to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the applicants. While it is an incredibly important piece of an otherwise encyclopaedic application, it can still cause a lot of confusion in the minds of wary students. That’s why we’ve created this exhaustive guide of all the basic details on the GMAT to get you started on the right foot. You can contact our consultants here if you have any other questions about the GMAT or MBA abroad. 

What is the GMAT exam? 

The GMAT is the leading computer-adaptive standardised test used by over 2100 universities and colleges worldwide to gauge applicants’ competence for their MBA, Master of Finance, Master of Accountancy, and doctoral-level business programmes. 

It is used to test whether the applicants have the skills necessary to succeed in business school. While it doesn’t test raw business knowledge, it does evaluate relevant core skills through a comprehensive range of questions spanning four sections – quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, integrated reasoning, and the analytical writing assessment. 

What is the difference between GRE and GMAT? Learn here.

How is the GMAT exam scored? 

Students receive a total score out of 800, apart from sectional scores that vary depending on the type of questions in the section. 

The verbal and quant reasoning sections are MCQs scored from a total of 60. Scores in this section are then extrapolated to 800 using a formula that accounts for the adaptive difficulty of the questions. Integrated reasoning is graded on a scale of 1 to 8, while analytical writing scores range from 0 to 6.

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council or GMAC, the mean GMAT score is 547.35, with the vast majority of students scoring between 400 and 600. Most students aim to cross 700, putting them in the 90th percentile, often considered a benchmark score for the top 25 universities. 

What is a good GMAT score? Click here to learn more.

What is the format of the GMAT test? 

The GMAT has four sections, as mentioned above, each designed to test a specific set of skills. The analytical writing assessment focuses on the test-takers’ skill to analyse, understand, and critique a given piece of information. The integrated reasoning section enables students to showcase their ability to synthesise and deduce information from various sources. The quant section is about solving problems through deduced reasoning and interpretation of data using simple mathematical tools. The last section, verbal, tests students’ comprehension, evaluation, and communication abilities. Students have a total of 3 hours and 7 minutes to finish the test. 

Read more about the different sections of the GMAT here.

It’s a computer-based adaptive test that adjusts the difficulty level of the question according to the test-takers’ competency. Simply put, every time a student answers a question right, the following question will become progressively harder, and if they answer the question wrong, the next question will be easier. 

No one’s allowed to skip between questions or flag questions to answer later. Once the student has moved on from the question, they cannot return to it to alter their answer. 

How to register for the GMAT? 

Registering for the GMAT online is straightforward and simple. Students must visit MBA.com, choose from the two test delivery options, register, and pay to receive the test details and confirmation. 

The two delivery options include online, which lets you give the test from home at any time, and test centre, which requires you to visit the nearest centre at the allotted time. You can  book tests up to 6 months in advance until 24 hours before the test. Cancellation and rescheduling options are provided and can vary according to different timelines. 

The test costs $275 or approximately Rs. 22500. It has a score validity of 5 years, and students can choose to utilise the scores for later admissions. 

Most students give the GMAT exam multiple times to improve their scores. It’s important to remember that aspirants can give the test a maximum of 5 times a year and a total of 8 times before getting barred. 

Basic GMAT test-taking strategies

The GMAT is a critical juncture for all MBA aspirants who wish to fast-track career growth with the support of an internationally-renowned program. Thus, students must prepare extensively before the actual test with a strategically organised approach. 

This approach should allocate ample time for a prep and practice schedule that accounts for all the sections, different types of questions, and the development of tertiary skills within a stipulated time frame. GMAT coaching classes are a good opportunity for students who wish to build a focused pathway to a good GMAT score. GMAT classes provide students access to teachers, training, mock tests, and other critical resources that can make a tangible difference in students’ GMAT scores. Contact us today to see how we can help you scale the GMAT test with desirable scores and accelerate your journey towards a solid MBA programme.