First offered in 1954, the GMAT has been taken by more than six million individuals. More than 225,000 candidates register for the exam each year and more than 1,500 management programs throughout the world use the GMAT to make admission decisions.
quantitative (evaluates basic mathematical skills as well as the ability to reason quantitatively, solve quantitative problems and interpret graphic data)
The GMAT, which is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) on behalf of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), is a standardized test of general verbal, mathematical and analytical skills you take to apply to most graduate management degrees.
Preparing to Take the GMAT
There are a number of steps that candidates can take to prepare themselves for the test and increase their chances for success.
Students should ensure that they are comfortable using a mouse and a conventional keyboard on a computer; this could ease some of their worries while taking the exam. Students should also review practice tests. GMAC publishes The Official Guide for GMAT Review, a study guide with real GMAT questions. The Graduate Management Admission Council offers at no charge the latest version of the GMAT preparation software, Test Preparation for the GMAT: Powerprep® Software. The software is available for download from www.gmac.com and contains two actual GMAT computer-adaptive tests with previously used GMAT questions, as well as general information about the GMAT. The GMAT Powerprep® software was developed for the Council by ETS.
When taking the test, examinees should answer all of the questions; they are advised to provide a guess if they do not know an answer. It takes about one and three quarter minutes to respond to verbal questions, and approximately two minutes to respond to quantitative questions. Candidates should make every effort to pace themselves, in order to answer all of the questions in each section:
verbal (tests comprehension of standard written English)
analytical writing (determines the ability to think critically and communicate complex ideas)
As of October 1997, the paper-and-pencil format of the GMAT was replaced throughout most of the world with the GMAT Computer-Adaptive Test (CAT), a change that affects approximately 95 percent of all GMAT registrants. While the basic structure and content of the GMAT remain the same, the computer determines questions to ask based on responses to previous questions. Therefore, the test adjusts to each test taker's aptitude, administering few questions that are too easy or too difficult for the test taker. The analytical writing section has not changed, although essays are now keyed into the computer rather than handwritten.
The Benefits of the GMAT CAT
GMAC committed to changing the GMAT to a computer-adaptive mode in 1995. Changes in graduate management programs paralleled greater diversity in the student population; executives and single parents, among others, were attracted to academic programs that accommodated their career and personal obligations. The GMAT and preparation for it did not fit as readily into their schedules. In particular, the test was held only four times each year. Its inflexibility did not match the flexibility of the academic realm.
Candidates can schedule the exam when it is convenient for them. It is offered three weeks per month, six days a week and 10 hours a day at approximately 600 computer-based testing centers in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Once candidates have completed the exam, they can receive unofficial test scores on the verbal and quantitative sections immediately. An official score report is sent to them within 10 days of testing. Scores may be sent to five institutions, the cost of which is covered by the test fee.
GMAT test takers are automatically included in the Graduate Management Admission Search Service (GMASS) (SM) unless a candidate notifies ETS in writing otherwise. The results of GMASS(SM) searches are now available online, enabling schools to access the names of approximately 98 percent of those who write the GMAT, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Strategies for Taking the GMAT
Minimal computer skills are required to complete the GMAT, although the effects of computer literacy on the ability of individuals to take the exam are a legitimate concern. A mandatory tutorial ensures that test takers have enough competency with the mouse and word processing systems to complete the test.
There are concerns regarding the inability to omit GMAT questions or change answers once they have been entered. These restrictions are related to the computer-adaptive algorithm, which relies on the sequential nature of questions asked and answers given. If a candidate were able to return to a question and change a correct response to one that is incorrect, the process upon which the candidate's score had been determined would be destroyed. Likewise, the level of difficulty of each question is based on previous responses; if a question were left unanswered, the algorithm could not proceed to the next question.
Registering to Take the Test
Information about registering for the GMAT is available on www.gmac.com. Candidates outside the US and Canada can call one of 12 regional registration centers; local testing centers and regional registration center phone numbers are provided in the GMAT Information Bulletin and through GMAC's website, www.gmac.com. Those who would like to retake the test can do so once each month.
GMAT candidates are required to present two forms of signed identification, at least one with a photo. A digital photograph is taken at the test site and stored with biographical information in the central archive at ETS. In order to ensure the security of the GMAT, the testing area is monitored by proctors as well as video and audio systems.
The Cost of the GMAT
It costs US$200 to take the GMAT. Individuals rescheduling their exams at least seven days in advance of their testing appointments will be charged an additional US$40. If they reschedule fewer than seven days in advance, they must pay the full fee for a new appointment. A refund of US$80 will be granted to those who cancel at least seven days in advance of their appointments; otherwise, no refund will be given.
For more information on the GMAT investigate the Graduate Management Admission Council's (GMAC) website.