A Guide to the Gmat

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is an evaluation tool for business schools to assess the skills of candidates for graduate level business programs. Although not required by all business schools, it is a frequent choice of students as a confirmation of their skills and as support for their graduate school applications.

The exam is owned and overseen by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The actual exam locations and the administration of the exams are provided by Pearson under contract to the GMAC. Exams are scheduled in advance and are generally available six days per week in almost 100 countries. Exams can be scheduled online at the mba.com website or by telephone. It is also possible to register by mail or fax, although these are the least efficient methods. The test fee is $250.

The exam is computer-based and conducted on an individual workstation.  The exam is interactive and adaptive. For the multiple choice sections, the exam will begin with a moderately difficult question. Depending on whether you answer correctly or not, the system will choose whether to give you a similarly difficult question or an easier question.  All questions are selected from a group of previously approved questions. As you proceed through the section, the program will develop an accurate assessment of your ability level in the subject matter.

It is essential to answer all the questions because there is a significant scoring penalty for incomplete sections. Additionally, the testing program chooses your next question based on the response to the current question. The computer displays the number of questions and the amount of time remaining on the screen while you are working. Every test includes trial questions that are used to measure the efficacy of the test; these questions are not scored. You will not know which they are and should do your best to complete each question correctly.

The exam covers analytical writing, quantitative problems, and verbal usage. The analytical writing section includes 30 minutes each on analysis of an issue and analysis of an argument, for a total of one hour. The quantitative section assesses problem solving and data sufficiency in 37 questions and allows 75 minutes for completion. The verbal section covers reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction in 41 questions and also allows 75 minutes for completion. Including optional rest breaks, total exam time will be about four hours.

Your score will be determined by how many questions you answer, whether you answer them correctly, and the level of difficulty of the questions you answered. At the end of the exam, and only at this time, you have the opportunity to cancel your scores if you feel you have done very poorly on the exam. You cannot change your mind. If you cancel the scores, they are gone for good and you will not receive a refund of the test fee.

Upon completion of the exam, you will see preliminary scores for the multiple choice sections. A formal score report will be available after the analytical writing section has been scored. You may retake the exam if you choose, but unless you have reason to believe that your scores are not in line with your other records or you had issues which caused you to perform badly on the day of the exam, it is unlikely that a retest will yield significantly different scores. You may request transmission of your scores to institutions where you are applying for admission.

For detailed information, access the GMAT information bulletin on the mba.com website.