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GMAT – what is it all about?

The first hurdle facing most prospective MBA students is the GMAT. This article aims to give an overview of the test and provide advice on how to prepare

The Graduate Admission Test or GMAT as it is now known was first introduced in 1953 and was created by a small group of Business Schools who’s aim it was to develop a standardized test to help business schools to take a consistent approach to entry criteria. The test is taken more than 200,000 times annually and is now used by over 1,500 business schools globally.

The test is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) who has recently announced plans for a ‘Next Generation GMAT’, which will be introduced June 2012. Global MBA Report will be looking at these changes over the coming months so watch this space!

So what is it all about?

  • Analytical writing assessment section – requiring two essays
  • Quantitative section – consisting of 37 multiple choice questions
  • Problem solving – including arithmetic, basic algebra and elementary geometry
  • Data sufficiency – tests quantitative reasoning ability
  • Verbal section – consists of 41 multiple choice questions
  • Sentence correction – examines knowledge of English grammar, usage and style
  • Critical reasoning – tests logical thinking
  • Reading Comprehension – examines ability to read critically

It is difficult to give guidance on what is the exact score required to gain entry to your chosen business school as most do not publish a minimum score or provide statistics on previous scores. However, you can usually find out the average score obtained by the latest intake, for example the following statement is taken from the London Business School website:

“Our average for the Class of MBA2012 is 701 with a range of 600-780. However, the GMAT is just one of several admission criteria. Just as a high score does not guarantee admission, a below average score does not eliminate a candidate. You must ensure that your score is still valid on the 1 September for the year you will be matriculating. Scores are valid for five years from the date you take the test. For example, for the class beginning in 2011, we will only accept scores obtained since 1 September 2006.”

It is important to note that you can overcome a low score with impressive real world achievements, a good undergraduate performance, high quality references, strong personal connections, strong application essays, or as a member of an under-represented group.

Last month Global MBA Report looked at Essential Reading for Prospective MBA Students, which included some useful books providing advice on business school admissions policy.

In addtion to the books reviewed above, the GMAT Review provides advice specific to the test and is now on its 12th edition. Here are some tips taken from the book on how to navigate the quantitative and verbal sections of the test:

  • DON’T resort to random guesses. Instead, try to eliminate at least one answer choice before confirming your response.
  • DO look out for sucker-bait answer choices.
  • DO pace yourself so that you have enough time to consider every available question — but don’t be a clock-watcher.
  • DO take your time with the first few Quantitative and Verbal questions.
  • DON’T succumb to perfectionist tendencies.
  • DO use your pencil and scratch paper (both will be provided).
  • DON’T waste time reading directions while the clock is running; you should already know them.

Visit the MBA Book Shop where you can browse and purchase titles recommended by Global MBA report.

gmatclub is a useful resource including blogs and extremely active forums where you can find a wide range of useful information. gmatclub also partners with organisations offering training/coaching.

Another fantastic information resource is, named after the highest score attainable on the GMAT and run by a group of very clever individuals who have all achieved impressive scores, including a few 800′s! has helped over 100,000 students since 1999 making it one of the leading online test preparation organizations.

Finally, GMAT Prep Now, created by Brent Hanneson who has over 20 years teaching experience, offers an affordable online GMAT prep course with over 400 premium videos, a comprehensive learning guide, and a money-back guarantee. Prices starting at just $10/module!