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Graduate Management Admission Test

Graduate Management Admission Test
Acronym GMAT
Type Computer-based standardized test
Developer / administrator Graduate Management Admission Council
Knowledge/skill(s) tested Quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, integrated reasoning, analytical writing.
Purpose Admissions in graduate management programs of business schools.
Year started 1953 (1953)
Duration 3.5 hours[1]
Score/grade range Quantitative section: 0 to 60, in 1 point increments (only 11 to 51 reported),
Verbal section: 0 to 60, in 1 point increments (only 11 to 51 reported),
Integrated reasoning section: 1 to 8, in 1 point increments,
Analytical writing assessment: 0.0 to 6.0, in 0.5 point increments.
Total score: 200 to 800.
Score/grade validity 5 years
Offered Multiple times a year.
Country(ies) / region(s) 600 test centers in 114 countries.[2]
Language(s) English
Annual no. of test takers About 250,000 in a year[3]
Prerequisites / eligibility criteria No official prerequisite. Intended for bachelors degree holders and undergraduate students who are about to graduate. Fluency in English assumed.
Fee US$ 250
Scores/grades used by More than 2,100 universities/business schools in USA and other countries.
Website .com.mbawww

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT ( ())) is a computer adaptive test (CAT) intended to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for admission to a graduate management program, such as an MBA.[4][5] The GMAT does not measure business knowledge or skill, nor does it measure intelligence.[6] According to the test owning company, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the GMAT assesses analytical writing and problem-solving abilities, while also addressing data sufficiency, logic, and critical reasoning skills that it believes to be vital to real-world business and management success.[7] GMAT is a registered trademark of the Graduate Management Admission Council. More than 5,900 programs offered by more than 2,100 universities and institutions use the GMAT exam as part of the selection criteria for their programs. Business schools use the test as a criterion for admission into a wide range of graduate management programs, including MBA, Master of Accountancy, and Master of Finance programs. The GMAT exam is administered in standardized test centers in 112 countries around the world.[8] On June 5, 2012, GMAC introduced an integrated reasoning section to the exam that is designed to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate data presented in new formats and multiple sources.[9] According to GMAC, it has continually performed validity studies to statistically verify that the exam predicts success in business school programs.[10] According to a survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, the GMAT is still the number one choice for MBA aspirants despite the increasing acceptability of GRE scores.[11]


  • History 1
  • Predictive Validity 2
  • Format and timing 3
    • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) 3.1
    • Integrated reasoning 3.2
    • Quantitative section 3.3
    • Verbal section 3.4
    • Scoring 3.5
  • Registration and preparation 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


In 1953, the organization now called the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) began as an association of nine business schools, whose goal was to develop a standardized test to help business schools select qualified applicants. In the first year it was offered, the assessment (now known as the Graduate Management Admission Test), was taken just over 2,000 times; in recent years, it has been taken more than 230,000 times annually.[12] Initially used in admissions by 54 schools, the test is now used by more than 2,100 schools and 5,900 programs worldwide.[13]

Predictive Validity

The intended purpose of the GMAT is to predict student success in graduate business programs. Using data collected by GMAC between 1997 and 2004, GMAC found there to be a .459 correlation between total GMAT scores and mid-program student grades in graduate business programs.[14]

Format and timing

The GMAT exam consists of four sections: An analytical writing assessment, integrated reasoning, the quantitative section, and the verbal section.[15] Total testing time is three and a half hours, but test takers should plan for a total time of approximately four hours, with breaks. Test takers have 30 minutes for the analytical writing assessment and another 30 minutes to work through 12 questions, which often have multiple parts, on the integrated reasoning section and are given 75 minutes to work through 37 questions in the quantitative section and another 75 minutes to get through 41 questions in the verbal section.

Section Duration in minutes Number of questions
Analytical writing assessment 30 N/A
Integrated reasoning 30 12
Quantitative 75 37
Verbal 75 41

The quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT exam are both multiple-choice and are administered in the computer-adaptive format, adjusting to a test taker’s level of ability. At the start of the quantitative and verbal sections, test takers are presented with a question of average difficulty. As questions are answered correctly, the computer presents the test taker with increasingly difficult questions and as questions are answered incorrectly the computer presents the test taker with questions of decreasing difficulty. This process continues until test takers complete each section, at which point the computer will have an accurate assessment of their ability level in that subject area and come up with a raw score for each section.

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

The AWA consists of one 30-minute writing task—analysis of an argument. It is important to be able to analyze the reasoning behind a given argument and write a critique of that argument. The essay will be given two independent ratings and these ratings are averaged together to determine the test taker's AWA score. One rating is given by a computerized reading evaluation and another is given by a person at GMAC who will read and score the essay themselves without knowledge of what the computerized score was. The automated essay-scoring engine is an electronic system that evaluates more than 50 structural and linguistic features, including organization of ideas, syntactic variety, and topical analysis. If the two ratings differ by more than one point, another evaluation by an expert reader is required to resolve the discrepancy and determine the final score.[16]

The analytical writing assessment is graded on a scale of 1 (the minimum) to 6 (the maximum) in half-point intervals (a score of zero means the answer was gibberish or obviously not written on the assigned topic or the test taker failed to write anything at all on the AWA).

Essay score Description
1 An essay that is deficient.
2 An essay that is flawed.
3 An essay that is limited.
4 An essay that is adequate.
5 An essay that is strong.
6 An essay that is outstanding.

Integrated reasoning

Integrated Reasoning (IR) is a relatively new section (introduced in June 2012) designed to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate data presented in multiple formats from multiple sources. The skills being tested by the integrated reasoning section were identified in a survey of 740 management faculty worldwide as important for today’s incoming students.[17] The integrated reasoning section consists of 12 questions (which often consists of multiple parts themselves) in four different formats: graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning. Integrated reasoning scores range from 1-8. Like the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), this section is scored separately from the quantitative and verbal section. Performance on the IR and AWA sections do not contribute to the total GMAT score.

The integrated reasoning section includes four question types: table analysis, graphics interpretation, multi-source reasoning, and two-part analysis.[18] In the table analysis section, test takers are presented with a sortable table of information, similar to a spreadsheet, which has to be analyzed. Each question will have several statements with opposite-answer options (e.g., true/false, yes/no), and test takers click on the correct option. Graphics interpretation questions ask test takers to interpret a graph or graphical image. Each question has fill-in-the-blank statements with pull-down menus; test takers must choose the options that make the statements accurate. Multi-source reasoning questions are accompanied by two to three sources of information presented on tabbed pages. Test takers click on the tabs and examine all the relevant information, which may be a combination of text, charts, and tables to answer either traditional multiple-choice or opposite-answer (e.g., yes/no, true/false) questions. Two-part analysis questions involve two components for a solution. Possible answers are given in a table format with a column for each component and rows with possible options. Test takers have to choose one response per column.

Quantitative section

The quantitative section of the GMAT seeks to measure the ability to reason quantitatively, solve quantitative problems, interpret graphic data, and analyze and use information given in a problem. Questions require knowledge of certain algebra, geometry, and arithmetic. There are two types of quantitative questions: problem solving and data sufficiency.The use of calculators is not allowed on the quantitative section of the GMAT. Test takers must do their math work out by hand using a wet erase pen and laminated graph paper which are given to them at the testing center. Scores range from 0 to 60, although GMAC only reports scores between 11 and 51.[19]

Problem solving questions are designed to test the ability to reason quantitatively and to solve quantitative problems. Data sufficiency is a question type unique to the GMAT designed to measure the ability to understand and analyze a quantitative problem, recognize what information is relevant or irrelevant and determine at what point there is enough information to solve a problem or recognize the fact that there is insufficient information given to solve a particular problem.[20]

Verbal section

The verbal section of the GMAT Exam seeks to measure the test taker's ability to read and comprehend written material, reason and evaluate arguments and correct written material to express ideas effectively in standard written English. The question types are reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction questions. Scores range from 0 to 60, although they only report scores between 11 and 51.[21]

Reading comprehension passages can be anywhere from one paragraph to several paragraphs long. Reading passages contain material from subject areas like social sciences, history, physical sciences, and business-related areas (marketing, economics, human resource management, etc.). Reading comprehension passages are accompanied by interpretive, applied, and inference questions. This section measures the following abilities:

  • Understanding words and statements in reading passages
  • Understanding the logical relationships between significant points and concepts in the reading passages
  • Drawing inferences from facts and statements in the reading passages
  • Understanding and following the development of quantitative concepts as they are presented in verbal material
  • Understanding the author's point of view and their proposed arguments

Critical reasoning questions are designed to test the reasoning skills involved in making arguments, evaluating arguments, and formulating or evaluating a plan of action. Questions are based on materials from a variety of sources. This section measures the following abilities:[22]

  • Argument construction
  • Argument evaluation
  • Formulating and evaluating a plan of action

Sentence Correction questions ask the test taker to determine if there is a mistake with a given sentence and if so, to determine the best way in which the sentence should be written.


The total GMAT score ranges from 200 to 800 and measures performance on the quantitative and verbal sections together (performance on the AWA and IR sections do not count toward the total score, those sections are scored separately). Scores are given in increments of 10 (e.g. 540, 550, 560, 570, etc.). From the most recent data released by GMAC, the average GMAT score of all test takers is about 540. Business schools place their emphasis on the test taker's combined quantitative and verbal score because it is this score that gets reported when the schools publish their class profiles of the students they admit into their program. The higher the school's average GMAT score is, the more selective that school is said to be.

The score distribution conforms to a bell curve with a standard deviation of approximately 100 points, meaning that 68% of examinees score between 440 and 640.[23] More precisely, the mean score is 545.6 with a standard deviation of 121.07 points.[24]

The final score is not based solely on the last question the examinee answers (i.e. the level of difficulty of questions reached through the computer adaptive presentation of questions). The algorithm used to build a score is more complicated than that. The examinee can make a mistake and answer incorrectly and the computer will recognize that item as an anomaly. If the examinee misses the first question his score will not necessarily fall in the bottom half of the range.[25]

After previewing his/her unofficial GMAT score, a GMAT test taker has two minutes to decide whether to keep or cancel the GMAT score. If the score is cancelled any future score report will still note that the test taker sat for the GMAT on a certain date. The score will be noted as a "C" and will remain on the score report for 5 years. A cancelled score can be retrieved within 60 days for a fee of $100. After 60 days a cancelled score is not retrievable[26][27]

Registration and preparation

Test takers may register for the GMAT either online at or by calling one of the test centers.[28] To schedule an exam, an appointment must be made at one of the designated test centers. The GMAT may not be taken more than once within 31 days, even if the scores are canceled. Official GMAT exam study materials are available on the online store and through third-party vendors. The cost of the exam is US $250.[29]

There are test preparation companies that offer GMAT courses. Many test preparation companies have gone on record stating noteworthy GMAT results, including average or guaranteed score increases over 90 points.[30][31][32] Other available test preparation resources include university text books, GMAT preparation books, sample tests, and free web resources.[33]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "GMAT Basics". The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). 
  5. ^ "The GMAT Advantage". 
  6. ^ Martz, Geoff; Robinson, Adam (2009). The Princeton Review: Cracking the GMAT, 2010 Edition. New York: Random House. pp. 11–12.  
  7. ^ "Learn About the GMAT Exam". Graduate Management Admission Council(GMAC). 
  8. ^ "Learn About the GMAT Exam". Graduate Management Admission Council(GMAC). 
  9. ^ "The Next Gen GMAT Exam". Poets and Quants. 
  10. ^ "Validity, Reliability and Fairness". Graduate Management Admission Council(GMAC). 
  11. ^ Alison Damast (April 26, 2012). "Study: Few MBA Applicants Consider Taking the GRE". Businessweek. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  12. ^ "GMAC Statistics Video". Graduate Management Admission Council. 
  13. ^ "GMAC Statistics Video". Graduate Management Admission Council. 
  14. ^ "GMAT Validity Study Summary Report for 1997 to 2004". Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). 
  15. ^ "GMAT Adds New Thinking Cap". New York Times. 
  16. ^ "How to use the Analytical Writing Assessment Score". Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). 
  17. ^ "The GMAT gets put to the Test". Business Week. 
  18. ^ "The GMAT gets put to the Test". Business Week. 
  19. ^ Lawrence, Rudner. "Demystifying the GMAT: Scale Scores". GMAC. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "Understanding Your Score Report". 
  21. ^ Lawrence, Rudner. "Demystifying the GMAT: Scale Scores". GMAC. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  22. ^ "Understanding Your Score Report". 
  23. ^ "Understanding Your Score Report". 
  24. ^ "What Your Percentile Ranking Means". 
  25. ^ Talento-Miller, Eileen. "The CAT in the GMAT". Graduate Management Admission Council. Retrieved November 26, 2014. 
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Scheduling Information". Graduate Management Admission Council(GMAC). 
  29. ^ "Pay for the Test". 
  30. ^ "GMAT". Optimus Prep. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Testmasters Score Increase Guarantees". Testmasters. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Shawn Berry's GMAT Preparation". Shawn Berry. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Prepare Candidates for the GMAT® Exam & the Classroom". Graduate Management Admission Council. Retrieved November 26, 2014. 

External links

  • The Official GMAT Web Site
  • Official web site of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)
  • The Official GMAT Web Site in India
  • The Official GMAT Web Site in Africa
  • The Official GMAT Web Site in China
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