The GMAT Test Guide

The GMAT Test Summary
What: The GMAT is a standardized test used to assess graduate business school candidates.
Who: All candidates interested in applying to graduate business schools should take the GMAT.
Where: There are numerous test sites for the GMAT. The GMAT is developed through the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a non-profit consortium of graduate business schools from around the world. The GMAT is administered by Pearson VUE with test sites
When: The GMAT is offered several times a year at various locations. Test takers can verify dates and times when registering.
How: The GMAT is a three part test with the entire test completed on a computer. Test takers should be familiar with computer usage prior to taking the GMAT.
Type: The GMAT consists of the Analytical Writing Assessment, the Quantitative section, and the Verbal section. The entire test is completed on a computer.
Why: Most graduate business schools require candidates to submit the GMAT scores along with other admissions materials during the application process.
Time: Test takers are suggested to allow approximately four hours to complete the test.
Language: The GMAT is given in English.
Preparation: It is strongly suggested that all test takers planning on taking the GMAT prepare in advance. Test takers should also be computer literate as the entire test is given on the computer.
Cost: There is a $250 fee to take the GMAT. Payment is required at the time of test registration.

By Kathleen Ganster, Contributing Writer

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized test used by many business schools to assess student readiness for advanced study in management and business curriculums. Most students applying to MBA programs will be required to take the GMAT, which measures analytical writing, quantitative skills and verbal skills. The GMAT may be taken more than once, and scores are valid for five years after the test date.

GMAT Format
The GMAT is a three-part computerized test. The multiple choice sections of the test (quantitative and verbal sections) are in a computer-adaptive format, which means that the questions are adapted or adjusted for individual ability level. At the beginning of the exam, average-ability level questions are presented. Based on answers, the program rates the questions and uses that information to determine how difficult or easy the next question will be. Each question must be answered before the test can continue.

The GMAT consists of three sections:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Quantitative
  • Verbal

Test takers should allow approximately four hours for test completion.

The analytical writing assessment section of the GMAT requires test takers to complete two writing exercises: one is an analysis of an issue where an issue is presented to the test takers and they are required to analyze and explain their points of view regarding subjects; the analysis on an argument requires test takers review and analyze an argument and then critique it. Each writing segment lasts 30 minutes.

The quantitative sectionof the GMAT consists of problem-solving questions and data sufficiency questions. There are 37 multiple-choice questions in the quantitative section. These questions measure knowledge of mathematical concepts such as algebra, arithmetic, and geometry. Test takers are allowed 75 minutes for this section of the GMAT.

The verbal section of the GMAT tests on three areas: reading comprehension, critical reasoning and sentence correction. This section is also a multiple-choice question format. There are 41 questions total in the verbal section with 75 minutes allotted for completion.

In the reading comprehension segment of the verbal section, test takers read passages, usually 200 to 400 words long, and then are asked a series of questions based on this information. This section is used to measure the ability to read and understand, analyze and apply information and concepts presented in a written format.

The critical reasoningportion of the verbal section requires test takers to read, analyze and evaluate arguments, and answer questions accordingly. Sentence correction tests one’s ability to correct errors in a sentence.

GMAT Score
The GMAT score is based on the number of questions answered both correctly and incorrectly and the level of difficulty of each question. There are four scores with each section of the GMAT scored separately.

The most familiar score is the composite GMAT Score. The composite score ranges from 200 to 800 and is based on a combination of scores on the Quantitative and Verbal sections of the test. Most test takers will score somewhere between 400 and 600.

Both the Quantitative and Verbal scores will range from 0 to 60, although these two scores are measured separately, based on different factors, and can not be compared to each other.

The Analytic Writing Assessment essays are scored from 0 to 6. This score is not factored into the composite GMAT score.

Scores are usually available online within 20 days after testing. Official Score Reports are also available by mail and sent within 20 calendar days after testing.

GMAT Registration
The GMAT is developed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a non-profit consortium of graduate business schools from around the world. The GMAT is administered by Pearson VUE with test sites worldwide.

For information on specific test sites and to register for the GMAT, potential graduate business school applicants may visit or telephone (800) 717-GMAT (4628).

There is a $250 fee to take the GMAT. Payment is required at the time of registration.

The Day of the Test
Test takers must present a current, valid government-issued photo ID. The ID must have a recognizable photo and visible signature. The first and last name on the ID must exactly match the first and last name of the registration information.

All test takers will also have fingerprints, signatures, and/or palm view patterns, and photographs taken digitally by the test administrators.

No testing aids or electronic devices are permitted into the testing area.

All test takers will receive five noteboards for use. These noteboards will be returned to the administrators upon completion of the test.

Before the start of the GMAT exam, all test takers will be asked to agree to the GMAT Examination Testing Rules & Agreement and the GMAT Nondisclosure Agreement and General Terms of use statement.

Are you planning on taking the GMAT and want to start reviewing? Check out our GMAT Test Directory to find study guides and other preparation materials. For more information on the GMAT, read our interview with Brian Galvin, Director of Academic Programs at Veritas Prep  interview with Andrew Mitchell, Director of GMAT Prep programs for Kaplan, or our interview with Jose Ferreira, founder of Knewton Test Prep.

The GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admissions Test and is a standardized test used to assess graduate business school candidates. The test includes questions in a verbal section, a quantitative or math section and a writing assessment. Scores from the GMAT are considered along with undergraduate grade point average, work experience and other admissions criteria. The test is offered year round. For more information on the GMAT, see The Guide to the GMAT and interviews with GMAT Experts Brian GalvinAndrew Mitchell and Jose Ferreira.

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