The GMAT: Questions and Answers
1. When should I take the GMAT?
For those applying to graduate business school during their senior year, the GMAT is ideally taken the summer proceeding the senior year or in the fall of the senior year. If a definite decision is made to work after college, it is wise not to postpone it for too long.
2. What kinds of questions usually appear on the GMAT?
The GMAT is made up of three sections: verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing. The verbal section includes 41 multiple-choice questions consisting of reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. The quantitative section, designed to measure mathematical and quantitative reasoning, contains 37 multiple-choice questions consisting of data sufficiency and problem solving. The data sufficiency, critical reasoning, and sentence correction categories will be new to most test takers and should be given careful attention when preparing for the test. The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) requires responses to two questions and is scored separately from the multiple-choice items.
3. How long is the test?
The GMAT takes approximately 3.5 hours. 2.5 hours (with a 75 minute break each for the verbal and quantitative sections) are for the multiple-choice items and one hour (with a 30 minute break each for the two essays) is for the AWA. Two five-minute breaks are optional.
4. How should one prepare for the GMAT?
Test takers choose different ways to prepare. Some prefer to enroll in preparation courses, while others use preparation books. If a preparation book is to be used, The Official Guide for GMAT Review is recommended. Check the Hunter Bookstore or library. The guide can also be ordered through the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) at Educational Testing Service. Additionally, there is a software program called GMATPrep available free and can be downloaded from www.mba.com. A free CD-ROM version can be mailed to you upon registration for the test. Whether you choose a course, preparation book, tutor, or an individually designed program of study, do prepare for the test if only to become familiar with the kind of test questions found in the various sections. Reference copies of test preparation books are available in the Pre-Business Advising Office. More about GMAT preparation can be found at www.mba.com.
5. Is study of business necessary in order to do well on the GMAT?
The GMAT is a test of general ability and is intended to survey skills needed to be successful in a graduate school of business or management. It is not a test of specific knowledge and, therefore, does not presuppose the formal study of business. However, some familiarity with the language of business can help and can be gained through reading current literature, such as BusinessWeek and the Wall Street Journal as well as business sections of newspapers.
6. Is the score on one part (verbal or quantitative) more important than the other?
There is a trend for schools to look carefully at the breakdown of scores. The quantitative score is more important when applying to math-oriented programs (e.g. M.I.T., Chicago, Carnegie-Mellon). The reason stems from the increased use of mathematical concepts and quantitative processes in the classroom. The impact of the score of the analytical writing assessment is not fully determined.
7. How long are test scores valid?
In general, schools will consider scores for as long as they are reported by the test provider. All scores from a five-year period will be reported. It is a good idea to check policies at individual schools since some shorter time periods for accepting scores may be in effect.
8. How are multiple scores used by admissions offices?
Multiple test takings are discouraged, especially when the reason is to try it once for practice. Many admission offices consider the highest of the scores, whether it is the total or on a section. A few schools do average, so again it is good to ask individual schools about their policies. (The Graduate Management Admission Council reports that scores for a second taking usually average 30 points higher, but some - about 25% - are lower.)
9. How do schools use test scores?
The GMAT is one of several admission criteria. At many schools, it alone will not "make or break" an applicant in the admissions process, but its impact varies from school to school.
10. How can additional score reports be obtained?
The GMAT Information Booklet contains a form for ordering additional reports. Copies of the form are also available in the Pre-Business Advising Office. A fee is charged for each additional request.
11. Can the GRE be substituted for the GMAT?
When applying to graduate schools of business or management, the GMAT is required by most schools. There may be one or two exceptions. Check the application information carefully. In cases of application to some joint programs, the GRE also may be required.
12. How do admissions offices view the cancellation of scores?
In general, it seems that schools have no definite position on the cancellation of scores since they recognize there may be valid reasons for having to do so. A safe statement is that a one-time cancellation will not be considered negatively; questions, though, may be raised if it is done more than once. In any case, be prepared to respond if asked about a cancellation.
13. Can the GMAT be taken abroad?
Yes. The GMAT Information Bulletin contains a listing of international test centers. In larger cities, the test is available for all test dates.
14. How are scores reported?
The verbal and quantitative scores are reported on a 0 - 60 basis and a combined score of the two on a 200-800 basis. Unofficial scores for these sections are available upon completion of the test. The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is scored on a scale of 0 - 6 and its score will be reported when the official score report is sent, usually about two weeks after the test.