The GMAT: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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If you are thinking about going to business school, then you need to prepare to take the GMAT exam. To help you better understand the GMAT, we’ve put together five facts that you need to know.


1. The GMAT Is Required by Most Business Schools

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is the standardized test used by business schools for admission to graduate level programs.

The GMAT is available in 600 centers in 114 countries around the world. According to GMAC, the owner of the Graduate Management Admission Test, 6,000 programs in more than 2,100 universities and institutions use it. From June 2013 to June 2014 over 243,000 people took the GMAT.

The GMAT is comprised of four sections: an Analytical Writing Assessment section, an Integrated Reasoning section, a Quantitative Section and a Verbal Section.

The GMAT test is computerized and administered six days a week, 52 weeks per year. While the exam can be taken at virtually any time, it can only be taken once per 31 days and five times per year.


2. The GMAT Is a Computer Adaptive Test

The GMAT does not determine your score using a fixed set of questions. The exam is computer adaptive, meaning the exam provides you with questions of varying difficulty based on your previous answers.

The GMAT begins with a question of average difficulty. If you answer correctly your next question will be harder. If you answer it incorrectly your next question will be easier.

This computer adaptive format allows the GMAT test to identify your ability level and assigns you a corresponding score. You only see one question on the screen at a time. You cannot move onto another question until you answer the current one. Once you answer a question, you cannot return to it or review any questions that you have already answered.

Correct responses to difficult questions are worth more than correct responses to easy questions. Therefore, the raw number of correct questions answered is not an indicator of your final score.


3. Your Overall GMAT Score Is What Matters Most to Business Schools

A GMAT score is made up of several different numbers, each of which covers part of the GMAT. The most familiar number is the overall GMAT score. This number ranges from 200-800 in 10-point increments and is determined by a combination of your scores on the Quantitative and Verbal sections of the test.

Your Verbal and Quantitative sections are graded separately. You will receive a score ranging from 0-60 for each section.

Your Integrated Reasoning section is scored from 1-8 in 1-point increments.

Your Analytic Writing Assessment (AWA) section is graded on a scale of 0 to 6 and evaluated by two readers (one human and one computer). GMAC averages the two grades for the essay and rounds to the nearest 1/2 point. Your AWA GMAT score does not count toward your Overall GMAT score.

Your GMAT score remains valid for five years.


4. The GMAT Penalizes You for Questions Unanswered

The scores you earn on the GMAT are based on three factors.

1 – You earn a higher score for more difficult questions correctly.

2 – Your earn a higher score for answering more difficult questions whether you are correct or incorrect.

3 – Unanswered questions will decrease your score by a greater amount than a question that you answered incorrectly.

So even if you have to make an educated guess, you should answer all the questions on the test.


5. Practice & Preparation Makes Perfect

According to one study, only 21% of test takers study for 100 hours or more. However, only 7% score 700 or more so this underscores the need for great preparation.

There are plenty of great resources to help you prepare for the GMAT including top study guides from the most recognized education companies that include practice tests, test taking strategies, additional online resources and more. You can also find classes, tutoring, live online help and more.

And if you don’t like your score the first time, take it again! While schools don’t want you taking the GMAT a dozen times, they tend not to penalize if you you take the test multiple times and will consider your highest score.

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