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what is the GMAT anyway?

The GMAT (Graduate Management Aptitude Test) is the standardized test used by business schools to determine admission into their programs. The test lasts approximately 3 1/2 hours. You'll have two half-hour essays that you'll write first followed by a 5-minute break. Next, you'll have a 75-minute quantitative section consisting of 37 questions followed by another 5-minute break. You'll finish with a 75-minute verbal section consisting of 41 questions.

The GMAT is one of three main things an admission committee will use to determine whether to admit you. The other two are your undergraduate scholastic record (i.e. grade point average) and your work experience. You can't do anything about the former and probably can't do too much about the latter. Therefore, you should prepare for the GMAT very seriously. This website contains a vast amount of information to allow you to do just that.

How many times can I take the GMAT?

Theoretically, you can take the GMAT as much as you want. However, many schools frown upon taking the test too many times. Taking the test twice probably won't get you into any trouble though. Taking the test a third or fourth time may cause an admissions committee to question your ability. While, most schools will only consider your best score, some schools may handle this differently for someone who has taken the test multiple times.

It's important to note that schools will see all of your scores. Even if you decide to cancel a particular score (which you must do before seeing your score), the cancellation will still be reported to the school. Plan on taking the test no more than twice and assume that the admissions committees will take the better of those two scores.

The GMAT is a computerized test; administered six days a week, 52 weeks a year (except holidays), it can be taken virtually anytime. However, it can only be taken once per month and 5 times per year. The cost to take the exam is $225.

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What's the deal with the essays?

The first part of the test will be an Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). This will consist of two separate thirty-minute essays on a topic you will be given. You will be scored on a scale of 1.0 to 6.0 in half point increments. This score will not be a part of your total GMAT score but will be reported to schools. Although there is some disagreement on this, the admissions committees may also view the actual essays that you wrote. Although the AWA is not usually a big factor in determining admission, it may make more of a difference in students with below-average Verbal scores.

Where do I go to find out additional information about the GMAT?

A good place to start is This is the official site for GMAT information. You can download a free registration bulletin from the MBA store which will give you more detailed information on the registration process.

Questions about Registration:

How do I sign up for the GMAT?

Signing up for the GMAT is pretty easy. You can do it either on-line or over the phone. The phone number to call is 1-800-GMAT-NOW. The web URL is

If you need a specific day of the week or a specific time, plan on calling well in advance. Popular days and times may fill up weeks in advance. You'll need a major credit card to pay for your test fee.

This section on GMAT-FAQ tells you everthing about GMAT.

Questions about GMAT Scores

How do they score the GMAT?

After taking the GMAT, you will receive both quantitative (Section 2) and verbal (Section 3) subscores. Each subscore ranges from 0 to 60. These subscores are then combined into an overall score, which ranges from 200 to 800. This is what is typically considered your GMAT score.You will also receive a separate score, ranging from 0 to 6, on the AWA essay portion of the exam (Section 1). Your scores are accompanied by a percentile ranking that tells you how you did in relation to everyone else who took the test. If you score in the 85th percentile, this means that 85 percent of all GMAT test-takers scored at or below your level.

• The median overall GMAT score is approximately 520. However, to be considered for top business schools, you will generally need a score of at least 600. In fact, according to the 2004 U.S. News business school rankings, 10 of the 15 business schools report that their average GMAT scores are in the 700+ range.

• Scores are reported to you immediately. After completing the GMAT, you are given the option of either viewing or canceling your scores. If you think that you did not do very well, you may cancel your scores (without seeing them!) and they will not be reported to any business schools, although the business schools will be notified of the cancellation on future score reports. Keep in mind, however, that once you cancel your scores, you will not be able to view them. Also, you will not be refunded your test registration fee. Your AWA essay-writing score is determined separately (graded by ETS writing professionals and a software program called Robo-reader) and mailed to you approximately two weeks after the test. The test fee covers reporting of these scores to five schools, and additional score reports can be purchased for $28.

This section on GMAT-FAQ tells you everthing about GMAT.

How does the Adaptive Test format work?

The GMAT is offered ONLY on computer, which means that you do not use a pencil and paper to answer test questions. Instead, you will sit in front of a computer screen at an official testing center and take the GMAT in its CAT (Computer Adaptive Test) form. The basic features of the CAT format are as follows:

• You will see only one question on the screen at a time. Therefore, you may not skip around in a section and answer questions in the order that you please. Once you answer a question, you are not allowed to return to it, but you must answer one question in order to move to the next.

• The test is designed to adapt to your personal ability by giving you questions that reflect how well you have answered previous questions. Test questions are not pre-set in advance. Instead, as you take the test, new questions are generated for you based on how well you are doing. The test begins with a question of average difficulty. If you answer it correctly, you will receive a slightly harder second question. If you do not, you will receive a slightly easier second question. Your third question, in turn, will be based on your response to the second question and its difficulty level. In this way, the computer zeros in on your ability level and assigns you a corresponding score.

• Due to the GMAT's computer adaptive format, scores are not determined solely by the number of correct answers. Correct responses to difficult questions are worth more than correct responses to easy questions. Therefore, in order to score well you must be able to answer the more difficult questions correctly.

• No matter your ability level, the CAT presents you with a fair mix of questions for the content areas within a given section. For example, in the math section, all test-takers receive roughly the same mix of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry questions.

• Prior to the exam, there will be a computer tutorial designed to help you become familiar with computerized testing. You will be allowed as much time as you need to review the computerized format and practice entering in answers.

This section on GMAT-FAQ tells you everthing about GMAT.

GMAT Format:

• Section 1: You will be asked to compose two 30-minute essays. The first essay will ask you to analyze a given argument. The second essay will ask you to analyze a given issue. This section is called the Analytical Writing Assessment (the AWA).

• Section 2: You will be given 75 minutes to answer 37 multiple-choice quantitative questions. These questions come in two forms: (a) Problem Solving questions which ask you to solve a variety of arithmetic, algebraic, and geometric math problems and (b) Data Sufficiency questions which ask you to decide whether or not you are given sufficient information to solve a given math problem.

• Section 3: You will be given 75 minutes to answer 41 multiple-choice verbal questions. These questions come in three forms: (a) Sentence Correction questions which ask you to choose the most grammatically accurate way of expressing a given sentence, (b) Critical Reasoning questions which ask you to assess the logic of short arguments, and (c) Reading Comprehension questions which ask you to read short passages (up to 350 words each) and answer content, inference, and application questions based on the information presented.

This section on GMAT-FAQ tells you everthing about GMAT.

Register early

Thomson Prometric centers fill up -- particularly in the fall. Register early for the real GMAT to ensure that you get the time and location that you want

Keep identification requirements in mind and come prepared

You are required to present acceptable valid ID upon arrival at the test center. ID verification may include thumb printing, photographing, videotaping, or other forms of electronic ID confirmation. If you refuse to participate, you will not be permitted to take the test. Your ID must be current and contain the following:

• your name exactly as provided when you made your test appointment
• a recent, recognizable photograph
• your signature

If your ID does not include all three elements, or if your test administrator has reason to question the validity of your ID, you will be required to present additional ID that contains the missing or questionable element(s). If the name on your ID does not match the name on your test appointment, the test administrator has the right to turn you away from the testing center, not allowing you to take the exam. When you register to take your test, be sure that the name under which you register clearly matches the name on your ID.

Additionally, you will be asked to sign a confidentiality statement at the Test Center. Your signature is required. If you do not sign the statement, you will not be permitted to take the test and you will forfeit your test fee.

This section on GMAT-FAQ tells you everthing about GMAT.

What not to bring

You will not be permitted to use "testing aids" during the test session or during breaks. Testing aids include, but are not limited to:

• notes
• scratch paper
• calculators or watch calculators
• stop watches or watch alarms
• telephones or cell phones
• pens or other writing utensils (pencils are provided at the test center)
• rulers or any other measuring device
• personal data assistants
• photographic devices
• stereos or radios
• any other electronic devices
• books or pamphlets
• dictionaries, translators or thesauruses

The scoop on scratch paper

The administrator will provide you with six sheets of scratch paper that may be replaced after you have used them all. You may not remove this paper from the testing room. All scratch paper must be returned at the end of the test session. You may not take your own scratch paper into the testing room.

What not to do

The test administrator is authorized to dismiss you from a test session for:

• Attempting to take the test for someone else
• Failing to provide acceptable identification
• Creating a disturbance
• Giving or receiving unauthorized help
• Eating or drinking during the test
• Using test aids of any kind
• Accessing your locker during the exam
• Exceeding the time permitted for scheduled breaks
• Leaving the test center
• Attempting to remove scratch paper from the testing room
• Attempting to tamper with the operation of the computer
• Attempting to remove test questions from the testing room
• Refusing to follow directions

This section on GMAT-FAQ tells you everthing about GMAT.

Can I cancel my score if I do badly?

Yes, but you must do so before you see your test score. Once your score has been reported to you, you do not have the chance to cancel. In most cases, canceling your score is a bad idea. The only cases in which we would recommend canceling are those in which you had an extreme circumstance which caused a very poor performance (illness, bad testing environment, etc.). Usually, people think they did worse than they actually did. Remember that even if you don't cancel and do poorly, you do have the chance to take the test again.

How long will my GMAT score be good for?

According to ETS, GMAT scores are good for 5 years. However, with the introduction of the Computer Adaptive Testing format two years ago, older scores may be judged slightly differently. Plan on taking the GMAT about a year or so (if possible) before you plan to enroll in business school.

Specific GMAT Questions

What's a good plan for studying for the GMAT?

This will depend on how much time you have and how much you would like to increase your score. You may find GMAT materials in this site.

This section on GMAT-FAQ tells you everthing about GMAT.

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