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The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a test designed specifically for those who are interested in applying for an MBA or business management graduate programs. The test is geared toward looking at your aptitude and ability, not just your knowledge. It is measuring your abilities relative to the skills you’ll need as you go through your graduate degree. Prospective graduate programs want to know how well you can take in, analyze, and properly use information given to you from a variety of mediums. They want to know about your ability to think critically, analytically, but also creatively. The goal of the GMAT is really to show your prospective school how ready you are for graduate school.

The test structure:

The test consists of four sections, Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal.

  • Analytical Writing Assessment: You have 30 minutes to complete this section. In it you will write an essay analyzing a written argument
  • Integrated Reasoning: You’ll have 30 minutes to complete 12 questions. In this section you’ll be tested on your ability to gather and interpret information from graphs and tables, as well as multi-source reasoning.
  • Quantitative: You’ll have 75 minutes to complete 37 questions. In this section, you’ll be tested on your math skills and your ability to extrapolate information from data.
  • Verbal: You’ll have 75 minutes to complete 41 questions. Here you will be tested on your reading comprehension, critical reasoning and grammar.

Important information on format:

The test is similar to other standardized tests you’ve taken, in that it has different sections that are timed. One difference is the way in which the questions are presented. It’s important to understand that you cannot skip ahead in the test. Many students use test taking methods that involve skipping questions that you are having difficulty with and returning to them later. This test-taking method just won’t work with this particular test.

The GMAT is organized into what is called a computer-adaptive format. The questions on the test itself are pre-ordained. Instead, your next question is often based on your answer to one of the previous questions. If you have been providing correct answers to more difficult or more complex questions, the test recognizes this and provides more similar questions.

The question you receive is based on how well you’ve answered previous questions. Your overall score on the test, therefore, is based not only on how many correct answers you have, but how difficult the questions were that were assigned to you based on your previous answers. What does this mean for you?

  • This means that you can’t skip around on the test. Don’t go to the next question in the test without providing an answer for the current question.
  • Don’t guess. Your answer to one question sets you on a path to future questions that can affect your score. Think the question through and provide the best answer possible.
  • Take a lot of practice tests. You’ll want to be comfortable and familiar with the structure and format of this computer-adaptive test before you actually take it.