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Many universities offer graduate programs, and these universities want to admit students that have the potential to be masters in the field of their master’s program. One of the ways that admission committees at graduate schools assess a student’s abilities and their future performance in the master’s program is by looking at student’s GMAT scores. We created this GMAT Prep Guide to provide with all resources you will need for the GMAT test, along with schools that don’t require a GMAT.
What is GMAT?
Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized online test conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Many business universities around the world use GMAT as a way to assess students’ ability to go through the business degree program and graduate. Although the GMAT test scores are used primarily for admission into Master of Business Administration programs but other business graduate degrees like Finance, Marketing, Accounting, etc. also require GMAT. Sometimes organizations may also ask for GMAT scores for hiring purposes as well. Typically, universities ask for GMAT test scores that are within the last five years or so. Like all tests, a high GMAT score reflects positively on a student’s graduate school application.
GMAT Basic Information
How much does the GMAT cost?
The GMAT test exam cost $275 in the US and Canada. This fee also includes score reporting to five schools that the students might be interested in applying for. Any additional score reporting will cost $35 per school. GMAT reschedule fee is $50 if you reschedule the test 7-days before the initially scheduled date. If you reschedule within the 7 days, the reschedule fee is $250.
When to take GMAT?
GMAT is offered throughout the year, and students can choose dates depending on the availability of slots for those dates. It is essential to register early and start looking for available dates as they get full months before the graduate school application deadlines. The test is itself is conducted by GMAT Test Centers like Pearson Professional Centers across the country. If you live in an area that has a smaller number of these test centers, they might get full fast.
GMAT test consists of four sections:
GMAT Test Registration
GMAT test registration can be done online on the GMAC website. First, users need to register on this site, and then they can set up GMAT test appointments or modify them. The registered account can be used for test materials, searching for schools, finding out test scores, reporting scores to additional schools, etc.
The GMAT exam is divided into four sections – Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. You have a chose the order of the sections from 3 available choices.
The total exam time is 3 hours and 7 minutes. The exam will be conducted on a computer, and it is essential to note that after you answered a question and go to the next question, you cannot go back to the previous question. The exam itself is a computer adaptive; what this means that the questions are chosen based on their difficulty level. For example, if you answer a question correctly, the next question will be slightly more complicated. If you answer that also correctly, you will get an even more difficult question. If you answer incorrectly, the next question will be easier. This way, the computer can truly measure your abilities and provide a score accordingly.
Although each section has different scores, the total GMAT score has a range of 200 to 800. This total score is a scaled score of Quantitative Reasoning score and Verbal Reasoning score. The Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning scores are shown separately in the scorecard.
Total Score – 200 To 800 (scaled up score of Quantitative and Verbal sections; Analytical and Integrated Reasoning scores are shown separately)
Total Time -3 hours, 7 minutes + 2 optional breaks of 8 minutes each.
How to Prepare for GMAT?
Preparing for GMAT is not difficult. First, it is crucial to understand each section of the exam and what those sections are testing. And then create a GMAT preparation strategy. We will walk you through those GMAT sections, provide sample questions, and how to tackle these sections.
Analytical Writing is a section in which you are tested for your analytical abilities to read a given argument and come up with your analysis of that argument. You will be presented with one argument, and you have 30 minutes to perform that analysis and type up your analysis. The scoring range is 0-6. Your analysis should include your thoughts on what the argument lacks, loopholes in that argument, how to improve that argument, or provide an alternative way of that argument. You will be given one argument, and you have 30 minutes to write your critique. Your response should be well-organized; you should justify the points in your analysis with well-written support. Your critical-thinking abilities and communicating that analysis is tested and scored.
GMAT Sample Question 1 – Analytical Writing
“People should not be misled by the advertising competition between Coldex and Cold-Away, both popular over-the-counter cold medications that anyone can purchase without a doctor’s prescription. Each brand is accusing the other of causing some well-known, unwanted side effect: Coldex is known to contribute to existing high blood pressure and Cold-Away is known to cause drowsiness. But the choice should be clear for most health-conscious people: Cold-Away has been on the market for much longer and is used by more hospitals than is Coldex. Clearly, Cold-Away is more effective.”
“Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer: they could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money. Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.”
The best way to prepare for the Analytical Writing section is by understanding the intent of the Analytical section. And how this section is scored. The Analytical Writing section is not intended to test your opinion on the topic or which side you might want to take on the provided argument. But the intent is to check your analyzing skills and how you communicate your analysis. It is important to note that whichever side of the argument you are on, you should frame your answer to support that side only and not flip-flop in your analysis. We recommend that you follow the below steps
You should first read the provided argument thoroughly
Clearly understand the argument
Write down the strengths and weaknesses in the argument
Create a structure of your answer following this format :
State each critique point and a case supporting your critique (like why, how, etc.)
See if you can poke a hole in the presented argument by highlighting what points the argument is missing and what can add value to the given argument
Provide your analysis of what would have strengthened the provided argument.
And finally, proofread your answer for the following
Effective organization of your answer
Check direct/indirect communication
Finally, make sure that your answer is following the format mentioned above
It is essential to practice a lot. Follow the above method dozens of times before your exam day, and you will score a perfect 6.0 in the Analytical Writing section.
Integrated Reasoning is a section that tests your ability to read and understand all the provided data and solve a problem using that data. The data can be provided in the form of graphics, tables, graphs, numbers, or text. You will have to answer 12 questions within 30 minutes. The scoring range is 0-8. There are 4 types of questions that you will face.
Sample Question for Multi-source Reasoning – Integrated Reasoning
The goal of the Integrated Reasoning section is to see how well you can integrate all the provided data and interpret that data to solve problems. Your ability to see relationships between different data points will be tested.
You need to read carefully and digest all the presented data.
The data might be using different units of measurement, and you need to keep an eye for it and quickly convert all the data to be in the same units.
When the data is presented in a table form, you can use the sorting functionality on the top, and it might save some time for you.
You should practice reading graphs. Keep an eye for the accompanying text.
Look if there is any relationship between various data points and see if there is any trend.
You can use an on-screen calculator.
Look for the labels used on the graphs.
Always remember to look for individual numbers and percentages.
And finally, just like other sections, remember to practice a lot before the exam.
In the Quantitative Reasoning section, you will be tested for your ability to solve problems mathematically, interpret data and use your quantitative skills. This section needs some math knowledge especially in the areas of algebra, geometry and basic arithmetic. The math is not that difficult, and it is not the emphasis of the section. But the real test is how you use the provided data, use your quantitative skills to solve a given problem. There are 31 questions in this section, and you have 62 minutes for this section. There are two main types of questions –
Sample Question for Problem Solving – Quantitative Reasoning
Directions – Solve the problem and indicate the best of the answer choices given. Question – If u > t, r > q, s > t, and t > r, which of the following must be true?
Sample Question for Data Sufficiency – Quantitative Reasoning
Directions – This data sufficiency problem consists of a question and two statements, labeled (1) and (2), in which certain data are given. You have to decide whether the data given in the statements are sufficient for answering the question. Using the data given in the statements, plus your knowledge of mathematics and everyday facts (such as the number of days in July or the meaning of the word counterclockwise), you must indicate whether:
Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked. Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked. BOTH statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question asked, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked. EACH statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked. Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question asked, and additional data specific to the problem are needed.
Question – If a real estate agent received a commission of 6 percent of the selling price of a certain house, what was the selling price of the house?
(1) The selling price minus the real estate agent’s commission was $84,600.
(2) The selling price was 250 percent of the original purchase price of $36,000.
(A) Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient.
(B) Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient.
(C) BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.
(D) EACH statement ALONE is sufficient.
(E) Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient.
The quantitative Reasoning section can look daunting for a lot of people, especially for people that don’t have a math background. But it is important to note that this section will be scored based on your quantitative ability. But if you are good at high school level math, it will help save time on the exam day. Note that calculators are not available during the exam. So, it is essential to brush up your math knowledge long before the exam and keep practicing the math questions. We recommend spending some time reading, understanding, and practicing algebra, geometry, and graphical calculations. We also recommend that you develop a process for solving each problem. Many people create their method of going through a quantitative problem. Here is one procedure that can be useful
Read – the provided data.
Understand – Is there anything you can see more than what is stated from each piece of data?
Normalize – Convert all data into same types of units (e.g., all time can be in seconds instead of some variables using hours or all lengths can be in meters instead of a mix of units)
Standardize – Convert all language and data into one type. For example – if there is any mention of time taken in language, like “Person B took half of what Person A took,” convert that into an equation. B = A/2
Imagine – look at the provided visuals and data. Imagine how the visual would look like for that data or how the visual would look like in data form. This way, you get a perspective of what fits where.
Solve – Attempt to solve the problem.
Use the elimination method to eliminate possibilities and narrow down the correct answer.
Establish dependencies within the provided data.
Evaluate each statement separately.
Calculators are not allowed. So, it is essential to practice basic math to save time in the exam.
Verbal Reasoning section tests your ability to read, understand, evaluate arguments, and communicate effectively using proper English. It is essential to note that the verbal section is not looking to test your knowledge on a given topic, sentence, or your subject matter expertise on issues. But this section only tests your ability to grasp the meaning of the given text and your ability to fix the sentences. You have 65 minutes for this section. The section contains 36 questions, and these questions are split into the following areas.
• Reading Comprehension – You will be presented with a passage, and you will be given questions about the passage. You will be asked to summarize the passage, describe the tone of the author, or you will be asked to draw inferences based on the provided text. The subject of the passage varies from social issues, humanities, business-related topics, etc.
• Critical Reasoning –In this type of question, you will be given an argument or set of statements. And questions are intended to test your ability to make/evaluate arguments, present your case, or assess a presented situation.
• Sentence Correction – These type of questions tests your language skills. There are two types of questions within this. A) Correcting sentences for grammar and structure. B) Modifying sentences for better and concise communication, along with grammar and structure.
Sample Question for Reading Comprehension – Verbal Reasoning
Directions – The questions in this group are based on the content of a passage. After reading the passage, choose the best answer to each question. Answer all questions following the passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.” Question – “Schools expect textbooks to be a valuable source of information for students. My research suggests, however, that textbooks that address the place of Native Americans within the history of the United States distort history to suit a particular cultural value system. In some textbooks, for example, settlers are pictured as more humane, complex, skillful, and wise than Native Americans. In essence, textbooks stereotype and depreciate the numerous Native American cultures while reinforcing the attitude that the European conquest of the New World denotes the superiority of European cultures. Although textbooks evaluate Native American architecture, political systems, and homemaking, I contend that they do it from an ethnocentric, European perspective without recognizing that other perspectives are possible.
One argument against my contention asserts that, by nature, textbooks are culturally biased and that I am simply underestimating children’s ability to see through these biases. Some researchers even claim that by the time students are in high school, they know they cannot take textbooks literally. Yet substantial evidence exists to the contrary. Two researchers, for example, have conducted studies that suggest that children’s attitudes about particular cultures are strongly influenced by the textbooks used in schools. Given this, an ongoing, careful review of how school textbooks depict Native Americans is certainly warranted.
Which of the following would most logically be the topic of the paragraph immediately following the passage?
(A) Specific ways to evaluate the biases of United States history textbooks
(B) The centrality of the teacher’s role in United States history courses
(C) Nontraditional methods of teaching United States history
(D) The contributions of European immigrants to the development of the United States
(E) Ways in which parents influence children’s political attitudes
Sample Question for Critical Reasoning – Verbal Reasoning
Directions – For this question, select the best of the answer choices given.
Question – The cost of producing radios in Country Q is ten percent less than the cost of producing radios in Country Y. Even after transportation fees and tariff charges are added, it is still cheaper for a company to import radios from Country Q to Country Y than to produce radios in Country Y.
The statements above, if true, best support which of the following assertions?
(A) Labor costs in Country Q are ten percent below those in Country Y. (B) Importing radios from Country Q to Country Y will eliminate ten percent of the manufacturing jobs in Country Y. (C) The tariff on a radio imported from Country Q to Country Y is less than ten percent of the cost of manufacturing the radio in Country Y. (D) The fee for transporting a radio from Country Q to Country Y is more than ten percent of the cost of manufacturing the radio in Country Q. (E) It takes ten percent less time to manufacture a radio in Country Q than it does in Country Y.
Sample Question for Sentence Correction – Verbal Reasoning
Directions – This question presents a sentence, part of which or all of which is underlined. Beneath the sentence you will find five ways of phrasing the underlined part. The first of these repeats the original; the other four are different. If you think the original is best, choose the first answer; otherwise choose one of the others.
This question tests correctness and effectiveness of expression. In choosing your answer, follow the requirements of standard written English; that is, pay attention to grammar, choice of words, and sentence construction. Choose the answer that produces the most effective sentence; this answer should be clear and exact, without awkwardness, ambiguity, redundancy, or grammatical error.
Question – While larger banks can afford to maintain their own data-processing operations, many smaller regional and community banks are finding that the cost associated with upgrading data-processing equipment and with the development and maintenance of new products and technical staff are prohibitive.
(A) cost associated with (B) costs associated with (C) costs arising from (D) cost of (E) costs of
One of the best ways to tackle this section is to read and understand the meaning of the provided text thoroughly. There is a difference between merely reading and understanding. When you spend time understanding the provided text, you can easily infer other things from that text, and this is where the focus of the section is. After this step, it is all your language skills that will let you rephrase a given sentence for concise communication or a better structure. Language skills can be improved by reading a lot of formal writing – newspapers, technical journals, etc. It is important to note that your vocabulary is not a test, but it is your grasping power. It is being tested.
You should expect that some of the sentences will be very long and complicated. Breaking down these sentences into smaller parts will help you understand it quickly. You will need a practice that process of breaking down before the exam.
Finally, just like other tests or other sections, you will need to practice a lot for the verbal reasoning section. Read a lot of material that has elaborate descriptions and learn how to spend less time on shorter sentences and use that saved time on long and complicated sentences.
Best way to prepare for GMAT
Methodically preparing for the GMAT yields the best results. Every person has different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. There is no secret way to prepare for the GMAT. But studies have shown that if you come up with a plan for preparing and if you implement that plan, it will make a lot of difference. Here is a plan that we recommend.
Step 1 – Set a GMAT target score
Be realistic about your goal. The GMAT score requirements might vary from school to school. So, depending on which school you want to apply for, set up a realistic goal. Many people do that more than six months before the exam date. This gives you ample time to prepare to meet that goal.
Step 2 – Take mock GMAT tests
Sign up for at least 3 full GMAT tests. Take the tests and analyze your results. The average of 3 tests is where you can expect to score without any real preparation.
Step 3- Measure the gap
Measure the gap between your target score and the average score for each section of the GMAT. Now you know where you stand versus where you want to be.
Step 4 – Set preparation goals and timelines
Figure out how many hours per week, you can allocate towards prepping for the exam, based on your schedule. Note that studies have shown that there is a correlation between the number of hours spent towards the exam and the achieved score.
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) did a study of test-takers and found that 21% of total test-takers spent 20 hours or less in preparation. 23% percent spent between 21 to 50 hours of preparation. 28% spent between 51 to 100 hours. And another 28% spent 101 hours or more. See the below chart from MBA.com
Also, note that the GMAC found a direct correlation between hours spent and achieved score. See the below graph from MBA.com
By now, you already know how many days/weeks/months are needed for you to achieve your GMAT goal. Sign up for the exam based on that timeline and available GMAT dates.
Step 6 – Start executing the preparation plan
Start executing the plan by allocating calendar time towards the preparation. Don’t forget to take more mock tests at regular intervals to measure your progress.
Different people have adopted various strategies concerning what to study as part of the preparation. There is a wide variety of choices that are available for GMAT study, such as study apps, GMAT prep books, online classes, tutors, etc. We have compiled a list of such resources below.
GMAT Prep Books
GMAT Online Practice Tests
1. MBA.com – MBA.com offers a GMAT Prep App that costs $4.99. The App consists of questions from the previous GMAT tests and also the answers with a full explanation.
2. Magoosh – Magoosh is a free app for GMAT Prep and Practice. Magoosh provides video lessons and practice questions. In the premium version, Magoosh provides a lot more content for preparation that includes many more video lessons, practice tests, progress trackers, etc.
1.Economist– Economist GMAT tutor is a private tutor service that provides one-on-one tutoring sessions with expert tutors. They also offer thousands of practice questions. This tutoring service comes with three different tiers – Complete Prep, Premium Prep, and Ultimate Prep, with costs ranging from $799 to $1099.
2. Princeton– Princeton GMAT Private Tutoring provides 1:1 tutoring sessions, video lessons, practice materials. There are two tiers of tutoring – GMAT Comprehensive Private Tutoring that has a price tag of $167/hour and GMAT Targeted Private Tutoring that costs $180/hour.
1. McGraw-Hill– This is an all-in-one GMAT Prep book that provides you with a review of all aspects of the GMAT test. The book also includes practice questions, tips, and techniques to score well.
2. Kaplan – Kaplan’s GMAT Prep Plus book provides a comprehensive GMAT preparation material with more than 2000 practice questions, answers, and explanations along with strategies and full-length tests.
1. Manhattan – Manhattan Prep provides one GMAT practice test. They also offer 6 full-length Practice tests and assessment reports. The 6 tests pack costs $49.
2. Veritas – Veritas Prep provides 1 free full-length practice test. Veritas also provides 7 full-length practice tests for a discounted price of $19 in April 2023, and the regular price is $49.
1. YouTube GMAT – Many GMAT Prep courses are available on YouTube. Some of these videos are created by professionals with a ton of experience in GMAT. Simply search for GMAT Prep on YouTube, and you will find a ton of resources. Here is one such video resource.
2. Khan Academy GMAT– Khan Academy is one of the very popular GMAT prep videos. Khan Academy provides a lot of Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency questions, answers, and videos.
Whichever method you chose to prep with, it is important to read through study materials thoroughly and follow the preparation models that they have described in those materials. While most test-takers follow the above-prescribed study materials, some test-takers want to explore the test and its preparation on their own. If you’re going to take that path, we recommend that you make sure you’re your preparation method includes the below steps.
1) Read a lot of formal write-ups like newspapers, technical documents that have graphs, images with labels, etc. 2) Spend time brushing up high school math – algebra, geometry, etc. 3) Download and use the free GMAP Prep software. 4) Use a lot of practice tests throughout your GMAT preparation journey.
The Day Before the GMAT
Check ID requirements and make sure to carry them.
Check the driving directions, traffic information, and weather conditions and plan to arrive 30 minutes before your exam time.
Don’t do vigorous exercise.
Don’t stay up late preparing and doing the last-minute reading. It’s too late for that. Eat well, and just get a good night’s rest.
Make a list of four schools that you want to report your score to. Remember that this facility is included in the GMAT fee, and if you wish to report your score at another time, it will cost you more.
Remember that you can choose the order of sections. Decide the order before you go into the exam based on what are your strengths and weaknesses, such as – which section is easy for you or tough, your ability to concentrate for a long time, etc.
GMAT Test Day Instructions
Leave your cell phone and other devices home.
Arrive at the test center at least 30 minutes early.
Present your ID and appointment documentation.
Stay calm and don’t panic throughout the exam. Note that you will face questions that will eat up the clock or tough. It is essential not to panic and make the right choice by doing the best you can on those questions and/or quickly marking an answer and move on to the next question, to save time.
Your unofficial GMAT score will be shown right after the exam. You have a choice to accept the score or cancel the exam.
Schools that don’t need GMAT
Many schools offer online masters programs. Most of the schools want either a GRE or a GMAT exam results to be reported. But more schools take a holistic approach towards entrance criteria. Some of these schools either don’t need a GMAT or they waive the GMAT requirements for students that meet the requirements such as
A good GPA in the undergrad degree Or
A student that has an accredited graduate degree in any other discipline Or
A student that has a professional certification such as a CPA or CFA etc. Or
A certain number of years of experience as a professional.
Here is a list of such schools that don’t need a GMAT for admission into their online master’s programs.
The answer depends on what school you are targeting for. According to GMA, the majority of test-takers score between 400 and 600, and the average GMAT score is 556. So, a good GMAT score is really about if you want to be above the GMAT average score or below, along with which schools you wish to apply for and what is their GMAT score requirements.
How long do the GMAT scores last?
GMAT scores last for five years.
How many times can you take the GMAT?
You can take the GMAT test for a total of 8 times and once in every 16 days. And there is also a restriction that you cannot take the more than five times in 12 months.
How long does it take to get the GMAT scores?
The unofficial GMAT score will be displayed to you right after you finish the online GMAT test. The official GMAT score report will be available within 3-weeks of the exam date.
GMAT or GRE
There are a lot of questions about GMAT or GRE, which is easy, which is best etc. It is essential to understand that there is a lot of difference between GMAT and GRE. Please see the below table
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