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DigitalMBA GMAT and GRE Exam Information simplifiedThe GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a standardized test in mathematics and the English language for measuring aptitude to succeed academically in graduate business studies; more specifically, the test is intended to measure the quantitative and verbal skills of the applicant, and generally takes about four hours to complete.  Most business schools throughout the world use the test as a criterion for admission into graduate business programs such as the MBA, and Master of Science in Management.

Although GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) will supply scores from as long ago as ten years, most schools do not accept scores from more than five years ago.

The maximum score that can be achieved on the exam is 800. Over the 3 years concluding in March 2011, the mean score has been 542.3

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is the first section of the test, followed by the Quantitative section, and finally the Verbal Ability section.

Analytical Writing Assessment

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the test consists of two essays. In the first, the student must analyze an argument and in the second the student must analyze an issue. Each essay must be written within 30 minutes and is scored on a scale of 0–6. The essay is scored by a computer program called IntelliMetric and also by a human person; each scorer marks the essay with a grade from 0 to 6. If the two scores differ by one point or less, they are averaged. If the two scores differ by more than one point, the essay is scored a third time by a human reader.

Over the last 3 years concluding in March 2011, the mean score has been 4.4.

Quantitative section

The quantitative section consists of 37 multiple choice questions, which must be answered within 75 minutes. There are two types of questions: problem solving and data sufficiency. The quantitative section is scored from 0 to 60 points. Over the 3 years ending in March 2011, the mean score has been 36.2/60; scores above 50 and below 7 are rare.  Calculators are not allowed.

Verbal section

The verbal section consists of 41 multiple-choice questions, which must be answered within 75 minutes. There are three types of questions: sentence correction, critical reasoning, and reading comprehension. The verbal section is scored from 0 to 60 points. Over the 3 years ending in March 2011, the mean has been 27.9/60; scores above 44 and below 9 are rare.

Total score

The “total score”, composed of the quantitative and verbal sections, is exclusive of the analytical writing assessment (AWA), and ranges from 200 to 800. About two-thirds of test takers score between 400 and 600. The score distribution resembles a bell curve with a standard deviation of approximately 100 points, meaning that the test is designed for 68% of examinees to score between 400 and 600, while the median score was originally designed to be near 500.

Because GMAT is a CAT, Computer Adaptive Test, the next question is based on the previous answer, through a testing algorithm, modifying the difficulty of every question, therefore, the best effort should be made on any question. It is not possible to go back to the previous question to verify or to correct it. This is a major contrast to the SAT, which has a wrong-answer penalty. Verbal and Quantitative Section scores range from 0 to 60. Analytical Writing Assessment scores range from 0 to 6 and represent the average of the ratings from the two GMAT essays. The essays are scored differently from the Verbal and Quantitative sections and are not included in the total score.

All scores and cancellations in the past 5 years will be on a student’s score report, a change from the previous policy of the last three scores and cancellations being kept on the score report.

GMAC has announced plans for a Next Generation GMAT set to launch in June 2012

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. Changes to the exam include the removal of one of the two essays in the Analytical Writing Assessment, and the addition of an Integrated Reasoning section. International differences will be taken into consideration more strongly. 

Required scores

Most schools do not publish a minimum acceptable score or detailed statistics about the scores achieved by applicants. However, schools do generally publish the average and median score of their latest intake, which can be used as a guide.

The average score for nearly all of the top business schools, as commonly listed in popular magazines and ranking services, is in the upper 600s or low 700s. For example, Harvard Business School’s average is around 720 as per US News’ BusinessSchool rankings.

It is important to note that some schools also take a holistic approach in determining admission by closely evaluating the quality of work experience, academic achievements, leadership skills, letters of recommendation, and the performance in an admission interview.

Registration and Preparation

The examinee may register for the GMAT either online or by calling one of the test centers. To schedule a test, an appointment must be made at one of the designated test centers.

Third-party study preparation aids are available, including self-study using GMAT books, or classroom GMAT preparation courses (live or online).

The cost of the exam is US$250 as of October, 2011.

The GMAT may not be taken more than once within 31 days, even if the scores are cancelled.

New Admission Trends

Top business schools started accepting GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores in 2006, led by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.  Today more than 600 business schools worldwide, including Harvard Business School, University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and University of California’s Davis Graduate School of Management, accept GRE scores in addition to the GMAT.    Read More About GRE.


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