GMAT

If you’ve already got a college degree but are interested in attending business school to get an MBA (Masters of Business Administration), you will almost certainly need to take the GMAT. GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission Test. It is a standardized test that more than 1,900 graduate business schools use to determine whether you are ready for post-graduate study in business and management.

It costs $250 to take the GMAT, and you can take it in testing sites around the world. The test takes about four hours to complete. In general, GMAT scores are valid for five years.

With the GMAT, preparation is everything. Most people start preparing three to six months in advance of taking the GMAT. You can use a variety of methods to prepare. You can study by yourself, hire a tutor, join a study group, or take a prep course.
The Graduate Management Admission Council offers free test-prep software (http://www.mba.com). You can also purchase prep materials and get test-taking tips at the same site.

Contrary to what you might think, the GMAT does not assess your business knowledge. Instead, it checks your analytical-writing, math, and verbal skills.

Analytical Writing Section
In the analytical writing section, you must write two essays. The first essay requires you to analyze an argument, and for the second, you must analyze an issue. You are given a maximum of 30 minutes to write each essay. The essay is scored by two readers (one computer program and one human reader), and you can get a score of 0 – 6 on each essay. If the essay scores for one essay are more than 1 point apart, a third (human) reader reads the essay.

Quantitative Section
The quantitative section of the GMAT consists of 37 multiple-choice questions. These questions test your basic high-school-level math capabilities. Some questions test your knowledge of concepts (known as “data sufficiency”). Each of these questions offers a problem and two solutions. You must decide whether either or both of the statements will solve the problem.

The remaining questions in the quantitative section require you to solve math problems. These questions are all multiple-choice, with five choices each.

You can score between 0 and 60 on the entire quantitative section. You have 75 minutes to complete all 37 questions.

Verbal Section
The verbal section is made up of 41 multiple-choice questions that you must answer in 75 minutes. You read a passage, and then you answer three to five questions about the article. The questions may involve reading comprehension, critical reasoning (logic), or sentence correction (grammar).

Scoring
Your total GMAT score excludes the analytical writing section and can range from 200 to 800. Most test-takers score between 400 and 600.

The quantitative and verbal sections use a computer-adaptive testing system. This means that the questions are adapted as you go along, depending on how well you do on the first question. The first question may be difficult. If you answer it correctly, the computer will generate two questions that are more difficult; however, if you answer incorrectly, the next two questions will be easier. Ultimately, the test uses a complicated system for scoring. However, it’s important to note that if you leave a question blank, your score will be hurt more than if you answer incorrectly. This means you should answer every single question, no matter how difficult it is.

The GMAT is a challenging test, so make sure that you spend several months preparing yourself. Doing so will ensure that you get the best possible score that can open the doors to more desirable business schools.

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