What is GMAT and how to crack it

The GMAT is a computer-based test used to assess the analytical, verbal, quantitative and interpretative skills of a candidate. Along with a focus on areas like logical reasoning, critical reasoning and problem – solving. The final score can range between 200 and 800! This vast difference in score is because the questions adapt based on the way the candidate answers. Seems complicated, doesn’t it?

This highly challenging test is very significant for you as a student aspiring to study abroad as more than 7,000+ courses in over 2,300+ schools around the globe will consider your GMAT scores before admitting you. Odds are your dream schools falls under this 2,300, even if not a good GMAT score is an added bonus to ensure your admission.

It’s not wrong to feel a bit overwhelmed at first shot while thinking about GMAT. Keep the end in mind, as at the end of this Himalayan task is the beautiful view of a successful international education. Don’t fret, let’s take baby steps and get to know the test before we plan to conquer it!

So… What is GMAT

The GMAT or the Graduate Management Admission Test is an entrance exam conducted by GMAC (Graduate Management Council) for over 60 years now. This test will assess you to see if you have the skills essential for real-world business management to ensure your success in a business management course. Due to the accuracy of the test, multiple schools use it globally.

How is the exam structured

The three-and-a-half-hour test primarily has four sections, namely,

Analytical Writing Assessment

This section will not be included to generate your final score out of 800; it will be graded separately. Yet, many universities take this into account when it comes to admissions. First, let’s get to know the section,

Go through the following passage,

“This was a part of the stockholder’s annual report of Automotors:

The processing costs go down as the organization learns how to do things efficiently. There are many examples of this in various production industries. For instance, the servicing cost of a 3/5 colour film print fell from 50 cents five per day in 1970 to 20 cents for one per day in 1984. Similarly, given that Automotors has been functioning for over 20 years, we can expect to minimize the production cost and thereby maximize the profit through the experience we have gained along the way.”

Something similar to this passage will be given, and you will have 30 minutes to write an essay commenting on it. In this section, you are expected to analyse the author’s line of reason, the evidence or lack thereof, the loopholes and weaknesses in the arguments and the changes that would make the argument more logically sound. Basically, you need to evaluate the given passage and provide suggestions to improve it.

Integrated Reasoning Assessment

This section tests how well you can interpret data and solve complex problems using the data. The given data can be in the form of graphs, charts, tables, text, etc. A few problems in the form of questions will follow the data with multiple choices. You will face 12 problems and will have 30 minutes to analyse the data and solve them. The problems will include questions on the ratio, percentage increase/decrease, profit/loss, etc based on the given data.

Quantitative Reasoning Assessment

How sound is your mathematical logic? This section has 31 questions – 62 minutes, once again testing your analytical and logical reasoning skills, but with a touch of math. A certain amount of knowledge in areas like arithmetic, elementary algebra and commonly known concepts of geometry is required. This is considered a demanding section by many. Still, it can be easily managed by sharpening your logical and analytical skills.

Types of questions in this area will include:

  • Problem Solving Questions – This type including mathematical problems.

Sample Question:

Ram sold house at 25% loss and bought another house for 30% less than the original price of the first house. If the selling price of the first house was 225000, what is the total gain for both the transactions?

Options:

  • 15,000
  • 25,000
  • 60,000
  • 75,000
  • 90,000

Answer – Option A

  • Data Sufficiency Questions – This is an interesting area. The question will consist of a mathematical problem. Following the questions, some additional data will be given. You need to identify the bare minimum of those additional data that is required to answer the given question.

Sample Question:

What is the value of x/2?

  • X is 1/5 less than 9/10.
  • X is between 2/5 and 4/5.

Options:

  • Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient.
  • Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient.
  • BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.
  • EACH statement ALONE is sufficient.

Answer Option A

Verbal Reasoning Assessment

Have the habit of reading? If yes, this section is going to be a cake walk. If not, it’s not too late, add reading to your daily schedule. This section has 36 questions with 65 minutes to answer them. The purpose of this area is to again, simply check your analytical and logical reasoning but in verbal communication. The test does this by checking how well you read, understand, comprehend, infer and correct the different text that is put in front of you.

Types of questions in this area will include

  • Sentence Correction – A sentence will be given with a part of it underlines. Four options will be given as an alternative for the underlined text. You will have to choose the option that is correct and apt.
  • Critical Reasoning – An argument will be presented and you will be questioned logically in the areas of inferences, assumptions, judgement, etc. You will need to choose the apt option(s).

Sample questions: From the given passage which of the following options can be reasonably inferred? The argument above relies on which of the following assumptions?

  • Reading Comprehension: A passage will be given and you will be asked questions based on the information given in that passage. Every question will carry four options and you should choose the correct one(s).

Sample questions: What is the primary purpose of the passage? What does the passage suggest?

Computer Adaptive Test

CAT is an aspect of GMAT that makes it very unique. The difficulty level of the quantitative and the verbal section will be catered based on the performance of the candidate during the exam. All candidates are presented with a question of average difficulty at first. If you answer it correctly, the second question will be harder. If your answer is incorrect the second question will be easier.

Why this complicated process? Why can’t they just give the same questions to everyone?

The aim is to assess the level of the candidate accurately. The higher the number of harder questions you answer, the higher your final score will be. It is important to note that only the Quantitative and Verbal sections in the GMAT use this form of testing.

How is the final score generated

Since GMAT is specifically designed to determine the ability of a candidate accurately, it has a unique way of scoring as well.

AWA Scoring

The answer you give in this section will be in the form of an essay. This essay will be scored twice, once by a computer and then a human reader. The average of these two scores will be taken to give you the final score. In case the two scores vary to a great extent, a second human examiner will check the answer to provide the correct score.

IRA Scoring

The scoring in this section is pretty simple. One correct answer will result in one mark. The more questions you answer correctly, the more marks you will score.

QRA & VRA Scoring

These two sections use CAT (computer adaptive testing) as discussed above. Hence the scoring in this section depends on three things:

  • Number questions answered
  • Number of questions answered correctly
  • The difficulty level of the questions

The scores will increase as you answer many questions of higher difficulty correctly. It is advised that you take mock tests to develop a personal strategy to handle this section.

How early should you take GMAT

GMAT is offered year-round in most parts of India. Hence, the general thumb rule is to take the test at least two months before your first application date. This is, so you have enough time to review your score, retake the test if necessary and still have time to submit your application to the universities. Plan ahead keeping in mind your prep time, the availability of exam dates and the application deadlines.

Note: GMAT can be taken up to eight times in a lifetime. It is mandatory to have a 16-day gap between two consecutive GMAT attempts.

How should you prepare

Prepping style is personal. It is wise to strategize a plan early on to ensure your success. Given below are a few types of preparation methods widely followed by many students. Go through them and soon enough you will be able to develop a hybrid personalized prep-style apt just for you.

Self-study

Feel like a champion ready to take on the battle alone? Great! Just make sure to keep up the determination and consistency. You can also use study materials specifically catered for self-study like the Official Guide for GMAT Review and practice tests.

Test prep courses

Multiple paid and free online prep courses are at your disposal. The course duration and structure may vary from company to company. Still, typically these courses will consist of videos on topics, mock tests and access to other study materials. Go through the course structure and make sure you choose an online course that suits your needs.

Private Tutoring

This type of preparation is very effective when you feel the need for additional help in specific sections. Take all the help you need; you don’t have to do this alone. Several good private tutors are available to support students through exam preparations. Talk to a few of them and find your mentor.

Have more doubts, queries and questions on GMAT? Click here for answers.

Now that we have covered the basics let’s look at few pointers before jumping into rigorous preparation.

Pointers for success

First, take a mock test (Before preparation) – You need to analyse and understand where you stand in order to get to where you want to be. Don’t be disheartened if you get a low score. Understand your strong points and week points. Positively start your preparation with a plan.

Find a regular study place – A peaceful and calming environment is crucial for concentration. Identify a comfortable place with a table, a cosy chair and absolutely no distractions. Make it a habit to study from this place regularly.

Make a detailed long-term plan of how you are going to prepare for the exam right until the exam date. Try to stick with this plan. Even if you lag, no worries, just note down the changes and keep pushing forward.

Write down a short-term plan (With a pen) – Sit down with a notebook and pen at the beginning of every weak and write down your study schedule for the week. Strictly follow the plan. At the end of the week, you can review it and accordingly make the plan for the following week. This will help you stay on track in your preparation.

Prioritize verbal & quants – All the sections are important, but these two sections matter more when it comes to the total score and university admission process. Hence, it is wise to spend a little more of your energy mastering these two areas.

Take mock tests – Analysing your level of preparation regularly is very beneficial. This is where mock tests come in. Take up mock tests at least once in two weeks and carefully observe your performance in various sections. Note down the areas that need special attention and include it in your weekly schedule. As an additional benefit, you will also train your body to sit through the three-and-a-half-hour-long exam by taking multiple practise tests in advance.

Fine-tune your test-taking strategies – This is the most crucial aspect of your preparation. Your strategy is going to make or break your final score. You have four sections, each with different weightage. You will also have your strong points and week points. Keeping all this in mind, try out different strategies and finalize on one that works for you. Fine-tune this strategy and succeed!

Finally, breadth, relax and try your best! If you do feel anxious with GMAT, MBA, universities, admission processes and lot, you can always reach out to us for support!

Suggested reading:

Best MBA programmes in the UK.

Why Do So Many International Students Choose to Study Business?