History of the Graduate Management Admission Test
In 1953, the organization now called the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) began as an association of nine business schools, whose goal was to develop a standardized test to help business schools select qualified applicants. In the first year it was offered, the assessment (now known as the Graduate Management Admission Test), was taken just over 2,000 times; in recent years, it has been taken more than 200,000 times annually. Initially used in admissions by 54 schools, the test is now used by more than 1,500 schools and 1,800 programs worldwide.
After 2005, GMAC is administrating the exam. On January 1, 2006, GMAC transitioned vendors to a combination of ACT Inc, which develops the test questions and CAT software, and Pearson Vue, which delivers the exam at testing centers worldwide.
On June 23, 2008, a cheating scandal was acknowledged by GMAC involving some 6,000 prospective MBA students who subscribed to the website ScoreTop.com and may have viewed “live” questions in-use on the GMAT
mba.com is the official website for GMAT
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT, pronounced G-mat) is a computer adaptive standardized test in the English language for measuring aptitude to succeed academically in graduate business studies. Business schools commonly use the test as one of many selection criteria for admission into an MBA program. It is given at various locations around the world. Throughout North America and in many international locations, the GMAT is administered only via computer. In those international locations where an extensive network of computers has not yet been established, the GMAT is offered either at temporary computer-based testing centers on a limited schedule or as a paper-based test (given once or twice a year) at local testing centers
The GMAT exam is a standardized assessment, delivered in English, that helps business schools assess the qualifications of applicants for advanced study in business and management.
By taking the GMAT exam, you have a better chance of being targeted by business schools that are a good match for you—and learning more about their programs and admissions processes. You can help them find you by creating an mba.com profile and opting in to being contacted by schools.
Schools use the test as one predictor of academic performance in an MBA program or in other graduate management programs.
The exam measures verbal, mathematical and analytical writing skills that the examinee has developed over a long period of time in his/her education and work. Test takers are given 3.5 hours to answer questions in each of the three tested areas, and there are also two 10-minute breaks; in general, the test takes about four hours to complete.
Scores are valid for five years (at most institutions) from the date the test taker sits for the exam until the date of matriculation (i.e. acceptance, not until the date of application).
The maximum score that can be achieved on the exam is 800. Over the past 3 years, the mean score has been 535.2.
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 past 3 years, the mean has been 27.8/60; scores above 44 and below 9 are rare.
- Sentence Correction
The Sentence Correction section tests a test taker’s knowledge of American English grammar, usage, and style.
Sentence correction items consist of a sentence, all or part of which has been underlined, with five associated answer choices listed below the sentence. The first answer choice is exactly the same as the underlined portion of the sentence. The remaining four answer choices contain different phrasings of the underlined portion of the sentence. The test taker is instructed to chose the first answer choice if there is no flaw with that phrasing of the sentence. If there is a flaw with the original phrasing of the sentence, the test taker is instructed to choose the best of the four remaining answer choices.
Sentence Correction questions are designed to measure a test taker’s proficiency in three areas: correct expression, effective expression, and proper diction.  Correct expression refers to the grammar and structure of the sentence. Effective Expression refers to the clarity and concision used to express the idea. Proper Diction refers to the suitability and accuracy of the chosen words in reference to the dictionary meaning of the words and the context in which the words are presented.
- Critical Reasoning
This tests logical thinking. Critical thinking items present an argument that the test taker is asked to analyze. Questions may ask test takers to draw a conclusion, to identify assumptions, or to recognize strengths or weaknesses in the argument. It presents brief statements or arguments and ask to evaluate the form or content of the statement or argument. Questions of this type ask the examinee to analyze and evaluate the reasoning in short paragraphs or passages. For some questions, all of the answer choices may conceivably be answers to the question asked. The examinee should select the best answer to the question, that is, an answer that does not require making assumptions that violate common sense standards by being implausible, redundant, irrelevant, or inconsistent.
- Reading Comprehension
This tests the ability to read critically. Reading comprehension questions relate to a passage that is provided for the examinee to read. The passage can be about almost anything, and the questions about it test how well the examinee understands the passage and the information in it. As the name implies, it tests the ability of the examinee to understand the substance and logical structure of a written selection. The GMAT uses reading passages of approximately 200 to 350 words, covering topics from social sciences, biological sciences, physical sciences, and business. Each passage has three or more questions based on its content. The questions ask about the main point of the passage, about what the author specifically states, about what can be logically inferred from the passage, and about the author’s attitude or tone.
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 past 3 years, the mean score has been 35.6/60; scores above 50 and below 7 are rare.
Most international MBA programs take only the quantitative section into account, as the degrees they offer will not be taught in English. These areas normally demand a higher quantitative score and ignore the verbal sections.
- Problem Solving
This tests the quantitative reasoning ability. Problem-solving questions present multiple-choice problems in arithmetic, basic algebra, and elementary geometry. The task is to solve the problems and choose the correct answer from among five answer choices. Some problems will be plain mathematical calculations; the rest will be presented as real life word problems that will require mathematical solutions.
Numbers: All numbers used are real numbers.
Figures: The diagrams and figures that accompany these questions are for the purpose of providing useful information in answering the questions. Unless it is stated that a specific figure is not drawn to scale, the diagrams and figures are drawn as accurately as possible. All figures are in a plane unless otherwise indicated.
- Data Sufficiency
This tests the quantitative reasoning ability using an unusual set of directions. The examinee is given a question with two associated statements that provide information that might be useful in answering the question. The examinee then must determine whether either statement alone is sufficient to answer the question; whether both are needed to answer the question; or whether there is not enough information given to answer the question.
Data sufficiency is a unique type of math question created especially for the GMAT. Each item consists of the questions itself followed by two numbered statements. The examinee must decide whether the statements — either individually or in combination — provide enough information to answer the question.
(A) If statement 1 alone is sufficient to answer the question, but statement 2 alone is not sufficient.
(B) If statement 2 alone is sufficient to answer the question, but statement 1 alone is not sufficient.
(C) If both statements together are needed to answer the question, but neither statement alone is sufficient.
(D) If either statement by itself is sufficient to answer the question.
(E) If not enough facts are given to answer the question.
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 read by two readers who each mark the essay with a grade from 0-6, in 0.5 point increments with a mean score of 4.1. If the two scores are within one point of each other, they are averaged. If there is more than one point difference, the essays are read by a third reader.
The first reader is Intellimetric, a proprietary computer program developed by Vantage Learning, which analyzes creative writing and syntax of more than 50 linguistic and structural features. The second and third readers are humans, who evaluate the quality of the examinee’s ideas and his or her ability to organize, develop and express ideas with relevant support. While mastery of the conventions of written English factor into scoring, minor errors are expected, and evaluators are trained to be sensitive to examinees whose first language is not English.
Most business schools do not weigh the AWA as heavily as the verbal and quantitative sections of the test. Some schools ignore the AWA altogether.
Each of the two essays in the Analytical Writing part of the test is graded on a scale of 0 (the minimum) to 6 (the maximum):
- 0 An essay that is totally illegible or obviously not written on the assigned topic.
- 1 An essay that is fundamentally deficient.
- 2 An essay that is seriously flawed.
- 3 An essay that is seriously limited.
- 4 An essay that is merely adequate.
- 5 An essay that is strong.
- 6 An essay that is outstanding.
The “Total Score”, comprising 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. The 2005/2006 mean score was 533.[11
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.
At nearly all of the top business schools that are commonly listed in popular magazines and ranking services, the scores will average in the upper 600s or low 700s. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, commonly regarded as one of the top business schools in the U.S., reports an average score of 715; Harvard Business School, another top tier U.S. business school, reports a 2006 average of 707. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management reports an average GMAT of 700, with approximately 75 percent of enrolled students scoring between 650 and 740 At the Indian School of Business the class of 2009 reports an average score of 714. INSEAD, a leading global business school with a highly multinational student body, reports a 2005 average of 705