Preparing For An MBA Program? You Need To Learn About the GMAT

The GMAT is the Graduate Management Admission Test, the test most MBA programs in the United States require for admissions. I took a practice GMAT exam through an online learning platform with Kaplan, a leading provider of test preparation materials. I found the practice test to be useful in demonstrating where my gaps in my knowledge existed and providing me with a starting point to develop a test preparation plan for the actual GMAT.

The GMAT consists of three parts:

1. Analytical Writing Section, 60 allotted minutes, two essays

2. Quantitative, 75 allotted minutes, 37 questions

3. Verbal, 75 allotted minutes, 41 questions

My practice exam did not provide the Analytical Writing Section.

The Analytical Writing Section consists of writing two 30-minute essay questions: Analysis of an Argument and Analysis of an Issue. In responding to the Analysis of an Argument section, you are tasked with writing an essay that critiques the structure of a presented argument and explains how persuasive or un-persuasive you find it.

The Analysis of an Issue question will present a broad, general issue and outline several, or perhaps only one key point in regards to the issue. Your task is to explore the issue’s complexities, formulate and opinion, and express yourself clearly and convincingly.

There is no right or wrong way to respond to the writing portion of the GMAT. A “correct” response to Analytical Writing Sections means that you wrote a well-planned, grammatically correct essay that demonstrates you have the ability to write persuasively.

Your knowledge of basic math concepts, including arithmetic, algebra, and geometry will be tested in the Quantitative section. The section consists of two question types: Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving.

Data Sufficiency questions present you with a paragraph (or less) of information, and then ask if you have been given enough information to respond to a question. Problem solving questions are meant to be solved; you will be given question and possible solutions, you pick the correct response.

According to Kaplan, “The GMAT Verbal Section is designed to test your command of standard written English, your skills in analyzing arguments, and your ability to read critically. The section consists of 3 question types: Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction, and Reading Comprehension.”

If you are planning on getting your MBA, you might want to consider taking the exam within the next few months. Starting in June 2012 the GMAT will add a section: Integrated Reasoning. This new section will include four new, multi-step question types to master on top of the five existing types in the Quantitative and Verbal sections. As GMAT scores can be provided to schools up to 5 years after the test date, if you score higher on the current test but lower on the new test after June, you will still be able to send your pre-June test results to schools.

The GMAT is scored from 200 to 800, and like most tests, the higher your score the better.

In my opinion, the GMAT isn’t a difficult test, but it’s no walk in the park either. If you want to be competitive for entrance into a selective MBA program, you will want to study your behind off for this test and get the best score you can possibly get.