In June 2012, the GMAT test changed its format, meaning test-takers have to navigate their way through a Quantitative section, a Verbal section, an Integrated Reasoning (IR) section and an Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA).
Testing MBA applicants on their mathematical ability, the Quantitative section of the business school admissions test lasts for a maximum of 75 minutes, and candidates are expected to answer all of the 37 questions they are given. This section is split into two question types; problem solving, and data sufficiency.
The Verbal section of the test is split into three sections; reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. Here, GMAT test-takers are offered 75 minutes in order to answer 41 questions, testing them on their understanding of the English language.
The most recent addition to the GMAT exam, the Integrated Reasoning section consists of 12 questions which fall under four different categories; graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis and multi-source reasoning. Candidates are given 30 minutes to complete the Integrated Reasoning section.
Integrated Reasoning GMAT scores are based on a scale of 1-8, are scored separately on results sheets, and do not form part of the overall score
The AWA section of the admissions test is usually considered to be the least important of the three sections. However, although the AWA test score is listed separately to the rest of the GMAT scores, business schools are still informed of how well applicants score in the AWA, and so should be thought of as influential in the majority of applications.
The AWA section is formed of one essay question; analysis of an argument. Candidates are given 30 minutes to complete the AWA.
While the majority of business schools require their MBA applicants to submit GMAT scores alongside the rest of their applications, there are some alternatives to the exam.
Probably the biggest contender to the GMAT’s crown as the main admissions test for MBA applications, the Graduate Record Examination, or GRE for short is gradually becoming accepted by more MBA programs around the world.
While the GRE is designed to be used for admissions to all graduate programs, with the exception of a handful of subject specific GRE exams, many business schools value it as a suitable admissions test for their MBA programs.
Many schools also offer their own admissions tests. Although these usually follow a similar format to the GMAT and GRE, they are often designed to test applicant suitability for a specific MBA program.
In India, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) offer their own standardized admission test, the Common Admissions Test, or CAT for short. Although accepted by all six IIMs, many other business schools in the country also accept CAT scores for their MBA applications, and there are rumors of the test soon being licensed outside of India too.
Currently, the GMAT is the most widely accepted MBA admissions exam. While there are alternatives, future applicants should always ensure which tests are accepted by their preferred schools before taking an exam, either by asking the school themselves, or by using TopMBA.com’s Scorecard to view the admissions procedure at all of the top business schools.