GMAT: Frequently Asked Questions |

GMAT: Frequently Asked Questions

By QS Contributor

Updated October 1, 2014 Updated October 1, 2014 answers many of the frequently asked questions that MBA applicants need to know before taking the GMAT test.

What is the GMAT test?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), and is made up of four sections: Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning (IR) and an Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). The GMAT test lasts for three-and-a-half hours, and is a vital part of the admissions process for many of the top business schools around the world.

What score do I need to get into a top business school?

Business schools look at each application separately, taking into account the merits of each applicant. A candidate’s GMAT score is only one part of the MBA admissions process, which usually includes admissions essays, work experience, and one-on-one interviews. If the rest of your application is weak, then a good GMAT score will improve your chances.

You can find the average GMAT scores that admitted MBA students have achieved at each business school in’s business school profiles. Alternatively, you can read more about GMAT scores here.

Is the GMAT really a necessity for MBA applications?

In most cases, yes. However, some business schools also accept Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and some have their own admissions exams. You should always check with the business schools you wish to apply to in order to find out what is required for your MBA applications, however GMAC have a database detailing which schools use their exam as part of their admissions criteria.

What’s the difference between the GMAT and the GRE?

While the GMAT is used solely as an entrance exam for MBA programs, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is accepted on many differing masters programs. Because of this, not as many business schools accept the GRE compared to the GMAT.

However, some MBA applicants will have previously taken the GRE in their educational career, and so may not wish to take another exam. Also, some applicants may not have decided between taking an MBA or a masters degree, and therefore wish to keep their options open.
You should always check with the business schools that you wish to apply to before committing to take either test. However, you can find more information on each school’s application procedure on’s business school profiles.

How should I prepare for the GMAT?

This is a difficult question to answer, as everyone should prepare in their own way that suits them best. Many GMAT test takers prepare over the course of around three to six months, using the many differing ‘GMAT test prep’ companies available. Others purchase retired questions, or GMAC’s official publications and practise as much as possible. You should decide which method is right for you.

Which is the best GMAT preparation company?

The answer here really depends on your own personal preference. All of the ‘GMAT test prep’ companies differ in one way or another, and some will be more suitable for you than others. Try reading user reviews, such as the ones in the forum.

What should I expect on my GMAT test day?

The GMAT exam is taken on a computer, however test takers only need minimal computer skills to participate. Before each section there is a practise session, so that test takers know how they are expected to answer the questions, and how to use the computer.

If a participant has any problems during the test, then a help section is available. However, while using the help section, the clock will still be running. As soon as each section starts, test takers need to remember that the clock will not stop until their time for that section has run out.
The opportunity of two five-minute breaks is also available, in-between sections.

What do I need to bring on my GMAT test day?

In order to take the test, you will first have to have registered through the GMAT site. You will then need to bring the letter, or a printed copy of the email that you received from Pearson VUE (who run the test on GMAC’s behalf) with you to your test.

To prove you are who you say you are, you will also need to take appropriate identification. For some countries this has to be your passport, but in others you can choose to bring other government approved identification. You will be told prior to the exam which identification is accepted at your GMAT test center.

While it is not essential, you can also bring the details of five business schools who you would like to receive your official score report. It is advisable to select your schools before the test, as afterwards you will be charged for each GMAT score report you wish to send.

How does the Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) format work?

The CAT format of the GMAT means that each test is tailored to each participant during the exam. During the quantitative and verbal sections, if a student answers a question correctly they will then be shown a question of greater difficulty. The opposite is also true, whereby if a student answers a question incorrectly, then the next question they will be shown will be considered easier.

How is my GMAT score calculated?

The overall GMAT score is calculated using the Quantitative and Verbal sections, and participants are awarded a score of between 200 and 800. Higher scores represent greater ability. However, business schools also receive MBA applicants’ Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) scores, ranging from 1 to 6, a score for the Integrated Reasoning section, ranging from 1 to 8, as well as breakdowns of the Verbal and Quantitative scores, which both range from 0 to 60.

How many times can I take the GMAT?

Participants are allowed to take the GMAT up to five times a year. However, business schools are still able to see applicants’ previous GMAT scores. If an MBA admissions department sees that an applicant has improved over the course of two or three tests, then it may be looked upon favourably. However, if the opposite is true, then it could prove problematic for your application.

How long will my GMAT score remain valid?

This depends on the business schools you are applying to. Most admission departments will consider GMAT scores that are up to five years old, however if this could be a problem for you, then you should check with the business schools you are applying to.

How do the business schools find out my GMAT score?

To ensure that all the results that MBA admissions departments receive are genuine, GMAC sends the GMAT results to business schools.
On the test day, you can select up to five business schools for GMAC to send your score to for free. However, after the test day you will be charged an additional fee for every set of GMAT scores you wish to send.

Is it possible to cancel my GMAT score if I am not happy with it?

Yes, but it is not always advisable. Before you see your results, you will be offered the opportunity to cancel them. You will not be able to cancel your results after you have seen them.

Business schools that you choose to send any future GMAT scores to will also be notified that you have previously cancelled a GMAT score, so this could reflect badly upon your MBA application.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in October 2014

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