Conquering the GMAT
A major part of any graduate business school application is the GMAT score. Daunting though it may be, understanding the test is the key to success. Let’s take a look at the GMAT: its sections, scoring and some tips on how to improve your performance.
What is the GMAT?
The GMAT, or the Graduate Management Admission Test, is a standardized test given to those wishing to enter a graduate management program. Generally, those that take the test are seeking their MBA. (1)
There are four sections of the GMAT: (1)
Section: Time (minutes), Number of questions
Analytical Writing: 30, 1 prompt
Integrated Reasoning: 30, 12
Quantitative: 75, 37
Verbal: 75, 41
Number of GMAT tests taken during the 2012-2013 testing period (2)
Number of those tests that were taken in the U.S. alone. This makes the U.S. home to 38% of GMAT test takers. (2)
Mean total score in the U.S. (2)
Top school scores (3)
School: Average GMAT score, Average student GPA
Harvard: 727, 3.7
Stanford: 732, 3.73
University of Pennsylvania: 725, 3.6
University of Chicago: 723, 3.58
MIT: 713, 3.58
Northwestern: 713, 3.54
Berkeley: 714, 3.6
Columbia: 716, 3.5
Dartmouth: 718, 3.53
NYU: 721, 3.51
Median scores for the GMAT exam typically run around 560. But what does this score mean? (1)
Section: Score range
Verbal: 0 to 60
Quantitative: 0 to 60
Analytical Writing: 0 to 6
Integrated Reasoning: 1 to 8
Percentage of test takers who score between a 400 and 600. (1)
Percentile ranking (1)
Along with a score, test takers will receive a percentile ranking. This percentile shows you those that scored lower than you.
For example, if someone scores a 690 and is in the 87th percentile, then they scored higher than 87% of test takers over the past three years.
What is a “good” score? (4)
While an 800 is desired, they are extremely rare. Scores are generally judged on their percentile ranks.
A “good” score is around 600, typically in the 70th percentile.
A “great” score is around 700, typically in the 90th percentile.
Tips for a Higher Score
1. Study consistently over a longer period of time instead of cramming.
2. Create a timeline over your studying period of when you should cover each section.
3. Practice using laminated drawing boards, as these are generally the only material provided to one taking the GMAT.
4. Visit the official GMAT testing site (MBA.com) to gather as much information on the test and on scoring as you can.
5. Take multiple practice GMAT tests in a timed setting.
During the test (5)
1. Do not dwell over questions on which you have to guess. Move along at a steady pace.
2. Since most schools want to see strong scores on both verbal and quantitative questions, give equal time to both sections.
3. Recognize that if you are reaching ridiculously hard questions, you are probably doing well; the test is designed to “toughen up” questions as the test taker scores higher and higher.
4. Take the exam more than once, as most schools accept your highest score among all attempts.
5. If you can feel yourself not doing as well as you’d hoped, take a moment and relax. Even small exercises like deep breathing may help you remember more of your studying.