What Is the GMAT?

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), which measures a student's aptitude for business school, is typically an application requirement for graduate-level business programs. Learn about the GMAT, the exam format, and tips on how to prepare for the test.

Overview of the GMAT

The GMAT exam is designed to test the analytical, problem-solving and reasoning skills and abilities of aspiring graduate business school students. Created and administered by the non-profit Graduate Management Admission Council, the GMAT exam provides business schools with a snapshot of an applicant's potential for success in business. More than 6,000 business programs around the world use the GMAT when considering applicants to their graduate-level programs.

GMAT Exam Format

Section Overview Time Allowed Scoring Range
Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) Prepare an essay that analyzes and critiques the reasoning behind a business-related argument 30 minutes 0 - 6
Integrated Reasoning (IR) 12 questions test the ability to interpret graphics, analyze and organize information, and apply multi-source reasoning skills 30 minutes 1 - 8
Quantitative 37 questions measure problem-solving abilities 75 minutes 0-60
Verbal 41 questions gauge English language usage, critical reasoning and reading comprehension skills 75 minutes 0-60

GMAT Scoring Info

Test-takers receive three scores after taking the GMAT: Total, IR, and AWA. Total scores are on a scale from 200 to 800 derived from the raw scores for the verbal and quantitative sections. AWA scores are averaged to produce a single score, and the IR score is based on questions you answer correctly.

According to GMAC, nearly 70% of test-takers achieve a total score that ranges between 400 and 600. In 2014, U.S. News and World Report reported scores of 715 to 732 for students at the 10 business schools with the highest GMAT scores. The average IR score is 4.34 and an AWA score of 6 is considered outstanding.

GMAT Schedule and Fee

The GMAT is available at testing centers around the world and can be scheduled online or by phone. An additional fee is required to schedule an exam by phone. Test dates are available year-round. The fee for the exam is $250, as of October 2015.

How to Prepare for the GMAT

The GMAT is a key component of an aspiring graduate student's application packet for business school, and students will want to utilize the numerous resources available to help them succeed on exam day. Study.com offers a fast and flexible course to help test-takers prepare for the exam:

  • The GMAT Test: Online Prep and Review course features brief and engaging video tutorials, comprehension quizzes and practice exams to help students gain proficiency in 22 related topic areas and practice for the exam in its entirety.

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