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Preparing for the GMAT

The General Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is required for admission into the majority of MBA programs. Although some online MBA programs don’t require it, the majority of accredited online and traditional, campus-based institutions do. MBA degrees provide graduates with the potential for career enhancement and entry into higher-paying professions. Typical MBA degree programs include, general business, management, marketing, international business and healthcare. Preparing for the GMAT is essential to achieving acceptable test scores. The exam measures a prospective student’s comprehensive abilities related to English and grammar usage, writing skills, math and quantitative analysis. It provides academic institutions with a tool that indicates an individual’s ability to become a successful MBA candidate. Therefore, GMAT test scores are generally used to determine admittance into top MBA programs. The exam consists of three sections, which includes the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning.

Test Format and Timing

With the exception of the AWA, the exam is in a multiple choice format. As opposed to a fixed text, the GMAT adjusts to an individual’s ability level, which may either shorten or lengthen the time it takes to complete the test. At the beginning of each multiple choice section, the individual is given a preliminary question of average difficulty. As each question is answered, the computer-adaptive system analyzes the scores as they build in order to format the following questions. Therefore, incorrect responses generate questions with decreased difficulty, while correct responses result in more challenging ones. Taking a GMAT practice test is essential, as having the ability to pace the exam is imperative to completing the test. If an individual is unable to complete the entire exam the individual is penalized, and their score adversely affected.

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section is designed to determine an individual’s communication skills and critical thinking/reasoning abilities. The AWA is the written portion of the test, in which two separate essays are composed. Since one hour is allotted to the AWA, it’s imperative that each take no more than 30 minutes to write. One essay is an analysis of an argumentative claim, while the other analyzes a specific issue. The analysis of an issue portion explains a particular point of view of a complex issue or subject, and therefore, other possible perspectives should be considered while utilizing personal experiences and observations. The analysis of an argument portion requires the individual to examine the reasoning behind an argument and provide a critique of it. While writing the argument analysis essay, factors to consider should include possible alternative explanations, questionable assumptions and other types of evidence that may either strengthen or weaken the argument. (GMAT prep) for the AWA should include testing for the ability to gather thoughts and logic quickly, while effectively presenting them in written form.

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GMAT test contains 37 questions designed to test an individual’s knowledge of mathematical concepts, typically learned throughout high school, such as basic arithmetic, algebra, averages, decimals, factoring, fractions and geometry. Having the capability to reason quantitatively, solve mathematical problems/equations and effectively interpret graphically-based data is essential to performing well on this portion of the exam. One portion of the test requires the individual to solve math problems, in which two possible answers are provided. The other section includes data sufficiency questions that require answers related to whether there is sufficient data available in order to effectively answer two separate statements either by itself or as a combination of both. Using a GMAT practice test in which MBA math is offered will enable prospective MBA students to uncover areas they may need to work on prior to taking the test.

Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section of the GMAT test contains 41 questions comprised of three parts, and is designed to test an individual’s ability to utilize correct grammar and sentence structure skills, reading comprehension and critical reasoning abilities. This portion of the exam also measures an individual’s ability to evaluate and reason various arguments, effectively comprehend written materials, and apply information and concepts in written form. While no particular familiarity with a specific subject is required, questions correspond to business subjects, such as management, human resources, economics and marketing, in addition to the biological, physical and social sciences. Therefore, having the capability to read, understand and evaluate written passages of 350 words that include moderately complex terms, while drawing upon factual statements and inferences to reach a logical conclusion, is important. Testing measurements for this portion of the exam include correct expression, and evaluation and construction of arguments, as well as having the ability to evaluate and form a plan of action. (GMAT prep) for the Verbal Reasoning portion of the test should include a review of grammar rules and vocabulary.

Study, Practice and Review

Using a GMAT practice test will provide prospective MBA students the ability in order to effectively prepare for the exam, thus ensuring their likelihood of success and entrance into an MBA program of their choice. Prospective MBA applicants should take advantage of online and book-based resources that provide a GMAT practice test. They should study subject areas of weakness and review all portions of the exam prior to the testing day. Individuals should ensure they read each question carefully before answering, while remaining aware of the time so that no questions are left unanswered. Practicing as many times as necessary with a sample GMAT test will ensure the likelihood of completing the test. Rehearsing the capability of reading examples of the essay portions of the exam, while listing specific points to address, and fleshing them out in detail within the paragraphs of the essays using logically, supportive arguments will also help ensure success. Studying and GMAT prep should begin no less than four weeks ahead of the testing date.

Importance of the GMAT Score

Having an acceptable GMAT test score is oftentimes a determining factor for admittance into some of the top MBA programs. Some institutions have a minimum acceptable score, while others use it in combination with the overall application package. The majority of schools consider the GMAT score in combination with other admissions criteria, such as undergraduate GPA, official transcripts, work experience, collegiate and professional recommendations, application essays and personal interviews. Individuals may retake the exam if needed and requests for re-scoring of portions or the entirety of the exam can be made within six months of the exam date. However, utilizing GMAT prep resources will ensure respectable GMAT test scores without having to retake the exam.