The importance of GMAT for business students

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) examination is one of the most competitive exams in the world. It is mandatory for gaining an entry into most business schools the world-over. Business schools insist on GMAT scores for a variety of reasons. The GMAT exam provides standardized criteria to assess candidates drawn from diverse academic, cultural, career and work spectrum. It gauges an applicant’s commitment, aptitude for business studies, and ability to excel in the grueling MBA courses and the challenging work environment of the future. The GMAT scores also serve as a yardstick for awarding scholarships to the candidates. Moreover, the business schools are selective about admitting students as the value of a school’s MBA degree hinges considerably on the quality of incoming students, with faculty reputation and educational facilities being a given.

GMAT is a 3½-hour standardized computer–adaptive test (CAT) test administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a global association of 223 leading graduate business schools. GMAT measures analytical, quantitative and verbal skills of a business school aspirant for a wide range of courses such as Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Finance and Master of Accountancy. GMAT consists of four sections, viz. Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning. The 75-minute Quantitative section consists of problem-solving and data questions. The 75-minute Verbal Reasoning area contains questions pertaining to sentence correction, reading comprehension, and critical reasoning. The 30-minute Analytical Writing Assessment tests the flow and internal coherence of arguments in an essay. The 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section covers table analysis, graph interpretation and multi-source reasoning.

GMAT is a challenging exam, with estimates suggesting that only 25% of GMAT takers score more than 650 and a mere 12% cross that magical 700 figure, which is universally considered as a good GMAT score. Given the computer-adaptive format of the test, the candidates do not enjoy the leeway of skipping a difficult question and coming back to it later. The test is designed in such that high level / harder questions are thrown up depending on the most recent answers and these, in turn, yield a higher score. The examinees need to answer difficult questions in quick time in order to get a good score. A GMAT course would be handy in preparing the candidates for such an arduous test.

The GMAT is not a pass/fail test. Business schools evaluate candidates on the basis of a final score out of 800, which is the consolidated score for the Quantitative and Verbal sections. The remaining 2 sections have their independent percentile scores. The score is valid for 5 years. The GMAT exams are conducted in around 100 countries throughout the year and the exam fees are $250 US dollars. Stanford Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School, Wharton, Kellogg School of Management and Columbia Business School are some leading B-schools that accept GMAT scores.

To conclude, business school admissions officials consider a candidate’s past academic records, work experience and recommendation letters. Nevertheless, the GMAT score is a crucial matrix in the admission decision.