GMAT Preparation – Graduate Management Admissions Test or GMAT is a standardized Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), which is conducted by the GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council). This test is required as a part of the application process that takes place to enter the various B-schools around the world for management studies. For more than 60 years, the GMAT exam has been the most widely used entrance test for MBA admissions. 9 out of 10 new MBA enrollments are made using a GMAT score. This exam takes almost 4 hours to complete and tests a candidate’s quantitative aptitude, mathematical ability, reasoning and writing ability. So, the MBA aspirants must chart out their plan for GMAT preparation.
To increase your chances of getting admitted into the best b-schools, you need to start GMAT preparation quite early. In this article, you will find all the necessary details that you need to know to prepare for GMAT. We have created a GMAT preparation guide to help you excel in the exam and start a great MBA career. Before that, find a brief overview of the GMAT exam structure in the table given below.
Overview of GMAT Exam Structure
|Test Section||Time Limit & Number of Questions||Question Types||Score Range|
|Analytical Writing||30 minutes
|Analysis of an Argument||0-6
(in 0.5-point increments)
|Integrated Reasoning||30 minutes
|Graphics Interpretation, Table Analysis, Multi-source Reasoning, Two-part Analysis||1-8
(in 1-point increments)
|Quantitative Reasoning||62 minutes
|Data Sufficiency, Problem Solving||6-51
(in 1-point increments)
|Verbal Reasoning||65 minutes
|Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction||6-51
(in 1-point increments)
Now that you know briefly about the GMAT exam, let’s read about the sections covered in the test in detail.
This section measures the applicant’s ability to read and comprehend written material, reason and evaluate arguments, and correct material to express ideas effectively in standard written English. Also, this section consists of three types of questions: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. This section consists of 36 multiple-choice questions. The candidates will be given 65 minutes to complete it.
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It tests an applicant’s ability to understand words and statements, perceive logical relationships between significant points, draw inferences and follow the development of quantitative concepts. Each reading comprehension passage comes with questions that require the applicant to interpret material, draw inferences or apply to a further context.
It tests the ability to make arguments, evaluate arguments, and formulate or evaluate a plan of action. Critical reasoning questions are based on a short reading passage, usually fewer than 100 words.
The sentence correction question presents a sentence, part or all of which is underlined. Under the sentence, there are five ways of phrasing the underlined part. The applicants should pay attention to grammar, word choice and sentence construction, and also must choose the answer that produces the most effective sentence. It measures two broad aspects of language proficiency. First, a correct expression which is grammatically and structurally sound and second, an effective expression which refers to sentences that effectively express an idea or relationship clearly, concisely, and grammatically.
The analytical writing assessment section consists of one 30-minute writing task which is referred to as ‘Analysis of an argument’. The arguments on the test include topics of general interest related to business or other subjects. In this section, the applicant has to discuss how well reasoned they find a given argument. They will have to analyse the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. Before writing, they should take a few minutes to evaluate the argument and plan a response.
It measures the ability to reason mathematically, solve quantitative problems, and interpret graphic data. It consists of 31 multiple-choice questions. The applicant will have 62 minutes to complete the section. There are two types of questions asked in this section which are: Problem-solving and data sufficiency. Problem-solving measures the ability to use logic and analytical reasoning to solve quantitative problems. Data sufficiency checks the student’s ability to analyse a quantitative problem, recognise which data is relevant and be able to determine if the data available is enough to solve the problem.
This section of the exam measures how well an applicant can integrate data to solve complex problems. Since most the b-schools are interested in the development of future business leaders, one of the most important skills an applicant should demonstrate is his/her ability to take in large amounts of data and make sound decisions. The integrated reasoning section contains four question types (total of 12 questions) – most requiring multiple responses.
Integrated reasoning section tests the ability to:
- Synthesise information presented in graphics, text, and numbers.
- Evaluate relevant information from different sources.
- Organise information to see relationships and to solve multiple, interrelated problems.
GMAT Preparation – Study Strategies
If you opt for GMAT preparation courses from GMAT Tutor (The Economist), it takes between 80-120 hours to complete, which is the recommended time period for the number of hours a student should study. This allows enough time to answer most of their 5,000 practice questions as well as take a few simulation tests and tutor sessions. It is advisable to candidates that they should study for at least 1.5 hours per weekday and more than 4 hours on weekend days (assuming if the candidate has a traditional work-week schedule). GMAC suggests an 8-week plan to prepare for the GMAT exam.
An applicant should start a GMAT exam process at least six months before the test results are due. According to most test takers, a minimum eight-week study timeline is ideal if the candidates are somewhat familiar with the underlying GMAT exam content.
GMAC suggests to review and study one section of the test at a time and review basic math skills. Practice pacing as time management is critical to completing the GMAT exam.
Review the types of questions in the analytical writing, integrated reasoning, verbal, and quantitative reasoning sections. Use the free GMAT official practice starter kit and exams 1 & 2 to become familiar with the format used and questions asked in the actual exam, including two free computer-adaptive GMAT exams.
Ultimately, it’s how smart an applicant studies matters, not how long they study. One needs to develop a study plan that includes when to study and what to study. The applicant should think about how they can best prepare, given your discipline, motivation, and personal preference.
The mathematics needed to understand and solve the questions in the quantitative reasoning section of the GMAT exam is equivalent to the syllabus of secondary school classes. The quantitative section has two question types: problem-solving and data sufficiency.
The quantitative reasoning section of the GMAT exam involves knowing how to apply knowledge of maths to reasoning questions, including knowledge in arithmetic, algebra, geometry and word problems. The problem-solving questions measure the ability to use logic and analytical reasoning to solve quantitative problems. The candidates can use the erasable note board provided at the test centre to work out answers. They also need to read each question carefully to determine what data is given and what is being asked.
Data sufficiency questions measure the ability to analyse a quantitative problem, recognise which data are relevant, and determine at what point there is enough data to solve a problem. One needs to decide whether the problem allows only one value or a range of values.
The passages in the verbal reasoning section discuss topics, such as social sciences, humanities, physical or biological sciences, and business. The candidate needs to answer all questions based on what the passage states or implies. In critical reasoning questions, the students have to read a short passage, usually fewer than 100 words, and then answer a question related to the argument. If a question is based on an argument, identify which part of the argument is its conclusion.
In the analytical reasoning section, the applicants have to ask the following questions:
- What questionable assumptions underlie the thinking?
- What counter-examples might be raised?
- What additional evidence could help strengthen or refute the argument?
Some of the questions where one needs to provide more than one response in the integrated reasoning section:
- All answer choices for a single question are presented on the same screen.
- You must submit responses to all parts before moving on to a new question.
- You must answer all parts of a single question correctly to receive credit. No partial credit is given.
- Once you answer a question, you may not go back and change the answer.
GMAT Preparation – GMAT Study Material
- The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 2019 – the guide includes more than 900 questions from past GMAT exams, a diagnostic section to help you assess where to focus your efforts, and invaluable test-taking tips and strategies.
- Free GMATPrep Software – this software includes ninety free questions – 30 Quantitative, 45 Verbal, and 15 Integrated Reasoning – with answers and explanations.
- Manhattan GMAT Strategy Guides – This set includes: GMAT Roadmap; Fractions, Decimals, & Percents; Algebra; Word Problems; Geometry; Number Properties; Critical Reasoning; Reading Comprehension; Sentence Correction; Integrated Reasoning & Essay.
- Kaplan GMAT 800: Advanced Prep for Advanced Students – Tips for test taking, proven strategies for getting a perfect score of 800, and focused guidelines for tackling each question types.
GMAT Preparation – Exam Day
Test day best practices – An applicant should focus on building confidence and keep a fresh mind on the test day. Before answering a question, determine exactly what is being asked, then eliminate the wrong answers and select the best choice. The applicant should confirm exam answers only when they are certain that they want to move on to the next question. Once the applicant starts the test, an onscreen clock display will count down the remaining time. One needs to make sure to check the clock periodically to track the progress. If you do not finish in the allotted time, you will still receive scores as long as you have worked on every section.
- Key actions to take on GMAT exam day:
- Applicant should get a good rest during the morning or afternoon of the exam appointment.
- The applicant must confirm appointment date, time, and location on mba.com account page.
- They should familiarize with the route to your test centre location, and make sure to account for travel time and potential traffic delays.
- They should arrive at the test centre at least 30 minutes prior to the appointment time, in order to allow plenty of time for the check-in process.
- The candidates have to bring a valid photo ID and double check that the ID complies with the local ID requirements (and the name on the ID should exactly match GMAT registration).
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GMAT Preparation – FAQ
Q. How much time do you need to prepare for GMAT?
A. It generally takes 2-3 months to practice the GMAT syllabus to be ready before the exam. The top scorers of the GMAT exam spend 120+ hours on an average over the period of time to be well prepared.
Q. What is the best method to prepare for GMAT?
A. GMAT aspirants can follow the instructions below to best prepare for the exam:
1. Start with a good study plan and read authentic books (or GMAT guides) to prepare for the exam.
2. Thoroughly understand GMAT syllabus and exam format prior to the exam.
3. Select an appropriate time to take the test.
4. Stay updated with the latest concepts in the subjects of the syllabus.
5. Practice and give a definite try to GMAT mock papers.
Q. Is the GMAT exam quite tough?
A. Good GMAT score can help you fetch positions in top universities in the world. It depends on factors like exam time, GMAT preparation, a thorough understanding of concepts, and your scores.