All MBA applicants have to complete a GRE or GMAT to be considered for acceptance. The most common exam applicants take is the GMAT, which is short for the Graduate Management Admissions Test.

Though both are standardized tests that any student entering a management or business program must complete. The admissions committee then takes the test score to access a potential applicant. Like any exam, it’s important to spend time preparing, especially since the GMAT can be a deciding factor in your acceptance.

As such, we have put together a guide that will help you prepare to ace the GMAT.

How Is the GMAT Structured?

The GMAT has four different sections: analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative assessment, and a verbal assessment.

In the analytical writing section, you’ll be asked to provide an argument on a given topic, which will test both your critical thinking and communication skills. The next section of the exam, you’ll have to answer 12 questions that will measure your ability to analyze data and evaluate information. In the quantitative assessment section, you’ll be shown data that you’ll have to draw conclusions using reasoning skills. In the last section, your ability to read and understand written material will be measured, as well as your ability to evaluate arguments and correct written material.

According to MBA.com, the test will take you about three hours and 30 minutes to complete and will consist of two optional breaks.

Flexibility to Choose the Order of the Exam

One of the best things about the GMAT is that you’ll have the flexibility to complete the exam sections in the order that you desire. Here are the three options of section orders that you can choose from:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal
  2. Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
  3. Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

The GMAT is Computer Adaptive

There are two sections on the GMAT that are computer adaptive: Quantitative Reasoning and the Verbal Assessment sections. Computer adaptive means that the test will adapt its questions in real-time based on your skill level.

Basically, if you answered the first question incorrectly, you’ll be given an easier question next round — this process continues until the section is complete.

Each Section Is Scored to Give the Final Score

Each section is scored differently. The first section is scored in half-point intervals on a scale of zero (minimum) to six (maximum). The second section is scored in single-digit intervals on a scale of one to eight and the last two sections are scored on a scale of zero to 60. The total score is only based on an applicant’s performance on the verbal and quantitative sections and is scored on a scale of 200 to 800.

It’s important to spend time researching the GMAT score requirements for each school you’re applying to because every school is different. Most business school will indicate the range that they’ll accept.

The Validity of GMAT Scores are Five Years

After you complete the exam, you’ll typically receive results within 20 days of taking the exam. It’s important to know that this score will be valid for five years, which should help you to plan when to take the GMAT. For example, if you unsure when you will be applying for an MBA program, it’s a good idea to wait to take the exam until you have specific schools and programs in mind.

Seek Out GMAT Prep Resources

Once you know you’ll be taking the GMAT, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible preparing. Luckily, there are hundreds of free online resources that can help you feel confident to take the exam. For example, the GMAT Official Starter Kit from MBA.com includes two-full length practice exams, as well as a step-by-step GMAT preparation guide, and more. Flashcards are also a great way to study for an exam. You can find free flashcards online that will help you prepare for each specific section of the GMAT exam.

You’ll be sure to find GMAT prep books at your local library, and if you need extra help you, you can hire a GMAT tutor for a cost.

It’s recommended that you create a study schedule in order to know what days you can spend time studying. According to StudyLink, it recommended that you spend around 51 hours to prepare before taking the GMAT.

How Much Will the GMAT Cost?

The GMAT is offered year-round at test centers around the nation. Before you register for the exam, it’s a good idea to find a test center that is in your location and has available seats. The cost to take the GMAT is approximately $250 USD globally.

If you spend time preparing, you can ensure that come test day you’ll be ready. It’s important to know that you will not be able to bring any materials with you such as notes, dictionaries, or other resources with you.

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