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Admission Test

The GMAT is owned by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and conducted by Pearson Vue. It is a standardized test which measures your skills that are considered essential for management education. The perfect score for the test is 800, which, the test makers say, is achieved by only 50 out of 2,00,000 test takers in a year. The makers of the test assert that the graduate management programs, using GMAT scores, can reliably assess the cognitive skills that are needed for success in advanced study in business and management.

  1. Components of the Test
    The test contains three different sections, each of which is briefly discussed below.
    Section I: Analytical writing assessment (AWA)
    This section measures your critical thinking and persuasive writing abilities. When you evaluate an argument or present one, you need to think critically, (rather, I would like to say, with common sense) and present your critique or argument convincingly in writing. These abilities of yours are tested in this section. This section is with a score range of 0 – 6. This score is not a part of 800, the perfect GMAT score.
    Section II: Integrated reasoning
    The Next Generation GMAT, which started in June 2012, introduces Integrated Reasoning section which tests your ability to apply critical reasoning skills using the info presented in multiple formats. Graphs, tables and some other sortable tables are given and you are asked to arrive at inferences. The question basically multiple choice questions in different formats. You need to integrate info given in order to answer questions given. The scores you get in this section are not a part of the GMAT 800 scores.
    Section III: Quantitative reasoning
    The second section of GMAT, Quantitative Reasoning, measures your ability to think mathematicallyThe questions in this section are trickier than they used to be. So, if you are aspiring for great scores, you need to put in more efforts, even though you are a mathematics student. One noteworthy thing about this section: mathematical reasoning ability is given ascendance over calculating ability. I know instances in which students were able to answer even high difficulty level questions without calculating.
    Section IV: Verbal reasoning
    This section tests your ability to reason verbally in complex situations of expression, reading and argumentation. The language is generally formal English or what the test makers call ‘Standard Written Expression’. This is the language you will find in the constitution of your country, rather than in any of the text books, novels or newspapers you read.
  2. Test Format
    The test is delivered on a computer as a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) about which I will soon tell you more.
    The following is the broad description of the test format



Analysis of an issue

1 topic

30 minutes



Multi-source Reasoning + Table Analysis +Graphic Interpretation + Two-Part Analysis

12 questions

30 minutes

Optional break for 5 minutes



Data sufficiency + problem solving

37 questions

75 minutes

Optional break for 5 minutes



Critical reasoning + sentence correction + reading comprehension

41 questions

75 minutes

Total time (with breaks)

3 hours 40 minutes

  1. The Types of Questions in Different Sections
    The test uses different types of questions to measure your skills. The following section discusses various kinds of questions you will find all the above sections of the test.
  1. Analytical writing assessment (AWA)
    This section gives an argument essay to measure your critical thinking and persuasive writing abilities.
  • Analysis of an argument
    An argument (G-matically speaking, a verbal attempt to convince) is given as the essay prompt. The argument given in your test is randomly selected by the computer from the Pool of Arguments given in the official website. You should study the argument carefully, study the logical features and present your essay giving the critique of the argument. In fact, all the arguments given in the Pool of Arguments are flawed and are filled with many logical fallacies. You should have an eye for these errors and explain the fallacies in your critique of the argument. This part is the test for your fault-finding ability.
    In AWA section, you need to type your essay. So, it is advisable to develop accuracy and good speed. Almost always, essays that have been awarded good scores are not only with good content but also with good length! Thus, you should be able to type minimum 20 - 25 words per minute with correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.
    Remember! E-mail or chatting style of writing is unofficially prohibited in G-mactic essay writing!
    Though this score is not a part of the GMAT score of 800, good B-schools demand good AWA scores. Moreover, the B-schools you apply to will receive a copy of your essay response along with your GMAT scores. You cannot afford to create bad impression in the minds of admission officers of B-schools by mismatching your test essays and admission essays.
  1. Integrated reasoning
    The Next Generation GMAT has included Integrated Reasoning part which contains 12 questions. These questions are based on recommendations of faculty of reputed B-schools across the globe. These questions are designed to test your ability to assimilate and integrate info from multiple or/and divergent sources to solve challenging problems. You need to interpret visual data accurately. The data is presented in the form of graphs, tables with sortable information, and even arguments/critique presented orally. Briefly, this section measures your ability to work with complex data formats.
    Remember, an online calculator with basic functions is provided for you during this section only. This calculator is not available during the Quantitative Reasoning section that follows this section.
    Though the scores from the above two sections are not a part of the GMAT score of 800, good B-schools demand good AWA and IR scores.
  2. Quantitative reasoning
    This section gives multiple choice questions in two types of questions. These questions are designed to test your mathematical reasoning. Basic arithmetic, elementary algebra and geometry are the concepts tested in this part of the test.
    1. Problem solving
      Each problem solving question is a multiple choice question followed by five options and you need to select the best option. Despite the apparent ‘easiness’ of the question, you should be careful in understanding the infomation given in the question and that asked for as the answer.
    2. Data sufficiency
      These questions are designed to measure your ability to analyze infomation given and to decide whether the infomation given is enough to answer the questions given. The question contains some initial infomation and is followed by two numbered statements. You should decide on the sufficiency of infomation. In this type of question, understanding the relevancy of the infomation is more important than calculating the mathematical operations.
      Both types of questions are interspersed and presented all through this section. Given the recent trends of the test, through practice under timed conditions is quite important even for a math student.
  3. Verbal reasoning
    This section gives you multiple choice questions to test your ability to reason verbally. This section uses three different types of questions for this purpose. You will find around 15 questions of each of the following types.
    1. Reading comprehension questions
      This question tests your critical reading abilities. Usually 3 to 6 questions follow each of the reading passages which are taken from a wide variety of subjects.
      As the GMAT takers come from all academic streams, the relative advantage of familiarity of the topic for a particular test taker is nullified by the selection of reading passage topics from a variety of subjects. For example, a test taker from management will be comfortable with a passage from his academic stream. But he also needs to answer questions based on passages from arts and literature, pure and applied sciences, astronomy etc. In this way, all the test takers will be with equal relative advantage or disadvantage, making the test dependable for admission process.
      Though no special knowledge is required for these passages, familiarity of the content surely helps. Your ability to interpret, apply and infer infomation basing on what is explicitly or implicitly stated in the passage helps you to succeed in this section.
    2. Critical reasoning questions
      These questions test your critical thinking abilities. The test makers call it ‘informal logic’ and I would like to call it common sense. These questions actually test your ability to think critically and to use your experience and knowledge in realistic situations. Each question presents an argument which is followed by a question with five options. You need to select the best option from among these options.
    3. Sentence correction questions
      In your GMAT, you will find around 15 sentence correction questions, which are designed to test your knowledge of stylistic conventions and grammatical rules of Standard Written English. This is the G-matic language you need to master if you want to get good scores in GMAT. This book is designed to make you an expert in answering this question.
    4. Experimental questions
      Some 8 – 10 questions you face in each of verbal and quantitative sections are experimental questions. This experimentation is designed to develop future GMATs. Let us discuss how this is done.
      The scored questions given in any GMAT CAT are pre-tested and pre-compartmentalized questions. When the test makers have developed new questions for GMAT, they should first decide the difficulty levels of these questions. So, these new questions are given to hundreds of test takers, in their real GMATs, on experimental basis. Basing on the percentage of correct responses for each of the experimental question, the test makers decide the difficulty level of every newly developed question.
      For example, if a question is answered correctly by seventy percent of students in the experimentation, it is a thirty percentile question. If it is answered correctly only 20% of the test takers, then it is an 80% question, implying that it is very difficult. After this process, the question becomes a scored question with known difficulty levels. Then, these questions are aptly administered in Computer Adaptive Test.
      The experimental questions do not add to your score if you answer these questions correctly. Nor are you penalized if you go wrong with them. This is surely a complex process, which is surely irrelevant to us, the test takers.
      For us, all questions we face are real questions for all practical purposes, for we cannot know which questions are experimental. Any guess in this regard jeopardizes our scores!
    5. GMAT score and B-schools
      GMAT scores are important in the admission process in B-schools. Thousands of management programs across the world accept these scores. However, you should understand that this score is just ONE of the selection criteria. Work experience, grades in college education, admission essays, and, in some cases, even personal interviews play a part in the selection process.
      We can reasonably assume that the GMAT score
      has only 1/3 of the weightage in selection process. 
      However, you cannot neglect this important component
      of the selection process. You should present your best scores and sometimes, the specific scores required by specific B-schools. You should do a little bit of research about these specifications of the B-schools you are interested in.

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