GMAT Key Facts

Most of Business School applicants must take the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT).  Beginning in 2009, many business schools started to accept the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score as well.

The GMAT is a standardized test delivered in English. Unlike academic grades, which have varying significance based on each school’s grading guidelines, the GMAT scores are based on the same standard for all test takers and they help business schools assess the qualification of an individual against a large pool of applicants with diverse personal and professional backgrounds.  The GMAT scores play a significant role in admissions decisions since they are more recent than most academic transcripts of an applicant and they evaluate a person’s verbal, quantitative and writing skills.

The GMAT is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) and can be taken at any one of many test centers around the world 5 or 6 days a week.  You may take the GMAT only once every 31 days and no more than five times within any 12-month period.  The retest policy applies even if you cancel your score within that time period. All of your scores and cancellations within the last five years will be reported to the institutions you designate as score recipients.

Total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800. About 66% of test takers score between 400 and 600. The Verbal and Quantitative scores range from 0 to 60. For the Verbal section, most people score between 9 and 44. For the Quantitative section, common scores are between 7 and 50. The Verbal and Quantitative scores measure different things and cannot be compared to each other, however, each section's score can be compared across different GMAT tests.

GMAT Test Sections


The GMAT consists of four separately timed sections. The first section consists of an analytical writing task, also known as Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). The second section is known as the Integrated Reasoning section, which was introduced in early June 2012, in replacement of a second essay originally in the AWA section. The remaining two sections (Quantitative and Verbal) consist of multiple-choice questions delivered in a computer-adaptive format. Questions in these sections are dynamically selected as you take the test to stay commensurate with your ability level. Therefore, your test will be unique. Just one question is shown on the screen at a given time. It is impossible to skip a question or go back to a prior question. Each problem needs to be answered before the next question.

GMAT Scoring

In both the Verbal and the Quantitative sections, everyone starts out with an average difficulty level. The difficulty of subsequent questions then increases or decreases based on the correct or incorrect answers a person submits in the test. For each correct answer you give, you are given a harder question for each subsequent question and for each incorrect answer you are given an easier question.  This process will continue until you finish the section, at which point the computer will have an accurate assessment of your ability level in that subject area.

Your score is determined by three factors:
1) the number of questions you complete;
2) the number of questions you answer correctly and;
3) the level of difficulty and other statistical characteristics of each question.
To derive a final score, these questions are weighted based on their difficulty and other statistical properties, not their position in the test.

For the AWA section, one person and one computer programmed for grading (E-rater) score the essay based on essay content, organization, grammar and syntactic variety. Your final, single score is an average of both individual cores obtained on the essay. AWA scores are computed separately from other sections and have no effect on the Verbal, Quantitative, or Total scores.

Although the GMAT score is considered as a reasonable indicator of future academic performance at business schools, it does not measure your job performance, knowledge of business, interpersonal skills, and personality traits such as motivation and creativity. Instead, your application, essays, recommendation letters and interviews will capture most of those aspects.