The GMAT, unlike other professional program entrance exams such as the MCAT, tests skills, not your knowledge base. Like the GRE, the GMAT is an aptitude test created to predict if you’d be successful in a graduate program.
Schools often require GMAT scores from anyone pursuing an MBA or other business-related master’s degree, such as finance or accounting. While some schools accept either GMAT or GRE scores, many students opt to take the GMAT because the exam is more specific to the skills required for business professionals.
To excel on the exam, you have to understand the nature of the test and create a preparation plan accordingly—it doesn’t matter how hard you study if you review the wrong material.
Understanding Computer Adaptiveness
The GMAT, or Graduate Management Admissions Test, is a standardized computer-adaptive, multiple-choice exam. Since it is a computer-Adaptive test (CAT), the computer continuously assesses your capacity and bases the difficulty of questions on how you answer.
For example, when you begin, the computer offers medium-difficulty questions, and if you consistently answer correctly, it increases the difficulty and again measures your abilities based on how you perform. If you answer incorrectly, it lowers the questions’ difficulty. The GMAT score report includes not just the number of questions you got right, but how you coped with progressively harder questions.
Required Skill-set for Test Takers
As previously mentioned, the GMAT assesses your aptitude and cognitive abilities rather than your knowledge of facts and theories. The Graduate Management Admission Council creates exam questions to test the following skills:
- Endurance and Focus– Endurance is vital when you have to sit for a lengthy exam. On the other hand, the ability to focus is also essential because the last thing you want to do is get distracted.
The GMAT tests endurance by providing a three and a half hour-long test that includes optional breaks. The test itself contains four distinct sections that have multiple questions; if you don’t understand how to attempt the paper according to what’s easy for you, you may end up losing time.
Since you are provided with a time limit and the computer marks you according to your questions’ difficulty, you cannot afford to lose marks if you’re nervous or unable to organize your thoughts.
To avoid test-day jitters, you should take multiple full-length practice tests in the weeks leading up to your actual exam. Doing so will give you an idea of how you need to pace yourself and hopefully help reduce your nerves.
- Analytical Reading and Writing– On the GMAT, you’ll have to read excerpts of text, comprehend what you read, and evaluate the arguments made. You’ll also have to complete a writing exercise that gauges your ability to critically assess an issue and communicate your thoughts.
- Problem-Solving and Reasoning– These skills will help you understand a problem and ways to resolve it. Problem solving also includes finding many different solutions and implementing them until you find one that fits. Many employers look for problem-solving skills in applicants because it proves their creativity and tenacity.
- Math Application and Data Analysis– The standard questions often ask you to find possible choices or solutions to solve a problem using introductory algebra and high school-level math. To review these math principles, you’ll want to find the best GMAT prep book.
Furthermore, the GMAT requires you to analyze and interpret data presented in various formats such as charts and graphs.
Pad Your Score Though Preparation
Excelling on the GMAT requires a couple of months of focused preparation. When studying for an aptitude test, the key is to focus on the structure of the exam and questions. Each year, the test follows similar patterns and uses similar language. To best prepare, make use of online questions banks and previous exams.
The better you get to know the test and understand what skills the GMAT assesses, the more you can target your studies on your problem areas. By strategizing your preparations and review, you’ll have the best chance of scoring well and earning a spot at the graduate school of your choice.