This is the first of a three-part series on the GMAT.
If you’re planning to go to business school, you’ll need to take the GMAT before getting too far into your applications. GMAT stands for “graduation management admission test,” and it’s required by nearly all business schools. Here’s a rundown of the most important things you need to know about this exam.
Everything you need to know about the GMAT:
Why do you have to take the GMAT
The honest answer: because it is mandatory. Business school admissions offices are looking for certain traits from students, and the GMAT score is a relevant part of your profile as a candidate. It’s the same reason why medical students have to take the MCAT, law students the LSAT, and undergrads the SAT or ACT. Standardized tests are part of the admissions process and a means of comparing candidates from diverse backgrounds.
What’s in the GMAT
The GMAT consists of four main sections: analytical writing assessment, integrated reasoning, quantitative, and verbal. Each section tests different skills and abilities. For example, the first section tests your ability to analyze an argument. The reasoning section of the test includes multi-source reasoning, graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, and table analysis. Other characteristics it tests include problem-solving skills, reading comprehension, and critical reasoning. The test is in a computer-adaptive format, which means the speed and accuracy of your answers determines the difficulty of the questions.
When should you take the GMAT
The most important thing to consider when scheduling your GMAT is the deadline of your business school applications. You need to allow enough time for admissions offices to receive your scores before the application deadline. That process usually takes a few weeks. The GMAT is available year-round, and there are many testing sites around the world, so availability should not be an issue.
Allow time for preparation
Though it’s not required, preparing for the GMAT is a good idea and you should allow ample time for it. You should already possess the skills necessary for success. But it’s important to familiarize with the format and to work through practice questions in order to develop a sense of what you’ll face on test day. When you sign up for the GMAT on the official website, you gain access to free GMAT software that allows you to answer a certain number of practice questions for free. In the next installment, we’ll cover several approaches to GMAT preparation.
Author Bio: Angie Picardo is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance site committed to helping people make informed financial decisions, whether it’s saving for retirement or choosing a fixed or adjustable rate mortgage.