GMAT Test Prep

I have more than 10 years of experience in helping students with their GMAT test prep. The GMAT is the exam preferred by top B-schools to gauge applicants’ aptitude and your GMAT score plays a major role in determining whether your college application will be successful. The GMAT is scored on a scale of 800 and a score higher than 700 puts you firmly among the top 20% of test-takers all over the world. I try to ensure that most of my students score above the 90th percentile in the GMAT exam. Percentiles are ranking systems, which means that if you score in the 90th percentile, then your score is better than 90% of test-takers.

My students are consistently among the top scorers and it gives me immense joy to know that I have played a part in writing their success story. There are various aspects about GMAT test prep that you should be aware of and I will try my best to give comprehensive answers to all your questions. So let us have a detailed discussion about the GMAT examination:

What is the GMAT exam?

GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission Test. It is an exam taken by MBA aspirants all over the world and it is also popular among students who want to apply for a Master in Management degree, which is a popular management course for graduates with less than 3 years of work experience.

Which organization conducts the GMAT exam?

The GMAT is owned by an organization named GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council).

What is the pattern of the GMAT exam?

The GMAT has four sections, viz. AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment), IR (Integrated Reasoning), Quantitative and Verbal sections. The exam lasts for a little over 3 hours and you have 2 optional breaks in between. It is highly advisable to take the breaks and refresh yourself for the next section of the exam. You will have to write a critical essay in the AWA section and the IR section tests your knowledge of both, verbal and mathematical concepts. You can attempt the sections in an order of your preference and you will be given three options to choose from at the beginning of the exam. They are:

Option # 1 Option #2 Option #3
Analytical Writing Assessment Quantitative Verbal
Integrated Reasoning
Optional Break (8 minutes)
Quantitative Verbal Quantitative
Optional Break (8 minutes)
Verbal Analytical Writing Assessment Analytical Writing Assessment
Integrated Reasoning Integrated Reasoning

 

 

You will not be allowed to use a calculator during the exam, except for the IR section, where an on-screen calculator is available. Following is a break-up of the questions in the exam along with the time limit:

Section Questions Time (minutes) Estimated Time Per Question (minutes)
Analytical Writing Assessment 1 Essay 30 30
Integrated Reasoning 12 30 2.5
Quantitative 31 62 2
Verbal 36 65 1.8

 

It is quite evident that the GMAT requires you to be quick while solving questions. On an average, you have 2 minutes solve a quant question and less than 2 minutes to solve a verbal question. Therefore, will you need to improve not only your mental mathematics, but also your ability to think out of the box.

How is the GMAT exam scored?

The GMAT is scored on a scale of 800 points. The lowest possible score is 200, while the highest possible score is 800. This means that if you get almost all of your answers wrong, then you end up with a score of 200. On the other hand, if you get almost all of your answers correct, then you may end up with a score close to 800. I am approximating the values because the GMAT is an adaptive exam and all the questions are not assigned equal weightage. 3 questions in your quant section and 6 questions in your verbal sections are experimental, which means that you will not be scored on those questions, but you have no way of knowing which questions they are. Therefore, you will be scored out of 28 questions on the quant section and out of 30 questions in the verbal section.

The AWA section is scored on a scale of 6 points in half-point increments, whereas the IR section is scored on a scale of 8 points in one-point increments. The Quant and Verbal sections are scored on a scale of 60 points each. The maximum you can score in either section is 51. A score of 51 in the quant section is considered rare and a score above 45 in the verbal section is also very rare. Subsequently, your scores are converted to a band of 800 points. In order to arrive at your GMAT band score, you can use the following approximation:

Total Score = (Quant Score + Verbal Score) * 8.25

Following is a break-up of the scoring system of the GMAT:

Section Min Score Max Score Scoring System
Analytica Writing Assessment 0.0 6.0 In 0.5-point increments
Integrated Reasoning 1 8 In 1-point increments
Quantitative 6 51 In 1-point increments
Verbal 6 51 In 1-point increments

 

There is also a significant overlap in the number of questions you need to answer correctly to achieve particular scores. This is because the GMAT is an adaptive exam and each question you see depends on your answer to the previous question. This means that there is no fixed question-paper and the software throws questions at you based on your responses. Generally, there is a high penalty for getting easy answers wrong because you are expected to get those correct. On the other hand, if you get a difficult question wrong, the algorithm will give you a smaller penalty.

The first question is always of a moderate difficulty level. If you get it right, then the next question is tougher but it carries more marks. However, if you get it wrong, then the next question will be easier but it will carry fewer marks. Hence, you must answer questions correctly at the beginning of the section in order to unlock difficult questions and score high. If you get questions wrong at the beginning of the section, then the algorithm will penalize you heavily and ask you very easy questions, making it progressively difficult for you to reach difficult questions and get a high score. Following is a short illustration of the number of questions you need to answer correctly in order to achieve different scores:

Quantitative (out of the 28 scored questions) Verbal (out of the 30 scored questions)
Correct Answers Score Correct Answers Score
26-28 51 26-28 45
22-27 50 24-25 44
20-24 49 24-25 43
19-23 48 23-24 42
17-22 47 22-23 41
17-21 46 21-22 40
17-20 45 20-21 39
17-19 44 19-20 38
17-18 43 18-19 37

 

How much do I need to score on the GMAT exam?

You should score above the 90th percentile if you are aiming to secure admission into top-tier universities for MBA or MiM programs.  Therefore, it is vital to dedicate sufficient time to your GMAT test prep as your GMAT score is an extremely important part of your application. If you score above the 80th percentile, you will still have a good chance of securing admission into a recognized university abroad. Also bear in mind that your GMAT score is not the only parameter for the admissions committee to decide on your application. You may gain admission to a top-tier university even with a low GMAT score and you may even get rejected in spite of a high GMAT score if your profile does not match the expectations of the admissions committee. However, your GMAT score is a pretty strong indicator of the kind of universities you should apply to. Following are the scores you need to achieve on the GMAT for various percentile rankings:

Quantitative Verbal Overall
Score Percentile Score Percentile Score Percentile
51 97th 45  99th 760-800 99th
50 86th 44 98th 750 98th
49 81st 43 97th 740 97th
48 76th 42 96th 730 96th
47 70th 41 93rd 720 94th
46 68th 40 90th 710 92nd
45 66th 39 88th 700 89th
44 61st 38 84th 690 87th
43 58th 37 82nd 680 85th
42 54th 36 80th 670 83rd

 

For how long is the GMAT score valid?

Your GMAT score will remain valid for a period of 5 years from the date of your exam.

How many re-attempts are allowed for the GMAT exam?

You can take the GMAT a total number of 8 times, but you cannot take it more than 5 times in any 12-month period. Moreover, there must be a gap of at least 16 calendar days between any 2 attempts.

What are the documents that I need to carry with me for the exam?

The only document that you need to carry to the examination hall is your passport and a print-out of the e-mail confirmation of your exam slot sent to your registered e-mail ID by Pearson VUE. You must carry your ORIGINAL passport. This is very important because if you do not carry the original passport, the invigilators will not allow you to take the test and you will not be given any refund of the examination fee either.

Is the GMAT a computer-delivered test or a paper-delivered test?

The GMAT is a computer-delivered adaptive test and cannot be taken on paper.

How often is the GMAT exam conducted?

The GMAT is conducted multiple times a month throughout the year. You will have to check the available dates at a centre near you and book a date that is suitable for you.

How can I book the GMAT exam?

You can go to the official website of the GMAC and create an account for yourself. Thereafter, you can login to your account and book the GMAT exam. Be careful about the credentials you enter while creating your account and make sure that your name matches the name given in your passport. Since you will book the exam from your account, avoiding mismatch of name and other details will save you a lot of hassle in the future.

Where can I take the GMAT exam?

The GMAT is available at designated test centres of Pearson VUE in various cities across the world. You can find a centre near your location on the official GMAC website.

What is the exam fee?

The registration fee to take the GMAT exam is $275 in USA and Canada; it is $250 in other countries including India.

In how many days will I get the result?

The unofficial scores of your Quant, Verbal and IR sections are displayed on the computer-screen at the end of your test and your official score with your Quant, Verbal, AWA and IR scores becomes available within 20 calendar days after your GMAT exam.

How much time should I devote to my GMAT test prep?

You should devote 3-4 months to your GMAT test prep if you follow a proper study plan and dedicate 2-3 hours to study every day. If your work timings are hectic and you are not able to dedicate enough time to practice, then it may take longer depending on your study plan.

How do you conduct GMAT test prep classes?      

I will ask you to take a diagnostic mock-test before we start GMAT test prep classes and I will help you prepare a study plan based on your current level of conceptual understanding. We will have classes 2-3 times a week depending on how well you are able to follow the study plan and how much time you are able to devote to solving questions on a daily basis. I will also monitor your progress based on bi-weekly mock-tests and give you feedback to strengthen your weak areas. I will ask you probing questions to help you uncover your biases and assumptions, thereby increasing your timeliness and accuracy. In this manner, it will take around 3-4 months to prepare for the GMAT exam.

Where do you conduct GMAT test prep classes?

I conduct online GMAT test prep classes using platforms such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc. and I also conduct in-person classes at my home office in Karapakkam, Chennai.

What preparation material should I buy to study for the GMAT exam?

You can buy the Official Guide for the GMAT to practice questions and GMAT Club, which is a global forum for MBA aspirants, is a very good resource to practice difficult questions. Moreover, if you enrol for my GMAT test prep classes, I will mail you preparation material that I have compiled after extensive research and we will use that material in class and for practicing questions. Manhattan Prep, Veritas Prep, Kaplan Test Prep and Experts’ Global are excellent resources for taking mock-tests apart from the official mock-tests provided by GMAC.

Where can I get more details about your GMAT test prep classes?

You can read the FAQs I have posted here and you can also reach out to me via e-mail or phone for further details. If you are in Chennai, you are most welcome to visit me at my home office in Karapakkam, for which I have provided the address and Google Maps link in the Contact Me section.

I hope that I have answered most of your questions regarding GMAT test prep and that you have a good amount of clarity about the structure of the exam, how to prepare for it and where your score is applicable. Please click here to find out more about me and you can read my other articles below: