The Gold Standard – GMAT

Survey finds that 50% of business schools pinpoint a low GMAT score as “the biggest application killer,” confirming that applicants still need to submit a strong score overall.”

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized examination that is used by business schools, including online ones, to assess applicants. GMAT assesses analytical writing and problem-solving abilities, while also addressing data sufficiency, logic, and critical reasoning skills that it believes to be vital to real-world business and management success

If you’re serious about going to business school, take the exam that means business. More than 5,900 programs offered by more than 2,100 universities and institutions use the GMAT exam as part of the selection criteria for their programs. Business schools use the test as a criterion for admission into a wide range of graduate management programs, including MBA, Master of Accountancy, and Master of Finance programs. The GMAT exam is administered in standardized test centers in 112 countries around the world. It is the gold standard when it comes to business schools.

Given its design, the GMAT is used as a predictor of academic performance and ability to be successful in the advanced study of business and management, as well as a realistic indicator of present and future ability in management positions. It is a known and trusted tool that is fully engrained in the MBA Admissions and MBA rankings of business schools world-wide. Taking the GMAT exam alerts programs around the world that you are serious about your pursuit of a graduate management education, thereby increasing your likelihood of admission.

For a select group of companies, mostly top consulting, finance, and banking firms, employers routinely look to MBA graduates’ GMAT scores as a reliable standard measurement of academic prowess. Particularly when jobs are tight, and every element of each resume takes on added weight, test scores can be the difference between an interview and the dustbin.

Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) constantly evaluates and validates the GMAT as a predictor of MBA academic performance. GMAT’s validation assessments are shared with schools directly (for the schools that participate) so that each Admissions Committee can confirm that the GMAT provides accurate predictive data for their particular program.

Another reason MBA Admissions Committees place a high value on GMAT scores is that it provides an easy benchmark to compare candidates against one another and against the school’s student profile.

Taking the GMAT

Because the GMAT exam assesses higher order reasoning, a skill that improves with practice, preparing for the exam takes a great deal of time and practice – significantly more than for a conventional test.

The GMAT isn’t supposed to be easy. The Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the exam for business-school applicants, has spent six decades tweaking things, striking questions deemed too simple, and ensuring that the result is equally tough on U.S. test-takers and international entrants.

The GMAT is not a math or grammar test. The math and grammar are just there as tools to allow the exam writers to test you on your decision-making ability and your executive reasoning skills.

A great decision-maker has both expertise and experience: he/she thinks about how to make various kinds of decisions, and they actually practice and refine these decision-making processes. While the clock is ticking, they don’t hesitate to make a decision and move forward, knowing that they are going to be leaving some opportunities behind.

In order to do that successfully in the business world, you need to know the company’s goals and objectives, and you have to have a good idea of the kind of impact that various tasks or activities will have on the company. You also have to have a lot of practice in making these decisions and observing the outcomes. There’s never just one right way to make these decisions, so the more exposure you give yourself to how things work, the better you’ll be able to make good decisions in future.

This complex decision making is exactly what a good executive needs to be able to do well—and this is what the test writers and business schools actually care about.

The same is true for the GMAT: if you know how it works, and you know what kinds of trade-offs to think about when deciding how to spend your time, then you can learn how to make the best decisions to maximize your score.

The test makers want to know how you think and make decisions. You of course need to know content (certain facts, rules, formulas) in order to do well on either test, but that level of study is not enough; you also need to lift yourself to a second level of understanding that allows you to think your way through these sometimes bizarrely-worded problems as effectively and efficiently as possible.

When to Take GMAT

First, keep in mind that you can take the GMAT almost any time you want. One of the golden rules for deciding when to take the GMAT is very simple – When you are ready. A lot of time, students do not take into account the time required to prepare for the test. Whether you are a working professional or a student you need to set aside preparation time for the test. You should take enough time to study for it, because there’s no point of taking the test without being prepared.

It is recommended that MBA program hopefuls take the GMAT about a year before they plan to enroll. It is advisable for the test takers begin preparing for the GMAT about three to six months beforehand. This can be done in several ways: on your own, with a group or a combination of both.

It is suggest that you take the longest, most comprehensive course available with good instructors. A good teacher can reveal subtleties about the test that aren’t written into any book, and just having the structure of a class will force you to work harder than you would if you chose to study on your own.

As there are no specific subjects to study or theories and terms to memorize, the best way to prepare for the GMAT is to make sure that you are familiar with the exam and what it will require of you. First, it’s important to understand the format as the more comfortable you are with it the more likely you are to perform well.

Second, it may help to work with a tutor or course instructor who is knowledgeable about the GMAT. Because they know exactly how the test works and have figured out all the minute details of the test that they will probably tell you so that you don’t have to learn it the hard, slow way. They will also teach you how to actually study for the test.

However, getting a professional’s help will make the whole process much easier and make it more enjoyable. Biggest reason to hire a GMAT tutor is if you’re trying to make your time more efficient.

A tutor isn’t a magic bullet answer to score better. You need to do the work still. You still need to be very active in the process.  A tutor is not just a tutor. Who the tutor is matters. A great tutor can knock away the dread and fear of a GMAT question and actually make it somewhat fun.
A great tutor knows things you probably haven’t thought about. This was huge value. The tutor can provide new perspectives. A tutor can pinpoint things and be a shortcut in correcting your problem areas. A tutor can help in boosting your confidence and provide you with a positive mindset and positive attitude.

GMAT Scores

The GMAT score range is between 200 and 800. Very few people get 200 or 800, the majority, however falls between 400 and 600. The average score is about 550.

This depends on which business school you are applying to, but typically there is no cut-off point. Depending on your previous work experience and achievements, along with your GPA, the GMAT score is a balancing consideration.

In the US, the top Ivy League schools report an average score above 700. More average US universities claim an average of 550, which is slightly higher than the global GMAT average score. GMAT Scores are valid for 5 years.

The GMAT exam is required for admission to many of the world’s top business schools. Programs that require the GMAT attract the best students, which not only helps guarantee a rich educational environment, but also gives you access to an influential network of future business leaders that will enrich your career many times over.

Universities in US and Average GMAT Score Required:

  • Stanford University Stanford, CA – 728
  • Harvard University Boston, MA – 724
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) Cambridge, MA – 718
  • Arizona State University (Carey) Tempe, AZ – 672
  • Boston University Boston, MA – 681
  • University of Notre Dame (Mendoza) Notre Dame, IN – 685
  • Michigan State University (Broad) East Lansing, MI – 636

While GMAT scores should not be utilized solely as a sole factor in MBA Admission, they are very commonly utilized as a cut off tool for MBA Admissions Committees to quickly assess large numbers of applications.

Not taking the GMAT can affect students in several ways. First, it can severely limit the number of business schools to which they are eligible to apply. Although many schools are also accepting the GRE and others are forgoing the GMAT entirely, this standardized examination still remains one of the most commonly used criteria in which to determine aptitude for business management education.

As an applicant, you should consider it an essential way for you to demonstrate that you can be academically successful in an MBA program. A strong GMAT score is not sufficient to guarantee you admission into a top MBA program – it merely enables you to move on to the next step.

In short, a good GMAT score can help round out your application packet, verify your potential and make you a more attractive candidate.

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