A Guide to GMAT Prep for Business School Applicants

If you are planning to attempt the arduous task of GMA exam to apply to some top business schools, there is a lot you need to discover. Even though you are ready to give your 100 percent, scoring good marks in GMAT exam is not a breeze. It is a comprehensive test that assesses your competence through different levels. From precise questions to quantitative to verbal reasoning, taking GMA test is definitely daunting.

If you are a beginner, appearing in GMAT exams may overwhelm you. The nature of GMAT test is slightly different and applies a range of assessments and evaluations.  Whether it is about exploring what GMAT exams stands for or how it is structured, knowing everything is substantially important before you take the test.

If you are an apprentice and want to understand all the important facts and information about GMAT
exams, reading this article may help you. From GMAT acronym and definition to its scoring criteria, we have included everything a student needs to know to accomplish this task.

However, before we plunge into GMAT test prep, cumulative scoring and assessment criteria, let us understand what GMAT test is and what does it add to your academic career.

What is GMAT and What it Stands for?

To make clear what is GMAT, first it should be explained that GMAT stands for ‘The Graduate Management Admission Test’ and is an integral part of your application process if you are applying to a business school.  It is a computer-adaptive standardized test that is based on multiple-choice questions. Business schools often require students to attempt GMAT tests in order to enroll in any business program, particularly MBA.

GMAT tests are designed and administered by GMAC test makers. The purpose is to provide all the business schools common measures of exams preparedness of academic work on a graduate level. It is to retain the validity of test required to get admission in the top business schools.

Test scores are assessed by a business school admission committee when a student submit an application. Not only does this committee consider your GMAT scores, but it also evaluates your academic records, supporting material and work experience. It helps them assess your eligibility, skills and readiness for expected rigor to qualify for an MBA program.

What is on the GMAT?

GMAT testing sets its aims to measure a student’s commands on basic geometry, arithmetic, and multi-source analytical skills. In addition to that, a GMAT exam assesses a student’s grammar and verbal communication skills.

Most importantly, the test is developed to measure a student’s ability to evaluate and analyze written material, his/her critical thinking and problems solving skills. There is no doubt that GMAT is included in one of the few tests that evaluate critical thinking skills of a student. Knowing how to rationalize things by analyzing information and facts is the key to achieving high scores in GMAT exams.

 Importance of GMAT Exam

This is one of the common questions that come to the minds of GMAT aspirants ‘Why anyone should   take the GMAT exam?  Does it have any impact on my academic career?’

To answer this question precisely, yes GMAT has a positive impact not only on your business school application, but also on your academic career profile. In other words, the significance of taking GMAT    test is not confined to just getting enrolled in a MBS program.

According to experts, GMAT is a first step toward a professional career. There are more than 8000 business schools in which management programs accept and acknowledge GMAT exams across the world, and the good scorers are given preference.

There is no denying that computer-adaptive tests like GMAT have grown in popularity; this is especially true in the leading and reputable business schools. Scoring high in GMAT exam demonstrate a student’s competency and intellectual level.

That means GMAT has undeniably a great scope in future for business and management students and may be one of the best career decisions of their lives.

 A Guide to GMAT Prep

Preparing for GMAT requires you to know everything from exams structure, GMAT exam dates to the concepts that are tested in different sections. Plus, you should know how your scores are calculated and what is included in each adaptive test. To help you understand the format of GMAT exams, here is a tabular description of each section.

 GMAT Exam Structure

 Test Section  Time Limit/  Question Question Types  

Score Range


Analytical  Writing Test One question/ 30  minutes   Argument Analysis0-6
Integrated  ReasoningTwelve questions/ 30 minutes Table analysis,   Multi –source Reasoning,  Graphic interpretation, two-part analysis 


Verbal ReasoningThirty-six  questions/ 65 minutes Critical reasoning, sentence  correction,  and reading comprehension 


Quantitative  Reasoning Thirty-one minutes /  62 minutesProblem Solving, Data Sufficiency 


What are the GMAT Sections?

GMAT is broadly divided into four different sections; despite the fact that all sections assess a student’s analytical skills and critical thinking, the purpose of these distinct sections is to divide the content of GMAT and to score the test sections separately.

The scores are combined together to generate consolidated results.

Analytical Writing Assessment

This GMAT section measures a student’s critical thinking and the way he/she communicates the ideas.  The test requires strong analytical skills use for reasoning the given arguments and to produce a critique on that.  Precisely, the testing part focuses and determines to what extent a student can think critically and how well the ideas are communicated.

The test comprises one question to be attempted in thirty minutes. It is solely a writing task that includes argument and analysis.  The argument topic in the test varies from general interests to business. It may also cover variety of different subjects. Students’ knowledge on specific subject is not necessarily assessed, but the capacity of analytical thinking and writing is the main focus.

How This Section Evaluated?

  • There are two independent ratings that are combined with a single AWA score.
  • There is an electronics system that evaluates linguistic and structural features of an argumentative essay. It focuses on how ideas are organized and on topical analysis, and syntactic variety.
  • Trained evaluators who have an extensive command of the subject and management education assess the overall quality of the arguments and writing.  Typically, they focus on two things,
  • Use of standard language
  • Relevant support for the reasons

Integrated Reasoning

This GMAT test section measures data analysis skills and how student evaluates information given in multiple formats. The purpose is to gauge how well students can solve complex problems by using integrated data.

The test content targets the business school one wants to get enrolled in. It aims at measuring whether a student has leadership qualities or not, is he/she able to make sound decisions when it is required.  The reasoning section takes the following skills into account:

  • Skill relating to information synthesis presented in the form of graphics, numbers and texts
  • Analytical skills to evaluate relevant information
  • Organization of information to solve interrelated problems
  • Manipulation of  information from different sources

 Types of integrated Reasoning

The type includes:

  • Table analysis
  • Two-part analysis
  • Multi-source reasoning
  • Graphic interpretation

Quantitative Reasoning

The section measures data analytical skills and how students draw conclusions by using his/her critical thinking and reasons. A GMAT exam gives you a quantitative problem to solve mathematically by interpreting graphic data. It comprises thirty one multiple choice questions to be solved in 62 minutes.

Types of Quantitative Section

The testing section is further divided in two categories that include Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving. Both types require knowledge of elementary algebra, geometry concept, and arithmetic .The content of the questions stems from analytical skills and logic with underlying mathematical skills.

Data Sufficiency

  • Focuses on measuring quantitative problem analysis, recognizing relevant data, and determining data sufficiency to be used to solve the problem.
  • Student is given a problem with two statements. He/she applies mathematical skills and provided data to solve it.

 Problem Solving

  • It measures the ability of students to apply analytical reasoning to solve problems.
  • Once a problem is solved, student indicates it in the given answer choices

Verbal Reasoning

The last section of a GMAT test is developed to evaluate grammatical skills. It aims at evaluating the reading comprehension of written material. It focuses on how a student evaluates the given arguments by conforming to the standards of correct English.

Students are often worried how long is the GMAT test last as it seems lengthy. With optional breaks, the test takes not more than 3 ½ hours.

Typically, the test comprises thirty six multiple choice question and is divided into three types that are further divided into sub-categories

Reading Comprehension

This exam measures a student’s ability to comprehend words and given statements by making a logical relationship between important points. Plus, it evaluates how students draw inference and followed the quantitative development in the concepts.

Specifically, the focus is on assessing reading skills, understanding the main idea, its inference, logical structure, and application.

Students are given a comprehension passage, along with a set of critical questions. Students draw inferences, and use analytical skills by interpreting material and applying contextual knowledge.  Generally, the passage topics are humanities, biological sciences, social sciences, and business related.

 Critical Reasoning

The questions are designed from comparatively short passages, not more than a 1000 words. The short text includes an option that asks students’ opinion regarding the given choices (multiple choice questions). It typically asks whether the given statement weakens or strengthens the argument or if it is flawed.
Sentence Correction

It is associated with linguistic proficiency of the test taker. It includes analyzing correct expressions, sentences, phrases and whether they are structurally and grammatically correct or not. Besides this, it has effectively expressed ideas, referring to different sentences, expressions and presents the ideas in clear, concise and impeccable language.

The questions are crafted in a sentence form, and some are underlined. There can be multiple options representing sentence choices with variety of sentences with different syntax, vocabulary, and semantics. Students choose the best answer, meaning the most suitable sentence.

 Final Thoughts

Overall, GMAT testing has a set standard and measures to follow. It is included in valid and reliable testing system that measures academic performance, skill set required to get admission in graduate management programs.