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GMAT Basics: What to Expect, What is a Good GMAT Score, How to Test

December 15, 2013 by

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is probably unlike any test you’ve ever taken in your academic career. The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test designed to provide a common yardstick by which business school admissions committees can measure applicants and their ability to succeed in their M.B.A. programs.

The test consists of three sections and is scored on a range between 200 and 800.

GMAT sections

Your GMAT Score

GMAT scores are used by business schools to provide a common yardstick to compare candidates for admission. On the GMAT, you will actually receive four scores:

  • A total score, ranging from 200-800
  • A math subscore, ranging from 0-60
  • A verbal subscore, ranging from 0-60
  • A score for your AWA, ranging from 0-6
  • An Integrated Reasoning subscore, ranging from 1-8

Your Percentile Rank

Each of the above scores will be accompanied by a percentile rank. The percentile rank highlights what proportion of test takers … Read full post

The 4 Truths of the GMAT Argument Essay

August 25, 2012 by

GMAT blog, GMAT argument essay, GMAT critical reasoningAs you likely know, with the inclusion of the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section came the exclusion of the one of the previously required essays.  Before the test change, GMAT test takers built their Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) score on the backs of two essays: Analysis of an Argument and Analysis of an Issue.  These two essays would be scored independently—by one human and one computer—then those two scores would be averaged for a total AWA score on a 0-6 point scale in ½-point increments.  In order to keep total testing time at 3.5 hours, test makers decided to cut the thirty-minute Analysis of an Issue essay and insert a thirty-minute Integrated Reasoning section.

So what can we make of this decision?  Now, let’s not bicker about the Integrated Reasoning section here; it is what it is and we all have to deal with it.  Rather, let’s focus on the essay … Read full post

GMAT Verbal: Does that Word Mean What You Think?

August 6, 2012 by

GMAT blog, GMAT sentence correction, GMAT critical reasoning, GMAT awa, GMAT prepAs anyone who has spent any time on GMAT Sentence Correction can tell you, the English language is complex. SC problems will frequently test idioms and tricky verb tenses, among other things. But despite a few exceptions (do you know the difference between economic and economical?), subtle shifts in the meanings of similar words aren’t usually tested in GMAT sentences. They are, however, tested on Critical Reasoning and Analytical Writing prompts.

Assumptions on the GMAT occur when the scope of discussion shifts between the evidence and the conclusion. In an earlier article, I discussed a stimulus involving burgers. One such “scope shift” in that article was that the evidence discussed cholesterol, while the conclusion discussed health in general; another involved evidence about a price reduction and a conclusion about increased consumption of burgers. Some of these are easier to spot than others, but all of them involve looking for … Read full post

GMAT Scores: The Essay is Still Important

June 30, 2012 by

GMAT BlogOften times, the portion of the GMAT most neglected by students is the writing sample.  While this section of the test is certainly less important than your overall 200 to 800 score, you still want to make sure that you know how to handle it.

The essay is graded on a scale from 1 to 6 and most business schools are expecting you to achieve a score of 4 or higher.  While the difference between a 4, 5, or 6 is not all that influential on your admissions prospects, receiving a score lower than a 4 can have a negative impact on your application.

While the integrated reasoning section, which was recently added to the GMAT, replaced the issue essay, the argument essay remains a part of the test.  In fact, it will be the very first section you see on test day.

The key to the essay … Read full post

GMAT Strategic Reading: Keywords Unlock Meaning

June 21, 2012 by

GMAT BlogFirst see if you can use keywords to discern what these paragraphs are about:

It’s an hour before deadline, and I’m supposed to be writing a GMAT blog on keywords. However,____________. In fact, ___________________________. It’s true that _________________________, but on closer inspection, _________________________.

Keywords are vital to improving your understanding of complex passages in several ways. First, they serve as “road signs” to _____________________________.    ______ not only ______________________, but also _____________________________. Some keywords indicate _____________________, while others indicate _________________; still others ___________________________________.

Second, keywords can tell you what NOT to read. Contrast keywords such as _________________ indicate _____________, but ___________________ indicating continuation, such as ______________, _______in the most extreme cases, skipping ____________________________entirely. After all,_____________ ______________already read!


Then check out the completed thought:

It’s an hour before deadline. I’m supposed to be writing a GMAT blog on keywords. However, I’m going to leave some things blank to save time. In … Read full post

Taking the GMAT with Your Eyes Closed

June 18, 2012 by

GMAT BlogThe GMAT is a long test, but it can feel like it goes by quickly. You’re working straight through after all, at a rapid pace of 2 minutes per math problem, 4 minutes per quickly-scanned passage, and 1 minute per sentence correction question. You’re testing for three and a half hours, so your two eight-minute rests may not seem like enough. The solution?  Take more breaks.

This may seem like odd advice, especially given that I’ve written blogs about shaving mere seconds off math problems. And certainly, seconds do count. But taking breaks on the test is similar to paraphrasing question stems and taking notes or reading passages: spending time to rest can save you more time on the rest of the test.

For starters, humans blink less often when they are staring at computer screens. This can result in dry eyes and eyestrain—the last thing you want … Read full post

GMAT Essays: Avoid Fallacy Fallacy

June 13, 2012 by

GMAT BlogScene: a busy street. A businessman in a suit and tie stands before a cloth covered table. A fortune teller sits on the other side of the table, peering into a crystal ball.

Fortune teller: “I see danger in your future, you are at grave risk! For $20, I shall peer into this crystal ball and tell you how disaster can be avoided!”

Businessman: “What a load of $&#%! Fortune telling is nonsense, and there is no way you could see my future through the crystal ball. I’m certain I’m in no danger whatsoever!”

Businessman walks across the street without looking and is run over by an ice cream truck.

So, GMAT students, was the fortune teller right? Was she genuinely psychic? Did her crystal ball receive emanations from the spirits predicting the future?

Of course not. Scientific consensus is that psychic powers don’t exist, and even the superstitious … Read full post

New GMAT Transition Coincides with Venus Transit

June 10, 2012 by

June 5, 2012 has finally come and gone.  To those of us within the gravitational pull of the GMAT, this date was no less than a celestial event.  June 5th not only marked the transit of Venus across the sun, but also the launch of the New GMAT.

What has changed?  A new section called Integrated Reasoning (IR) has replaced the Analysis of an Issue essay and taken its time allotment.  Hence, the GMAT is still the same total length.  That is, you write a 30-minute Analysis of an Argument essay, then take the new 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section, then take the 75-minute Quantitative section, and finally complete the 75-minute Verbal section (note: you get two 8-minute breaks; one between IR and Quant, and then another between Quant and Verbal).

Integrated Reasoning questions appear in four different formats and across twelve questions total in the 30-minute time … Read full post

GMAT: Little Things Matter on Test Day

June 3, 2012 by

A little thing here or there doesn’t usually make a whole lot of difference.  But when you aggregate, knowing some of the little things about the GMAT can be a big help on Test Day.  In this blog post, I am bringing some perhaps unexpected or otherwise novel little GMAT tidbits to your attention in hopes you find them useful or at least interesting.  This list is not comprehensive, of course, but is rather whatever sprang to mind as I thought about it.  If you, dear reader, have anything you’d like to add then please do so in the comments section below.  Thanks!


  • Your photograph taken at the testing center on test day will be sent to schools.  That’s right, folks.  Just when you thought it was safe to wear your lucky shirt—you know, the one with the crass cartoon of a feral dog at a cocktail party—Big
  • Read full post

GMAT Essays: Computers score your work, and they are really good at it.

May 9, 2012 by

GMAT blogHere’s a fun fact:  An expert human essay grader spends 2-3 minutes per essay and is, thus, capable of scoring up to 30 essays in an hour.

Here’s another fun fact:  A computer can score 16,000 essays in 20 seconds (and does it just as accurately as the human).

A new study out of the University of Akron published some very intriguing findings on the efficiency and accuracy of automated readers (aka, robo-readers, e-Raters, e-graders, etc.).  A team of researchers used more than 20,000 essays across eight different prompts and nine different programs to evaluate our electronic counterparts and the algorithms that govern them.  Turns out, not only are these programs staggeringly more efficient, but they are also just as accurate as their human workmates.  Sorry, John Henry.

So does this mean that GMAC is keeping mere mortals on the payroll out of pity?  Or perhaps to … Read full post


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