Sunday, January 23, 2011

GMAT: Information and Preparation

Dear Readers, one of the followers of this blog, Carcass is writing the following post for GMAT test takers looking for admission into Management PhD programs and MBA programs. Since many students from the related fields are using the blog for useful information, I find such attempts to include information regarding GMAT and other related exams an extension of the blog which would be helpful to a larger set of audience. Since most part of the application is almost same for every discipline the applicant of other streams can use them without any loss of generality and I would like to thank Carcass for this post and would welcome other readers to post some quality information related to their respective fields.

Hi to everyone, I'm Carcass and I'm proud to write this debrief on GMAT for this blog, a real “gold mine” for the applicants to PhD and its complicated process. Thanks for your work Econ Grad.

So, when an applicant decides to apply for a PhD in business administration or management or for an MBA in a business school (top or not) the GMAT is probably the most important factor to consider.

However, I want to emphasize that each part of the application process is important and has its specific role (letters of recommendation, SOP, GPA, and so on) BUT in my opinion the GMAT and its score covers at least a good 40-50%. The reason why? Because an applicant can do a PhD even at 50 years for instance or an MBA after several years of work and hence there could be differences in the level of study at different times and may not be comparable. The GMAT is the best yardstick to test different skills in “real time” by a Business School (logic, grammar skills, how to approach to a problem), in fact: your GPA can be low because you worked during the university or your letters can be inflated and so on. GMAT tells at what point you are.

I wrote this article to describe what the GMAT is, but at the same time trying to give you a different point of view based on my experience.

GMAT is a CAT test (Computer Adaptive Test) which means that if you answer more questions correctly then you have to answer tough questions. The maximum score is 800 that you can achieve. Don't be afraid anyway, a high score can be achieved but consider this: if you want to apply in a top BS you need a high score; please refer to this for 2011. Getting a score of 700+ is indeed a good score for top programs.

For all the information you need go to the official GMAT website. You can also follow this link for more useful information and get a free guide titled "The GMAT Uncovered".
So, now let's take a look closer to the GMAT.

First step for the test is to write the AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment) where you have to write about two arguments: analysis of an issue AND an argument; you have 30 minutes for each of them.

The best tips that I can give you about, are: at least 750-800 words, an inherent coherence of these essays, and the most important thing: even though this part of the exam (the first to face) DOES NOT count for the total score, a low score (max is 6.0) may create problems. For admission in a Business School, a low score involves that essay or SOP must be the best possible, in particular for non-native speakers, it should be at least 5.0. Maybe the best template for this, you can find at this link (the structure is not so different from the format that someone has to write for TOEFL, only a bit longer).

Second step is the Quantitative section, during which you will be asked to answer 37 questions in 75 minutes, and it is presented in two different formats: Problem Solving and Data sufficiency.
The first requires you to set up and complete any calculations to find the exact results (numerical or algebraic); the second requires you to read a problem and thereafter consider TWO statements, by which you don't have to necessarily find an exact number or value BUT if the two statements, alone or combined or neither, are SUFFICIENT to solve the stem.

The best tips are: a really good math fundamentals, an holistic approach, tons of practice; ultimately, it is a kind of math that all of us studied at high school or in the first year of college, nothing to do with for instance tensor calculus or other stuffs, but number properties, geometry, fractions and so on. Here, the real difficult is to combine different skills at the same time and have a sort of “strategy” as to how to attack the problem.

The third step is comparatively more difficult, especially for non-native speakers (even for native, however): the Verbal Section format where you have to answer 41 questions in 75 minutes. There are three different formats: Sentence Correction, Critical reasoning and Reading Comprehension. The first tests your grammatical skills (GMAT tests only a finite range of rules, for instance: modifier, pronouns and so on). The critical reasoning section tests your reasoning after reading a short statement or paragraph, read a stimulus and select one of five different choices that best fits with the statement. In the reading comprehension, you have to read a short or a long passage and then answer to questions about the main purpose of the passage, what you infer about on a particular portion of the passage and so on.

What can we say about the GMAT: it is a really complex test, that tests the combination of different kind of skills at the same time, this is the real difficulty of this type of a CAT test under time pressure (a factor to be considered carefully); of course to do all this, you have to study hard and must have a STRATEGY, finding your weak and strength points to beat it; find yours.

Final thoughts: I would like to say what I read some time ago when I started to study for this test: The GMAT doesn't test what you KNOW, but what you THINK, and HOW you think. Finally, some useful links where you can find advices, free test and most important thing, a community that can help you anytime.

Lectures free by one of the best teacher on the GMAT: Ron Purewal. Thursday with Ron

Please don't hesitate to raise any doubts and any suggestions are welcome. Please do follow the blog if you find it useful. Good Luck :)


  1. I think prepare for the GMAT exam is important if you want to follow your career in business schoolsand it is better if you can get information related to their respective fields.

  2. Great site for these post and i am seeing the most of contents have useful for my Carrier.Thanks to such a useful information.Any information are commands like to share him.
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