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GMAT Test Prep for MBA Admission: What is GMAT ?

The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a 3-1/2 hour standardized exam designed to predict how test-takers will perform academically in MBA (Masters in Business Administration) programs. GMAT scores are used by graduate business schools to make admission decisions.   

You might also see the GMAT referred to as the " GMAT CAT "; the acronym CAT stands for "Computer Adaptive Test." The GMAT is administered only by computer now, except in certain locations outside North America, where the test is referred to as the "paper-based" GMAT. (Since you’re reading this on the Web, no doubt the GMAT CAT is available where you are.). According to GMAT Survey Sixty-six percent of the test-takers had U.S. addresses at the time of registration in TY 2000, which increased to 68% of test takers
in TY 2004. The next largest concentrations in both testing years came from Asia and Western Europe, with approximately 12% and 7% of the test-taker population, respectively.

Who Administer the GMAT Test?

The GMAT is the brainchild of the GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council), which determines what kinds of skills the GMAT should measure — and how it should measure them.


About GMAC
The Graduate Management Admission Council (R) GMAC,
based in McLean, Va., is a non-profit education organization of leading graduate business schools worldwide, dedicated to creating access to and disseminating information about graduate management education. The GMAT exam was created in 1954 and remains the first and only standardized test specifically designed for graduate business and management programs.

 

Pearson VUE, the company now administering the GMAT through its global network of test centers, is providing an increased level of service to test takers and schools. People receive their official scores faster through Pearson VUE's online score-reporting system. This system also allows admissions offices to more efficiently obtain scores for their applicants and gain a deeper understanding of how they stack up with their competition.


ACT now manages the development of the GMAT. ACT is responsible for the development of GMAT questions, construction of item pools, implementation of test specifications, scoring of the Analytical Writing Assessment essays, and working with GMAC to strengthen the exam's capacity to remain in step with the evolving needs of business schools.


 


When is the GMAT Test held?
All-round-the-year. Unlike other exams, you can choose your own date and time for taking the GMAT! The test is administered five-days-a-week (Monday through Friday), twice-a-day. September to December is the high season for GMAT, so in case you intend to take the test during this period, you need to register very early (say 90 days in advance) to get a date of your choice. Otherwise, registering at least 15 days in advance is mandatory. The test lasts roughly four hours, and most centres offer two slots : 9 A.M. and 2 P.M.


Selection Requirements
There is no formula for acceptance of applications for B- schools. Though the policies vary from school to school all B schools are committed to evaluating the whole package an applicant presents. For instance, Chicago has accepted applicants with GMAT scores in the 300s; Darden one year rejected five out of six applicants with perfect GMATs.

1. GMAT Score –These scores are rarely the sole determining factor for admission, but don't take them too lightly, either. A good GMAT score does not necessarily help one get admission, but a poor one can more often than not mar one’s chances of selection in a good B- school. At top schools, one competes against people with very high scores, and many of them don't get in. So should aim to get a GMAT score within 50 points of a school's average.

2. Work experience - What admissions committees are looking for here is evidence that the applicant has made progress in his career, taken on increasing responsibility, and demonstrated leadership. Strong communications skills and a proven ability to work well in groups are also important. Highlight these experiences throughout your application. B-Schools want candidates who have demonstrated an ability to work well in group setting. More often than not, work experience provides individuals an opportunity to work in teams, and demonstrate team work and people skills. You don't necessarily have to work for Goldman Sachs or Andersen Consulting to get into a good school (although it certainly couldn't hurt). You simply need to demonstrate that you have good organizational skills and leadership abilities.  A prior history of leading teams by an applicant at work is considered a very important factor by all B-schools.

3.  Recommendations: Almost every school will want to see recommendations from people that have seen your work and know your abilities. Choose your recommenders carefully -- a big name won't help you as much as a thoughtful, positive letter from someone who knows your work well. B-schools want to see how your supervisors evaluate your work and what kind of potential for leadership they think you have.
 

4.  Essays: These are one the most important components of the application package. Examples are:


Harvard University:
Describe a situation in which you failed and explain why it happened.

Stanford University: What course you would pursue if getting an MBA did not exist as an option?

In the essays, the applicant has to clearly articulate one’s career goals, potential for success in high-level management, and the ability to handle the academic challenges of the institution. Only your essays can convey the important facets of your work experience and the attractive aspects of your personality. Without nailing the essays, no matter how high your GMAT score is or how high your college GPA is, you will never be admitted to a top business school. More so with business schools which absolutely require that you clearly demonstrate your ambition, confidence, maturity, passion, creativity, and career-focus. You can only communicate these qualities through your essays.  

 

5. Academic record: Schools also pay attention to applicant’s academic performance. The overall difficulty of applicant’s course load and the school's reputation will also likely be factored in. Unfortunately, one can't go back and change the transcripts, so what can be done to overcome a less-than-stellar college career? Strong GMATs and solid work experience might be enough, but  essays are very powerful tools here. As the essays can help an applicant  you discuss circumstances that might have affected your GPA -- perhaps you had to work your way through school, experienced a personal tragedy (steer clear of whining here, just talk about how the experience changed you), or were just young and too focused on having a great time instead of paying attention on academics.

 


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