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Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) Layout and Overview

College Exams November 1, 2012

Leading business schools like Harvard, Stanford, and University of California – Berkley recognize the GMAT exam as one of the most powerful indicators of success in the MBA program.  There are four main categories in the Graduate Management Admission Test that includes: integrated reasoning, quantitative, verbal, and analytical writing assessment.

Similar to other entrance exams, GMAT will adjust throughout the test to your ability level, which will reduce the timeframe in completing the examination and accurately measures your performance compared to a fixed test.  At the beginning of each multiple choice section there will be a problem presented that is at a medium difficulty level.  Once you begin to answer the questions, the system algorithm will calculate your score from the previous question and present the following question in real-time that met your skill level.  Depending on student’s response,  the difficulty level moves upward for every correct answers and moves downward for every incorrect answers.

The software algorithm will continue to calculate until you’re finished with the test then it will have an accurate assessment in regards to your ability level on that subject area.  On the computer-adaptive test there will be one problem presented at a time because the software scores each questions then selecting the next one.  The software will not allow you to skip, return, or make any corrections to your previous answers.

The table below provides a snapshot of different sections on the GMAT exam like GMAT test section, number of questions, question types, and timing.

gmat exam for mba students

How does GMAT work?

On every multiple choice section there will be a large pool of potential questions that varies from high to low level of difficulty.  Every section will begin with a question that is moderately difficult to determine the student’s skill level.  If the first question is answered incorrectly then the software will present you with an easier question for the following question and vice versa, if you get the first question correct then it will present you with a harder question for your next question.  The process will continue until you’re finished with the section then the system will have an accurate assessment on your ability for that subject matter.

On the computer-adaptive test there will be one problem presented at a time because the algorithm scores each question then selecting the next one.  It won’t allow you to skip, return, or modify any responses to previous questions.

What if I guess or made a mistake on the GMAT?

If a question is answered incorrectly by mistake or you’ve made a random guess then your answers to the next few questions will eventually lead you back to questions that meet your skill level.

Students who randomly guess on questions will significantly reduce their score results.  If you do not know the answer to a specific question then use the “process of elimination” method and choose the best answer.

What if I didn’t complete the test in the allowed time?

There will be a grievous penalty for those who don’t complete the test in the allowed time, so pacing is particularly critical.  There will be a display of your time and number of questions you have left on your computer screen during the exam.  GMAT exam has forty-one verbal questions and thirty-seven quantitative questions.  If you don’t know the answer to a question and it’s eating up a lot of your time then make an educated guess after going through the process of eliminations and eliminating all of the answers you think doesn’t fit with the question.

How are the GMAT scores determine?

  • Amount of questions you’ve answered
  • Amount of questions you’ve answered correctly and incorrectly
  • Level of difficulty on each questions along with other statistical characteristics

Questions that are presented in the adaptive test will weigh in accordance to the difficulty and statistical properties and isn’t based on the position.

Is every questions counted?

On each test there will be trial multiple choice questions that are used as pre-test for the real exam.  The questions will not be identified and appear at a different location within the test.  Therefore, you should do your best on all questions.  The trial questions will not be counted towards your score on the GMAT exam.

What type of computer skills do I need for the test?

Anyone with minimal expertise in computer will be able to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) exam.

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