Business schools rely on the GMAT for two very important reasons:
- The GMAT is standardized and very consistent in testing the specific quantitative and verbal skills necessary for success in a graduate management program, and
- The GMAT is a very reliable predictor of academic success.
The GMAT is also a computer adaptive test, so rather than every test-taker being faced with the same range of questions, the GMAT actually adapts to higher-performers, gleaning small differences in analytical ability between closely performing test-takers.
The GMAT tests skills that are vital to success in graduate-level business and management courses. Analytical writing and critical reasoning skills are evaluated, as are reading comprehension skills of complex subject matter. In 2012, the Graduate Management Admission Council added the Integrated Reasoning section, which evaluates an individual’s ability to interpret information presented in multiple formats. This section adds even more relevancy, as it better replicates the kinds of situations that come up in the modern, data-driven business environment.
The GMAT is an incredibly consistent test despite the fact that it rarely shows two test-takers the same set of questions. When candidates take the GMAT multiple times (without any change in preparation) their scores stay within a very narrow range, even though they’ve answered completely distinct sets of questions. Because questions cannot be memorized, and because the test adapts to different test-taker’s abilities even while producing consistent results, the reliability of the GMAT is unmatched.
One small way in which graduate business admissions has evolved is that most MBA programs now also accept the GRE. The GRE tests many of the same subject matter as the GMAT with a few small differences. For one, the GRE has two shorter sections each of verbal and quantitative questions rather than one, longer 75-minute section of each.
The GRE may also be a better choice for people who are not 100% committed to an MBA program and are also considering other graduate degrees. Because the GMAT is only used in the MBA world, the GRE can be a more flexible option for applicants considering a range of graduate programs.
No matter which test you take, graduate business programs will measure your performance against other highly qualified applicants, and a better score will significantly improve your chances of admission.
There really aren’t any shortcuts or magic tricks for performing well on the GMAT – you have to plan well, learn to manage your time, master the subject material, and practice the test format.
Become familiar with the test format; know what it measures, and what it doesn’t. Remember, the GMAT assesses your reasoning skills and these are the skills you will need to succeed in the business school, and beyond.
Testing is available around the world in state-of-the-art facilities designed to provide an unparalleled test-taking experience so that you can perform your best. There is a link between test scores and academic performance thus making it difficult to convince the admissions committees about applicants with borderline GMAT scores. In addition, the volume of applicants with competitive GMAT scores means that the rest of your application will need to dazzle to offset your lower test score.
And now we are still faced with the debate about a business school education still overly concerned with numbers that excludes viable candidates whose experience and soft skills would make them an asset in the MBA classroom. But have faith; we see the landscape beginning to change. And unfortunately, change happens slowly in this arena.