The GMAT

News From the Famous Admission Test

The GMAT test launches a new section "Integrated Reasoning" in June 2012. It measures the candidates ability to evaluate information from multiple sources.

The GMAT test was introduced for the first time in February 1954, when 1300 students sat the test. Since then it has gradually asserted itself as a reliable tool for assessing some of the essential skills of business school candidates. It was developed in the previous year by an association of nine schools that later become known as the Graduate Management Admission Council. Columbia, Harvard, North-Western, Rutgers, Seton Hall, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University wanted to create a unified entrance examination. At the time, its name was The Admissions Test for Graduate Study in Business and in 1976 it was changed to the Graduate Management Admission Test.

The minimum score that the examinees can receive in the test is 200 and the maximum is 800. However, if they are aiming at reputable schools, the average results for their country or that of the institution they apply to should not be taken as a benchmark for their performance. The Principality of Monaco took first place for the total mean GMAT score in testing year 2011, which lasted from 31st June 2010 till 1st June 2011. It scored an impressive 621 points. It should be noted, however, that only 7 citizens of this small country actually attended the examination. New Zealanders retained their superb performance from the previous year and took second place with 602. Argentina ranked third with 598 and Australia came fourth with 597. Just as in the preceding years, citizens of China, one of the most vibrant MBA markets in the world, again reported a mean score among the highest in the world: 592.

In 2011, some of the top-ranking US schools sent information about their students' GMAT to Business Week. While the total mean score for the USA was 531, candidates from the applicant pool of Berkeley achieved 710, Yale reported 705, Harvard had 701 and Kellogg, Duke, Michigan and Darden scored 700. These were the results for all the candidates who sent results there. The ones who were actually enrolled had a median score of 740 at Stanford, 730 at Harvard, 720 at Chicago (Booth), Wharton, Tuck, Berkeley, NUY (STERN), and Yale and 710 at MIT, Columbia, Kellogg, Michigan, Virginia, and UCLA.

What does the test consist of?    

For candidates to achieve good results, they need to know the test very well. The pre-Next Generation GMAT comprises three parts: The first is Analytical Writing Assessment and is divided in two: analysis of an argument and analysis of an issue. This is the so called essay section, which lasts exactly 1 hour. In the first half, examinees explain the logic behind a certain argument; in the second half they analyse and motivate their point of view on a given topic. Part 2 and part 3 of the GMAT are called respectively the Quantitative and Verbal sections and each of them lasts 75 minutes. As the name suggests, the former evaluates one’s quantitative reasoning abilities. There are two types of questions in this section: The first is problem-solving and includes the use of basic mathematical skills and concepts and solving quantitative problems. The second type consists of data-sufficiency questions which measure the candidate’s abilities to analyse quantitative problems, assess the relevance of the information and evaluate whether there is enough information to solve the problem. The verbal section consists of reading comprehension questions, critical reasoning questions

What’s new in GMAT?

On 5th June 2012, a fourth section called Integrated Reasoning is to be included in the test instead of the issue analysis. This section measures skills in integrating information from different sources, solving problems, interpreting data, evaluating tradeoffs, assessing the likelihood of outcomes and the ability to convert quantitative data between graphic and verbal formats. Candidates have 30 minutes to answer 12 questions in the different areas of Integrated Reasoning. The sections include graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis and multi-source reasoning. A calculator is available for candidates in the IR section. The new section is not computer adaptive, meaning that your response to one question does not affect the next question you receive. However, students cannot skip questions or go to a previous screen to change their answers.

GMAC advises candidates to plan to take the exam at least 20 days before any deadline for submitting an Official Score Report.

Why were the changes adopted?

Ashok Sarathy, vice-president of the GMAT programme, explained the motives for the decision to introduce Integrated Reasoning: “In a recent survey, 740 academic staff members from management programmes worldwide identified an emerging set of skills that the business community is telling them are, and will continue to be, essential to success on a  management and executive level. The schools told us that they needed evidence that incoming students could demonstrate their ability in these emerging skills as the schools themselves began to develop coursework to develop and strengthen them.”
In a business school "you are much more likely to have to analyse an integrated set of data than you are to do a geometry problem", noted Andrew Mitchell, director of pre-business programmes at Washington Post Co.'s Kaplan Test Prep., quoted by The Wall Street Journal.

The examination is still 4 hours long and one of the essays in the analytical writing assessment section (issue analysis) has been scrapped. The Quantitative and Verba l sections remain unchanged, each lasting 75 minutes. The new section lasts for 30 minutes. Again they have scores, as do the Analysis of the Argument essay and Integrated Reasoning. The first break is to start after Integrated Reasoning and the second one after the Quantitative section. 

The GMAT is the preferred test for entering business schools today. It can be taken in 111 countries and at more than 530 centres. The examination is a means to an end: it is only one of the important elements for admission to a good MBA programme. However, it is a very important factor for your ultimate success. Enrolment at a business school could lay the foundations for a stable and successful career, which is among the most important factors for professional and personal fulfilment.



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