Are you a college student whose peers are preparing for the CAT? Or are you a working professional who is planning to do an MBA but is confused between the two most important entrance exams to business schools – GMAT vs CAT?
If you are trying to understand what the two exams are and want to decide between GMAT vs CAT, we can assure you that you will be able to make an informed decision by the time you get to the end of the article. In fact, we have stated the differences between GMAT and CAT in the table below. This should make it easy for you to get started with your analysis.
But before that, when it comes to GMAT vs CAT, what do you think is the most important difference between them?
It is really important but simple – The GMAT is a global entrance exam accepted by approximately 2300 business schools and more than 7000 management programs. Whereas, the CAT is a national exam accepted mainly by B-schools in India.
There are a few B-schools in India that accept GMAT scores. There are a few international MBA colleges accepting CAT scores as well. We will get into the details soon. 🙂
Another key point you need to note when considering GMAT vs CAT is that the GMAT is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). They are the owner and administrator of the GMAT. Whereas, the CAT was developed and is administered by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).
Here are the GMAT vs CAT differences we will discuss in this article:
GMAT vs CAT: Here are all the differences between GMAT and CAT that you should know:
|GMAT vs CAT: Parameters||GMAT||Common Admission Test|
|Conducting bodies||Graduate Management Admission Council||Indian Institutes of Management|
|Frequency||Round the year||Once a year|
|Score validity||5 years||1 year|
|Eligibility||Candidate should be of at least 13 years of age||Bachelor’s degree with minimum 50% marks|
|Acceptability||Accepted by B-schools across the world||Accepted by B-schools in India|
|Number of attempts||5 times a year, 8-attempt overall lifetime limit||1 time a year, unlimited attempts|
|Mode of exam||Online||Online|
|Exam fee||$250 or Approx. ₹18,750||₹2000|
|Number of sections||4||3|
|Sections on the exam||Verbal Reasoning (VR)
Quantitative Reasoning (QR
Integrated Reasoning (IR)
Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
|Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
Quantitative Ability (QA)
|Number of questions to be attempted||80 Questions||100 Questions|
|Time limit for each section||VR – 36 questions/65 minutes
QR – 31 questions/62 minutes
IR – 12 questions/30 minutes
AWA – 1 essay question/30 minutes
|VARC – 34 questions/60 minutes
DILR – 32 questions/60 minutes
QA – 34 questions/60 minutes
|Exam pattern||Candidates can choose section order||Candidates have to follow the question paper chronologically|
|Marking scheme||Adaptive scoring algorithm, no negative marking||Non-adaptive scoring algorithm, negative marking applicable|
|Score reporting||Absolute score is reported out of 800. Percentile score is also reported||Only percentile score is reported|
|Scheduling Flexibility||GMAT is delivered on-demand||CAT is conducted only once a year|
|Number of test-takers (Annual | India)||Approx. 30,000 candidates||Approx. 2,00,000 candidates|
While the table would have given you an overall sense of GMAT vs CAT, let us look at the differences in a little more details. This is to make it easier for you to decide between GMAT and CAT.
1. GMAT vs CAT: Full Forms, Conducting Bodies
Everyone who is planning to do an MBA or any management degree will know that the first step in the journey is to prepare for the MBA entrance exams like the GMAT and in some cases, the CAT.
That’s how you got to know about them too, right?
But do you know the full form of GMAT and CAT? Do you know who conducts these exams?
Let’s get familiar with that before we delve into further details.
I. What are the full forms of GMAT and CAT?
GMAT is the acronym for Graduate Management Admission Test. As you can see, the test has been specifically designed and created as an entrance exam for admissions to management courses such as an MBA.
This is the case with the Common Admission Test or CAT too.
Both these exams have been created in such a way that they test specific skills of candidates to understand their suitability for a management program. The exam scores become important indicators of business and management abilities of a candidate to admission committees at business schools and later to recruiting companies.
Wondering how the exams scores can provide so much information?
II. Who conducts the GMAT and CAT?
The GMAT is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which is the owner and administrator of GMAT, headquartered in the United States. Whereas, the CAT is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).
Yes, you saw that right
The exam is conducted by a different IIM every year.
The GMAT was launched in 1953 and was originally called the Admission Test for Graduate Business Study. Whereas, the CAT was launched by the IIMs in 2007!
2. GMAT and CAT: Score validity, Eligibility, Frequency, Acceptability, Number of Attempts
If you are a GMAT or a CAT aspirant, you should know how many times you can take the exams, how long before your scores get invalid and the basic eligibility requirements you need to meet before you can register for the exams.
I. GMAT and CAT score validity and frequency
Let’s say that you took the GMAT and are ready to apply to the business schools. What is the validity of your GMAT score?
Your GMAT score is valid for five years from the date of your test!
But if you take the CAT exam, you should know that the score is valid only for one year. If you do not apply to MBA colleges this year with your CAT score, you will have to retake the exam next year.
Note: Though your GMAT score is valid for five years, when you apply to certain MBA colleges and MBA programs, it is mandatory to submit a GMAT score of an exam that has been taken within a particular period of time. You will get to know about this when you go to the B-school website.
It is also important to know the frequency of these two tests.
While you can take the GMAT round the year, you can take the CAT exam only once a year on the date fixed by the IIMs. So, if you do not score well on the CAT this year, you will have to wait to retake the test until next year.
And the date for the CAT exam will mostly be announced in the month of July or August every year by the IIM that will be conducting the entrance exam
II. What are the eligibility requirements to take the GMAT and CAT?
You can take the GMAT if you are 18 years of age. And if you are between the age of 13 and 18, you can appear for the exam with parental permission. All you need to do is create a profile and register for the GMAT on mba.com.
To take the CAT, you need to have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university or its equivalent. If you are in the final year of college, you can still appear for the CAT.
Given the eligibility requirements and score validity, the GMAT is a better option than CAT.
What do you think? 😉
III. How many times can you take the GMAT and CAT?
You can take the GMAT a total of 8 times in your lifetime.
That is the limit set by the GMAC.
While you can appear for the exam 8 times, you can take the GMAT only 5 times a year with a minimum gap of 16 days between each exam.
If you are taking the CAT, you can take the exam only once a year. As mentioned earlier, the date will be announced by the IIM that is conducting the exam the particular year.
IV. How many MBA colleges accept GMAT and CAT?
GMAT scores are mandatory for admission into the world’s leading B-Schools. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which administers the GMAT, more than 2,300 B-Schools accept GMAT test scores for close to 7,000 programs.
CAT scores are only accepted in India, primarily by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) which conduct the test. There are about 30 institutes apart from the IIMs that accept CAT scores. These include the likes of S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR) in Mumbai and Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA) in Chennai.
The key takeaway here is that the GMAT is a more practical and globally accepted exam, while the CAT is a largely theoretical exam that’s only accepted in Indian B-Schools like the IIMs.
IIMs offer two types of business programs, primarily: one type (the PGP) requires no work experience and is comparable to an MiM degree. The other type (the PGPX) is offered only to candidates with work experience and is comparable to an MBA. For executive programs such as the PGPX, you can apply with your GMAT scores.
At this point, the GMAT test is well on its way to becoming the most widely-accepted entrance test for B-Schools in India.
3. GMAT vs CAT: Mode of Exam, Exam Duration, Exam Fee
I. What is the mode of exam for GMAT and CAT?
The GMAT is an online exam that can be taken at a test centre or at home.
With the COVID 19 pandemic, the GMAC introduced the GMAT online exam that candidates can take from home. Isn’t this a great option?
With this, they made it easy for GMAT aspirants to book the exam slot and take the exam whenever they intended to. Initially, the GMAT could be taken only at a test center and the candidate had to book a slot based on the availability.
The GMAT exam is 3 hours 7 minutes long with two optional breaks.
The CAT, on the other hand, is a computer-delivered test but is not an online exam. The exam can be taken only at a test centre and is 3 hours long.
II. How much does the GMAT and CAT cost?
The GMAT, given that you get to apply to business across the globe, is a slightly expensive exam. You have to pay $250 to take the GMAT.
You can cancel and reschedule your GMAT exam. But you will have to pay a certain fee to do so. You can check out the details here: Rescheduling and canceling the GMAT exam.
To take the CAT, you need to pay ₹2000 during registration.
4. GMAT vs CAT Syllabus, Number of Sections, Questions, Adaptiveness, Marking Scheme, Exam Pattern
We will now answer the most important question of all:
What is the difference between GMAT and CAT syllabus?
The biggest difference between GMAT and CAT is the Analytical Writing Assessment section. You need to attempt this section if you take the GMAT. On the other hand, this section does not exist on the CAT.
Moving on to the details of GMAT vs CAT syllabus.
There are four sections on the GMAT:
In the Verbal section, you will have to attempt 36 questions in 65 mins. Whereas, in the Quant section, you will have to answer 31 questions in 62 minutes.
You get 30 minutes each for the Integrated Reasoning (IR) and the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) sections. In the IR section, you will have to answer 12 questions whereas, in the AWA section, you just have one essay question that you have to answer.
If you are a GMAT aspirant, you should know that the total score will be out of 800.
The CAT is divided into three sections:
i. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
ii. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
iii. Quantitative Ability (QA)
You have to attempt 34 questions in the VARC section whereas, you have 32 questions in the DILR section. You also need to attempt the 34 questions in the Quantitative Ability section on the CAT.
You have 60 minutes to complete each section on the CAT.
As you can see, both the GMAT and CAT have the Verbal and Quant sections. When you apply to a B-school with your GMAT score, they will consider your composite score which is out of 800.
The Integrated Reasoning section on the GMAT is similar to the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section on the CAT. Both test the reasoning skills of a test taker.
So, let us compare the Verbal and Quant syllabus on GMAT and CAT.
GMAT vs CAT syllabus – Verbal
Here are the Verbal topics asked on the GMAT and CAT:
|Verb Tense||Para Completion and Inference|
|Subject-Verb Agreement||Fill in the Blanks|
|Comparison||Different Usage of Same Word|
|Strengthen and Weaken||Contextual Usage|
|Foreign Language Words in English|
|One word substitution|
Here are the Quant topics asked on the GMAT and CAT:
|Multiples and factors||Trigonometry|
|Decimals||Ratios and Proportion|
|Averages||Work and time|
|Powers and roots||HCF & LCM|
|Profit and loss||Algebra|
|Simple and compound interest||Profit & Loss|
|Speed, time, and distance||In-equations Quadratic and linear equations|
|Pipes, cisterns, and work time||Geometric Progression|
|Ratio and proportion||Percentages|
|Mixtures and alligations||Averages|
|Descriptive statistics||Partnership (Accounts)|
|Probability||Surds and Indices|
|Permutation and combination||Inequalities|
|Algebraic expressions and equations|
|Arithmetic and geometric progression|
|Inequalities and basic statistics|
|Lines and angles|
|Rectangular solids and cylinders|
Did you know that you can choose the section order if you are taking the GMAT?
This means that you can choose which GMAT section you want to attempt first followed by the other sections. 🙂
There are three section orders you can choose from:
i. Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Break, Quantitative, Break, Verbal
ii. Verbal, Break, Quantitative, Break, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
iii. Quantitative, Break, Verbal, Break, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
You can choose the section order based on your strengths and weaknesses.
If you are taking the CAT exam, you will have to follow the fixed exam pattern. You cannot choose the order based on your preference.
GMAT vs CAT – Adaptiveness
The GMAT is an adaptive test.
This means that the difficulty level of the next question is based on your performance on the current question.
With this adaptive feature, your GMAT score can go higher or lower depending on whether you answer a question correctly.
Due to this feature, you cannot skip a question on the GMAT.
The CAT is a non-adaptive test. The exam is a test of your accuracy.
And on the CAT, only your percentile score is reported. This is calculated based on the number of questions you answered correctly.
But you must remember that on the CAT, you will get negative marks for a wrong answer.
5. CAT and GMAT: Difficulty
Based on the points we have mentioned so far, which exam do you think is more difficult?
Are you still unsure about it?
Here’s our two cents on the difficulty level of these exams.
The GMAT has a very well-defined syllabus and exam pattern. All you need to do is to prepare for the exam well and take the exam confidently. You can score GMAT 700+ easily.
But the CAT syllabus is not defined very well. And for the same reason, you might have to prepare for the exam longer.
As mentioned earlier, both the exams have the Verbal and Quant sections. As non-native English speakers, the Indian test takers usually struggle with the Verbal section on the. It is rarely that they find Quant difficult. But the Quant section on the CAT can be quite difficult to tackle.
Here’s a slightly more detailed comparison:
i. Quant on CAT has about 20 topics under it; whereas GMAT Quant is divided into four main areas of math.
ii. CAT Quant tends to be highly technical; GMAT Quant is more practical.
iii. CAT Quant requires you to have a strong understanding of mathematical theory. You can’t rely on techniques like elimination to arrive at the answer on the CAT, especially on the ‘Type in the Answer’ (TITA) questions. In these questions, you have no option but to find the answer by solving it the old-fashioned way.
In GMAT Quant, while you do need to have your basics in place, you also need to use some techniques and strategies to beat the GMAT. You need not always solve every question.
You could say, in a way, that the CAT is more a test of your theoretical knowledge while the GMAT is more a test of your logical reasoning ability.
Both CAT and GMAT have Reading Comprehension passages, but the similarity ends there for the Verbal section. The GMAT asks more usage-based questions while the CAT doesn’t delve into grammar.
We hope that this has given you more clarity on the difficulty aspect of GMAT vs CAT.
6. GMAT and CAT: Competitiveness
The CAT and GMAT are both competitive exams. This means that the value of your score is determined by how all the other test-takers performed on the same test.
Confused? Let us explain.
It is impressive to say that you’ve scored 770 out of 800 on the GMAT. What it means in terms of percentile is that only 1% or fewer of all GMAT-takers in the last 3 years have managed to score as well as or better than that!
You can say that about the GMAT because it is a standardized test, which means it maintains the same standards over the years. The difficulty level remains constant over time, so it is just as difficult to get a 760 today as it was five years ago.
That is why the average GMAT scores accepted by the world’s top B-Schools remain more or less constant. These average scores tend to be in the 95th-96th percentile. In numbers, that score falls within the 720-730 GMAT composite score range.
However, this is not the case with the CAT.
While the CAT also provides you with a percentile rank, that doesn’t hold as much value as a GMAT percentile rank. This is simply because the CAT is not a standardized test. This means that your percentile rank on the CAT only compares your performance to other test-takers who took the exact same test as you.
Thanks to this variation in percentile values, the range of CAT scores accepted by IIMs and other B-Schools is quite varied, too. For most IIMs, CAT cutoff ranges from the 96th to 99th percentile. This means you can only get in if you score higher than or equal to 96-99% of your competitors. In numbers, you need a score higher than 123 out of 300 on the CAT.
Having said that, you must take into account that many more people take the GMAT than the CAT.
Further, GMAT-takers come from all over the world whereas CAT-takers are only Indian. Thanks to this, you can’t really compare GMAT and CAT scores directly, even in percentile form.
Let us explain why in further detail.
Scope of Percentile Rank Comparison
The CAT is much more likely to change in difficulty year-on-year as compared to the GMAT. It would be unfair to compare the performance of test-takers who took an easier version of the test to the performance of those who faced a tougher CAT.
That’s why CAT percentiles are calculated based on the performance of those who took the test in a given year only. Since the test is only conducted once a year, this helps keep things simple. But the limitation then is that the score is valid only for a year.
7. Indian B-schools Accepting GMAT Scores
GMAT scores can be used to apply to MBA colleges across the world. In India, there are about 100 business schools that accept GMAT scores.
Here’s the list of the top 10 Indian B-schools that accept GMAT scores:
1. Faculty of Management Studies
2. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
3. Indian Institute of Foreign Trade
4. Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
5. Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
6. Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta
7. Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, Mohali
8. SP Jain Institute of Management and Research
9. XLRI, Xavier School of Management
10. Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow
8. International B-schools Accepting CAT Scores
While CAT is conducted by the IIMs and is mostly accepted by B-schools in India, there are a few B-schools abroad that accept CAT scores for admissions to their management programs.
Here are a few B-schools abroad that accept CAT scores:
Confused as to which B-school you should apply to? Why don’t you reach out to our experts to get your profile evaluated before you decide on the standardized test and MBA colleges?
9. Questions you need answers for before choosing between CAT and GMAT
Which B-schools do you want to apply to?
Which place do you want to study in?
Which management program do you wish to apply for?
What is your overall career goal?
Do you have answers to the four questions posed above?
If you do, then it shouldn’t be difficult to decide between the GMAT and CAT now that you know all the difference between the two exams.
Are you looking to apply to B-schools outside of India and build your career there?
If you want to apply to business schools abroad, you should take the GMAT. With a good GMAT score, you can apply to more than 7000 management programs across the world.
Moreover, the GMAT scores will add value when you are looking and applying for jobs abroad.
On the other hand, if you are looking to apply to top MBA colleges in India, you can take the CAT and apply to the business schools of your choice.
All the 20 IIMs accept CAT scores for the MBA programs. And there are other top B-schools like SP Jain School of Management, Xavier Labour Relations Institute and Indian Institute of Technology that accept CAT scores for their management programs admissions.
Here’s one way to look at it.
You should take the CAT if you have less than one year of work experience. You can get into IIMs with a CAT score, and an MBA from an IIM tends to have high returns. But if you’re an experienced professional, the GMAT is a better option any day. It opens up many more doors than the CAT does, and it gives you a chance to expand your global footprint.
As an Indian test-taker, you should know that if you plan to take the GMAT, you might find the Verbal section challenging. But there are ways to overcome these challenges and get a good GMAT score.
10. How to start preparing for the GMAT
If you have decided to prepare for the GMAT and apply to business schools, here are a few points that you should keep in mind:
i. You need to be consistent in your GMAT preparation – Even if it is half an hour a day, make sure you do that every day.
ii. You should study only from official GMAT material – There is so much GMAT preparation material available online. Do not try to go through all of them and get confused. Utilize only the official material.
iii. Have a structured study plan – You should have a clear plan for your GMAT preparation. Otherwise, you will just end up practicing questions and not getting anywhere with it.
Now that you know all the differences between GMAT and CAT, the pros and cons, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make the decision. You even know how to get started with your GMAT prep if you decide to take the GMAT, correct?
If you wish to know more about getting started with the GMAT preparation and how to go about it, you can click on the image below and check out our Free GMAT Kickstarter course.
The course will help you understand GMAT and the preparation required much better. 🙂
As a GMAT aspirant, it is quite normal to have questions on GMAT scores like,
“What is a good GMAT score?”
“What does it mean when a GMAT taker says that they scored a Q49 and V30?”
“What is a good GMAT score to get into Harvard?”
Don’t worry about them. We will be answering all your questions on GMAT scoring and GMAT scoring algorithm (we will get to it) in this blog. Once you complete reading this blog, you will know, if you have taken the GMAT, why you and your friend who got the same score in each GMAT section still ended up getting a different total score.
So, if you feel that your friend will benefit from reading this article, don’t forget to share it with them. 🙂
Here’s what you can expect to understand from this article:
Let’s get started.
1. What is a good GMAT score?
KNOW IF YOU HAVE A GOOD GMAT SCORE BY CONSIDERING THE TWO FACTORS:
1. NUMBER OF GMAT TAKERS IN THE SAME SCORE RANGE
2. THE AVERAGE GMAT SCORE ACCEPTED BY YOUR DESIRED B-SCHOOL
Is there something known as the good GMAT score?
If so, how do you figure out whether you got a good GMAT score?
If you take the GMAT at a test center, the result typically consists of four scores corresponding to the four sections of the GMAT – Verbal Reasoning (Verbal), Quantitative Reasoning (Quant), Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), and Integrated Reasoning (IR).
P.S. If you take the online GMAT exam now, you will not have to take the AWA section.
The GMAT is designed to function on an adaptive scoring algorithm. This algorithm puts your raw scores together and then computes a final score which isn’t simply an addition of the parts.
In fact, the scales for these GMAT sections and the GMAT total/composite score are totally different.
While GMAT AWA scores range from 1 to 5, the GMAT IR scores range from 0 to 8. But guess what, neither of these scores affects your final score since both these scores are not included while calculating the GMAT score. This does not mean AWA and IR scores don’t matter. They do. They’re just not included in your final GMAT total score, that’s all.
Meanwhile, your Quant and Verbal scores can range between 6 and 51 each. But your final GMAT test score falls between 200 and 800!
|GMAT Section||Score Range|
|Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)||0-6|
|Integrated Reasoning (IR)||1-8|
So, is 750 a good GMAT score? Even a 750 GMAT score holds no value in isolation.
It all depends on the number of test-takers who got that specific score and also on the average GMAT score that your desired B-school accepts!
2. How do the GMAT scoring and percentile system work?
Let’s look at GMAT scoring first and then move on to understanding the GMAT percentile system.
First of all, do you know how many mistakes you can make on the GMAT if you want to get a 700+ GMAT score on the exam?
It’s really hard to not make mistakes on the GMAT. But, it’s safer to make mistakes in intervals rather than continuously.
This is because making mistakes in a continuous string reduces your accuracy drastically which can automatically bring down your GMAT score (check out the next section to understand this better).
So in the first 15 questions, let’s say, instead of getting question numbers 4,5,6, and 7 wrong, you get questions 4,8,12, and 15 wrong.
And here’s a secret – You can actually make a few mistakes (say 2 in Quant and 1 in Verbal) and score a perfect 800!
Notice that even a solid score like a 710 – with a split of Q49 V38 – means you would have made over 20 mistakes! All the more reason not to fear intelligent guessing on the GMAT.
DO NOT MAKE MISTAKES CONTINUOUSLY. MAKE MISTAKES IN INTERVALS
Now let’s look at GMAT percentiles.
Simply put, if you got a GMAT score of 710, your score is higher than 91% of the GMAT takers.
So, the percentile rank of a score is the percentage of scores in its distribution that are equal to or lower than it.
Let’s now have a look at the percentile charts for Quant and Verbal.
Now you must be having an idea as to how much you need to score in Quant and Verbal to belong to the 99th percentile category, right? 😉
But if you observed closely, you would have noticed a few weird things.
If you get a 45 or above out of 51 in Verbal, then you’ll still land in the 99th percentile. That same score of 45 out of 51 in Quantitative is considered 59th percentile. This is because a lot more students are scoring a 51 in Quant than in Verbal.
It is comparative.
This has a flip side too.
With the Quant percentile starting at 97%, every mistake you make drastically drops your score.
But it is not that vast when it comes to the Verbal percentiles. This means that the scope for improvement in Verbal will not be that steep.
3. How does the GMAT adaptive scoring algorithm work?
When we discussed GMAT scoring, we had mentioned that it is better to make mistakes at an interval and not continuously. When you understand the GMAT adaptive scoring algorithm, you will get to know in detail why we emphasized that point.
GMAT scoring does not work like our usual test scoring.
When you were in school, if you got 8 one-mark questions correct out of ten questions, you got an 8/10, correct?
But the GMAT algorithm does not work in a linear fashion. It is terribly precise!
And due to the same reason, your GMAT score gets computed after every question.
By doing this, the algorithm is keeping a constant check on you and your GMAT score. If you get an answer correct, you are rewarded with a high score. But at the same time, the GMAT will penalize you for a wrong answer.
So the GMAT is constantly trying to test your Quant and Verbal ability, that too within a short span of time and with a limited number of questions.
To accurately assess a person’s ability from 200 to 800 – means you have 61 possible scores on the GMAT.
Let’s understand the GMAT adaptive scoring algorithm better:
When you begin your exam, the GMAT will ask you an average difficulty level question.
Because we need to begin someplace and starting in the middle is the most optimized strategy.
Based on the accuracy of your response, the GMAT will either reward you by bumping you up to a higher level, maintain you at the same level, or demote you to a lower level.
If you get the right answer, the next question that pops up on your screen may be of the same difficulty level or in some cases, a higher difficulty level.
If you get the answer wrong, the GMAT will ask you another question of the same level, or an easier one.
By asking such a series of questions, GMAT figures out the range or the band at which you are at. Then, it will ask further questions to understand the specific score within that range.
In short, the GMAT exam adapts to your performance on every question.
Consider this example:
If you look at the chart below, we have 3 test-takers.
Let’s assume that all three of them have started with an average difficulty level question.
Let us look at their performance on the 1st question:
T1 answered right, and hence progressed from the score range of 500 to 600.
T2 answered wrong and dropped from 500 to 400.
T3 also answered wrong and dropped from 500 to 400.
Moving on to the 2nd question.
T1 answered right, again – he jumped to the 700 score range.
T2 answered right and made a small jump to the 450 range.
T3 however, answered wrong, again, and dropped further down to 300.
As you can see, the score trend lines are high or low depending upon the answer provided to the previous question.
Which also incidentally, is how the adaptive algorithm works.
So if you are on your 25th question on the GMAT, the algorithm has data about your performance on the previous 24 questions. This means the algorithm is intelligent enough to get a good sense of where you are currently and will calculate your difficulty level to provide questions accordingly.
It selects each question based on your answer to the previous one, and your performance so far.
So, if you get a difficult-level question, this could most probably mean that you are attempting a higher difficulty level question. 🙂
4. How is the GMAT total score calculated?
As mentioned in the beginning, the GMAT score ranges between 200 and 800.
As a GMAT test-taker, you cannot fail because the GMAT is a competitive test. You get the GMAT total score, which can be anywhere between 200 and 800.
The Verbal and Quantitative scores range from 6 to 51.
Your GMAT total score is generated by considering your Verbal and Quant scores.
You may not be familiar with a GMAT score chart. But, you can take a look at the chart below to just get a glimpse of what it is.
If you want to know how to use a GMAT score chart to understand your score, you might want to check out this blog specifically written to address this important question: How to Use GMAT Score Charts to Understand Your Score
If you look at the score chart, you will realize that there is more than one way to achieve a specific GMAT total score.
If you are strong in Quant, you can try to get a high score in Quant and improve your GMAT total score.
For instance, you can score
Q50, V37 to get a GMAT 720
On the other hand, if you are strong in Verbal, you could probably score,
Q46, V40 to get a GMAT 700
And if you are equally strong in Verbal and Quant, that is going to be really great for you. 🙂
You will get to know which one of the two areas you are good at, once you start your GMAT prep.
5. What are the accepted average GMAT scores at top B-schools?
Let’s get to the most interesting section of this article.
We are calling this the most interesting section because this is where you get to know the GMAT score that you need to aim for.
So, quick question here:
Have you shortlisted your B-schools already?
Which are the B-schools that you are looking to get into? You can probably mention them in the comments section below. We may be able to help you.
If you have shortlisted the B-schools, you can check out the table below to know the GMAT score you need to target. If not, this will be your first step to shortlisting your B-schools!
If you were shocked to see the high average GMAT scores that the top B-schools accept, you really don’t have to worry.
With a few months of consistent preparation and the right guidance, you can easily achieve the desired GMAT score.
And if you have already started your GMAT preparation but feel that you need a structured approach, you can just click on the image below and get on a one-on-one call with our experts. They will be happy to guide you.
With this, we have come to the end of this blog.
We hope that you are now clear about getting a good GMAT score, how GMAT scoring, percentiles work, and more importantly how the GMAT adaptive scoring algorithm works!
If you have any further questions, feel free to put them down in the comments section below. One of our experts will respond to them. 🙂
If you ask anyone who has been preparing for the GMAT along with a full-time job about their prep, then you probably know that it is not easy.
It is hard. Very hard! 🙂
Especially in today’s age, when everything around us – EVERYTHING – seems to be craving for our attention. Here are some examples:
- You promise yourself that you would start your GMAT prep, but the day starts late and in a rush to get to the office (why do Uber prices stay so high in the morning?!), you end up postponing your plans.
- You have a tough day at work, and your brain is fried. As you slump on your couch at night, binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix seems a lot easier than studying for the GMAT.
- Even when you sit down to study for the GMAT – the job isn’t easy. Your phone notification is continuously going off, requiring you to drop everything and pay attention to the cute puppy photo that your friend posted (and that you want to comment on – right now!)
Get the drift?
If all of this resonates with you, then you have come to the right place!
In this blog, we will be exploring the “system” you need to study consistently for the GMAT.
Why we are the experts at teaching you for your GMAT prep?
At CrackVerbal, we have been teaching the GMAT since 2006 through a variety of ways: classroom, online, and personal tutoring. We have gotten students of all types and of all possible skill levels. Trust me – we do!
Over the course of the last 14 years, we have learned a lot of neurochemistry (how our brains are wired to learn), and about metacognition (yes – that’s a word! It means: learning about learning).
In this article, we will look at all the typical challenges working professionals face when preparing for the GMAT. We will use our insights developed over many, many years – working with countless students – to tell you how you can stay focussed and prepare for the GMAT (along with your day job that honestly is killing you right now!)
We will be using principles from realms of productivity, human psychology and pedagogy to pick some actionable tips to help you stay focused while preparing for the GMAT.
In summary, we have learned a lot from teaching 1000s of students! Not just WHAT to study on the GMAT (the easy bit) but also HOW to study for the GMAT (the hard part!).
In this article, we are going to share our gyaan in 4 sections:
Get a cup of coffee so we can go through this whole thing and understand what game plan YOU need to have to crack the GMAT along with a demanding job.
This article should take you 20 minutes to read, so make sure you grab a paper and a pen to jot down the important points. We guarantee this would be the best 20 minutes you will spend on studying for the GMAT this week! 🙂
Part A: Is it possible to study for the GMAT along with a full-time job? (& what does the data tell us?)
We think it is important to get the more pressing things out of the way. You could be thinking: Do others with a busy work schedule find time to study for the GMAT? Let me get that straight out of the way. The answer is yes. Let us look at the average experience at top schools:
Think about it – most of the people who are applying with you this year would have been working full-time. They expect you to walk and chew gum at the same time! Now, if you consider the kind of places they went to, the list is equally impressive. Here are the top “feeder companies”* to Harvard Business School (HBS):
*Feeder companies are companies where people work BEFORE they joined HBS
Just imagine – if you are applying with such illustrious peers, it will be hard to explain why you were unable to study for the GMAT. It will be hard to blame the daily commute that drains you. It will be hard to complain that it is your boss who keeps piling up the work. If you want to go to a top MBA program, then you need to learn the 1st rule of Business School: Quit giving excuses!! So let’s jump right to the next two questions plaguing you:
- Can you study for the GMAT while working full-time?
Of course! But, here is the catch: you need a different set of rules to study for the GMAT as a working professional. The last time you hit the books was perhaps when you were a student. The only job you had was to STUDY. But it is a different challenge now. We have to deal with work and other social pressures that come with having easy access to apps on our phone. Through our
online, classroom, and personal tutoring programs
- we have helped 1000s of students crack the GMAT. And all our programs are based on a simple philosophy that teaching the GMAT is easier than getting the students to study for it. That’s why our GMAT program is designed specifically for busy working professionals.
- Should I quit my job for GMAT preparation?
TL;DR: No! It is very tough to get into the top MBA programs because they look at not only your GMAT scores but also your work experience. They want to see if you have what it takes to hustle in order to get that coveted post-MBA job. The last thing you need is a gaping hole in your resume that suggests you are currently unemployed. It just makes it a lot tougher for you to justify your “employability”. In short – unless it is an extreme case – please don’t quit your job.
- What if I already quit my full-time job to study for the GMAT?
Alright – all is not lost! 🙂 If you have already quit your job (we’ve had a few students who have done this in the past), please make sure that the gap is not more than a few months. And don’t ever tell the MBA Admission Committee that you quit your job to prepare for the GMAT. You can always explain the gap by saying:
- a. You were looking for a better role and that the search took some time . BSchools are okay with this as long as you were smart enough to land a new role at the time.
- b. You wanted to reskill/upskill yourself; so you took some course that demanded your time and effort (of course, you need to show them what you did).
We hope this clarifies the basics! Now, let us try to understand why it is so difficult to study for the GMAT.
Part B: WHY is studying for the GMAT along with a full-time job tough & 4 ways to overcome distractions
Okay, for that, we need to understand a few concepts that involve your brain (really – it is not about you but more about the way your mind thinks!)
Let’s keep this simple: unless you are studying to be a neurosurgeon, you probably need to know only a few things about how brains work.
From an evolutionary perspective, there is a part of the brain that was meant to keep you alert.
So every time you saw a lion while you were roaming around as a hunter-gatherer, your brain told you, “Drop everything and pay attention to the lion”.
Now, working in your cubicle, there is very little chance of you confronting a lion (a higher chance of you getting confronted by your boss!)
However, that part of our brain is pretty active and constantly looking out for things that could be a risk. Some of the things that the brain could flag as a “red alert”:
- Wow! What is that new email? Maybe it is a new onsite opportunity? Or what if you just got laid off? Open it! ASAP!!
- Hey! What about the new notification that you received on your phone? Is that someone who just wrote a nasty comment on your latest Instagram post? Check it out. Now!!
You get the idea, I guess.
So, most of the time, your brain is trying to divert your ordinary course of action. The only thing is, we don’t need that part to work when we are studying for the GMAT!
This is the stuff most people don’t worry about before preparing for the GMAT, but it is exactly the stuff that can come back to bite you!
So here are the 4 things you need to do when you are sitting down to study for the GMAT:
- Pick the same time of the day – routine helps you do things more efficiently
The best way to get away from the incessant chatter in your mind is to have a routine—something that tells your brain that, in the next hour or two, you will be focussing on just one thing: studying for the GMAT.
The best way for you to do such focussed work is by scheduling it at the same time every day. It just helps to tell your brain that this is something for it TO EXPECT.
Also, when you study at a time when there is nothing else to do (when everyone else is sleeping, for instance), it sends a signal to your brain that what you are doing is important.
If you are a morning person, pick a time early in the morning – say 5 am to 7 am.
If you are an evening person, then pick a time a little later in the day – say 11 pm to 1 am.
Try doing this for three days a week to begin with and then do this five days a week. You can take the weekend off – your brain needs a break; plus, you have the whole day to schedule your prep.
However, these timings are only if you don’t get disturbed. If your maid comes at 5:30 am, and you also need to worry about what to eat for breakfast, chances are—you are not going to FOCUS.
Similarly, if at 11 pm your roommate is binge-watching her favorite series on TV or you need to worry about doing some chores (laundry, for example), then again it might be a bad time as you won’t FOCUS.
So maybe the best time for you is at 8 am after everyone has left OR 6 pm before everyone returns.
What you need (if we haven’t said it earlier) is for you to pick the right time (and environment) to FOCUS 🙂
- Try to ensure that there is nothing else on your mind while you are studying
So try to empty your mind before you sit down to study. The best way is to write things down.
Just take a piece of paper and write down everything else you need to get done. And put a time on it, so your brain realizes it will happen. Just not right now.
Your list could look like this:
You can guess what will happen when you sit down to study with all these pending tasks on your mind. Your brain doesn’t really differentiate between what is important and what is not.
You will constantly worry about small things that you need to do before you can focus on the GMAT.
So what you need to do is take that checklist and put some dates and times against it.
This way, when you are studying for the GMAT, you can put your mind to rest by telling it that you have got it all figured out and that you will get to do other things at the appropriate time.
Note: the best way to get your job done is to put it on your calendar. That way, you will know that a reminder will go off when it is time. The brain is not particularly good at remembering when to do stuff. It is good at panicking when you don’t do it! 🙂
- Make sure you have all the necessary & the right resources with you before you start
There are plenty of resources for you to resolve your doubts, but (later in this article), we will pick the top ones that are guaranteed to help.
Here is why you should be worried about the quality of your study material:
There are plenty of resources out there! GBs worth of videos, thousands of discussion threads, and enough and more questions to solve till the next decade!
Here is a piece of advice (actually two):
First, stick to official material for solving!
Did you know that the GMAC spends close to $2000 to create a single GMAT official question?
No test prep company in the world can do anything close to that. None of the practice questions can replicate the elegance of the real GMAT questions; none of the mock GMAT tests available online can simulate the actual GMAT scoring algorithm.
Second, learn to use forums wisely!
A lot of students spend way too much time reading posts from other students who are equally clueless.
Or they spend a lot of time reading through endless discussions on ambiguous questions that are most certainly not official questions (another reason to stick to only official material!)
- Ensure that you are not connected to the Internet while you are preparing
A corollary to the above point is that the Internet itself can be a pretty terrible place for your GMAT preparation.
Preparing for the GMAT requires focus. The Internet is about distraction.
Preparing for the GMAT needs quality. The Internet is notorious for poor quality.
Preparing for the GMAT is unitasking. Browser tabs were invented for multitasking.
In short: the Internet can mess up your GMAT preparation.
Of course, we are not saying that you shun the internet altogether. You’ll soon see that there are a lot of resources that will certainly help you.
However, do not open ANY other tabs or windows while studying for the GMAT. It is hard enough to study for the GMAT; it is worse when Facebook is vying for your attention!
Also, it is best to keep your phone on silent (really nothing urgent will happen in those 60-120 minutes that you’ll be studying. So don’t check WhatsApp or Instagram to “take a break”.
If you want a break, drink a glass of water and stretch your legs!
Note: In general, it is a great productivity technique to turn off all notifications on your phone. They are designed to distract you. And I mean “designed”! At Stanford, they have a persuasion lab – a lab intended to invent ways to persuade you to do stuff!)
Part C: HOW to study for the GMAT given that your needs as a working person are different? (by understanding the 3 phases to prep!)
Now that we have covered ways in which you can focus, the crucial part is HOW! What you need to understand is that GMAT prep can be broadly divided into 3 phases:
Phase 1: Understanding the concepts
At this level, you try to understand the various concepts tested on the GMAT. The good news is that you don’t need any Math concepts beyond the 10th-grade level. And on Verbal too – there is very little, in terms of concepts, that gets tested on the GMAT. To know the list of concepts tested on the GMAT look up our resource here: GMAT Syllabus So essentially, on the GMAT, you need to know the following: For Math:
- Arithmetic concepts such as rate, %ages, ratio, and counting principles
- Algebra concepts such as equations, inequalities, and absolute values
- Geometry concepts such as lines, circles, and coordinate geometry
- Basic grammar rules to solve sentence correction questions
- Structure of an argument to understand critical reasoning questions
- Ability to read and comprehend a passage to solve reading comprehension questions
Apart from these basics, you don’t really need much. Remember that the GMAT is not a test of knowledge or memorization. The total amount of concepts required for you to do very, very well on the GMAT is relatively finite. For example, the IAS exam in India is notoriously tough just because it requires you to remember a LOT of things. The GMAT doesn’t expect you to remember much. In fact, all the quant formulae needed on the GMAT can be summarized in a single sheet of paper. However, that is not going to help you much—you are not going to crack a perfect score in Quant by knowing all the theory. This is where a course such as the CrackVerbal GMAT Online course helps. We understand that working professionals need bite-sized “snackable” pieces of information. Our videos are typically around 6-10 minutes long and cover just one concept. You can always pick up a copy of our strategy guide if you want to stick to a paper-and-pen approach:
That is where the next phase comes into play.
Phase 2: Applying the concepts
You must understand the mechanics of what GMAT is trying to do here. GMAT knows that most test-takers know the basics, but it is trying to figure out how well you can apply those concepts in day-to-day decision making. Let’s say that you want to be a consultant post your MBA. Your job will require you to read copious amounts of data but not remember all of it. All you need to do is summarize it (“What is the main idea?”) so that you can answer any question thrown at you (“What can we infer from so-and-so statement?”). This is nothing but Reading Comprehension. But you are not going to get paid just to crunch all that stuff you’ve read. You get paid to draw your inferences, your conclusion, your conjecture from that data (“Would this new development strengthen or weaken our position?”). This is nothing but Critical Reasoning. Finally, you are expected to present your observations to the management using the English language. You are expected to convey the intended meaning clearly without ambiguity. And you need to do so in a crisp manner. This is nothing but Sentence Correction. Wait, you are also expected to understand how data functions (“What would be the minimum number of shipments needed?”). You guessed it right: this is Problem Solving. Sometimes, you are expected to understand the impact of the given data on the problem at hand (“Which additional data point would help us answer the question?”) This is Data Sufficiency. So, what you realize is that the GMAT is really testing you on real-world skills. Skills that you would have already built during your corporate experience. All you need to understand is how to approach each question type and what tactics you need to eliminate the wrong answer options. The best way to practice (as we said above) is to stick to only the official material for GMAT. You could use a set of Official Guides (these are the BEST set of questions to practice from). These contain actual questions that were tested on the GMAT (and since then retired). This gives you a very good sense of what the GMAT will test you on. GMAT has also released a book of Advanced Questions—questions that you would encounter once you are at the 650+ range on the GMAT.
There are about 400 questions in all these 4 books put together. That is a LOT of practice. And certainly, enough practice questions for you to understand how GMAT tests you on each concept in Verbal (Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension) and Quant (Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry). The reason we are suggesting you pick a physical book is so that you can sit and focus on solving questions.
Phase 3: Optimizing your performance
Okay, so there is one more part that you need to consider: you need to solve all of these questions in a LIMITED time to MAXIMIZE your scores. Let us focus on the two points in detail below:
- Limited Time:
You have the following time constraints:
- Now to solve a question with no time limit means that you need to focus on solving the question. The way in which you arrive at the right answer doesn’t really matter as long as you know how to get to the right answer. The problem with the GMAT is that it DOES matter what approach you take to solve a problem. An approach that can solve a question in under a minute is definitely preferred than an approach that is going to take you 2.5 minutes. So, while solving questions, it is important for us to ask the right question. Wrong question: Can I solve this question? Right question: Can I solve this question under 2 minutes?
- Maximize your scores
Remember that the objective on the GMAT is not to answer all the questions correctly but to answer the maximum possible questions in the most efficient way. What is “efficient” you ask? Glad you asked! 🙂 So let us take 2 scenarios: On one section, John gets questions 5, 15, 22, 24, 28, and 30 wrong. On the same section, Jane gets questions 14,15,16, 28,29, and 30 wrong. Both have answered 6 questions incorrectly – would they get the same score? They won’t! The answer to that lies in
- . Both of these skills are developed by practicing through mock GMATs. This involves knowing which questions are worth your time and which questions need to be “guessed” intelligently. At this point, all you need to know is that we need to have a strategy that would allow us to guess at appropriate times to maximize our chances of a better score. To get better at managing your time and maximizing your score, you can practice with the 2 free official tests available at MBA.com. (You think 2 isn’t enough? You can purchase 4 more tests too!)
- Remember that this is the only full-length adaptive practice exams created by the maker of the GMAT exam available anywhere online. You can also flex your GMAT muscle with the 5 mock tests that are available with CrackVerbal’s Online Course. You can head over to these three incredible resources, as well. Firstly, we have the solutions to many of the official GMAT problems. These explanations give you the solutions from a test taker’s perspective:
- Secondly, we have a ton of GMAT strategy videos on our YouTube channel (these are hardcore GMAT strategies—not flimsy videos that waste your time!):
- Thirdly, if you still have any questions to which you have not found the answers, you can head over to our special sub-forum on GMATClub where we help you with doubts you might have about specific questions (or general strategies):
https://gmatclub.com/forum/crackverbal-397/ Now that you have all the resources at your disposal, you can really focus on preparing for the test!
Part D: WHAT is the most optimized GMAT study strategy/plan? (for people with full-time jobs)
Now we need to understand how you can put all of this together and make a study plan that best suits you?
Here are a few things to consider:
- How many hours of GMAT preparation is needed if I am working full-time?
To be honest, your brain uses up a lot of energy to process the GMAT questions. This means it is easy to get exhausted quickly when you sit down to study. However, with practice, you will be able to improve your stamina on the GMAT.
To use a rule of thumb—around 2 hours per day is just about enough for you if you devote your time consistently!
Of course, if you have the whole day, then you can study for say 3-4 hours. That would be a couple of 2-hour stretches of prep.
But don’t overdo it because if you study for more than what you can absorb, you will end up:
- not understanding why you made a particular error. Your brain will focus only on “doing” and not on “understanding”. It is like chewing food but not digesting it properly. This means that you will not see any improvement in your test scores/performance.
- not reviewing your performance. Once you have reflected on your performance, you can make appropriate course corrections and apply the new knowledge on fresh questions.
- finding yourself exhausted. You will start with a few days of setting your alarm at 4 a.m. but quickly lose steam. You want your prep to be consistent!
- What are some effective study strategies and tips if you are studying for the GMAT with a full-time job?
Firstly, it is important that you understand the importance of having a routine.
We know that you have a tough schedule, but the best way for you to study is to pick a time slot as we mentioned earlier and sit quietly with zero (or near zero) distractions.
However, having said that, we also understand that sometimes if you have access to the right content and a good Internet connection, you can even study while you are commuting to work or while you are the gym (just be careful: we don’t want you to be bench pressing 100kgs while learning sentence correction!)
Picking the right time and place will solve half the problems! You will have the right routine, and studying for the GMAT will become a habit.
Secondly, remember that it is not about QUANTITY but QUALITY.
Without analyzing where you went wrong, solving questions is of no use. Remember that none of the practice questions will be repeated on the GMAT. So, it is important to utilize your precious time wisely.
Remember to ask yourself the following 3 questions if you want to improve your GMAT score:
- Did I understand the underlying concept that’s tested?
- Was I able to eliminate the wrong options for a good reason?
- Could I identify and avoid the traps in the question?
- What is the total time required for GMAT preparation along with my job?
Our advice is to give yourself anywhere between 2-3 months to prepare for the GMAT.
The difference in preparation time depends on a lot of things such as:
- The number of hours you can devote to preparation every day/week/month. Some weeks you could have a lot of work in the office. Sometimes, you might just fall sick. Some days you might have relatives visiting.
- Your starting base—some people get a 700 on their first diagnostic test while some get 300. The journey would change vastly based on the number of areas you need to fix. Some students start off very strong in Quant. Some start with a strong base in Verbal. And some start with none.
- Your competence—some students tend to pick up things very quickly. Some need a bit more time to understand the concepts. The speed of your journey doesn’t matter; what matters is your preparation and ability to get your dream score.
Here we are giving you a simple 3-month study plan
- What is the best way to kickstart your prep?
A big question that a lot of people have is: if there is so much prep material out there, why should we even consider professional help for the GMAT?
That is a great question and one that you need to answer for yourself.
Let us try tackling a few aspects:
- Should I prepare by myself or take up GMAT coaching?
What good GMAT coaching does is that it gives you a couple of distinct advantages. For starters, you get to learn the concepts, techniques, and strategies needed for the GMAT. At CrackVerbal, we provide a 3-month study plan that is designed to keep you on the straight and narrow.
You can prepare by yourself too—the only catch is that if you listen to the wrong advice or end up picking the wrong technique, then you would not only get frustrated with the lack of progress but also waste your precious time (time really is your most important resource—even more than money).
- Should I take classroom coaching or an online course or personal tutoring?
Classroom coaching has been around for many years now and is for people who don’t have a problem traveling to a coaching center. The main thing to consider would be the experience and quality of the instructor. At CrackVerbal, our instructors are carefully picked (typically less than 5% make the cut, and we are talking about MBAs from top schools such as ISB!)
Online coaching is great for you if you have the drive to maintain focus in front of your computer (as we mentioned earlier—also your biggest source of distraction!). The main thing is that the online program needs to have enough sticky-ness to ensure that you complete the program. The CrackVerbal GMAT Online Course is designed with the working professional in mind—so you know it is tailored to meet your needs.
Personal tutoring is great if you want one-on-one help to fine-tune your approach and strategy on the GMAT. A GMAT coach would work with you to understand your strengths and weaknesses to ensure that you are on the optimal path towards success. The CrackVerbal GMAT Personal Tutoring program gives you access to top GMAT trainers in the country—each trainer with 100s of hours of teaching experience and a rock-solid GMAT score to boot!
That’s a wrap, folks!
Did you like this article? If so, do let us know in the comments below. Even better— why don’t you join our Free 4-part GMAT video training series created to help the busy working professionals like you crack the GMAT and get an MBA in 2021.
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Are you a prospective MBA student? Not sure if B-schools prefer the GMAT or the GRE?
Now that many B-schools accept both the GMAT and the GRE, you must be wondering which exam to take.
In this article, we will address all your concerns and help you figure out which test to take for your MBA admissions.
Here’s what we will discuss:
- What is the difference between the GMAT and the GRE?
- Should You Take the GMAT or GRE for Your Admissions?
Let’s get to it!
1. What is the difference between the GMAT and the GRE?
Let us break down both the tests and give you a detailed comparison. First, let us look at
A. Differences in the GMAT and GRE Test Structure
The Verbal sections on the GRE and GMAT test similar skills such as comprehension, grammar, and critical thinking.
For Quant, although the topics are somewhat similar, what GMAT expects from you is slightly different from what the GRE expects. We will get to that in a bit.
On the GMAT, your composite score can range from 200 – 800; on the GRE, your range is 130 – 170 per section.
The scores of the 3 sections on the GRE are reported separately, while the GMAT composite score takes only the Verbal and Quant scores into account.
B. Differences in the GMAT and GRE [General Points to Consider]
Take a look at this infographic to find out more specific details that are important to consider when making your decision.
Now that you have a general overview of both the GMAT and the GRE, let us understand what these exams need from your end!
C. Differences in Preparation Needed for the GMAT and the GRE
Here’s a GMAT vs. GRE analysis of the Verbal section:
The three question types in the GMAT Verbal section are designed to test specific skills.
a. Sentence Correction tests how well you operate within the parameters of given rules and context.
b. Critical Reasoning gives you some data to see how good you are at drawing appropriate inferences from it.
c. Reading Comprehension gives you a chunk of data and poses questions to test your skill of filtering out the information required to answer them.
Now, of course, you’ll need to have basic knowledge such as the rules of sentence construction to answer these questions correctly. But simply knowing the rules will not be enough — you have to be able to consider the context and know what’s expected in that context.
The overall common pattern between all three question types is that they are examining your reasoning skills.
In comparison, the GRE Verbal section is much more reliant on your vocabulary. Its Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions make up the majority of the section.
Both these question types are highly confusing unless you have a nuanced understanding of English vocabulary. In both these question types, the answer options are often nearly synonymous, which makes it highly tricky to find the right answers.
While the GRE Verbal section also has Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions, they make up a small part of the section. They are also marginally less challenging than their GMAT counterparts.
Now, let’s look at a GMAT vs. GRE analysis of the Quant section:
The objective of the different question types on GMAT Quant is similar to the objective of some GMAT Verbal question types. Here’s how:
a. Arithmetic and Geometry-based questions do with mathematics what Sentence Correction questions do with grammar. They check if you know basic rules and test how well you can apply your knowledge in a given context.
b. Data Sufficiency questions are like Critical Reasoning questions. They give you limited data and see if you can make valid inferences based on what you know.
Once you draw these parallels, you can see that GMAT Quant isn’t really about how good you are at math. It’s mainly about how sound your reasoning skills are, but you need to have a hold over the basics of math to do well. You need to be able to interpret data that is put across to you in different formats such as charts and tables.
GRE Quant is a whole different ball-game, in comparison. The main focus of GRE Quant is not on your ability to analyze information. It’s focused, instead, on your knowledge of the rules of mathematics and your ability to crunch numbers.
In short, the objective of the overall GMAT is to test your reasoning skills based on fundamental knowledge.
The objective of the GRE, on the other hand, is to test the strength and depth of your knowledge itself. These traits are seen in the Verbal as well as the Quant sections of both these exams.
Now, let’s address the critical question for you in the next section.
2. Which Test Should You Take?
The way we see it, if you are pondering this question, you must be in one of these three categories:
a. Fresh Graduates
As a fresh graduate, you have had this question on your mind a lot. You might be thinking of going the Master’s way or the MBA way. But you have no idea which test you should take.
In that case, we would suggest that you get a clear idea of what you want. If you think you want an MBA, you can narrow down the list of prospective Business schools you should apply to.
One factor that can help you decide which test you should take is to see which test your top schools prefer. If they require GMAT scores, then take the GMAT.
Learn about CrackVerbal’s GMAT Preparation Online
As a fresher, if you’re looking to go for an MBA due to its core courses and not the specializations, you may have another set of options. If you’re set on getting an MBA to help you enter managerial positions, then it makes sense for you to take the GMAT.
You will have two options if you take the GMAT:
- If you have less than one year of work experience, you can apply for MBA programs immediately through deferred admission programs.
- The other thing you can do is wait and gain work experience for a few years, and then apply to B-schools. Since your GMAT score will remain valid for five years, you can apply anytime within 5 years of taking the test.
But most B-schools require you to have work experience to get into an MBA program. So, if you don’t have the work experience for an MBA, consider getting a different degree in management instead.
For example, you could look into the MS in Information Management program at the W.P. Carey School of Business. MiM programs are designed specially to combine business and data management. These programs require GRE scores — not all of them accept GMAT scores. So, again, check out your options and see which scores your preferred programs accept.
b. Switching from the GMAT to the GRE
You are someone who took the GMAT, but you did not manage to get the best scores. Now you are wondering if you will be luckier with the GRE.
What we would want you to ask yourself is this:
Did you give GMAT your best shot?
If you didn’t, then you should realize that even with the GRE, you are tested on similar skills of logic, critical reasoning, time management, etc. The GRE is demanding and is going to put you under a lot of pressure. To put it simply: the GRE will not help you if your problems are the same as the problems you faced while taking the GMAT.
If you think you are more comfortable with English vocabulary rather than English grammar, the GRE could be your friend. So go ahead and take a practice test to see how well you do and find out if GRE can work out for you.
c. Switching from the GRE to the GMAT
If you’re looking to switch from GRE to GMAT, you need to consider how good your GRE scores are in the first place.
You probably took the GRE when you were in college, but you’re now considering an MBA from a top school like ISB.
Switching over to the GMAT is a great idea if you want to apply to B-schools because they tend to have a preference for GMAT scores. GRE scores are converted to their GMAT equivalents through the ETS score comparison tool when your application is being processed. This is because B-schools consider reasoning skills to be a critical trait, and that’s exactly what the GMAT measures.
Just keep in mind that a score of 326 on the GRE will convert to a GMAT 700. So, if you have a 326+ score on the GRE, you can go ahead and apply. But if you have a low GRE score, we recommend that you take a GMAT practice test to see how well you fare. If you do well, you can simply switch over to taking the actual GMAT test.
As mentioned before, the GRE tests the strength and depth of your knowledge more than your reasoning whereas the GMAT tests your reasoning abilities based on your knowledge. So, during your GRE Preparation, your main challenge is to expand your knowledge. But when you switch to the GMAT, your challenge will be to improve your question-solving techniques.
Also Read: MBA in India vs MBA Abroad
Although the number of schools accepting the GRE is rising, you must keep in mind that not all B-schools accept GRE for MBA. Make it a point to check if the schools you want to apply to accept GRE scores for MBA before you choose which test to take.
Overall, even though B-schools certainly have a preference for the GMAT, you can get in via the GRE as long as the schools you are interested in also accept the GRE.
We hope this article has helped you take your situation into account and choose an exam that will suit your purposes. If you have any questions or need help with your applications, simply drop a line in the comments section. We will be happy to help you out.
The GMAT is usually taken by those who are frustrated with their careers.
Relax, we’re kidding!
Only a few of those who take the GMAT are frustrated. 😛
Seriously speaking, though, the GMAT is the first step on an MBA journey. Most of the time, people go in for MBAs either to facilitate lateral movement from one career to another or vertical movement within their existing careers.
In simple words, they either want to do something other than their existing jobs or they want to get promoted and make more money.
An MBA is the surest way to ensure a smooth transition no matter which direction you want your career to move in. But an MBA from just about any random college isn’t going to cut it. You need to get into a reputed B-School for your MBA to really get you what you want.
To get into one of those, you need a good GMAT score. And that brings us straight to the topic we’ll be discussing in this article.
Let’s try to answer each of them, one at a time.
1. What is a Good GMAT Score?
We’re always told we can only hope to get into the best B-Schools in th world if we have a good GMAT score. What nobody talks about is what a ‘good GMAT score’ actually is.
In our opinion, most of the time, this is a highly subjective question.
For someone who wants to go to, let’s say, Durham University Business School in the UK, 580 is a pretty good GMAT score.
For someone aiming for Stanford or Wharton, that’s a disastrous score.
In essence, the answer to this question depends on the answer to another one:
Which B-Schools do you want to get into?
Only when you know where you want to go can you figure out what it takes to get there. So, get on with your research!
Look up the top one-year MBA programs in the US, across Europe, even take a look at two-year full-time MBA programs around the world.
Figure out whether you want to do a one-year or a two-year MBA program. See if you can decide what specialization you want to take up, too.
Basically, get a good idea of which MBA programs you’d like to be a part of. Don’t let GMAT cutoffs or academic requirements faze you at this point. That will come later. For now, all we’re looking for is your dream course with no real-world limitations.
Once you have a list of such courses, draw up an average of all their average GMAT scores.
That is what you can consider as a good GMAT score for yourself.
Next, let’s talk about your target GMAT score.
2. How do I Fix My Target GMAT Score?
You’ll have to get through a few steps to arrive at this. Here’s what you need to know:
a. Difference between ‘Good Score’ and ‘Target Score’
First and foremost, understand that there’s a very important difference between a good GMAT score for you and your target GMAT score.
Here’s the thing:
There’s likely to be a mismatch between your capacities and your expectations from yourself. Sometimes, the score you want and the score you can realistically aim for are quite different from each other.
The first point about identifying a ‘good GMAT score’ was aimed at getting an idea of what it will take to get what you want.
This point is about figuring out the best that you can realistically expect from yourself and seeing if there is a difference between the two.
b. Using Official Mock GMAT Tests
Official GMAT mock tests provide the best and most reliable way for you to figure out the final score you can expect. The official mock tests use the same patented adaptive scoring algorithm as the actual GMAT.
So, the scores you get on the official mock tests are a very good indication of what you can expect on the actual GMAT.
Remember, however, that you don’t need to prepare before taking your first official mock GMAT test. The first test serves as a diagnostic device. Don’t take it as an exam; instead, take it as a quiz to help you figure out where you stand.
It’s important not to prepare before taking your first mock GMAT. When you’re unprepared, the score you get is your baseline. If you have a clear baseline, you’re in a good position to measure the amount of effort it takes for you to improve your score.
Information like that is critical to your goal-setting process. The only way to honestly decide how far you can go is to first know what it takes to go that distance.
c. Take Help!
Typically, it helps massively to have a mentor or a third person do this target-setting with you.
If there’s a big difference between your ‘good GMAT score’ and what you scored on your diagnostic test, two things may happen. One, ambition can mislead you pretty seriously. But the second is probably worse – you may get completely demotivated.
This is where a third person who understands your potential comes into the picture. They can keep you from flying too high as well as from sinking too low.
Having such a neutral third person in the picture helps balance your plans out. Actually, that’s why you need to be very careful when you select a mentor.
You need to ensure that they provide a neutral perspective and not one loaded with bias. In most cases, such a bias will be inevitable if you pick someone close to you.
So, ideally, choose a mentor who isn’t very close. Consider going in for a professional mentor who has experience with this kind of thing.
Professional mentors are great at gauging what they need to know about your abilities. Plus, they know what B-Schools look for. Thanks to this, they can factor in multiple aspects when they weigh in on your decision-making process.
In any case, the point is, don’t try to do this alone.
These three points will be quite enough to help you figure out what your personal target GMAT score should be.
Now, we understand that often, the target score you get through this method means you won’t get into the B-Schools you want to go to. It’s not easy to just accept that; you’ll most probably want to do something about it. That brings us to the next part of this article.
3. What if I Want to Aim Higher?
Well, first of all, let us assure you, it’s great to want more than what you can achieve. Ultimately, that’s what pushes us to grow and develop as people.
However, in this case, you need to find a balance between practicality and ambition.
If you have a very strong gut feeling that you can reach higher than the target you’ve set for yourself, trust your gut. But don’t change that target just yet.
Here’s what you can do instead:
Give yourself whatever you think you will need to surpass the target you’ve set. Don’t just study hard, learn to use tips and tricks to game the GMAT as well. This can save you a lot of effort.
Remember, the GMAT is not a test of how much you can mug up and remember, it’s a test of how well you can use what you know. Train your mind to focus on executing the stuff you already know, especially when it comes to GMAT Quant.
Suppose the target you got through the process in Step 2 of this article was 650, and you want to aim for 680 instead.
Approach the second mock test as if it were the actual GMAT itself. Give it literally everything you’ve got, and try your best to score 680.
Here’s what happens if you manage to pull that off:
Nobody can question whether or not you can get a 680 on the GMAT. More importantly, it will tell you whether or not you can go any higher.
Know this – once you’ve given your all to achieve a higher target, you’ll have absolute clarity on what you can actually do and what you can’t.
Take a call on whether you want to raise your target GMAT score or not based on this experience.
To Sum Up…
At the end of the day, remember that your MBA journey is entirely about you. Everything along the way should be personalized to your needs and abilities.
To make the best of all the resources at your disposal, make sure you have a strong handle on the direction you want to take. Getting an MBA is nothing but investing in self-development and a good GMAT score is your ticket to a respectable MBA.
Just remember to give it your best without holding back and the returns will be plentiful, too!
Do let us know if your thoughts, queries, and feedback in the comments section below.
The GMAT test is competitive – but what does that mean for you, as a test-taker?
As a GMAT test-taker, you cannot fail because the GMAT is competitive. You get a certain score, which can be anywhere between 200 and 800.
Here’s the fun part:
If you deliberately answer every question wrong, you will still get a 200 on the GMAT. There’s no such thing as ‘failing’!
But you probably already knew that… You probably also know that you can get a score that is pretty much the equivalent of failing. If you don’t know or understand how percentiles work, you will have trouble figuring out how to evaluate your performance on the GMAT.
If you have just done a practice test and are trying to figure out whether you’re ready to take the actual GMAT test, you’re in the right place.
In fact, you’re in the right place even if you’ve just taken the test and are sitting with your raw scores trying to figure out how to calculate your GMAT composite score.
(Also, for the uninitiated – the final GMAT score is called the GMAT composite score.)
So, this article is going to help you address all of the following:
How did I do on the GMAT?
So, first things first – how do you figure out whether your GMAT test score is good or bad?
It’s both simple and a little bit complicated, depending on how well-versed you are with percentiles and GMAT score charts. But let’s break down the GMAT scoring mechanism and understand what we’re dealing with first.
Your GMAT result typically consists of four scores corresponding to the four sections of the GMAT test – Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Quantitative Reasoning (Quant), and Verbal Reasoning (Verbal).
The GMAT is designed to function on an adaptive scoring algorithm. This algorithm puts your raw scores together and computes a final score which isn’t simply an addition of the parts.
In fact, the scales for these parts and the composite score are totally different.
GMAT AWA scores range from 1 to 5, IR from 0 to 8, and neither of these affects your final score since both these scores are not included in that calculation. This does not mean AWA and IR scores don’t matter. They do. They’re just not included in your final GMAT score, that’s all. Your Quant and Verbal scores can range between 6 and 51 each.
But your final GMAT test score falls between 200 and 800.
If you’d like to understand more about how this scoring mechanism works, you can read our blog about the GMAT scoring algorithm.
Even if you score a 750, it holds no value in isolation.
You will need a score chart to make sense of your GMAT composite score because your performance won’t be considered stellar if a lot of people have also scored 750. For the same reason, you’ll need a score chart to make sense of your Quant and Verbal scores, too.
A GMAT score chart gives you a sense of where you stand in comparison to everyone else who took the exam over the three years immediately before you took the exam yourself.
To get this, you will need to have your individual and composite GMAT scores. This conveniently brings us to the next section of this article.
How to calculate your GMAT score
How to calculate your GMAT score
There are many mock GMAT tests available on the internet. None of them will be good enough to help you figure out what your real GMAT score will look like.
As mentioned before, the GMAC uses a very specific adaptive algorithm to administer real GMAT tests. What this means is rather simple – there are experimental questions strewn throughout your test and your answer to each question determines the difficulty level of the next question you’re asked. The marks for each answer depend on the difficulty level of the question.
You cannot see the level of the questions you’re answering, so you honestly have no way of knowing what score to expect while taking the exam.
If you have taken any of the official mock tests available on MBA.com, you will know this feeling. You breeze through an entire test and feel like you did really damn well, but then you get a super disappointing score and you cannot figure out why.
Blame that algorithm.
To get a GMAT score that is close to accurate, you need to take an official mock test.
There is no unofficial mock test on the internet that can simulate the way the actual GMAT works. So, if you have scores from any of the unofficial tests, rest assured that there will be a significant difference between those and what you’ll get on official tests.
We know that MBA.com only offers a limited number of tests, so we are not recommending that you only take official mock GMAT tests.
Feel free to take as many mock tests as you like. Just make sure you don’t rely on the scores you may get on any of those unless they’re official mock tests.
You won’t need to go through this first step if you took the official mock GMAT because you’ll receive your composite score along with the break-up at the end of an official mock test.
If you only have your raw GMAT Verbal and GMAT Quantitative scores, this step is for you. Use the following chart to find what your composite score may look like.
To reiterate – this score is not entirely reliable. However, it will do for now.
The scores you calculate in this manner are only a rough indication of where you may stand. Your composite score on the actual GMAT test can vary by +/- 40 or 50 points from what you’re getting through this chart.
This doesn’t mean that you will get a different composite score for the same Quant and Verbal raw scores.
Your raw scores themselves are likely to be drastically different when you’re taking the actual GMAT or even the official mock tests. That’s why we recommend that you take the official mock tests available on MBA.com and rely only on those scores.
The official mock tests available on the GMAC website make use of the same algorithm that is used in the actual GMAT.
This means the scores you get from these tests are the closest and most accurate representations of what you can expect to get when you take the actual GMAT test. That’s what makes them reliable scores.
However, mba.com only provides a finite number of mock tests, which means you need to use these tests sparingly.
In any case, now that you have your composite and sectional scores, let’s move on to discussing a few interesting facts about GMAT scoring on official mocks.
GMAT Scoring on Official Mock Tests
There are a couple of things about the official mock tests that puzzle many GMAT test takers:
Is the highest Verbal and Quant score 60 or 51?
Can you score higher than 51 in GMAT Verbal and Quant?
Why is the scale up to 60 if you can’t score more than 51?!
Admittedly, all these are pertinent questions. But here’s the thing:
You need to focus on what matters to you, so there’s no point getting into the nitty-gritty of everything. What you need to know is that the highest possible score on Verbal and Quant is 51 each.
Even if you answer every single question correctly in both sections, your score will not cross 51 in either one of the sections.
Most of all, if you get a Q51 V51 score, your GMAT composite score will be 800.
For curiosity’s sake, though, let’s consider for a moment the nine points between 51 and 60, even though we know it’s impossible to score these points.
A large number of test-takers are now scoring higher on the GMAT than before. The GMAC, the authority that conducts the GMAT, has offered a set of explanations as to why that is happening, but in any case, the GMAC will most likely have to take steps to pull down the average score.
The general speculation is that if using the current scale (highest score being 51) becomes too top-heavy, meaning if too many people consistently score higher on the GMAT test, the GMAC may open the range up from 51 and allow Quant and Verbal scores up to 60 each.
However, this is only speculation. While it is good to stay informed, it’s important not to let this information cloud your judgment.
As long as the scoring system remains the way it currently is in 2021, your target score need not change.
Rising Percentiles and GMAT Scoring
You may have seen that the scale of scores for GMAT Verbal and Quant are 0-60 for both, yet nobody can score above 51. So, what’s the point of having 9 unattainable points?!
GMAT percentiles are showing an upward trend. This means more and more test-takers are scoring 700+ on the GMAT, so the percentiles for scores 700 and above are rapidly rising.
The problem with this is simple.
The greater the number of people scoring above 700, the lesser the value of their scores becomes because the GMAT works on percentiles.
The GMAT is a competitive test meant to help B-Schools identify the crème-de-la-crème of the MBA aspirants who take the test. If everyone begins to score exceedingly well, it becomes problematic because the score is then no longer helping to narrow down the pool of applicants.
What the GMAC says about this is worth considering:
The Graduate Management Admission Council, which conducts the GMAT, has released a statement claiming that the rise in scores is not due to students performing better, but due to changes in the exam pattern.
At first, this doesn’t sound very logical – but bear with us.
The two changes in the exam pattern are the introduction of Select Section Order and Score Cancelling.
Here’s how that might be impacting GMAT scores:
The introduction of Section Order Selection enables test-takers to change the way they approach the exam entirely. As a test-taker, you can now choose which section to attempt first. Most test-takers attempt the easier sections first and leave a larger chunk of time to tackle the remainder of the exam.
Naturally, this has test-takers performing better – not because they’re getting better at answering the questions asked, but because they’re able to structure their exam in a way that they prefer to take it.
This implies that a 760 scorer may not score a 760 if they were to take the test according to the old pattern of IR & AWA > Verbal > Quant.
Doesn’t that seem logical? Sure does, to us!
Unfortunately, though, this explanation doesn’t help one bit. It still leaves us with the fact that scores are going up and percentiles are on the rise.
It is not possible to identify those who scored better only due to Section Order Selection and separate them from those who would’ve scored what they did irrespective of the order of sections.
The second factor that the GMAC referred to is test-takers’ ability to self-cancel scores.
This explanation actually makes a lot of sense. What the GMAC says is this:
Test-takers now have the ability to cancel their scores, which inevitably leaves us with a collection of scores that are higher. The average of scores that is counted is no longer based on the scores of all GMAT tests taken because a vast majority of the lower end of scores is being canceled by test-takers around the world.
It’s no surprise then that we’re seeing the average score go up.
It isn’t because everyone is scoring better, it’s because those who score low marks are canceling their scores.
Now for the final part of understanding and using GMAT score charts- score comparison.
GMAT Score Chart – Percentiles
If you have your GMAT Composite Score, you can use the following chart to find out what percentile you fall in.
To find out your percentile ranking in the individual sections – Quant and Verbal – you can refer to the following two charts respectively.
Comparing Percentile Scores
It is lost on many Indian test-takers that you cannot compare your scores across exams simply because you’re considering percentiles.
The percentile system does not work like percentages.
In fact, the differences between percentage and percentile are huge.
When you say you have scored 90% marks, what you mean is that you got 90% out of the sum total marks that were available. The picture is entirely different when you say you are in the 90th percentile.
Percentile is not an indication of your score at all. It is an indication of the competitive value of your score. This means that your percentile rank is calculated based on how many test-takers have scored the same as or worse than you.
So, when you have scored 90%, it may or may not be a big deal based on whether other people have scored similar marks. However, when you stand in the 90th percentile, you know for certain than 90% of the other test-takers have scored less than or equal to you.
The first lesson here is never to compare percentage against percentile; they’re worlds apart.
Now even if you’re comparing percentile against percentile, there’s a bunch of factors to consider.
First among these factors is the audience of the test.
For example, you cannot compare a global exam to a national exam, like the GMAT and the CAT.
This is the most common mistake people make when comparing GMAT vs CAT scores:
People assume that the percentiles on the GMAT and CAT are comparable when they cannot be so, by definition. This is because the set of competitors your score is compared against in the GMAT is global, whereas in the CAT it is national.
Being in the 80th percentile for GMAT verbal is not the same as being in the 80th percentile on CAT verbal. On the GMAT, your percentile shows your score in comparison to the entire world. On the CAT, your score is only compared to that of other Indians.
Clearly, a higher percentile on the GMAT is significantly more valuable than the same percentile on the CAT.
So, the lesson to learn from this is that scores cannot be compared simply because they’re in percentile form. Multiple parameters that go into the calculation of these scores should be comparable for the score comparison to make sense.
On 3rd, April 2018, GMAC announced some major changes to the GMAT test timing and to the number of questions you’re going to be having in both Quant and Verbal.
The new GMAT exam will be shorter by 30 minutes from April 16th, 2018.
In this article, we will answer all of these questions in detail:
- Why has GMAC made this change?
- Which questions have reduced in the Quant and/or Verbal sections?
- What is the best time strategy to use on the new GMAT test pattern?
- Should you change your GMAT test prep strategy for the new GMAT test pattern?
- Is the GMAT test pattern change good or bad for test-takers?
But first, here is a quick overview of the changes:
- The GMAT exam will now be 3.5 hours instead of 4 hours, including breaks and instructions.
- The 4 sections (IR, AWA, Verbal & Quant) remain the same.
- The section selection order continues to be there.
- The GMAT quant questions have been reduced from 37 to 31 and the time allocated to the Quant section been reduced from 75 minutes to 62 minutes. You get 2 minutes per question.
- The GMAT verbal questions have been reduced from 41 to 36 and the time allocated has been reduced from 75 minutes to 65 minutes. In terms of the timing, you still have the same 108 seconds per question.
In total, you have barely 127 minutes to complete both sections, Quant as well as Verbal, while you would’ve had 150 minutes for the same earlier.
1. Why has GMAC made this change?
You probably already know that the old GMAT Verbal section had 11 experimental questions out of a total of 41 questions. In the new GMAT test pattern, the verbal section only has 6 experimental questions instead of 11.
Similarly, in the GMAT Quant section, the number of experimental questions has been reduced from 9 to 3.
So, the total number of questions that are counted in the calculation of your actual GMAT score remains the same. The only actual change is in the total number of questions you have to answer, including the experimental questions.
We think there could be a couple of reasons behind the reduction of experimental questions in the GMAT:
- Reduced Attention Span of Test Takers
The GMAT is a rigorous and mentally taxing test. A lot of test-takers find it very hard to maintain consistent levels of attention throughout the test.
The average attention span of younger generations is also consistently dropping, which essentially means that even the smartest minds taking the GMAT are likely to get fatigued faster. A fatigued mind is unlikely to perform at its best.
So, we believe that the GMAC may have decided to reduce the number of questions and the time taken to complete the test in an attempt to help test-takers fight mental fatigue and to do their best.
If you compare the GMAT test pattern to the GRE test pattern, the time taken per section is the most obvious difference that stands out.
You would take 30-35 minutes to solve each section on the GRE. So, even though there are more sections on the GRE, you can keep the fatigue at bay by taking breaks between sections. On the GMAT, however, you only have two sections which took 70-75 minutes earlier but will take 60-65 minutes due to this GMAT test pattern change.
- Better calibration of GMAT algorithm
The GMAC has been conducting the GMAT for many years now, which means they must have HUGE data sets regarding solving patterns.
The point of experimental questions is to identify where the test-taker stands and to determine the difficulty level of the questions that come after experimental questions. Since the GMAC already has a large amount of data that can help the algorithm figure out the test-taker’s aptitude, there’s a chance that they no longer need to have so many experimental questions.
This basically means that the GMAT scoring algorithm has also gotten smarter, and hence, requires fewer experimental questions than before.
2. What types of questions have reduced in the new GMAT test pattern?
As mentioned before, the total number of questions on each section of the GMAT will be reduced according to the new pattern in both the Quant as well as Verbal sections.
Even though the number of experimental questions will be reduced, in the Quant section, the ratio of problem-solving and data sufficiency questions would probably still be equal.
In the GMAT Verbal section, we believe the total of 36 questions is going to be there will be a split of 12 questions in sentence correction, 12 in critical reasoning and 12 in reading comprehension.
Instead of conventional 4 Reading comprehension passages, you’re probably going to get three reading comprehension passages. Which is one lesser RC passage to read!
3. What is the best time strategy to use on the new GMAT test pattern?
Well for Quant, instead if trying to manage the whole 62 minutes,
Try to break it into 4 parts:
So allocate 17 minutes for the first part and the subsequent 15 minutes each for the next 3 parts.
So basically you should be looking at solving 7 questions in the first 17 minutes and solve 8 questions each in the subsequent 15 minutes chunk.
Now for verbal, they way we suggest you split is 17 minutes for the first quarter, 16 minutes for the second, 16 minutes for the third and 16 minutes for the fourth
In the each of these quarters we recommend you solve at least nine questions each.
So 9 +9 + 9 + 9 = 36 questions & you are done with Verbal.
If you see the strategy is based on you spending slightly more time in the first quarter. Just because we feel that when you’re starting your test – there is going to be a little bit of inertia.
This strategy will give you that extra one or two minutes initially as opposed to the second, third and fourth quarter.
4. Should you change your prep strategy for the new GMAT test pattern?
There isn’t any change in the GMAT question format or content.
The only change is that the section time and the number of questions have been reduced proportionally while the average time per question still remains the same.
So there wouldn’t really be a need to make any specific changes to your GMAT test preparation strategy as exam content, average time per question, and scoring methodology remains the same.
5. Is the change in GMAT format good or bad for test-takers?
This is great news because now you don’t need to spend 75 minutes in verbal and 75 minutes in Quant.
There is a reduction.
Anyone who has taken the full-length test will know that your actual concentration starts dropping somewhere after the first hour.
So if the test itself is going to be of one hour.
Then you don’t really have to be worried about that part. So this is definitely good news for GMAT test takers.
If you have any questions then do let us know in the comment section.
ESR – The acronym ESR stands for ‘Enhanced Score Report’. The ESR is a report which gives an in-depth analysis of a test taker’s performance on the GMAT. However, the ESR is not an alternative to the official score which a student receives on completion of the test. It can be used in conjunction with the official score report to obtain valuable insights into the performance of the aspirant.
The ESR is not generated automatically, like the official score report. A student has to subscribe for the ESR separately, by paying a prescribed fee, which is not included in the GMAT examination fee.
A student who wishes to subscribe to the ESR can do so by paying an additional fee of $30, over and above the $250 which he/she would have paid for taking up the GMAT.
In monetary terms, we feel that this is slightly unfair on the student who has already paid a substantial amount to take up the GMAT; we feel that the ESR should have been made a part of the official score report, so that the student could reap the benefits of the test fee that he/she has paid. However, since this is something which is neither under your control not ours, let us focus on the more important question which is –
Should you take the GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR)?
The answer is – YES.
Effective June 2018, GMAC has brought in some changes into the ESR report, which will let you extract more data than ever before, on your performance in the GMAT. Therefore, it is worth paying the additional $30 for the ESR, since it allows you to extract a lot of useful information about your performance in the GMAT, both at the macro and micro levels.
For someone who was not satisfied with his/her performance in the GMAT and wants to better it by taking the test again, the new ESR is just what the doctor ordered.
The ESR is now more informative than ever and interpreting it in detail will provide you answers to most of your questions on your performance, which otherwise would be mere surmises/predictions.
How to Interpret & analyze a GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR)
Let us look at the different parameters about which the ESR can provide you information:
1. Overall score and percentile
2. Time management – overall
3. Section wise scores
b. Time management
c. Difficulty level
d. Sub section scores
1. Overall Score and percentile:
This parameter measures your performance in terms of your final score and the relevant percentiles, which you obtained in the four sections viz., IR, QA, VA and AWA. Essentially, the difference between the ESR and the official score report is that, the official score report only provides your scores in the VA and the QA sections.
The overall score of 650, corresponds to the 73rd percentile, which means that this student has scored more than 73 percent of the students who have taken the GMAT, in the past 3 years. Similarly, the IR score of 6 corresponds to the 70th percentile, the Verbal score of 31 corresponds to the 61st percentile and the Quant score of 48 corresponds to the 67th percentile.
To give you a perspective, an overall score between 740 to 750 corresponds to the 99th percentile; a score of 51 in Verbal corresponds to the 99th percentile and a score of 51 in Quant corresponds to the 97th percentile.
2. Time Management – Overall:
This statistic talks about, the mean time per question, taken by the student to answer questions in the respective sections.
For example, the sample ESR under consideration tells us that the student took
- an average of 2 minutes 43 seconds to answer a question in the IR section;
- an average of 1 minute 48 seconds in the Verbal section;
- and an average of 1 minute 57 seconds in the Quant section.
This should not be mistaken to be the time taken by the student to answer every question, since the data talks about the AVERAGE time per question.
To offer a perspective, the average time per question in the different sections of the GMAT is as follows:
- An average of 2 minutes 30 seconds per question in the IR section
- An average of 1 minute 48 seconds per question in the Verbal section
- An average of 2 minutes per question in the Verbal section
On comparing the ESR and the ideal times, it may be observed very clearly that the time management could have been better in the IR and the quant sections.
3. Section Wise Performance:
Here, the student can view his performance in the individual sections and perform a granular analysis of his performance, which will in turn help him/her to improve on his/her weak areas (this is especially relevant for aspirants who want to re-take the test in a shorter timeframe.)
Let us have a look at the scores from the IR section:
The IR section has a total of 12 questions which have to be answered in 30 minutes. Out of the 12 questions, some are experimental questions.
From the above statistic, we can do some quick calculations and arrive at the breakup of the experimental and the non-experimental questions.
The percentage 67 percent can be applied only on numbers which are multiples of 3, because, 67% represents (2/3). Therefore, out of 12 questions, either 3 or 6 or 9 can be experimental questions. Since the score of the student is 6 and he has not answered all of his questions correct, we can conclude that the total number of non-experimental questions are 9 in number. Therefore, there were 3 experimental questions out of 12, in the IR section.
From this statistic, the student has clearly spent almost half a minute more on all the questions which he/she has answered incorrectly. This has done two things:
- It has increased the average time taken per question by almost quarter of a minute (~ 15 seconds)
- Had the student managed this time to improve his/her accuracy, he/she would have almost the same time for the last few questions which would have had a positive impact on the accuracy.
The new ESR provides lot more information than ever before, about the performance of the student in the Verbal and Quant sections. This is the strongest reason why we recommend the investment on the ESR, especially for test takers who are bordering on the 700 range and want to improve their scores in their next attempt.
Let us have a look at a sample and put together, the pieces of the puzzle:
The student’s score of 31 corresponds to the 61st percentile which means that the student has fared better than 61 percent of the people who took up the GMAT in the last 3 years.
The GMAT is a computer adaptive test – this means that the computer continuously adapts to your level of competence and delivers questions which will test you appropriately. Hence, the difficulty level of a particular question depends on how many questions the student has answered right till that point, and not only on the previous question.
Therefore, answering the first few questions right, sets the tone for you to achieve a higher plateau for your scores. But, unfortunately, the contrary is also true. If you answer your first set of questions wrong, then you are pulling your score down.
In the above statistic, it is very clear that the student has a higher proportion of wrong answers in the first quarter and hence his overall score has never risen up to where it could have been, if it was the other way round.
Now, this is one statistic that is going to give you a lot of insights into the Verbal section. First, let us try to understand the total number of non-experimental questions:
In the first quarter, the student has answered 25% of the questions incorrect. 25% is represented by ¼. Hence, the total number of questions on which this percentage can be applied has to be a multiple of 4 i.e. 4 or 8 or 12 and so on.
The Verbal section has 36 questions. As the graph itself says, each section in the graph represents approximately one quarter of the questions which means to say that each section represents 9 questions.
So, the number of non-experimental questions in this quarter is 8.
The percentage value of 43% is represented by 3/7. Hence, the number of non-experimental questions in the second section should have been 7. 29% represents 2/7, so the number of non-experimental questions should have been 7. In the fourth section, 50% represents ½; so the number on which the 50% can be applied should be an even number and naturally, it should be 8 non-experimental questions in the last section.
When we compare the current breakup of experimental and non-experimental questions in the GMAT, with the previous version, the comparison looks like the one shown below:
So, we can summarise that a total of 5 experimental questions have been taken off the test and also that there has been no change in the number of non-experimental questions.
A careful observation of the above statistic reveals the fact that the accuracy rate has been severely compromised in the last section, because the student has rushed through the questions, probably in an effort to complete in time or has just panicked.
The student has consistently maintained an average time of around 1 minute 45 seconds in all the other sections except CR, where he/she has taken almost 15 seconds more. This points towards a situation where the student was probably over-analysing the questions, especially given the nature of the topic.
What are the newest features of the new GMAT Enhanced Score Report?
This is a new feature which has been added to the ESR to let the student identify his rankings, if he/she were to be ranked solely based on the sub-sections. Comparing the performance of the student and the respective times taken by the student per question in the sub-sections, it is a fairly straight-forward conclusion that Critical Reasoning is a problem area for the student, where a drastic improvement is needed.
This is another new feature that has been introduced – measurement of performance in the three fundamental areas on which the GMAT tests a student – CR, RC and SC. Again, clearly, the student has not given his/her best performance in the CR section, with the best strike rate being 50%.
In addition, this statistic also tells us about how the student performed in the different subsections under each fundamental skill, which is exactly what a student looks forward to, from a report of this caliber – agreed, this feature could have been introduced much earlier so that more students could have benefitted from it, but, as they say, ‘Better late than never’.
In the quant section, the ESR provides data about the overall performance in the section and also based on fundamental skills like Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry etc., similar to the Verbal section.
The above score of 48 corresponds to the 67th percentile and hence this student has scored more than 67 percent of the students who have taken the test. It is pertinent to note, here, that the Quant section is quite demanding in terms of accuracy; this is to say that a decrease of even 1 point in the score brings your percentile down by several points.
Similar to the performance of this student in the Verbal section, the first and the second quarters show a trend where the student has answered more questions incorrect and hence this has had an impact on where his score settles down at. We can also observe that, in the third quarter, the student has made some amends by improving his accuracy, as can be seen in the following statistic.
We can do a similar analysis of the number of non-experimental questions in each quarter of the Quant section. By now, you will be familiar with the interpretation of the percentage values and using them to calculate the number of questions on which the said percentage is applied.
In all the four quarters, the percentages represent a fraction with a denominator of 7. Hence, the number of non-experimental questions in all the four quarters is 7. The total number of questions in the GMAT, as per the revised pattern, has reduced from 37 to 31. These 31 questions can be broken up into approximately four equal quarters in the following way:
Hence, except the last quarter, we can see that there was one experimental question in each of the other quarters. So the reduction in the number of question in the entire section has happened by way of reduction in the number of experimental questions from 9 to 3.
A comparison of the breakup of the experimental and non-experimental questions in the present format and the superseded format is as shown below:
Analyzing the time management chart in conjunction with the one on accuracy, although the student has improved his/her accuracy in the second quarter, it has come at a cost since he/she has taken almost 3/4th of a minute more than the allotted 2 minutes per question. This has had a cascading effect on the time management in the subsequent quarters, where the student has probably realized his/her folly and tried to compensate. But, in doing so, he/she probably overdid it and has rushed through the last quarter, which has resulted in reduced accuracy, as discussed earlier.
This is an additional statistic that the new ESR provides which gives information about the mean time taken to solve a question, based on the different fundamental skills. Looking at the sample data, the student has taken marginally more time per question in the Algebra and geometry questions, which if they were more in number, could have affected the time management in that segment of the test.
The above statistic corroborates the conclusion that we drew from the sub-section timing statistic – the student has fared relatively well in Arithmetic, compared to Algebra which is reflected in the increased average time per question in Algebra. We can draw a similar inference on the performance of the student in the Data Sufficiency section, although, in this case, the increased time per question has translated to a better accuracy rate.
This is probably the most important piece of information, for someone who wants to identify grey areas in his/her performance and improve on them. Geometry and Algebra are clearly the areas where this student has to make rapid improvements if he/she wants to improve his/her score in quant and therefore, his/her overall score.
ESR for canceled GMAT score:
If you have reached this point in the Blog, it can mean two things – you are someone who really wanted to know whether it is worthwhile or not to invest on the ESR, which is something that should be relatively clear by now; or you are someone who is wondering if this blog also has information on whether an ESR is available for a test which was canceled by the aspirant.
If a test taker cancels his/her GMAT score, he/she can still use the same ESR authentication code to access his/her ESR. However, this will not be possible if his/her scores were revoked due to a policy violation.
Note that, there have been cases where the ESR authentication code was received by the test taker after 2 or 3 days (sometimes even more) from the test date. In case this does not happen on its own, a mail can be sent to GMAC following which the activation of the ESR authentication code should happen.
We hope that this clarifies the slight confusion which may have prevailed on this particular topic.
CrackVerbal Tip on time management in the Verbal and the Quant sections:
The time allotted for the Verbal section is 65 minutes. We recommend the following strategy to maximize your right answers, whilst not compromising on the timing:
|45 minutes left||10 questions completed|
|27 minutes left||20 questions completed|
|9 minutes left||30 questions completed|
|End of allotted time||36 questions completed|
Coming to the strategy for the Quant section, we recommend that you follow the following:
|45 minutes left||8 questions completed|
|27 minutes left||17 questions completed|
|9 minutes left||26 questions completed|
|End of allotted time||31 questions completed|
The Way Ahead:
The revised ESR report, in keeping with the revised GMAT, has become more student-friendly and allows you more elbow space to fine-tune your strategies, especially if you are planning to take the GMAT again.
Although it costs you an additional $30, we feel that it is still worth the money you pay for it, since it pays you back in terms of providing you with all the information you require to better your efforts. Additionally, if you are thinking of getting your ESR analysed by a mentor, it provides the mentor with enough inputs to be able to guide you towards your goal of a great score on the GMAT.
The big news is that on 15th June, 2017, GMAC announced the GMAT Select Section Order, wherein GMAT takers can choose the order of the sections that they attempt. This means that now a test taker can actually start the GMAT from the Verbal section!
If you have taken the GMAT or have been preparing for it, you know that this is a huge deal. Taking the GMAT is a lot about conserving your mental energy towards the end, especially while doing reading comprehension passages.
On 15th June, 2017, GMAC announced that GMAT takers can choose the order of the sections that they attempt.
If you are confused about what the GMAT Select section order means to *your* GMAT scores OR if you are wondering whether you should retake the GMAT, you have come to the right place!
In this article, we are going to deconstruct the GMAT Select Section Order so you know exactly what to do.
Let’s get started:
What is the GMAT Select Section Order?
GMAC has made an announcement on its official website.
Starting 11th July, 2017, GMAT is going to give you three options:
Option 1: The same structure as before
1. Analytical Writing Assessment
2. Integrated Reasoning
Option 2: Verbal section first
3. Integrated Reasoning
4. Analytical Writing Assessment
Option 3: Quant section first
3. Integrated Reasoning
4. Analytical Writing Assessment
You just need to walk into the GMAT center and start the test by picking the order you want.
There is no need for you to select the options beforehand. You just need to walk into the GMAT center and start the test by picking the order you want. If you have already scheduled the test, you do not need to do anything different now! Just go and do the exam in the preferred section order!
Here are a few quick facts about the new change that will help you understand it better:
1) Students must make this choice in 2 minutes. Otherwise, the test begins using the current default structure.
2) Students will not be shown the “Profile Update” screen after they have taken the test. Rather, they are presented their unofficial scores immediately after the test. The Profile Updates can be done anytime before or after the test from mba.com
3) The official score reports do not display order of test taking to the colleges.
4) The GMATPrep and ExamPack update (official tests available on mba.com) is scheduled for 31st July and our existing licenses will be valid. The update will not contain content updates. It will just be a UI overhaul with the new selection style offered.
I have done a quick analysis of the GMAT Select Section Order in this video:
Would the GMAT Select Section Order affect my GMAT scores?
A huge YES! And in a positive way.
Here’s what GMAC had to say about it, officially:
“Our pilot findings concluded that taking the exam in different section orders continues to maintain the quality and integrity of the GMAT scores.”
– Ashok Sarathy, vice president, Product Management, GMAC.
The problem with their analysis (and we pointed it out to GMAC when the study was shared with us) is that they used a computer simulation to see the probability of a student answering a question correctly or incorrectly.
The problem with computer simulation is that it discounts how GMAT students really feel when they take the test. It doesn’t take into consideration the stress of the exam. It doesn’t take into account how tired a student actually feels by the end of it all.
A lot of GMAT is about conserving your mental energy, especially when it comes to the Verbal section. The reason why many students end up running into time management issues is that they take way too much time as the processing power of our brain significantly reduces after the first few hours of the test. (There is a term for this, it is called “decision fatigue”).
Here is what we had to say about the topic.
Now, with Verbal as the first section, you can actually push your scores by a few raw scores at least. This means a huge difference to your overall score.
The reason why many students end up running into time management issues is because they take way too much time as the processing power of our brain significantly reduces after the first few hours of the test.
If you are scoring in the lower 30s in Verbal, with a constant Quant score (say 49) you will end up with the following splits:
Q49 V32 -> 640
Q49 V36 -> 700
Q49 V40 -> 730
Even during the earlier “trial” that was conducted by GMAC, we saw several of our students at CrackVerbal scoring higher (than their practice test scores) on the Verbal section because of the shift in the order (needless to say, they picked Verbal as the first section).
Hence, if you have not taken the GMAT yet, the GMAT Select Section order might mean that you could actually do a lot better than you would have before this change.
Should I reschedule my GMAT dates given this new GMAT Select Section Order?
If you think you need more time to process this change, OR if you think you would do better with Verbal as the first section (or Quant for that matter), and think you need more practice with this change in order, you should reschedule the dates. At this point, rescheduling itself is rather easy!
CrackVerbal’s advice to you is to consider starting your exam with either Verbal or Quant. Which of the two sections you should start with depends on your confidence in the Quant section.
GMAC has announced that you can simply call GMAC Customer Service to reschedule your exam. If your request is received within seven days of the announcement, both your reschedule fee and phone fee of USD 10 will be waived. Given that GMAC made the announcement on June 15, you have until June 22 to reschedule without incurring any expenditure.
CrackVerbal’s advice to you is to consider starting your exam with either Verbal or Quant. Which of the two sections you should start with depends on your confidence in the Quant section. If you think starting with Quant can give you an edge, pick Option 3. Otherwise, stick to Option 2.
Should I retake the GMAT with the GMAT Select Section Order?
Here are three scenarios in which you should consider retaking the GMAT:
Case 1: You did not do as well as you could have done in Verbal
If you did not do well and you think the reason is that you could not focus well on the Verbal section, you should definitely consider retaking the GMAT.
As mentioned earlier, even a slight increase in your Verbal scores can make a huge difference to your overall GMAT scores. A USD 250 investment for such an improvement is well worth it.
Case 2: You did not do well in the test because of stress or fatigue
If you are not a great test taker because you get very stressed about the test, especially Verbal, or you lose all your mental energy during the Verbal section (especially reading comprehension), you should definitely retake the GMAT.
You just need to make sure that you re-strategize the way you approach the GMAT. If you get a higher GMAT score, you can “wipe the slate clean” by canceling your previous scores.
Case 3: You did reasonably well but feel you can do better with the revision
If you think you can improve your GMAT scores by even 30-40 points because of the new GMAT Select Section order, retaking the test would certainly be worth it, especially if you belong to the demographically disadvantaged background, such as Indian – IT – Male.
This is especially true if you are a reapplicant, and feel you could improve your chances with a better GMAT score.
Will the GMAT Select Section Order affect B-School applications in 2017-18?
For the current admissions season, i.e., class starting Fall 2018, expect the average GMAT scores for most top schools to increase significantly.
In recent years, the average GMAT scores at top schools have been shooting through the roof. For example, Stanford has its latest average GMAT score at an obscenely high 737!
By making such changes, GMAT has made it a lot easier for Indians and the Chinese – India and China are the two other countries in the top three test taking countries, apart from the US. Asian countries have stellar GMAT Quant scores but suffer in the Verbal section.
For the current admissions season, i.e., class starting Fall 2018, expect the average GMAT scores for most top schools to increase significantly.
Here is how Indians and Chinese do on the GMAT Quant section (compared to Americans):
Here is how they compare against the Americans in the Verbal section:
You can expect the graph to change considerably because Indians and Chinese will start performing better in the Verbal section.
It would come as no surprise if schools such as Stanford and Harvard breach the 740-mark (corresponding to the 97th percentile currently), as their average GMAT score.
Closer home, this would affect the overall GMAT scores at ISB and the IIMs. If their average GMAT cutoff was around 700, expect it to go up as well.
You can expect the graph to change considerably because Indians and Chinese will start performing better in the Verbal section.
Of course, if you have a great profile, you can sneak in with a slightly lower than average GMAT score for that school. However, if you do not want to take a risk, as an Indian applicant, you need to score at least 30-40 points above the average GMAT score for that school.
Why is the GMAT introducing the Select Section Order?
This is actually consistent with a lot of changes that GMAT has been doing over the last year, especially after Sangeet Chowfla took over as the CEO of GMAC.
Over the last several years, GMAT has been trying to fight a battle with GRE over the MBA admissions turf. The GMAT was traditionally used for MBA programs and GRE was used for MS programs only. However, this changed in 2016 when ETS lost the GMAT contract. So ETS decided to approach B-Schools to use GRE as an eligibility criterion for MBA programs!
Though GRE is still a long way away (9 out of 10 applicants to MBA programs use the GMAT over GRE), GMAC doesn’t want to take the risk. It wants to make the GMAT as convenient as possible. There should be absolutely NO reason for you NOT to take the GMAT.
Over the last several years, GMAT has been trying to fight a battle with GRE over the MBA admissions turf.
Another reason is GMAT stands to make a lot of money if students end up retaking the test, or just if more people take the GMAT because it has become “easier”. However, “easier” is a relative term because if the test becomes easier for everyone, people will start scoring higher, making it a level playing field.)
Here are some of the other changes that have been introduced in the last few years:
March 2016: You can reinstate your GMAT score even if you canceled it earlier.
March 2016: You can now cancel your GMAT scores online after you leave the test center.
July 2015: You can take the GMAT within 16 days of your previous attempt (as opposed to the earlier 31 days period.)
July 2015: You can choose not to report your canceled scores to schools.
January 2015: You can get an in-depth analysis of your GMAT performance by accessing the GMAT Enhanced Score Report (ESR.)
July 2014: You can preview your unofficial scores before deciding whether to report or cancel them.
If you are looking at a common thread among these changes, it is this: most of the “facilities” cost you money, or encourage you to use a “facility” that will cost you money.
We will keep updating this article when we get more information about the Select Section Order change. Meanwhile, we would love for you to share this article with other GMAT test takers who might benefit from the article.
Please feel free to comment below if you want to share your thoughts on the matter, or if you want to learn more. We respond to all questions.
So you have around 10 years of experience but do not have enough time to prepare for the GMAT. Fret not! GMAT has launched Executive Assessment for seasoned professionals like you in 2016. The Executive Assessment is a shorter version of the GMAT – a mini GMAT if you like. The test duration is 90 minutes and it tests you on the same sections as the GMAT does. However, the test does not have an AWA section. Let us take a look at how the exam is structured
Okay, cool. What else do you need to know?
- You do not have an essay/AWA section on the Executive Assessment.
- You do not have breaks between the sections. It is a 90-minute-long race from the beginning to the end.
- The Integrated Reasoning Section score counts towards your final score!
- The ordering of the sections is different – Integrated Reasoning, Verbal, and then Quantitative.
- You have to cough up more money to register for the exam than you would if you take the GMAT. The registration fee is $350 plus taxes.
- The test can be rescheduled for free and can be rescheduled any number of times.
- You cannot attempt the Executive Assessment more than twice.
- You can retake the exam within 24 hours.
- The test is not computer adaptive like the GMAT. Questions are released in groups based on how you perform on the previous group of questions.
Here is a table summarizing the differences between the GMAT and the Executive Assessment
Okay… So, which colleges accept the Executive Assessment?
Not many. So far 7 schools have signed up. Among them are Chicago Booth, Columbia Business School, Darden, LBS, INSEAD, Hong Kong Business School and CEIBS.
The program is currently in the beta-testing phase and you can expect many more schools to sign on to this in the coming months.
Note that CEIBS indicates a preference for Executive Assessment over other standardized tests.
Where is the test delivered?
You can check the testing locations in your city here – http://www.pearsonvue.com/gmacassessments/sa/
If you are from Bangalore, the test can be scheduled either at Koramangala or at Dickenson Road Center.
Note that you need your Passport to take the test.
What about Rescheduling and Cancellations?
You can reschedule your test as many times as necessary up to 24 hours before the scheduled appointment. This can be done free of cost. However, reschedules are not allowed less than 24 hours before your scheduled assessment. If you need to reschedule less than 24 hours before your scheduled assessment, you will forfeit your assessment fee and will need to schedule and pay for a new assessment. You may cancel your assessment (without rescheduling) up to 24 hours prior to your scheduled appointment. You will be refunded USD $250 out of the $350 that you paid while registering for the test. Cancellations are not allowed less than 24 hours before your scheduled assessment. If you need to cancel less than 24 hours before your scheduled assessment, you will forfeit your assessment fee.
Note that you cannot cancel your results.
What about the Sections on the test? How different are they from the GMAT?
Well, let us talk about each section
1. Integrated Reasoning
This section is very much the same as that on the GMAT. You need to answer 12 questions in 30 minutes. You may get any of these four question types.
Table Analysis, and Two-part Analysis.
Integrated Reasoning is much more important on this exam than on the GMAT.
This section score actually goes into your final score. You are allowed to use the on-screen calculator in this section. You won’t be provided this facility on any other section.
2. Verbal Section
You need to answer 14 questions in 30 minutes. Hence, timing is more generous on the EA than on the GMAT. You get to spend around 128 seconds, on average, per question, compared to 109 seconds on the GMAT.
3. Sentence Correction
Sentence Correction topics seem to encompass the same range as the questions from GMAT. You can probably ignore the Advanced topics section of our course.
4. Critical Reasoning
Critical Reasoning is also consistent with official GMAT questions. You should focus more on the standard types of questions such as Find the Assumption, Strengthen, Weaken, and Inference.
5. Reading Comprehension
Reading Comprehension section differs somewhat from the GMAT. Some passages might come only with one question. (Typically, on the GMAT, you expect to see 3-4 questions per passage). Some passages (around 130 words) are noticeably shorter than the typical GMAT passage.
6. Quantitative Section
You need to answer 14 questions in 30 minutes. The time allocated per question here is pretty much the same as on the GMAT. You will get pretty much the same type of questions – on Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency.
What else do I need to know about the sections?
The Executive Assessment comprises five modules
- Integrated Reasoning – 12 questions
- Verbal Reasoning 1 – 7 questions
- Verbal Reasoning 2 – 7 questions
- Quantitative Reasoning 1 – 7 questions
- Quantitative Reasoning 2 – 7 questions.
At the end of each of the five modules, you will be presented with a review screen that will provide an opportunity for you to review and change your responses or return to any questions you may have skipped.
Note that you can only review and change responses within a given module. Once you have moved onto the next module, the question responses on the previous module can’t be changed.
What about Program Selections?
When you create an account to register for the exam, you will be asked to select the program(s) that should receive your assessment results. You may select as many programs as you’d like, and you may change the program selections prior to taking the assessment. Once you have taken the assessment, only new schools can be selected to receive your results. If you retake/register for a second assessment, you may change your school selections.
How should you study?
GMAT suggests that you can take the EA with a minimal amount of preparation. Preparation for this test should take you around a month. Focus more on the fundamentals and standard types of questions. All the Best! I hope this article helped you in understanding – how the Executive Assessment is different from the GMAT. If you loved the blog, please let us know in the comments!
GMAC has announced several changes in the GMAT Exam policies to enhance test taking experience. Don’t worry! We will summarize all the changes in the GMAT over the last year in this article to help you understand the changes and strategize better.
Change 1 – Policy on Retaking the test
Well, there’s some good news and there’s some bad news. Let us start with the good news. If you are not satisfied with your test scores, you can retake the test after a 16-day time period (versus the earlier 31-day retake period). This is particularly good if your college application deadlines are right around the corner.
Note that you can only take 5 GMAT exams within a twelve-month period.
Then, there’s the bad news. GMAC has introduced a lifetime limit of 8 GMAT exams per candidate. This number is still very high for almost all GMAT aspirants. Moreover, if you cannot get it right within 8 exams, you will probably never get it right.
TIP – Plan your exams well. You don’t want to be that person who has wasted many attempts because she was either sick or ill prepared or because she did not carry her passport.
Change 2 – Cancellation Policy
Mostly good news here.
- You can cancel your scores immediately (you are allowed to view your scores after the exam) at the test center if you are not satisfied with your performance. Cancelling your scores at the exam center is free.
Here is some more good news –
The “C” that represents a candidate’s cancelled scores will not be shown on any future GMAT score reports. This feature will be applied retroactively to all previously cancelled test scores, which will be removed from all future score reports that are sent to schools.
Your cancelled scores will not be sent to any colleges that you apply.
- If you cannot make a decision about cancelling your scores at the test center, you have the flexibility to cancel the score within 72-hours of the test.
But they say, all good things come at a cost. You have to shell out 25$ should you decide to cancel your test scores after you have left the test center.
Here is the bad thing – you only get 72 hours to decide whether you want your GMAT scores to be cancelled.
- You can reinstate your cancelled scores for a period up to 4 years and 11 months after the exam date.
After your GMAT score is reinstated, a score report will automatically be sent to the schools you selected on the day of your exam. Cancelled scores will not appear on any GMAT score report sent to schools
You will have to cough up 50$ for reinstating your cancelled scores.
Here is a table for your quick reference –
|Cancellation at the test Center||No charge|
|Cancellation after 72 hours||$25|
|Cancellation after 72 hours||Not possible|
|Reinstate your cancelled score||$50; No extra charge for resending your scores to colleges|
Note that you will still see a “C” on your GMAT score card to ensure an accurate record of your GMAT test taking history. However, cancelled scores will not be displayed on the version of score reports sent to schools.
Also, note that if you have taken the GMAT prior to Jul 19, 2015, you are out of luck. GMAC cannot remove the “C” designation in school databases from score reports sent to schools prior to July 19, 2015.
TIP – Decide which schools you want to apply and what would be a considered a “safe score” to apply to those colleges before you appear for your test.
Change 3 – Authentication code is now the same as your Date of Birth
You can now access your official score report on the link provided to you by using your Date of Birth as authentication code.
Change 4 – Exam pack 2 with two additional tests has been released
So what are you waiting for? Book your slot at CrackVerbal’s Infantry Road Centre or Koramangala Centre to take one of the official GMATPrep tests.
We provide all our students with free access to all the six official GMAT tests.
TIP – If you are like me and love to solve challenging questions, you can customize your GMATPrep experience using this screen –
Open GMATPrep Software >> Click on Practice >> Click on More Options
Change 5 – AWA re-scoring service
If you are not satisfied with the score you got on the AWA section, you can request for your essay to be reevaluated for 45 $.
Note that the request for rescoring must be made within six months of your exam date. Also, you rescored results are final and you cannot submit more than one request for reevaluation of your AWA section.
You should get your results typically within 20 days of submission.
Be Careful! – Rescoring may result in an increase or decrease in your original AWA score.
In the next blog, we will take a detailed look at an ESR report and the exciting changes GMAT has implemented.
I hope this article helped you in understanding – how to tackle the changes in the GMAT and shine through.
If you loved the blog, please let us know in the comments!
Firstly, let us define what we mean by “tougher” or “easier”. For the sake of simplicity, let us consider a particular test of 100 marks. Previously, 80% of the students scored above 50 marks but now only 70% of the students score above 50 marks. Would you say the test is now tougher?
How does this compare with the GMAT, you might ask? 🙂
Well, here is what someone who took the GMAT in August 2011 could have seen on his screen
GMAT Score: 730 (96th%ile)
Quant: 50 (92nd %ile)
Verbal: 38 (83rd %ile)
Here is what someone taking the GMAT in August 2013 (i.e. now) sees on his score report:
GMAT Score: 730 (96th %ile)
Quant: 50 (89th %ile)
Verbal: 38 (84th %ile)
So, what do you think has happened here? The Quant percentiles are going down and Verbal percentiles are going up i.e. for the same raw score you would have got a higher percentile in 2011 than in 2013.
Let us look at the published data from www.mba.com on the percentile charts.
In 2011, this is how the percentile charts looked:
Today if you go here, this is how the percentile charts look:
What does this mean?
This means that TECHNICALLY speaking, more people are scoring higher in Quant than a few years ago, and fewer people are scoring as high in Verbal now than a few years ago.
Please note that these percentiles have been calculated for the student population across the last 3 years. With over 750,000 people taking it worldwide during this period, it is statistically difficult for this data to be corrupted by any single phenomenon.
Why did this happen?
There are 3 reasons why this can happen:
1) The GMAT is getting tougher in Verbal and easier in Quant. So you have relatively easier questions giving you a higher score in Verbal while the opposite is happening in Quant.
However, this is NOT true. GMAC clearly says that it is as difficult for you to score a 51 in Quant as it was 5 years ago. The correspondence between “what it takes” and the “raw scores” has not really changed. Remember that only the percentiles have changed for the corresponding scores. So this reason is ruled out.
2) Test-takers are getting better at Verbal than at Quant thanks to the plethora of available material on the Internet and/or the techniques taught by GMAT prep companies are getting better.
Again, this looks tempting, but if you look at it closely then there is no major change in the approach to questions – I mean let us not kid ourselves. There are no magic solution to scoring a 760. There never was – there never will be 🙂
3)More test-takers are coming from a strong Quant background and a relatively weaker Verbal background.
However, improbable this might seem – this is the reason! With more people taking the GMAT from India, China and Asian countries the average Quant scores are going up and Verbal scores are going down.
Here is the table from the GMAC Geographic Trend Report for 2012. Note that TY means “Testing Year” – more like “Calendar Year”.
You can see that East & Southeast Asia have shown a sharp increase from around 40,000 test-takers to almost 78,000 test-takers, while US has gone down from 126,000 to 117,000 test-takers. Enough to statistically skew the averages.
Well! That was MY interpretation.
Now you can choose the order in which you want to take up the sections before starting the test. This is a recent change to the GMAT test structure. It was introduced in July 2017. This might cause more and more test takers to perform better on the Verbal section. I have done a detailed analysis of what this means to an Indian GMAT test-taker in the this blog
I would like to know your thoughts and am happy to interact with you in the comments section below 🙂
What do you think? Leave your comments in the comments section below!
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An interesting anecdote that I read in Aamir Khan’s blog was about an incident with Sachin Tendulkar. This was when they were watching the finals of the first IPL. Since the Mumbai Indians had not qualified, Aamir was sitting next to Sachin. I reproduce in toto:
The match last night was certainly exciting but what made it a unique experience for me was that I had Sachin next to me. You will find this hard to believe but Sachin was able to predict every ball before it was bowled.
“He is going to bowl a bouncer next”,
“This one is going to be a slower one”,
“Full tilt outside the off stump”,
“Next one will be a yorker”,
“Short of length”.
It was uncanny.
HE GOT IT RIGHT EACH TIME!!! No wonder its so difficult to bowl to him. He has an amazing instinct. And he told me his logic for each prediction which I wont share with you as I don’t want to reveal how his mind works. But all of us were dumbfounded with his instinct and his acumen. So at the end of it I told him next time we watch a film together I’m going to tell him whats going to happen next!”
So you will ask what has this to do with GMAT? A simple answer – Both require a great sense of anticipation.
On the GMAT, one faces many situations where a sense of anticipation can be the deciding factor between a good and a great score. Or even a bad and a good score.
I will pick 3 situations on the GMAT where you will need to develop a sense of anticipation:
1. Choosing which questions to answer and which ones to let go.
Looking at a question if you can take a decision in about 30 seconds that it is not a question worth solving and that you should make an educated guess can go a long way in helping you manage your time well. On an average, even the people who score high on the test will end up guessing anywhere between 5-15 questions.
It is important to know which ones to guess and move on. And on which ones you should dig your feet in and spend that extra minute trying to solve them. Considering that against most fast bowlers Sachin has only 0.4 seconds to react – you certainly have a lot more time to recover!
2. In Sentence Correction, your ability to see patterns is important.
I think the biggest problem with non-native speakers is that we tend to go in with some kind of “algorithm” to solve based on the “theory” we have learned. This falls apart because the human brain learns by imitation and not by algorithm.
The moment you see a particular pattern or usage, you should try to relate it to something that you already know, question you have solved before – it is almost as if you can anticipate what could go wrong on that question.
For example spotting an “it”, “them”, “their” means there is a chance of pronoun error. Spotting an “and” means it could be an error in parallelism. Spotting a “is”, “was”, “were” could mean a subject-verb issue. Spotting a “greater”, “than”, “more” could mean an issue with comparisons.
So you need to essentially be able to look at an SC question and feel it in your bones what it is testing. (That you would still not be able to solve it is a different matter). To draw an analogy this is similar to Sachin glancing at the field placement before each ball – knowing where the “traps” are set is half the battle won.
3. In Reading Comprehension, the whole concept of “critical parsing”.
It is based on your ability to anticipate what the passage is going to say, and what kind of questions can be asked based on that.
For example the moment you read about how Theory X used to be the prevelant dogma in the 19th century, you quickly ask yourself “I’m sure they are going to say there is a new theory now” or “This is describing the theory or discussing the theory”. Remember that as with Sachin you need to do this thinking bit while keeping your eye on the ball i.e. reading the passage.
With all these tips in mind, go onto score your own century (read as 700+) on the GMAT!
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