Here are a few questions we get asked by students planning to apply to B-Schools:
“Should I take the CAT or the GMAT?”
“Is the CAT easier than the GMAT?”
“Is CAT preparation enough for GMAT?”
“What is the difference between CAT and GMAT?”
The answers to these questions are not simple enough to answer in a couple of sentences. Most times, the answer is very subjective, so you’ll need to understand some things to find out which answer applies to you. In this article, we will help you figure this out by comparing the two tests on the following criteria:
- Comparison of Syllabus, Format, and Structure
- Acceptability of CAT vs. GMAT
- Competitiveness in CAT vs. GMAT
Let’s take a look at each one in further detail.
1. Comparison of Syllabus, Structure, and Format
Since we’re comparing three distinct aspects, let us analyze each of them one at a time. To start with, here’s a comparison of the CAT syllabus vs. that of the GMAT.
There are four sections on the GMAT: Quantitative Reasoning (Quant), Verbal Reasoning (Verbal), Integrated Reasoning (IR), and Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). Of these, Quant and Verbal contribute to the composite GMAT score while IR and AWA have their own separate grades.
On the other hand, there are three sections on the CAT: Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI-LR). Unlike the sections on the GMAT, all sections contribute to your composite CAT score.
Thanks to the Select Section Order option, you choose which section appears first on the GMAT. The CAT, however, follows a pattern: you start with VARC, followed by DI-LR, and end with QA.
All the sections of the CAT have a combination of multiple choice questions and ‘Type in the Answer’, or TITA, questions. VARC and QA typically have 23-27 MCQs with 7-10 TITA questions while DI-LR has 28 MCQs and 8 TITA questions. You get +3 for all correct answers and -1 for incorrect answers on MCQs.
On the GMAT, there’s no negative marking and all the questions are MCQs.
Analytical Writing Assessment
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
No -ve marking
Composite: 200 to 800
+3 marks per correct answer
-1 marks per incorrect answer (only for MCQs)
Composite: -82 to 300
Time Per Section
AWA: 30 minutes
IR: 30 minutes
Quant: 62 minutes
Verbal: 65 minutes
QA: 60 minutes
DI-LR: 60 minutes
VARC: 60 minutes
Questions Per Section
DI-LR: 32 (16 DI, 16 LR)
VARC: 34 (24 RC, 10 VA)
While GMAT scores remain valid for five years from the date of the latest attempt, CAT scores are only valid for one year. There are no eligibility criteria that you have to meet in order to take the GMAT, but you cannot attempt the CAT unless you score at least 50% marks to earn your undergraduate degree.
The obvious similarities between the CAT and GMAT are the Quant and Verbal sections.
The GMAT Quant syllabus is significantly more detailed and varied than the CAT QA syllabus. GMAT Quant is further divided into Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry; the two types of questions are based on problem-solving and data sufficiency, respectively.
The CAT QA syllabus, on the other hand, has about 20 topics under it. These are typically studied on a topic-to-topic basis rather than being divided into distinct areas of math.
CAT QA is generally tougher than GMAT Quant.
Questions on the CAT are typically more complex. They require a significantly deeper understanding of mathematical theory. You can’t rely on techniques like elimination to arrive at the answer on the CAT due to the Type in the Answer (TITA) questions. In these questions, you have no option but to solve the question by solving it the old-fashioned way.
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 logic.
This is reflected in the Verbal section as well. The GMAT asks more usage-based questions while the CAT doesn’t delve into vocabulary and grammar. Both tests have Reading Comprehension passages, but the similarity ends there.
As for the CAT’s DI-LR section, it is comparable to Integrated Reasoning on the GMAT. DI-LR is significantly more detailed and far-reaching than IR, even in the fact that DI-LR contributes to the composite CAT score while IR isn’t counted in the composite GMAT score.
In the next section, we discuss the acceptability of both tests: GMAT vs. CAT.
2. Acceptability of CAT vs. GMAT
The greatest criterion in the CAT vs. GMAT debate is their acceptability in the world.
GMAT scores are mandatory for admission into the world’s leading B-Schools. According to the GMAC, 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. This is in addition to about 100 other institutes like ISB, Great Lakes, and SP Jain, which accept CAT as well as GMAT scores.
IIMs offer two types of business programs, primarily.
One type requires no work experience and is comparable to an MIM degree. The other type is offered only to candidates with work experience and is comparable to an MBA. While CAT scores are accepted for all programs, GMAT scores are only accepted for the programs which are comparable to MBAs.
At this point, the GMAT test is well on its way to becoming the most widely-accepted entrance test for B-Schools in India.
However, the GMAC recently bought the NMAT test designed by the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS). What impact this has on the acceptability rates for both GMAT and CAT scores remains to be seen.
3. Competitiveness Among CAT vs. GMAT-Takers
The CAT and GMAT tests are both standardized, competitive, and computer-based public exams.
What this means, in essence, is that your score on either of these tests doesn’t hold much meaning in isolation. Comparing your performance with that of your fellow test-takers is the only way to tell how well or badly you did in your attempt.
This comparison is done by using the percentile system for both the tests. Simply put, your percentile rank tells you the percentage of your fellow test-takers who scored as much as or lower than you.
We’ve already mentioned that the CAT is available only for Indian students and is acceptable only in Indian B-Schools. So, it goes without saying that the competition is extremely high.
For most IIMs, the CAT cutoff ranges from the 96th to the 99th percentile. This means you can only get in if you score higher than or equal to 96-99% of your competitors. In numbers, that means you need a score higher than 123 out of 300 on the CAT. Thanks to the negative marking system in the CAT test, scores in the 99th (arguably within the 100th) percentile average at 200.98.
Comparatively, the GMAT doesn’t have the 100th percentile. Any scores above 760 fall within the 99th percentile, which is the highest on the GMAT. The world’s best MBA programs accept scores in the 95th-96th percentile. In numbers, that score falls within the 720-730 GMAT composite score range.
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.
In comparison, the GMAT is far less given to change.
Since the GMAT test is standardized on a global level, changes to any aspect of it need to be tested and deliberated upon for months before they’re implemented. Failing this, there are chances that the test may become biased, inadvertently favoring certain people over others.
Thanks to this, changes in the syllabus, pattern, or any other parameter that may affect the difficulty level of the test are quite infrequent on the GMAT. Your GMAT percentile rank is calculated based on the scores of those who took the test within three years immediately preceding the date of your attempt.
Now, because the changes are so infrequent, GMAT scores remain valid for five years instead of one.
There’s one final factor that tips the scales of balance in favor of the GMAT. That is the fact that institutions that accept the CAT typically also stick to the government-mandated reservation system.
You have to face distinct criteria based on your social standing to be eligible to take the CAT. Then, you have to get through the reservation of seats for various quotas if you’re applying through the CAT. This makes it significantly tougher to get admissions through the CAT.
How often is the test administered?
Once a year in two slots
Can be taken any time
Maximum attempts allowed
Once every 21 days, but no more than 5 times in 12 months and no more than 8 times in total.
3 hours, no breaks
3 hours and 7 minutes excluding 2 optional breaks of 8 minutes each
Computer-based but not online
Cannot be rescheduled
Can be rescheduled for a price
Score Analysis Report
Enhanced Score Report, Available for a price
Can be done online
On the whole, if you think about it, the GMAT is a test of your personality and your management skills. The CAT, on the other hand, is based more on theory than on practical applications. Thanks to this, the CAT requires much more intensive preparation than the GMAT. If you have a full-time job, it might make it that much tougher for you to clear the CAT.
In our opinion, the GMAT is a better option any day. It opens up many more doors than the CAT. Further, it is significantly more practical in its approach. It even gives you a better chance to get an admit from the B-Schools you apply to, as well.
However, don’t let our opinion inform your decision regarding which test you should take.
If you’re better at Quantitative theory than application, the CAT may be better suited for you. Similarly, if Verbal is not your strong point, the VARC on the CAT is easier to crack than GMAT Verbal.
Carefully consider your options, weigh the pros and cons, and then take a call.
To get a better understanding of what the GMAT is really like, sign up for our free GMAT kickstarter course. The course contains 8+ hours of strategy and concept videos to get you started with your GMAT preparation!
If you’re trying to figure out how to choose sides in the seemingly never-ending debate on GMAT vs. GRE, you’ve come to the right place.
Since you’re reading this article, you must at least be considering business school as an option.
Why else would you even consider taking the GMAT, right?
In our experience, those who grapple with the question of choosing between GMAT vs. GRE are the ones who have not clearly decided which postgraduate degree to go for. The logic is simple for those who have clearly decided to pursue specific programs – if it’s a B-School program like an MBA, take the GMAT. If it’s anything else, take the GRE.
So, we assume that you want to keep your options open or at least explore what it will mean for you to pick one test over the other when it comes to GMAT vs. GRE. No matter what your questions are, we hope you’ll find the answers you’re looking for in this article.
The GRE and GMAT are both tests which you will consider taking only when you are looking to get your postgraduate degree from a reputed, international institution, whether in India or abroad. Both exams are internationally recognized and have a lot in common, so picking between the two is really not that simple.
There are five critical questions you should ask yourself when trying to choose between GMAT and GRE. Your answers to these questions will help you figure out which test will serve your purpose best. Six questions that will help you choose between GMAT and GRE are:
- What is the Difference between the GMAT and the GRE?
- Which Degree and Specialization Do You Plan to Choose?
- Which Schools Do You Plan to Apply to?
- What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
- How Much Importance Should You Give to Exam Costs?
- How Does Score Translation Work?
Further, we look into how answering each of these will help you.
1. What is the Difference between the GMAT and the GRE?
The GMAT and GRE vary on various counts but they also have many similarities in the pattern, syllabus, and the likes.
In this section, we will take a look at the ways in which the two tests differ and converge, respectively.
3 hours 7 minutes
3 hours 45 minutes
$205 (for Indian Students)
Business Schools (MBA and similar programs)
Master’s Programs and some Business School Programs
Enhanced Score Report, available for $30
Diagnostic Score Report, available free of cost
When you can take the test
*This section is not scored at all. GMAT IR and the AWA sections on both exams are scored separately but these scores are not included in your final test score.
2. Which Degree and Specialization Do You Plan to Choose?
Now, you must be aware that taking the GMAT will effectively limit your choices to B-Schools exclusively. A GMAT score won’t get you into an MS program anywhere in the world.
On the other hand, there are B-Schools that accept GRE scores even for their MBA and other hardcore-business-oriented programs. In effect, with a GRE score, you will leave both avenues open for yourself.
But you will have to be thorough in your research before you pick either option.
The thing is, many B-Schools accept the GRE on the face of things, but they have certain limitations on which specializations will accept students with GRE scores instead of GMAT. In order to avoid finding yourself in this position, you’ll need to have an idea in advance on what you plan to do next.
It’s okay to have doubts or even to be totally uncertain with respect to your area of expertise/interest. The first thing you need to do in such a situation is, figure out if your interests and expertise lie beyond the realm of B-Schools.
If they do, you’re probably better off choosing the former when it comes to GRE vs. GMAT.
However, if you’re sure that the programs you’re interested in are all offered by B-Schools, you’ll be better served by taking the GMAT.
Here’s the thing:
Both exams will eliminate a certain set of institutions for you. You just need to figure out which ones you’re okay with shutting the door on.
3. Which Schools Do You Plan to Apply to?
More B-Schools in the US and Canada are likely to be open to the GRE as compared to those across Europe and Asia.
What this means for you is that it is safer for you to go for the GRE if you’re applying to colleges in the US-Canada region. You will be eligible to apply at a significant number of B-Schools in addition to other universities if you do this.
However, if you want to apply to B-Schools in Europe and Asia, taking the GRE will eliminate most of your options.
In any case, irrespective of where you want to apply, remember that taking the GMAT will most certainly close all avenues apart from B-Schools for you.
It might be a good idea to invest some time into thinking about the specific schools and universities you want to apply to. Spend some time figuring out the preferred exams for the schools and universities you’ve chosen to apply to.
Ideally, you should have a list with a maximum of 8-10 programs that you would like to apply to, before deciding which exam you will take to get into these programs.
This helps make the decision more or less easy.
4. What are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
Another critical factor is what you’re naturally adept at between Quant and Verbal. In a GRE vs. GMAT evaluation, the first interesting point to note is that both exams have the same major sections.
There are two parts of the exams on which your final score calculation is based, in the GMAT as well as in the GRE. These sections are Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning, or Quant and Verbal. Both the exams have Quant and Verbal sections.
The biggest difference in GRE vs. GMAT is that the tougher of the two sections is Verbal on the GRE and Quant on the GMAT.
This means that if you’re great at Quant, you are likely to score better (in percentile as well as directly translated scores) on GRE Quant than on GMAT Quant. Similarly, if you’re great at Verbal, you’ll score better on GMAT Verbal than on GRE Verbal.
That’s because GRE Verbal is tougher than GRE Quant, while GMAT Verbal is easier than GMAT Quant. If you compare the two exams directly, section-on-section, GRE Verbal is tougher than GMAT Verbal, and GRE Quant is easier than GMAT Quant.
We recommend that you should go for the exam which has an easier set of the section you’re good at.
For example, let’s say Quant is your strong suit and Verbal is going to be more or less of a gamble. In this case, we recommend that you take the GRE. We’re aware that most of you would have assumed the best one to go for with a strong Quant skillset would be GMAT, but we don’t think that’s a good idea.
Here’s our logic:
It makes sense to capitalize on your strengths. But it is not a good idea to ignore your weaknesses while you do that.
Suppose, in the given example, you go for the GMAT instead. You know you’re not so good with Verbal, which means you will need to work hard to improve your verbal skills. But the GMAT is known for having a relatively tougher Quant section than the GRE, which means you’ll need to study some of that and probably spend significant amounts of time honing your Quant skills as well.
However, if you go for GRE, the exam with the easier Quant section, you can focus almost entirely on scaling up your Verbal skills. You can walk into your prep with near-certainty that you’ll score a 160+ on GRE Quant, so you won’t need to worry.
So, figure out which section you’re stronger at; it should help with this GMAT vs. GRE debate.
5. How Much Importance Should You Give to Exam Costs?
In simple terms: none.
Why one exam is cheaper or more expensive than another says literally nothing about the level of question difficulty or subject proficiency required to crack it. Of course, the GRE and GMAT are both tests you can’t fail, so by ‘crack it’, we mean get your target score.
Some of you may already know this but one GMAT attempt costs $250 while one GRE attempt costs $205 for Indian students.
Now, we’re aware that the difference between converted costs is around ₹3,100. Some of you may think an exam worth around ₹17,400 is more expensive than one worth around ₹14,300 and these are big amounts to pay for ‘just an exam’. We understand the temptation to go for the cheaper option.
But here’s the thing:
Both these exams combined will still amount to only around 3-4% of the annual expenditure on the tuition for any program abroad. Unless you enroll for non-business-based masters programs in Germany, that is. Those programs charge no tuition fees.
In any case, our point is that if you’re looking to study abroad, it is all the more reason to keep exam costs out of your mind. If you’re looking to cut corners on exam costs, you are unlikely to be able to afford what follows.
Honestly, only take these exams if you can do so without thinking much about the costs.
6. How Does Score Translation Work?
Now for the most complicated part of this article.
At the outset, let us make it clear that there is no objective way to compare GMAT and GRE scores to each other.
Since GRE and GMAT are each designed to serve distinct purposes, drawing parallels between the two is quite complex. So much so, in fact, that even Universities around the world struggle to get it figured out.
The ETS, which is the body that conducts the GRE, provides a GRE to GMAT score converter to find the indicative GMAT score equivalent to a certain GRE score. However, this is only an indicative list, meaning that each school and B-School can come up with its own list of comparative scores.
This means that the ETS may say that a GRE 325 is the same as a GMAT 700, but any B-School could say that the GRE 325 is only equal to a GMAT 670.
In short, this system of score conversions is more or less arbitrary. It is not even a matter of comparing percentiles, because even that would not be a reliable system. How much value your GRE score holds depends entirely on the credibility that the GRE has in the eyes of a given B-School. This can actually matter a lot more than you’d think.
For instance, a certain B-School that has an average GMAT score in the 600-680 range might expect a GRE score range of 318-325.
However, scores that B-Schools will consider comparable to anything below a GMAT 600 will still be close to 315 on the GRE. Scores above GMAT 680 will require your GRE score to go well over 320 or even 325.
Naturally, scoring under 310 on the GRE is kind of pointless, since the lowest B-Schools are likely to go will be about a GRE 315. So if the required GMAT score is under or near 600, you should just go after the GMAT itself. On the other end of the spectrum, scoring above 315 on the GRE will take serious effort; it’s likely to be easier for you to score a GMAT 700+ than to get a GRE 325+.
The given numbers are not fixed or specific, they are merely indicative of the latest known scenario.
Depending on the score conversion tendencies of the B-Schools you plan to apply to, it might be more practical to take the GMAT rather than taking the GRE.
For over 50 years now, the GMAT has been the gold standard for B-schools to determine a candidate’s suitability for their programs. It continues to be the most popular test for business school aspirants.
However, in the past decade, there has been an upswing in both, the number of students taking the GRE for business schools, as well as the number of B-schools accepting GRE scores instead of GMAT scores.
As a result, even though both the exams continue to maintain their standards, the GMAT and GRE are just like any two rival products in the market.
We hope this article has helped you figure out which side to pick in the GMAT vs. GRE battle.
If you’re still unsure whether your profile is suitable for B-School, check out our free profile evaluation tool!
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 2019, 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.
Learn smart ways to exploit the GMAT Scoring Algorithm and optimize your preparation!
A lot of our students have been asking us:
“How does the GMAT algorithm work? What do people mean when they say Q49 V36?”
“With the same scores in each section, why are the overall scores for my friend and I, different?”
“If the scores are ranked out of 51, how does that account for a total score of 800?”
Don’t get confused. We will make it really simple for you in this article.
We will give you an inside peek into the working of the GMAT scoring algorithm.
And to help you get a holistic perspective, we will also explain the basic functioning of a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) – the underlying logic behind how the GMAT works.
“How will understanding the GMAT algorithm help you?”, you ask?
It will definitely not magically improve your scores, but if you know how the algorithm functions, there are ways you can leverage the system to your advantage – we will talk about this later on.
We will be dividing the article into 6 sections:
A. GMAT Test Structure
The GMAT test is divided into 4 sections.
Read this article to get a breakdown of the GMAT Syllabus. And you will be glad to know that while taking the GMAT test, you can choose the order of the sections you want to begin with.
NOTE: We have updated this blog based on the announcement by GMAC on some major changes in the GMAT test timing and 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.
Now, only two sections out of the four count towards your total GMAT score – both IR and AWA don’t count (doesn’t mean you don’t prepare for it – just that it is not needed for the 3-digit score out of 800).
Which leaves us with the Quant and the Verbal sections of the GMAT – they makeup for your final GMAT score out of 800.
The following are the total computed scores for the Quant and Verbal sections:
-> Quant (31 questions) – raw score out of 51.
-> Verbal (36 questions) – raw score out of 51
These questions are designed by trained psychometricians (yes – such a profession exists) who love making things terribly complicated. What else could explain the rationale behind picking random numbers like 31, 36 and 51? 🙂
We can’t change the way the GMAT Algorithm works, but we sure can help you get an understanding of how the system functions.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the numbers you will be seeing further down in the article. We are going to peel the whole onion – layer by layer.
B. GMAT Adaptive Testing
How is the GMAT Adaptive Algorithm different from the usual tests?
The GMAT algorithm is terribly precise and does not rely on the usual linear score that we are used to.
In the linear scale, the score is computed at the END of the test by taking the number of right responses and the number of incorrect responses. So in a school exam if you answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly – you get 60%.
In the adaptive scale, the score is getting computed after EVERY question on the test. The algorithm is constantly checking where to “keep” you. Get a question correct, the algorithm will “reward” you by giving you a higher score. Get a question wrong, the same algorithm will “penalize” by dropping your score.
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. All of this from just 58 questions (why 58 and not 78 you ask? We’ll tell you why later on in the article).
The GMAT does this incredible thing because of the adaptive nature of the test.
> Understanding the Adaptive Algorithm using an example
Let’s understand the GMAT algorithm.
First GMAT will ask you an average difficulty level question.
Why average? Because we need to begin someplace and starting at the middle is the most optimized strategy.
Based on the accuracy of your response, GMAT will either reward you by bumping you up to a higher level, keep you at the same level, or demote you to a lower level.
If you get the right answer, the next question we put forth may be of the same difficulty level, or it may increase.
If you get the answer wrong, we 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 GMAT will ask further question to understand the specific score within that range.
In short, the GMAT exam adapts to your performance on every question.
It selects each question based on your answer to the previous one, and how you have been doing so far.
Let’s take an example.
If you look at the chart, 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 see on the graph, the trend lines are high or low depending upon the answer 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.
> Analysis with the Verbal section
With the understanding of the adaptive scoring engine, it’s be easier to break the example down further – showing you what my actually happen on the actual GMAT.
We will divide the GMAT Verbal scores into 4 buckets for your benefit – though the actual GMAT will have a finer calibration.
We’re going to use two hypothetical candidates – Amit and Rupa.
The GMAT scoring rules are as follows:
1. If you get < 40% of the questions right, you get demoted to a lower bucket.
2. If you get 40% to 60% of the questions right, you remain in the same bucket.
3. If you > 60% of the questions right, you get promoted to the next bucket.
Now let us say they take the first set of 6 questions, Amit gets 3 of them correct, while Rupa gets 4 of them correct. So, Amit stays in the same level while Rupa moves up.
Throughout the test, Amit consistently performs in the 50% range while Rupa does 60% or better.
Have a look at this table:
Amit’s performance being mediocre through the test, did not progress with his scores and stayed within the 25-30 bucket.
Rupa’s on the other hand, showed progress at every stage until she crossed the 40 bracket.
Now if you look at the number of questions they answered correctly, you will see Amit’s got 18 questions right and Rupa got 22 questions right.
4 questions may not seem like a big deal, right?
If you look at the last 12 questions, Amit and Rupa got 6 answers right.
But here’s how the GMAT algorithm expects you to maintain your accuracy.
Rupa had to maintain accuracy on a much higher level.
Amit on the other hand, had to maintain the accuracy on a much lower level.
Why do you think that is?
Weighted averages – where there is a “weight” attached to every question.
So not all questions are the same – GMAT recognizes the effort for maintaining accuracy at a higher level (say a GMAT 700+) is far greater than maintaining accuracy at a lower level (say at GMAT 500+).
Now let’s move on to explain the working of the GMAT Scoring and Percentile System.
C. GMAT Scoring and Percentile system
Let’s tackle this one by one.
Now that you know how both – the Quant and the Verbal scores translate to a total of 51, let’s find out the bare minimum number of mistakes you’re allowed to make to get a high score.
How many mistakes can you afford to make on the GMAT?
It’s really hard to not make mistakes on the GMAT. So let’s say – it’s safer to make mistakes in intervals rather than continuously.
So in the first 15 questions, instead of getting question number 4,5,6,7 wrong – you get questions 4,8,12,15 wrong.
Making mistakes in a continuous string reduces your accuracy drastically.
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.
Moving on to the percentile system.
What do percentiles mean?
The percentile rank of a score is the percentage of scores in its distribution that are equal to or lower than it.
A test score that is greater than 75% of the scores of people taking the test is said to be at the 75th percentile, where 75 is the percentile rank.
For example, in the GMAT, if you’re in the 90th percentile, you’ve scored more than 90% of the people taking the test with you.
Let’s now have a look at the percentile charts for Quant and Verbal.
Notice a few “weird” things over here:
If you get a 45 out of 51 in verbal or above, then you’ll still land in the 99th percentile. That same score of 45 out of 51 in Quantitative is considered 57th percentile. This is because a lot more students are scoring a 51 in Quant than in Verbal.
However on the flip side, with the Quant percentile starting at 96%, every mistake you make drastically drops your score. For the Verbal spread of percentiles it is not that vast; this means the scope for improvement in Verbal will not be that steep.
So that is all that you need to know about the scoring system while preparing for the GMAT.
Let us now deep dive into how GMAT takes your sectional raw scores and computes the final GMAT score.
D. How is the total GMAT score calculated?
Let us look at a few things:
The total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800.
The Verbal and the Quantitative scores range from 6 to 51.
Both the Verbal and the Quant combine to give you the total GMAT score.
Here is a chart that you can use to check your final GMAT score, if you know your raw scores in Quant and Verbal.
So for you to score a 700 you need to have a total raw score total of 86. There are a few ways you can score this:
Strong in Quant
Q50 V36 (percentile)
Strong in Verbal
Q44 V42 (percentile)
Equally strong in both Quant and Verbal
When you start your GMAT prep, you might realize which one of the two areas you are better at.
And no, being an engineer doesn’t automatically endow you with superior quant skills 🙂
Here, is the GMAT final score Percentile Ranking Chart:
Note this: even if you don’t score in the 99th percentile on individual sections, you can score in the 99th percentile on the GMAT.
Let’s see how.
Say, you get an 86th percentile in Quant (Q 50), and a 96th percentile in V (V42) – you will still get a 99th percentile overall (760). This is because there are fewer people scoring such high percentiles in BOTH the sections.
These charts are updated every year and you can head over to the GMAC website to know more:
We just helped you understand how the scoring chart works – hopefully now you don’t really need to break you head over it 🙂
E. Commonly Asked Questions about GMAT Scoring
a) Does GMAT take time into consideration while calculating the score?
Remember, we are not calculating the time you take to answer each question, it does not have an impact on your final score.
b) If I am seeing easier questions, does it mean I am not doing well?
No! Firstly, you don’t really know if it is an easier or harder question (GMAT can make very tough problems deceptively simple). Secondly, it could be an experimental question, which means it is not based on your performance.
c) Does GMAT take the position of the mistakes into consideration?
If you get questions wrong one after the other, you are in greater risk than if you distribute your mistakes over a range.
For example, let’s say, from questions 21 to 30 there are 2 candidates X and Y and their frequency of mistakes is:
X marks the wrong answers for questions 22, 26 and 29, while Y marks the wrong ones for 23,24,25.
Then Y would be penalized heavier than X.
d) Does it mean that the first 10 questions important on the GMAT?
There are 2 fallacies here:
a. Spending more time will improve your accuracy. If you do spend more time in the first 10 questions, (and not improving your accuracy much), then you are actually robbing other questions of the time they rightfully deserve.
b. You control whether you get the question correct. Actually, if someone is smart enough to get first 10 right – isn’t he/she smart enough to get the rest of the questions also correct?
e) If I keep getting questions correct, will GMAT start giving me impossibly tough questions?
Yes, the level of difficulty does increase, but at a more controlled level. Also remember, that the questions are not “easy” or “hard” by themselves but they are “easy” or “hard” for the test taker at a given level.
f) Can you skip questions on the test and come back to them later?
Skipping questions on ṭhe GMAT is not an option.
If that option were to exist, it would go against the concept of the adaptive testing method.
g) What if I do not have ṭhe time answer all 37 questions on quant and 41 questions in verbal?
If you run out of time towards the end of the test, your overall score reduces.
The GMAT marks all unanswered questions as wrong, thus reducing your overall score.
h) Are the questions within an RC, computer adaptive?
No, the questions within the RC is not computer adaptive. The difficulty level of the question is pre-determined based on your performance up until that point.
i) Do continuous errors adversely affect your score?
Yes. The GMAT being a computer adaptive test, a string of errors will reduce your overall score.
j) Is the first question all test takers get of the same difficulty level?
No. The first question for all test takers are not of the same difficulty level. Since the GMAT is an adaptive test, you can get a question of a random difficulty level.
k) Does your performance in the quant section affect the difficulty levels of the question in the verbal section?
No – it does not.
l) Why are the percentiles ranks different for verbal as compared to quant?
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.
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.
You can read more on that here : https://www.crackverbal.com/gmat-verbal-new-percentile/
m) Do the AWA and IR sections also contribute to the overall score?
No, the AWA and IR sections do not contribute towards your final GMAT score.
n) Why is the GMAT score on a scale of 200 – 800?
This is a question a lot of people have been asking. Unfortunately, no one has an answer other than GMAT.
o) How do I know how many questions are experimental and which questions are experimental?
Refer to the section above on experimental question, we’ve provided a table with an explanation. And as for knowing which questions are experimental, there is no way of knowing.
p) How do I know which difficulty level a question falls under on the GMAT?
Again, there is no way of knowing the difficulty level of a question.
We hope this article helped you understand the GMAT algorithm.
One important piece of advice before we wrap this article up, understanding the GMAT algorithm will certainly make you aware of your scoring pattern, and the existence of experimental questions – but then again – it won’t help you beat the GMAT.
Check out what Arun Jagannathan, founder and CEO of CrackVerbal, has to say on this topic in this short explainer video:
If you need any help with your GMAT prep, you can sign up for our online demo session :
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. You can read all about this here – http://www.gmac.com/executive-assessment/take-ea/ea-accepting-schools.aspx The program is currently in 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 – 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 – Multi Source Reasoning, Graphical Analysis, 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. 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. Sentence Correction topics seem to encompass the same range as the questions from GMAT. You can probably ignore the Advanced topics section in our course. Critical Reasoning are also consistent with official GMAT questions. You should focus more on standard type of questions such as Find the Assumption, Strengthen, Weaken, and Inference. 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. 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 minimal amount of preparation. Preparation for this test should take you around a month. Focus more on the fundamentals and standard type 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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