What is GMAT ?

The Graduate Management Admission Test is a Standardized test that measures verbal, mathematical and analytical writing skills. It is intended to help the graduate schools of business assess the potential of applicants for advanced study in business and management. Nearly 900 management institutes all over the world (almost all of them in the US) require GMAT scores from each applicant. The GMAT tests the fundamental skills -including  reasoning and comprehension. The test has no question paper or answer sheets, nor does it have the same set of questions for all the examinees. Further, it does not give you the option of not answering a question (unless, of course, you run out of time at the end). All this because the GMAT is now  entirely Computer based.The test is scored out of 800 (in multiples of 10), and most scores fall in the range of 500-600.
Who administers GMAT?

The GMAT is developed and administered by the US-based "Educational Testing Service" (ETS) under the direction of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a non-profit organization of graduate business schools worldwide.  ETS sets the questions, conducts the test, and sends each examinee the score report. For the conduct of the test, ETS has appointed Testing Agencies in various countries, which act as franchisee for ETS. In India, this agency is the "Sylvan Testing Services Pvt. Ltd." which administers the test at 9 centres in the country: Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Trivendrum.
When is GMAT held?

All-round-the-year. Unlike other exams, you can choose your own date and time for taking the GMAT! The test is administered in the above cities five-days-a-week (Monday through Friday), twice a  day. September to December is the high season for GMAT, so in case you intend to take the test during this period, you need to register very early (say 90 days in advance) to get a date of your choice. Otherwise, registering at least 15 days in advance is mandatory. The test lasts roughly four hours, and most centres offer two slots : 9 A.M. and 2 P.M.
Eligibility and Fees

For  GMAT there are no restrictions based on age or qualifications. The test scores are valid for five years, i.e., most universities accept scores up to five years old.Test fees for GMAT may vary according to the country in which you take the test. In India, this fee is US $200, payable at the time of registration. You can now pay in Indian Rupees. Payment in Indian Rupees must be made at the telegraphic transfer selling (TTS) exchange rate of the U.S. dollar equivalent. The draft should be made out in favour of "ETS - GMAT" payable in the U.S. and should be drawn on a Indian bank. Alternately, the payment can also be made through a credit card which has global acceptance. 
How to apply ?

Obtain the "GMAT Information Bulletin" available free with Sylvan Testing Services and USEFI. The Test Scheduling Form comes with the bulletin. The Test Scheduling Form comes with the bulletin. There are three ways to register:
Registering by Phone:

You may call up Sylvan Delhi office until 12:00 noon to register. Make sure to call at least THREE BUSINESS DAYS before the test date.

Registering by Fax:

If registering by fax, you must send your fax at lest SEVEN DAYS prior to your first choice of a test day.
Registering by Mail/Courier:

Fill in the form, get the draft made (if you are not paying by credit card), and submit these to the Sylvan Learning Centre at New Delhi either by hand or by registered post/courier. You must send the documents at least THREE WEEKS before your choice of a test day. On receipt of your documents, an appointment will be scheduled for you to test at the Sylvan Technology Center. Confirmation of the date, time and location of the appointment will be sent to you. If you do not receive confirmation at least THREE business days before your first choice of test day, please call the Sylvan office to verify your appointment.

Sylvan Learning Centre
Sylvan Testing Services Private Limited,
Senior Plaza, 160-A, Gautam Nagar,
Yusuf Sarai,
Behind Indian Oil Building,
New Delhi-110049, India.
Ph: (011) 651-1649
Fax: (011) 652-9741
You will receive an admit card normally within a week of applying. Remember to keep a copy of the form and the draft with you.
Content & Format of GMAT
The test has three distinct sections : Analytical Writing Ability (AWA), Quantitative, and Verbal. The Quantitative section has two types of questions, Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency, mingled throughout the section. The Verbal Section has three types : Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension; here too, the questions of each type appear in no set sequence. There are a total of 78 questions, 37 in Quantitative and 41 in Verbal. These have to be done in 75 minutes each.
The following table gives out the format of the GMAT-CAT : 




Computer Tutorial



Analytical Writing
    Analysis of an Issue
    Analysis of an Argument

1 Topic
1 Topic

30 min.
30 min.

Optional Rest Break


5 min.

Quantitative (Problem Solving & Data Sufficiency)


75 min.

Optional Rest Break


5 min.

Verbal (Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, & Sentence Correction)


75 min.


78 + 2 Essays

4 hrs. (approx.)

Analytical Writing Assessment

The analytical writing section requires you to write - or rather type - two short essays in thirty minutes each. The first is the Analysis of an Issue, in which you need to analyze the issue presented and explain your views on it. The second essay is Analysis of an Argument, in which a given argument has to be critically analyzed and evaluated.

For both the essays, the emphasis is on the "Analytical" part, and not on the "Writing" part. This implies that a concise essay with well-reasoned points written in simple English will be looked upon more favourably than an essay which falls short on the analytical aspects even though it is high on writing skills.

A five-minute break follows the two essays. The computer gives you the option to take this break, or to move directly to the subsequent section. Even if you finish the essays before the stipulated sixty minutes, the break will still be of five minutes. It is advisable to utilize this break by gearing yourself up for the tougher sections that follow.
Quantitative Section

The 37 questions in this section comprise two kinds of questions : Problem Solving (PS) and Data Sufficiency (DS). The two kinds do not have a definite break-up, usually there are around 20 PS and 17 DS questions. The section tests you on a level of Math that is comparable to the level of Class 10 exams, with questions on Number Systems, Percentages, Fractions & Decimals, Algebra (including Quadratic Equations), Geometry (including Basic Coordinate Geometry), Ratio & Proportion, Area & Volume of 2-D and 3-D figures, and Probability. This list is not exhaustive; questions from beyond these topics may also be asked.
While the Problem Solving questions require you to solve a mathematical problem directly and choose the right answer, the Data Sufficiency is of a trickier variety. Each problem comprises a question followed by two statements, which may or may not lead to the answer to the given question. This is what you need to ascertain - whether the given statements can be used to answer the question or not, and if so, whether the statements can be used independently or in conjunction. Each of the five answer options present the five possibilities that arise in this case, and you have to apply the basic principles of mathematics with a strong dose of logic to get these right.


The verbal section in GMAT requires the basic skills of correct English coupled with reasoning and analysis. The 41 questions, to be attempted in 75 minutes, consist of three types : Sentence Correction (SC), Critical Reasoning (CR), and Reading Comprehension (RC). The three types are intermingled, with no fixed number for each type. The break-up of questions among SC, CR, and RC could be 14-14-13 or 15-13-13, or any such combination.

Reporting the Scores

ETS has the provision of reporting your GMAT scores to a maximum of five universities of your choice, the cost of which is built into the GMAT fee you pay. But the catch is : you have to select these five universities/business-schools which will receive copies of your score report BEFORE you begin to take the test. This implies that even before taking the GMAT, you need to do some homework on which universities you're finally going to apply, based on the score that you expect to attain. For reporting to each additional university, the ETS charges you $25, payable by an international credit card or a dollar denominated draft.

The scoring pattern in GMAT

The GMAT results comprise four different scores : a total score (which is the combined verbal and quantitative scores), a separate Verbal score, a separate Quantitative score, and an Analytical Writing score. The total score is reported on a scale from 200 to 800. The Verbal and Quantitative Scores are reported on a scale of 0 to 60. For the AWA score, the scale is from 0 to 6. Note that your AWA performance is not reflected in your total GMAT score (on 800). You get to know your total, verbal, and quantitative score immediately after taking the test. Official GMAT score reports, which include the AWA scores, are mailed approximately two weeks after you take the test and take another ten days or so to reach your address.

In addition to these scores, the score report also contains percents (%) below. These "% below" indicate the percentage of examinees who scored below you based on the scores of the entire GMAT testing population for the most recent three-year period. These percentages are important in considering how an applicant for admission to a particular management school compares with everyone in the specified period, with all other applicants to the same school, and with students already enrolled at the school.

Sometimes it is necessary to take the GMAT more than once, like when a management school asks you for more recent scores than what you have. However, unless your scores seem unusually low compared to your performance in the practice tests, or if you have not been able to perform well because of a sudden illness or similar exceptional circumstances, it's advisable not to repeat the test. This is because, given the nature of the test, it is unlikely that your scores can substantially improve.
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