GMAT is a marathon exam that lasts around 4 hrs, with the the most difficult section of the test coming only 2.5 hours after the test starts.
STRUCTURE OF THE TEST:
a) What do you need to do before the Exam:
1) Choosing Schools: You need to select upto 5 Business schools that will be sent the GMAT test report. The cost of selecting these schools is included in exam fee of $250. Additional fees of $28 is applicable for each extra school where you would like to send your scores. You can request additional reports to be sent anytime till the 5 year validity of the test.
2) Accepting the non-disclosure agreement.
b) What do you need to do at the exam:
1) Section 1: Analytical Writing Ability (1 essay – Time 30 mins)
2) Section 2: Integrated Reasoning (12 Questions – 30 mins)
Optional Break for max 8 mins
4) Section 3: Quantitative Ability (37 Questions – 75 mins)
Optional Break for max 8 mins
6) Section 4: Verbal Ability (41 Questions – 75 mins)
c) What do you need to do after the exam:
1) Fill up a demographic survey which gathers data about under graduation and other information about the test-taker.
2) After the demographic survey the test-taker can see her/ his score and has to decide within a specific time period whether to send the scores to the chosen schools or to cancel it.
a) Format and Reporting:
The composite score out of 800 depends only on Quant and Verbal scores. A score of 750 (98%tile) can be obtained with Quant 50 and Verbal 40. If either of the sectional scores drops, a better score in the other section can compensate for it.
Some interesting facts:
a. The maximum quant score 51, will fetch you 97%tile in Quant section.
b. A verbal score between 45-51 (maximum score is 51) will fetch you 99%tile in verbal section.
c. A composite score of 760-800 (maximum score 800) will fetch you 99%tile for the overall test score.
For more detail about scoring charts, click here
b) ‘Official’ and ‘Unofficial’ Score Reports:
Unofficial Score Report:
This contains details of the test just taken. If the test-taker chooses to report the score, the Unofficial Score Report will be printed and given to her/him.
Earlier, this report used to contain an ‘access code’ for accessing the official score report when it was made available later. However, this is no longer provided, the ‘code’ now simply being the test-taker’s date of birth.
The Unofficial Score Report contains the following four scores:
1) Integrated Reasoning score (Max score is 8)
2) Quant scaled score (Max score is 51)
3) Verbal scaled score (Max score is 51)
4) GMAT composite score (Max score is 800).
Official Score Report:
This is sent to the test-taker’s registered email address, normally within 7-10 days of taking the test. This contains the final scores including Analytical Writing Ability (AWA) scores and updated percentiles for all the sections.
This also contains all valid scores of previous five years (from the date of generation of this report).
This is the report which is sent to the chosen B-schools.
From 19th July, 2015 the GMAT can be retaken after 16 days compared to the earlier policy of 31 days. But the maximum number of retakes is still restricted to 5 times per year as earlier.
Earlier, if the test-taker decided to cancel his score, the Official Report used to have a “C” marked against the attempt. This is no longer done and scores are now known only by the test-taker and nobody else. If a test-taker cancels the score but later wants the score to be reinstated, he can do it within 60 days for a fee.
HOW TO TACKLE GMAT QUANT
Format of Quant Section
The Quant section has 37 questions and gets 75 minutes to solve this.
Frequent Quant topics are:
– Mixture and alligations
– Venn Diagrams and sets
– Mean, Median and statistics
– Algebra and equations
– Permutations and combinations
– Number Theory
– Time, speed and distance
– Time and work
The Quant section asks two types of question:
1. Problem Solving questions
2. Data Sufficiency Questions.
Problem Solving Questions:
These have a stem of about 3-4 lines and the test takers need to solve these using various concepts. The test takers have to select the answer from a choice of 5 options. “None of these” is never an answer.
Tips for answering problem solving:
1. Evaluate whether the given answers meet the conditions of the question and use elimination instead of selecting an answer.
2. Read the question carefully as it can include many possibilities. For example the question can ask for “Real” numbers which includes integers, fractions etc. So all the possibilities need to be tested.
3. For Geometry questions, draw the diagram on the scratchpad instead of solving it on the computer screen. Figures might not be as per scale and students are likely to be faster solving the sum on a scratch pad.
4. Check the boundary values for algebra questions – specially -1, 0 and 1.
5. Some of the tricks might help the students such as Mod of x = [root(x)]^2
Data Sufficiency Questions
In the data Sufficiency questions, students are given two statements. They need to determine whether the question can be answered using first statement or second statement or both or cannot be solved even after using both statements. Typically, there are 14-16 such questions in the GMAT exam.
The answer options which are always the same, are mentioned below:
1. Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
2. Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
3. BOTH statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question asked, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked.
4. EACH statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked.
5. Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question asked, and additional data specific to the problem are needed.
Tips for answering data sufficiency:
1. For the easier questions, never totally solve the answer, as you will be wasting time on it once you have figured out whether the question can be answered or cannot be answered using the statements.
2. A common area where students falter is that they forget to evaluate the two statements individually. After reading statement 1, pretend that you never read it and first make an independent evaluation of statement 2. If you are unable to evaluate the two statements separately, then use them together to see if you can reach a conclusive answer.
3. One of the smartest ways to solve DS question is by using statement
– If using statement 1, the question can be answered, then possible answers could be A,B or D.
-If using statement 1, the question cannot be answered, then possible answers can be B, C and E.
So, if you are stuck in a difficult question, you can check the easiest statement and guess one of the options based on the analysis above and increase the probability of answering correctly by 65% (from 20% probability to 33% probability).
4. To finish within the time limit, do not to get stuck on any question and keep the flow going.
5. If you get a very difficult DS question, solve the question properly to draw a conclusion and mark the correct answer. Solving the question is the ultimate confirmation of the answer.
6. Compared to problem solving, DS questions are trickier and take longer to solve. Spend an additional 10-20 seconds on these during mock tests.
HOW TO TACKLE GMAT VERBAL
Verbal is the other section apart from Quant on which the composite GMAT score of 800 is based. Doing well in this section is imperative if you are to turn your dream of a Top 10 B-School into reality.
FORMAT of Verbal Section:
The GMAT Verbal section has 41 questions, to be attempted within 75 minutes. There are three sub-sections:
1. Sentence Correction
2. Critical Reasoning
3. Reading comprehension
All three sub-sections have equal weightage, hence it is important to score well in each to get a good overall score.
This section tests the following concepts:
– Subject verb agreement
– Clauses – independent and dependent clauses and sentence structure
– Modifiers – noun modifiers and adverbial modifiers.
– Specialized concepts such as absolute phrases and substantive clauses
– Subjunctive clauses and their usages
– Conditional statements
A single question may test more than one concept.
This section tests the following concepts:
– Strengthener and weakener questions or fill in the blanks
– Assumption questions
– Resolve the paradox question
– Inference questions
– Evaluate questions
– Bold faced questions
This part has the following type of questions:
– Main idea or author’s main point
– Passage structure questions
– Specific details questions
– Inference questions
– Critical reasoning questions based on RC passage.
TIPS for scoring the verbal section:
1. GMAT doesn’t test all the grammar rules but subsets of grammar rules. So don’t spend too much time on grammar books.
2. Always practice official questions as these will give you a great idea about the commonly tested question types. The actual test will also have similar questions.
3. Only proper application of rules, not intuition, will help you solve the more complex questions.
4. Generally the toughest sentence correction problems are the ones based on modifiers and comparisons.
5. Long-underlined Sentence correction questions often test you in sentence structure, subject verb agreement or/and modifiers.
6. To solve Critical reasoning questions, it is very important to understand the conclusion of the argument and how the premise connects to it. Strengtheners, weakeners, assumptions, evaluate – all deal with the conclusion of the argument.
7. For Bold faced questions, it is advisable to analyze the role of each sentence of the argument, not just the conclusion and premise. For example, there might be an intermediate conclusion which can affect the argument.
8. For reading comprehension exercises, take your time to read the passage calmly, without worrying about the time. This will help you to quickly understand the main idea of the passage.
9. For other question types, it is advisable to first read the part of the passage which concerns the question stem and then to carefully eliminate the options.
10. For all types of the questions in GMAT, always try to follow the process of elimination instead of selection. For tougher questions, you may not be able to find the perfect option, instead select the option with least number of problems.
11. If skipping questions is your strategy, always skip Critical Reasoning questions, because they are more time taking as compared to Sentence Correction questions. Do not skip reading the Reading Comprehension passage as you will get all 3 or 4 related questions wrong, drastically bringing down your scores.
12. Instead of looking at the clock after every question, break the total number of questions into smaller sections and check the time only after completing every section. This will reduce anxiety and help you manage your time better. If you overshoot the time in one section, make up for it in the next one. You can decide the sectional timing according to your convenience. For example, I used the following categorization: 10+10+8+6+4+3
The last few sections should be timed tightly to gain more control towards the end of the test.
13. Verbal section comes 2 hours and 30 minutes after the test starts. Often the test-takers feel fatigued by this time and this adversely affects their score. Start practicing Verbal for long hours to build up stamina to last the test.
14. Perfect your strategy over mocks and stick to the same as far as possible during the actual test.
15. Lastly, remember to always submit the questions. Not answering the questions carries a huge penalty.