DEFINITION of 'Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)'

The graduate management admission test (GMAT) is a standardized test intended to measure a test taker's aptitude in mathematics and analytical writing. The GMAT is most commonly used as the primary exam reviewed by business schools to gain entrance into an MBA program. The exam is generally offered by computer only; in areas of the world where computer networks are limited, the exam may be given as a paper-based test.

BREAKING DOWN 'Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)'

The GMAT exam consists of three sections: analytical writing assessment, verbal ability and a quantitative section. The maximum score achievable for the GMAT is 800, and exam scores are generally valid for five years following the exam's completion.

How the the Graduate Management Admission Test is Applied

The exam is owned by the Graduate Management Admission Council. In addition to testing comprehension of writing and math, the GMAT is also used to assess other areas. The exam is designed to assess the individual’s critical reasoning skills and logic as applicable to business and management in the real world. Starting in 2012, the exam added a section called Integrated Reasoning, which would assess the individual’s evaluations skills when it comes to dealing with information gathered from multiple different sources and in new formats. The intent of this section is to test the students in the context of working with data and technology.

More than 2,100 universities and institutions around the world use the GMAT to assess applicants to their programs. The Graduate Management Admission Council has recommended that the GMAT be used as one factor among others for determining whether or not a student is accepted into a program. Furthermore, the council cautioned that for some international students, the writing analysis section might show the limits of their comprehension of the English language rather than their critical thinking and reasoning capacity.

It is not uncommon for graduate programs to use a combination of GMAT scores along with results from a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to assess an applicant. Due to the differences in the way the two tests are scaled, GMAT and GRE scores cannot be directly compared. Moreover, the nature of the exams and what they test the applicants on make it inappropriate to treat both exams the same. The Graduate Management Admission Council recommends not suing a so-called cutoff score when reviewing applicants. If a cutoff score is implemented, the council suggests the institution take additional measures to show that the cutoff does not lead to discrimination based on age, sex, or ethnicity.

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