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GMAT Exam 2021: All You Need to Know to Ace It

Every individual interested in pursuing MBA abroad would be familiar with the GMAT Exam. GMAT i.e., Graduate Management Admission Test is the most popular MBA entrance exam in the world. GMAT scores qualify a candidate in pursuing MBA from well-coveted B-schools like Harvard Business School, INSEAD, Stanford, Wharton, etc. which are highly reputed ivy league universities. GMAT provides entrance opportunities for 7000 programs that can be pursued in more than 2300 B-schools in 110+ countries. 

good GMAT score can not only fetch your choice of a master's program from a targeted university but also help you land your dream job. Administered by GMAC i.e., Graduate Management Admission Council, GMAT is a computer-based exam that evaluates analytical abilities to ensure the best of your capabilities. The marking scheme of GMAT is the same for all students worldwide to ensure impartiality. In simple words, appearing for GMAT exam gives you an idea of what skillset you need to have to pursue an MBA program. from your dream college.

In the last 5 years, the average GMAT scores of Indian applicants have been more than other candidates from all across the globe. This means that despite being one of the most exhaustive and challenging examinations, candidates from our country understand the potential in scoring well in GMAT. According to a two-part analysis GMAT club, acceptance of Indian applicants increases when they apply to the top 21-50 international B-schools. In addition, if you score between 740 and750 out of 800, you have a 32% chance of making it to a top US B-school based only on your GMAT score. This means, out of 45,000 students from all over the world who took GMAT, 15000 students or 33% are Indians. which is amazing! Students wondering when is the right time to take GMAT should know that it is offered on-demand and year-round in either online or offline mode. Read on to find everything about GMAT exam in detail.

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GMAT Eligibility Criteria

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is conducted by Graduate Management Aptitude Council (GMAC) and is open to candidates from around the world. However, a candidate’s eligibility should be ascertained before registering for GMAT. In addition, the eligibility criteria of GMAT should always be considered keeping in mind the eligibility criteria of your preferred B-school. If you match the GMAT requirements but fail to match the eligibility of your targeted business program, you will be denied to take admission, no matter how good your GMAT scores are. Understand basic GMAT Eligibility through the help of below given picture:

Read in detail:  GMAT Eligibility Criteria

Find the information related to GMAT score range for top B-schools around the world by clicking here

GMAT Exam Test Dates

Registering for GMAT can be done at any given date and time of the year. The dates are not determined by the GMAC but are open to the convenience of the candidate. The unofficial result report is released on the same day, while the official test report arrives within a turnaround of 20 days.

For 2021, candidates can register on the official GMAC portal perennially. The GMAT exam pattern for 2021 is expected to be on the lines of GMAT 2020. As more than 2 lakh students appear for GMAT, booking an available slot to take GMAT exam becomes very cumbersome. However, GMAT is known to throw in surprises every year. Candidates taking GMAT needs to constantly check mba.com for new updates and notifications on their part.

GMAT test can also be categorized in two parts, registration and exam date. Both the windows are open throughout the year and can be booked at the candidate’s disposal. During registration, you will be given a calendar where you can check the available slots for taking the test. It is highly suggested to register 60-90 days before to your preferred exam dates to frame an effective Even though GMAT Exam is completely reschedulable, it is better to work hard and achieve the desired score rather than relying on the potential attempts. Set up a target goal, start studying towards that goal, and then gauge how behind are you from that goal and how much time it takes to reach it. However, a candidate can register up to 180 days before the test date.

Key Pointers to Make Note while Choosing an Exam Date

Here is a summary of all the points you need to keep in mind while booking your GMAT slot. The exam date you choose for taking GMAT exam will determine your entire plan of action till GMAT is over.

Find information on GMAT Exam Dates

Gathering complete information

  1. Regarding application deadlines for your selected b-school.

  2. Regarding mode of deliverance of GMAT I.e online and ofline

  3. Regarding time required to prepare for GMAT

  4. Regarding your location preferences for GMAT

Allotting time spans to all registration activities

1. Decide which mode of payment you want go for. Your payment needs to be in the name of Pearson VUE-GMAT, in US dollars and drawn on a US Bank.

2. If you plan to take offline GMAT, extract time for checking the testing arrangements.

Schedule your GMAT Exam Online

  1. Complete your GMAT registration form and pay the examination fees through your preferred payment mode. In case of registering through phone, call +91 120 439 7830 (for Indian Candidates) or email on GMATCandidateServicesAPAC@pearson.com (For Asia Pacific Candidates)

  2. Confirm once again that your name, GMAT Test date and center details are correct. If your test center says “DoD” or “Military”, make sure you have proper identification before test date.

GMAT Exam Variants

GMAT used to be conducted only in offline (test-centre based) mode. Earlier, GMAT test-taking procedure was handled by Pearson VUE, which ensured that the examination is only held at their designated Prometric test centres across the world. The reason behind only choosing Prometric centres for taking GMAT was to ensure fair and unbiased test-taking experience all around the world.

This practice continued till the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. After the announcement of lockdown in the major countries of the world due to the coronavirus disease, GMAT switched from “offline” to “online” or “remote proctored” mode which was an interim solution provided by GMAC in the same interest. Even with the re-opening of the GMAT Test centres worldwide, candidates prefer to take the online version of GMAT because of the comfort of the option and cost-effectiveness. Anyhow, we will cover both aspects of GMAT exam variants, starting with GMAT online exam.

Test Variant: Online mode @ Home

Online or Home GMAT is an interim solution offered by GMAC in the interest of public safety of test-takers and test organizing staff. This version of GMAT is much cheaper than the online version, costing just 200 USD. Even the exam structure of GMAT online exam is the same as that of GMAT exam. However, there are some distinctions of GMAT online exam which you cannot ignore. Unlike the test-centre-based GMAT, you would not be able to control your GMAT section order. This means that the GMAT exam will start with the AWA section, regardless of how much have you prepared for it. You might be aware that a candidate giving GMAT in a test centre gets two optional breaks of 8 minutes in between the sections to relax and prep up mentally for the next section. In the GMAT online exam, there will be no breaks offered to the candidate between the two most scoring sections of GMAT i.e., Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning. But there will be a provision for the test takers to opt for a 5-minute break between the Verbal Reasoning section and Integrated Reasoning sections. Other than being cheaper and more comfortable than the test-centre-based GMAT, GMAT online exam doesn’t prove to be a good alternate in terms of candidate support. Even after taking GMAT at home, you will not be able to access your unofficial scorecard before 1-2 weeks of completing your exam.

Key Reminders for Online Mode

As As GMAT Online Exam is a permanent option for students registering anew from April 2021, there are a few points you shouldn't miss out on while evaluating your test-taking options:

  1. You can take the test only once, unlike the 12-month rolling period and lifetime limit for offline GMAT exam. 

  2. You will not receive your enhanced score reports for analyzing the errors you made in GMAT exam sections.

  3. Unlike offline or test center based GMAT, you will be refrained from using “physical whiteboard”. You would receive the option of using an online whiteboard for rough work, penning down notes, draw diagrams, just like the MS-Paint Application.

  4. Your performance will be monitored via webcam and microphone by a distinguished proctor as you take the test. 

  5. Your entire test-taking session will be recorded to uphold the integrity of the assessment process. Your identity will also be cross-checked through AI is driven monitoring system.

Note: Candidates taking the test from the Indian subcontinent require their e-Aadhaar (electronic Aadhaar) in the pdf format as proof of identification. The e-Aadhaar should be original and candidate’s photo should be decipherable. Also, the name and date of birth of the candidate should be similar in the GMAT registration form and identification proof.

Explore Classroom GMAT programme for freshers as well as working professionals to learn the real mantra of acing GMAT by CL experts. Get in touch with the representatives to gain insights on course deliverables.

Test Variant: Offline Mode @ Test centre

Offline or test centre GMAT is the primary and the oldest option of taking GMAT. To know how to take GMAT through a distinguished test centre which is monitored by Pearson VUE, a candidate needs to read up Testing Rules Agreement. This agreement will enlighten you on the various test policies and inform you of exam day guidelines. 

Candidates need to make sure that their preferred test centre should be available on the exam date they’ll book during GMAT registration. As the GMAC is allowing gradual openings of test centres for GMAT all across the globe, candidates can easily resort to the old traditional variant of giving GMAT in an exam centre that is near to their residential location. 

Here are the necessary exam day practices you should follow to ensure clear and fair GMAT test-taking experience:

  1. Present appropriate identification through an identity proof recognized by the government of your country attesting your credibility as a valid citizen.

  2. Provide palm vein scan as and when required. Only after it matches with the palm vein pattern you provided at the time of submitting your ID proof, you will be allowed inside the test centre.

  3. Provide your digital signature stating that you have read the test agreement of GMAT and agree with all the clauses mentioned in the agreement. 

  4. Let the examiner take your digital photograph and sit patiently for the same.

  5. Start your GMAT only after your examiner allows all the candidates to login to the test portal.

Key reminders for Offline Mode

As awareness related to covid-19 begins to coin and the fear begins to subdue amongst the GMAT aspirants, GMAT offline exam has started to initialize in a limited number of testing centers as of now. The health and safety measures taken to ensure a hassle-free GMAT experience for candidates are the prime purpose of GMAC and Pearson VUE, the test organizers. Candidates will be provided with wipes and sanitizers and will be instructed to wear masks and maintain a six-foot gap from each other in the interest of safety.

Here are some key features of GMAT offline exams that a candidate will only find in the offline variant of GMAT:

  1. Test – around 110 continents- 365 days a year

  2. Tracking the time to answer all the questions.

  3. Changing the order of sections as per your convenience.

  4. Receiving unofficial scorecard after completing GMAT.

  5. Receiving GMAT enhanced score report after a turnaround of 20 days to analyze your section-wise performance with the scores mentioned.

GMAT can be stated as the most challenging exam in the world. To ensure sure success, it is vital to undertake the essence of the right type of GMAT coaching. Read this article to address your concerns regarding GMAT coaching and make a thought-out decision.

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GMAT Exam Registration

GMAT registration can take place online by visiting www.mba.com and creating your account. The registration of GMAT is held in a flexible mode, i.e., candidates can book the exam slot according to their convenience. It is recommended that a candidate registers 90 days before the examination. That way, a candidate will have ample time to prepare for the examination and also just enough time to apply to their preferred b schools which require a separate application. The extra time would even help you read about top b schools accepting GMAT scores within the country.

Here are the key steps to register for GMAT:

  • Candidates can log in to the official website and fill their registration form.

  • · Name, email, and password would be required for account creation of the candidate.

  • · Personal details, academic details, work experience, and documentation need to be entered

  • · The candidate can schedule the examination as per his/her convenience through the flexible slot booking option.

  • · After the test date and country/location are chosen, the candidate must pay a fee of US $250.

  • · In case, the candidate wishes to book their test data offline, they can do so via phone or postal mail.

  • · Candidates can take a printout of the application form and affix a photograph for later admission formalities.

  • · Candidates can fill the application form throughout the year. 

GMAT Exam: Application Fee

Paying the application fee is a mandatory step in completing the registration of GMAT successfully. The application fees for GMAT is US $250 i.e around Rs 18000 in India.

Candidates can pay the application fee for GMAT through 3 available modes:

In case a candidate changes his/her mind regarding taking GMAT on the booked day and wishes to choose a different time slot, they can either reschedule their exam as per their requirement. Here are the cancellation charges a student will have to bear while rescheduling the exams as per the time span remaining to their selected GMAT test:

 GMAT Exam Cancellation Charges out of total Registration Fees I.e USD 250

Cancellation charges before 60+ days before exam date

US$50

Cancellation Charges 15-60 days before exam date

US$100

Cancellation charges 14 days and less before exam date.

US$150

Candidates can pay application fee for GMAT through 3 available modes:

  • Online mode (at the time of online application):  Debit card, credit card and net banking.

  • Postal Mail (At the time of offline application):: cheque or money order.

  • GMAT customer care: In case you book your exam through GMAT customer care, you need to shell out an additional amount of USD 10 along with the application fees.

Rescheduling Fee

There are different instances when it comes to rescheduling the exam. In case of, 

0-14 days before exam: Fee of US $150

15-60 days before exam: Fee of US $100

>60 days before exam: Fee of US $50 

Read more about GMAT registration by clicking here

Scope of the GMAT exam is unparalleled even in India. Check the list of top 10 GMAT Accepting Colleges in India.

GMAT Exam Pattern

GMAT has a defined exam pattern. The mode of the GMAT is “personalized” and “online proctored” where the medium of language is English. The time duration of the exam is 3 hours and 7 minutes in totality. The paper is divided into four major sections,

  • Verbal Ability
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Integrated Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

A candidate needs to answer all the 80 questions within a specific time duration without leaving behind any questions. Not attempting a question can result in a deduction of marks.

Here is a descriptive overlay of GMAT exam pattern:

Section of GMAT (Order-wise)    

              Time Duration

Level of Complexity

Computer Adaptive

Analytical Writing Assessment

                30 minutes

Easy to moderate

No

Verbal Reasoning

                30 minutes

Moderate to Difficult

Yes

Quantitative Reasoning

                62 minutes

Moderate to Difficult

Yes

Integrated Reasoning

                65 minutes

Easy to Moderate

No

Read in detail : GMAT Exam Pattern

GMAT Exam Syllabus

GMAT is mostly taken by the candidates who are looking to associate themselves with the world's leading universities, as management graduates (MBA) or Masters in Management (MIM). The acceptability of GMAT scores is way more than any other aptitude test. Getting informed about the GMAT syllabus in advance progresses a candidate’s solving instincts and helps them develop familiarity with their strengths and weaknesses. The GMAT syllabus is built of four blocks or sections as per GMAT Exam Pattern in all which resembles other aptitude screening examinations nationally and internationally.

Read in detail: GMAT Exam Syllabus

Also Read: GMAT vs CAT

GMAT Hall Ticket

Students appearing for GMAT get a confirmation letter in place of the regular admit card. The confirmation letter can be downloaded from the website  www.mba.com. Candidates are also advised to carry a printout of the confirmation letter on the D-day. Components of the letter are going to be as follows:

  • Candidate’s name 

  • Exam center 

  • Exam Date  

  • Exam time 

  • Authorized Signatory

  • Candidate Signature

  • Instructions/Guidelines to follow

GMAT Exam: Section Wise Score Interpretation

Here is a section wise score interpretation of GMAT Exam:

Score 

Range 

Score interpretation 

Total Score 

200–800
(Increment of 10) 

Raw score is calculated based on your achieved scores in the Verbal and the quant section and then converted to a number within the scoring range. 

Quantitative Score 

0–60
(Increment of 1) 

The scores are based on the number of questions you answer and the difficulty level of each question. Answer one question correctly and you will be qualified for the next question of a higher difficulty level. 

Verbal Score 

0–60
(Increment of 1) 

Unlike verbal, it is an adaptive section of the paper. Score is calculated based on the number of questions you answer correctly and the difficulty of the questions

Integrated Reasoning 

1–8  (Increment of 1) 

Based on no of rightly answered questions. Some specific questions may have more than one sub part, so you are required to correctly answer all the sub-parts in order to receive credit. 

Analytical Writing Assessment 

0–6
(Increment of 0.5) 

Each essay is scored twice, once manually and once by the test administrator. Average is calculated based on two individual scores and are presented in an increment of 0.5 

GMAT Exam: Availability of Results

Candidates can check their GMAT results within 20 days post examination. They can preview their scorecard and will be allotted a time limit of 2 minutes to decide whether they wish to submit their attempt and report the scores or cancel it and retake a fresh attempt. If the candidate accepts the result, the scorecard would be reported to the university for the required application build-up. The unofficial result report is available for download on the same day.

Candidates need to access their GMAC account to check the result after 20 days of their test submission. The authority would be eligible to send the hard copy of the score card via post as well. It will contain details like last five years' score report and writing assessment scores.

Read in Detail

GMAT Score Threshold

GMAT Score threshold varies depending on the difficulty level, number of candidates writing the exam, seat vacancies, average scores, and more. Although GMAT exam's minimum/maximum score isn't set on stone, a candidate with a score of 715 and above is considered a good score for top 10 universities. 

  • The total GMAT score ranges from 200-800, and based on an average estimate, two-thirds of the candidates sitting for the GMAT exam obtain a score of 400 to 600.  

  • Although GMAT exam's minimum/maximum score isn't set on stone, a candidate with a score of 715 and above is considered a good score for top 10 universities. 

  • GMAT score of 760+ ranks a candidate at above 99 percentile. The table below is a list of some of the top B-schools' minimum cut-off requirement for admission eligibility. 

For institutes that accept GRE scores, the GMAT scores are converted using ETS comparison tool. Find out how these examinations are different from one another by clicking here

GMAT Exam Validity 

One of the major things to note is the term of score validity. GMAT exam scores are valid for a period of 5 years. The candidate must keep this in mind while taking up the admission process, so as to properly fix upon exam dates. 

GMAT Exam Scholarship Opportunities 

Scholarship opportunities like any graduate program are present when it comes to MBA from B-Schools. Since every scholarship opportunity is pertinent to the specific B-School of choice, it is important to check them at the admission process portal or direct conversation. Different types of scholarships like full, partial, merit-based, etc. can be available for a candidate.  

Tips & Strategies to Achieve a High Score

It can be overwhelming to prepare for an exam that is known for having a high score bar but preparing the right way and taking the right steps will determine the result. While there are many tips and advice out there to obtain high GMAT scores, there are a few fundamentals that cannot be ignored. Some of these fundamentals are mentioned below for your perusal:

  1. Laying down the study plan: It is extremely important for every candidate to plan and strategize for their GMAT Exam attempt. This is the only way to have as high a probability of success as possible. Preparing blindly without thinking about how it would help in the exam leaves too much to chance and is not the way one should approach their GMAT Preparation.
  2. Tracking your preparation through GMATPrepSoftware: One of the first things that every candidate should be doing is downloading GMATPrepSoftware. This application allows candidates to assess their preparation and helps in setting a target score. Based on this score, the target areas for preparation can also be decided. Tracking the progress and practice session each week allows the candidate to assess his weakest areas and eliminate it.
  3. Knowing the GMAT exam format like the back of a hand: It is extremely important to be familiar with the GMAT Exam Format. It increases the chances of cracking the exam and leaves very little room for blunders or surprises on the day of the exam. Familiarity with each section, the type of questions, will lead to a much better understanding of how to answer the questions without fretting.
  4. Timing the mock practices: Time and tide wait for no man. This has never been truer than during the GMAT exam. Timing personal mocks at home enable improvement in the accuracy of finishing the exam on time. Moreover, it is crucial to managing your time well across all sections rather than the entire exam due to the sectional time limits. Time Management during the exam is like a well-oiled machine. Any slip during the exam can lead to the machine malfunctioning and the candidate being forced into an incomplete submission. During personal mock practices, it is important to ensure that it is being done by the official GMAT section to optimize time management to the fullest.
  5. Timing the mock practices: Time and tide waits for no man' has never been truer than during the GMAT exam. Timing personal mocks at home enables improvement in the accuracy of finishing the exam on time. Moreover, it is crucial to manage your time well across all sections rather than the entire exam due to the sectional time limits. Time Management during the exam is like a well-oiled machine. Any slip during the exam can lead to the machine malfunctioning and the candidate being forced into an incomplete submission. During personal mock practices, it is important to ensure that it is being done in accordance with the official GMAT section so as to optimize time management to the fullest.

Also Read: How to prepare for GMAT while working

 Want to crack GMAT in one go? We hear you.  Joining GMAT online classes today will help discover a new way of learning even from far away. Consult our experts to get suitable information regarding the course context.

FAQs: 5 Most Common Questions 

What is the difference between GMAT and GRE? 

The primary difference between GMAT and GRE is that, GMAT is an admission test to get into B-Schools, whereas GRE qualifies a candidate for admission into a graduate school. However, there are similarities between the two in terms of syllabus.

What is the difference between GMAT and CAT?

Both of these admission tests qualify a candidate for entrance into B-Schools. The difference is that GMAT is on a global level that can help gain admission to top B-Schools abroad, while CAT is a national level entrance exam. 

Is GMAT compulsory for MBA? 

No, GMAT is not compulsory for admission at every B-School there is. It depends on the candidate’s choice of B-School. However, it is important to note that many top B-Schools look for a GMAT score in their admission process. 

Can I do MBA without GMAT? 

Yes, some schools even in places like the US take in applicants without a GMAT score. It depends on the candidate’s choice of B-School. 

Is 3 months enough for GMAT preparation? 

On a general level, 3 months is sufficient time to prepare for GMAT exam. However, the candidate should keep their own capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses in mind while allotting time for preparation. 

All the best!
Team CL