Scores on the GMAT are among many factors used to assess graduate school applicants. No matter which you take, you'll want to excel on the test.
Here are some steps we recommend to make sure you get the score you need for admission.
Understand the Test
The GMAT is composed of four sections — each separately timed. Questions for three sections are multiple-choice, while the writing assessment requires you to compose an essay analyzing an argument.
Questions appear one at a time, so you won't be able to skip hard questions and come back to them later. Also, the test is adaptive, meaning the difficulty of questions changes depending on your performance.
Here's a breakdown of what to expect for each section:
- Analytical Writing
- Compose 1 essay.
- 30-minute time limit.
- Essay will analyze an argument on a topic of general interest.
- Integrated Reasoning
- Analyze data and information from a variety of sources.
- Most questions require multiple responses.
- Must interpret data from graphics, tables, and text.
- Questions require knowledge of arithmetic, elementary algebra, and common geometric concepts.
- In problem-solving questions, you will be asked to reason quantitatively.
- In data-sufficiency questions, you will be asked to determine if enough data is given to answer the question.
- In reading comprehension questions, you will need to understand the words, concepts, facts, and statements of passages up to 350 words.
- In critical reasoning questions, you will be asked to construct and evaluate arguments.
- In sentence-correction questions, you will be asked to evaluate sentences for proper grammar, structure, and diction.
Study in Advance
The GMAT includes question types that only become familiar with practice. So you'll need to get a head start on studying in order to keep pace.
There are numerous study guides and programs promising results, many of which charge a fee — UNCG offers a discount on The Princeton Review test prep. Investing in a well-reviewed test prep program can pay dividends, but you don't have to part with cash to get prepared. You can download free study software here.
Use the Allocated Time Wisely
Once you start the test, an onscreen clock will count down the remaining time. You can hide this display, but it’s a good idea to check the clock periodically to monitor your progress.
Read the Test Directions Carefully
You can review test directions during the exam by clicking on the “help” icon, but be aware the clock will continue to run for that section of the test. It’s best to become familiar in advance.
Read Each Question Carefully
Before answering a question, determine exactly what is being asked, then eliminate the wrong answers and select the best choice. Never skim a question or possible answers, as this may cause you to miss important information or nuances.
Make sure you pace yourself so you have time to carefully consider each question. You may not skip questions, and randomly guessing answers can significantly lower your score. On average, you have about 1.75 minutes for each verbal question and about 2 minutes for each quantitative question.
You cannot omit questions or go back and change answers. Make sure you have answered the question properly before you confirm and move on to the next question. Remember, the computer selects the next question you see based on your previous response.
Find the Right Testing Center
If you don’t mind driving, there are many options for taking the GMAT. When considering where you want to take the GMAT, don’t forget to pick a day and time where you’ll be able to focus on the test with the least distractions. You likely don’t want to drive hours to reach your testing site, but you don’t want to rush to get there right after work either.
You can check the availability of nearby testing centers here.