About the GMAT

GMAT Basics

The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is a computer-based standardized test taken by students applying to graduate-level business programs. More than 5,800 programs in 82 countries use the GMAT as part of their admission criteria, including more than 40 programs in the UK. The GMAT is used for admission not only to MBA programs, but also to Masters of Accountancy, Masters of Public Administration, PhD programs in business and other graduate level business degree programs. Worldwide, the test is taken more than 250,000 times a year. The GMAT is owned and administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a non-profit council of business schools.

The number of GMAT exams taken in Western Europe is on the rise. The test was taken in Europe approximately 25,000 times last year, a 25 percent increase from four years earlier. Of those tests taken last year, 1746 were taken by British citizens. Almost half of the score reports sent by British citizens were sent to schools in the US, while approximately 30 percent were sent to schools in the UK. France, Spain and Hong Kong were the next three most popular study destinations to which British citizens sent GMAT scores.

British citizens have consistently sent the overwhelming majority of their scores (more than 80 percent) to MBA programs. This is in contrast to the rest of Europe, where a much higher percentage of scores are sent to non MBA-master's programs. Meanwhile, the UK remains the top European destination to which GMAT scores are sent. Of the 93,000 GMAT scores sent to graduate management programs in Europe, more than 35,000 were sent to schools in the UK.

The GMAT is administered in English and lasts four hours (including optional breaks between sections). The test assesses skills needed for graduate-leel study in business-related fields -- skills such as analytical reasoning, quantitative thinking and communication of complex concepts.

Many business school applicants take the GMAT in the late spring or early summer so that if they are not satisfied with their scores, there is time to retake the test before applications are due, usually in September or October. The GMAT can be retaken every 31 days. On average, scores improve 30 points between the first and second time taking the test. Test takers unhappy with their test session may cancel their scores immediately after the test and before viewing their scores. (Once test takers have been shown their scores they may no longer cancel them.) The 31-day waiting period between retakes applies even if scores are cancelled.

GMAT Scores and the Business School Application

Many graduate business schools require the GMAT and value it as an important part of the application. For many business schools, the GMAT is a benchmark for measuring students from different majors, different schools and different countries using a common standard.

Most business school publish the average GMAT score of their last incoming class. Students can use a school's reported average scores as a reference point to help identify what GMAT score they should aim for to get into the school of their choice. The average total GMAT score is around 540. London Business School, for example lists an average GMAT score of 698 for its most recent entering class. Stanford Graduate School of Business lists the highest average GMAT score at 729. Stanford says the 729 average was based on GMAT scores for accepted candidates that ranged from 550 to 790.

GMAT Format

The GMAT is administered via computer. It is computer-adaptive, which means as questions are answered correctly, the test gets more difficult; when questions are answered incorrectly, subsequent questions become easier. Because of this computer-adaptive format, questions must be answered in order and it is not possible to skip questions and return to them later. Once a test-taker completes a question and moves onto the next one, the previous answer is finalized and can't be changed. The test score is based on the number of questions answered correctly and the difficulty of the questions.

There are four sections in the GMAT: the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), the Integrated Reasoning section, the Verbal section and the Quantitative section.

The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment is always the first section of the test. For this section, test-takers are required to write one essay, and there is a 30-minute time limit. The essay will involve critiquing an argument. Test takers are given a short passage containing an argument, and they must write an essay that supports or disputes the argument's conclusion. The essays are scored partially based on how well-thought out the test taker's critique of the argument is, including whether the test taker introduced clear and thoughtful points to support his or her opinion. The essay is also evaluated based on writing style and mechanics, including whether the test taker used proper grammar and punctuation. The AWA has a separate score that is not factored into the total score. The score for the AWA ranges from zero to six at half point intervals.

The GMAT Integrated Reasoning section is the newest section of the test, added in July 2012. The section is meant to measure reasoning skills that are useful in a data-driven world. The questions in this section invole interpreting graphics, analyzing tables, integrating data from multiple sources and solving problems with multiple variables. The Integrated Reasoning section contains 12 questions and has a 30-minute time limit. Like the AWA, this section has it's own separate score and is not factored into the total score. The Integrated Reasoning score ranges from zero to eight in single-digit intervals. The total score is still by far the most significant score of the test, however as the Integrated Reasoning section becomes more established, its score is expected to grown in significance.

The GMAT Verbal Reasoning section and GMAT Quantitative Reasoning section are the two traditional sections of the GMAT. They each have 75 minute time-limits, making them the two longest sections sections of the test as well. The Verbal section contains 41 question and the Quantitative section has 37 problems. The question in the Verbal section include reading comprehension exercises, sentence correction questions that test grammar and language usage, and critical reasoning questions that assess how well test-takers evaluate arguments. The Quantitative section includes a variety of math, algebra, geometry and data interpretation problems as well as "data sufficiency" questions, which ask test takers to assess whether there is enough information available to solve the problem. These different questions types are intermingled throughout the section. The scores of these two section make up the GMAT total score, which is the most widely used score from the test. When business schools list the average GMAT scores of the incoming class of students, this total score calculated from the scores of the Math and Verbal sections is the score that they are citing.

London GMAT Test Locations

The GMAT is offered in several locations in the UK. In London the GMAT can be taken at:

Pearson Professional Centres-London Holborn
190 High Holborn
London
WC1V 7BH

There are eight other locations in the UK where the test is administed including two in Scotland, one in Northern Ireland, and the rest in various locations around England.

The test is offered year-round and on demand. Anyone interested in taking the GMAT should make an appointmentcentrally through the official GMAT Web site at www.mba.com.

How to Register for the GMAT in London

To schedule an appointment to take the GMAT in London (or anywhere else) test takers must establish an account at the official GMAT site www.mba.com. Once the account has been set up, test takers click the "find a test center" button, and enter "United Kingdom" into the search field. They will then see the 11 testing locations in the UK. Once a location is selected, a calendar of available time slots for taking the test will pop up.

Both establishing an account with the www.mba.com site and scheduling a time to take the test are relatively simple online processes that can be done quickly. Any changes, including rescheduling and cancelling test appointments, must also be done through the Web site.