About 1,300 students took the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) in 1954, when it was presented for the first time to the public in February of the same year. It was developed by an alliance of 9 schools that were later to become known as The Graduate Management Admission Council. The goal of Columbia, Harvard, Northwestern, Rutgers, Seton Hall, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University was to create an entrance exam that could evaluate the skills of candidates as objectively as possible. Since then, the GMAT has turned into the gatekeeper of world class graduate degrees in business, management, accountancy, finance, and economy.
Back then it was offered in five countries. Now, it is available in 600 centres in 114 countries around the world. According to GMAC, the owner of the Graduate Management Admission Test, 6,000 programmes in some 2,100 universities and institutions use it. The GMAT test is used to assess candidates' problem solving, analytical, reasoning and writing capacities. The minimum score is 200 and the maximum is 800.
Nowadays, it contains four parts: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), the Quantitative section, and the Verbal section. It has been modified as it has developed, and some parts (e.g. testing on antonyms and directed memory) have been scrapped. The last major change occurred on 5 June 2012, when Integrated Reasoning (IR) was added to the test.
The idea of Integrated Reasoning is to assess the ability to combine data from multiple sources, to interpret information and the likelihood of results, and the ability to convert quantitative data between graphical and verbal formats. It comprises 12 questions that have to be answered in 30 minutes. Applicants may use a calculator but may not move to previous screens to change their answers or go back to skipped questions. The sections in IR are graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning.
The Analytical Writing Assessment - part 1 of GMAT- also lasts for 30 minutes and concentrates on the analysis of an argument. In the first part, candidates explain the logic behind a certain argument and present their point of view. Here, critical thinking and the ability to communicate is measured.
The Quantitative and Verbal sections allow 75 minutes each and test takers have to answer respectively 37 and 41 questions. The quantitative section tests problem-solving and the capability to reason quantitatively. The verbal section consists of reading comprehension, critical reasoning and sentence correction questions.
During the testing year 2014 (between June 2013 and June 2014) more than 243,000 people took the GMAT. This is a small rise on a year-to-year basis, but a drop of more than 40,000 in comparison to TY 2012. Participation in GMAT remains below the levels of 2010 and 2011 too. During TY 2014, the majority of examinees applied for MBA (66.7%), while 30.2% applied for other Master's degrees and 3.1% for Doctoral or other studies. More than 87,000 test takers were American; more than 74,000 were citizens of East and Southeast Asia, and more than 30,000 were from Central and South Asia. About 18,000 Western Europeans took the test.
It would not be correct to generalise that the GMAT fully reflects the qualities of a person, as there is no testing system that does that. Moreover, GMAT does not measure abilities such as leadership potential, communication, and social and team-working skills. One shouldn't draw definitive conclusions on the basis of the unified test scores - they concern the level of the respective educational systems and personal motivation only.
The world median score in TY 2014 was 550. The highest median result - 603 -was obtained by Australians and citizens of the Pacific islands, but in fact only 1,000 of them sat the test. The second place goes to East and Southeast Asia with 577, followed by Central and South Asia with 569 points. Western Europe citizens' mean score was 557, and that of the US was 537. At the bottom of the table are Africa with 445 points and the Middle East with 430.
In the last few years, some schools have tended to relax their traditional GMAT criteria, or grant GMAT waivers to students with valuable qualifications and/or more years of professional experience. But the test still remains an important criterion in the academic world. Even if there is not a specific requirement to take the test, if you present good GMAT results in addition to your application, the Admissions Committee would only interpret them to your advantage.
This article has been produced by Advent Group and featured in the 2015-2016 Access MBA Guide.
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