College graduates planning to apply to business school must first take the GMAT, or Graduate Management Admissions Test. Programs like the Harvard Business School, Tusk School of Business, and the Columbia Business School require GMAT scores as part of the application process and review applicants in rounds. Depending on the school, the deadlines for each round vary, but the deadline for consideration in the first round is generally in early fall of each calendar year with deadlines for other rounds staggered over several months.
Taking the GMAT is different than the ACT or SAT. Because the test is taken through a computerized system, you must simply make an appointment at an authorized testing facility during a test session and reserve a seat. It also doesn’t rely on your skills as a student or measure your intelligence level. Instead, the GMAT tests your basic knowledge and reasoning capabilities, giving the advantage to students who are able to quickly and strategically answer questions.
There are three sections of the GMAT: a two-part Analytical Writing Assessment that requires an essay, a Quantitative section comprised of math questions, and a 75-minute Verbal section. Students are subjected to a severe penalty if sections are not completed within the allotted time period. Unlike other standardized tests, the GMAT’s multiple-choice sections are computer adaptive, meaning the test actively reacts to your test performance and adjusts the difficulty of questions accordingly.
As with many standardized tests, test scores and results for the GMAT will not be ready for a few weeks after the test, so you should allow for a couple of months between your GMAT test date and the application deadline for your preferred MBA program. It’s common knowledge that admissions departments at major business schools prefer candidates that apply during the first round, so if you want to hit those early fall deadlines, taking the GMAT sooner rather than later is a good idea.
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