About the GMAT

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to frequently asked questions and everything you need to know about the GMAT.


What is the GMAT?

The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is a computerized multiple-choice exam required for admission to graduate business programs. The GMAT tests math and language skills and includes an essay section. The multiple-choice portions of the test are computer adaptive–meaning the test reacts to your performance and adjusts question difficulty accordingly. The GMAT is offered year-round at computer-based testing centers.

The GMAT does not test how smart you are, how good a college student you were, or how good an MBA student you will be. The GMAT tests some basic knowledge and reasoning abilities, but most of all it tests how good a test taker you are. An efficient, strategic test-taker will score much better than an otherwise bright, studious person who finds it difficult to enter the unique mindset of the GMAT. That’s unfair, but so is business school. So whatever your strengths, it makes sense to maximize your ability to take the test.

How is the GMAT structured?

The GMAT consists of four sections, an Analytical Writing Assessment (Essay), a Quantitative (Math) section, an Integrated Reasoning section, and a Verbal section.

Analysis of an Argument: Essay – 30 minutes

Quantitative: 37 questions – 75 minutes

Integrated Reasoning: 12 questions – 30 minutes

Verbal: 41 questions – 75 minutes

Completing the section within the time allotted is critical, as there is a severe point penalty for not finishing.

What is a good score on the GMAT?

The GMAT is scored on a scale of 200-800, with a median score around 530 (varying from year to year).

A “good” score depends entirely on the schools to which you are applying and your overall strength as a candidate. In addition to GMAT score, business schools consider your work experience, undergraduate performance, references, and application essays.

Very few programs will publish required GMAT scores, but most make available mean scores of their most recent entering class, and often a range of the middle 80% of scores. This latter figure removes the top and bottom 10% of scores, indicating that a score above this range would be very likely to gain acceptance, while scores below this range would have to rely on unusually strong additional factors to gain acceptance.

For instance, the University of Washington business school published the following statistics:

  • Mean GMAT score: 679
  • Middle 80% range: 630 to: 730

When should I take the GMAT?

The majority of MBA programs require you to start in the fall, so you should plan to take your GMAT test in January or February of the same year. If you are starting your program at a time other than fall, you should plan to take your exam about 6 months before you start. Give yourself at least three months to prepare for the test, but it’s never too early to start preparing! Start your preparation today by scheduling a diagnostic test to assess your current test taking skills and receive a recommendation for your preparation.

How do I register for the GMAT?

The SAT is offered seven times each year: March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. We recommend you take the SAT no later than March of your junior year, so that you have the option of retaking the test in the late spring or fall. However, no student should take the test before he or she has had time to adequately prepare for the exam.

Sandweiss Test Prep offers courses year-round in both Seattle and Bellevue for every test date. See our SAT course page for more info.