What is the GMAT exam?
The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is a core part of the business school admissions process, for both MBA and Master’s business and management programmes. It is a standardised, computer adaptive test designed to assess your skills in analytical writing, verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and integrated reasoning, all of which are vital to your success in business.
More than 7,000 programmes at approximately 2,300 business schools accept the GMAT as part of their admissions process.
What GMAT score do I need for Imperial?
At Imperial College Business School, we require the GMAT for our Full-Time MBA and MSc International Management. For these programmes we require a minimum GMAT score of 600.
Having a good GMAT score will also add weight to your application for other programmes, such as our part-time MBAs and MSc Business Analytics.
Why is the GMAT required?
The GMAT helps business schools to assess academic potential and gives a consistent point of comparison between candidates from a diverse range of academic and industry backgrounds, which helps with admissions decisions.
A good GMAT score will help you stand out during the admissions process. Taking the exam shows you are serious about your studies and future career. Some benefits are:
- Helps to highlight your skills and boost your confidence in key areas such as critical thinking and analysis
- Prepares you to become successful as a student and in business
- If you aspire to work in consulting, many top companies will look for a GMAT of 700 or more – so putting the work in now will support your future career goals.
Is the GMAT difficult?
Whilst the GMAT is a challenging exam, it is not an intelligence test, and a high score is achievable with proper preparation.
Over the years we’ve seen a lot of bright candidates underperform, so make sure that you understand the structure of the test, question types and how the scoring works – as well as doing plenty of practice and revision. You should give yourself at least 2-3 months to prepare.
Practice, practice and practice. The more practice questions you do, the more comfortable you get with the format of questions and the topics they cover.
- Leila Azimova, Full-Time MBA alumnus
Time management is important as you prepare for your test – particularly if you’re balancing your revision with professional and family commitments. Plan in advance if you’re balancing preparation with a full-time job or family.
I took some time off before the test but before that, I would fit in an hour or two daily.
- Devanshi Shah, MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management
You have around two minutes per question for quantitative reasoning, and even less than that for verbal reasoning – and you will lose significant marks if you rush the later questions or fail to complete the test altogether. Make sure you practice your timing as well as the different question types!
How do I prepare for the GMAT?
Make sure you understand the format, question types and scoring of the test before you take it, so you have a strategy for success.
There are a wide range of ways that you can prepare for the GMAT, including books of practice questions, online resources, apps, private tuition, or preparation classes. What’s most important is finding the right approach for you.
I used several different resources to study for the test and set myself a goal for what score I wanted to achieve. I started with various books that guide you through all the different components of the test. I also bought the Official Guides with the questions from the previous years. These are very helpful as practice is key to improving your score.
- Paul Ludwig, MSc Management
Our partners at Manhattan Prep offer a range of GMAT coaching services and test preparation, receive 10% off with our discount code. Brush up on official advice on preparing for the exam from GMAT.
When should I start preparing?
Your GMAT results are valid for five years, so you can take the test well in advance of making your application to a Business School.
By having a good score in place early on, you can reduce the stress of preparing for the test later and put yourself in a stronger position to get into your target school. Research from the Graduate Management Admissions Council shows that candidates achieve the best GMAT results when they take the test during their undergraduate degree – so it’s never too early to start preparing!
How much does the GMAT cost?
The cost of the GMAT is based on the location of your test centre or your location when taking the online exam. Find out about location-specific pricing and regulations on the GMAT website.
GMAT vs GRE
The main difference between the GMAT and GRE is that the GMAT is typically taken by candidates looking to only go to a business school, whereas the GRE is accepted for most graduate programmes, including those outside of a business school.
At Imperial College Business School, we accept both GMAT and GRE. Taking one or the other will not put you at a disadvantage. Check the entry requirements for your programme before applying.
Common GMAT myths
Schools vary in their approach towards candidates who have taken the test several times before reaching the required score – and GMAT allows you to cancel scores that you’re not happy with. Make sure you understand your target school’s position on this before you take the test, as you only have two minutes to decide whether to accept or cancel your score.
At Imperial, we never penalise candidates who need a few attempts to reach 600 – it demonstrates your grit and determination to succeed, and these are qualities we look for in our MBA students.
The quantitative and verbal reasoning sections are adaptive tests with questions of varying difficulty depending on whether you answered the previous one correctly or not. This means that even candidates who score very highly will have a reasonable number of incorrect answers – the important thing is which questions you get right or wrong.
It’s true that these sections don’t impact your overall score out of 800, but they are still key elements of the GMAT – and demonstrate valuable skills that will be relevant to your MBA. For us, the best GMAT results comprise of a strong overall score with good, well-balanced results across the elements.
If you’ve done well in quantitative and verbal reasoning but significantly worse in analytical writing and integrated reasoning, the Admissions Committee won’t know if you were unwilling or unable to do these sections. And to be honest, neither of these is a good sign!
"For me, taking the GMAT was more of a learning process than an exam. It helped me to develop key business skills, such as critical thinking, integrated reasoning, and precise writing, which have benefited me in my MBA studies and beyond."