Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
About RPIAcademicsResearchStudent LifeAdmissionsNewsTour
The Office of Graduate Education, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Office of Graduate Education


GMAT at a Glance

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is probably unlike any test you've ever taken in your academic career. The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test designed to provide a common yardstick by which business school admissions committees can measure applicants and their ability to succeed in their M.B.A. programs.

The test consists of three sections and is scored on a range between 200 and 800. Analytical Writing Assessment (60 min - Two 30-min essays), Quantitative (75 min - 37 questions) and Verbal (75 min - 41 questions).

The Computer Adaptive Test (CAT): The GMAT computer adaptive test (CAT) is more than just a computerized version of a paper-and-pencil test. On the GMAT, the CAT actually adapts to your performance as you're taking the test. Understanding how the CAT works and knowing a few strategies specific to this particular format can have a direct, positive impact on your score.

The Computer Adaptive Test (CAT)

When you begin the GMAT, the computer assumes you have an average score and gives you a question of medium difficulty. As you get answers correct, the computer serves up more difficult questions and increases its estimate of your ability. And vice versa, as you answer incorrectly, the computer serves up easier questions and decreases its estimate of your ability. Your score is determined by an algorithm that calculates your ability level based not just on what you got right or wrong; but also on the difficulty level of the questions you answered.

Your GMAT Score

You only have one shot… Because each answer directly affects the next question, the CAT does not allow you to go back to questions you've already answered. On the GMAT CAT, you see only one question at a time. You won't see the next question until you've provided an answer to the one in front of you. Once you've confirmed your answer, that's it.

If you don't know, guess. Since you can't revisit previous questions, if you don't know an answer, guess. Try to guess strategically by eliminating wrong answer choices, etc. But since there is a penalty for each unanswered question, it's even better to guess randomly than leave a question unanswered.

How to Register for the GMAT: You can register online for the GMAT at mba.com. The cost—or "appointment fee"—to take the exam is currently $250. The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) takes personal checks, money orders, and most major credit cards. If you're re-taking the GMAT, just follow the same procedures. However, keep in mind that you are not allowed to take the GMAT more than once in any 31-day period.

MBA.com - The Official GMAT Web site

Your GMAT Score: GMAT scores are used by business schools to provide a common yardstick to compare candidates for admission. On the GMAT, you will actually receive four scores: • An overall score, ranging from 200-800 • A math subscore, ranging from 0-60 • A verbal subscore, ranging from 0-60 • A score for your AWA, ranging from 0-6

Your Percentile Rank: Each of the above scores will be accompanied by a percentile rank. The percentile rank highlights what proportion of test takers scored lower than you on the test. The higher the percentile rank, the better you did. For example, if you received a rank of 56, you did better than 56% of test takers. This number shows business schools exactly where you fell with respect to other candidates who took the test.

Your Essay Score: Your essay will be given a separate score on a 0-6 scale by two different graders—a human and a computer called the "e-rater." Your essay is graded holistically, taking into account content, writing style, and grammar. If the two grades agree, that score will be assigned. If they are markedly different, a third grader, a person, will read the essay to determine the grade.

So what makes a great score? Although the median score is approximately 540, the latest U.S. News and World Report guide reports that the average GMAT scores of the top programs—such as Stanford, Sloan, Kellogg and Wharton—hover around 709. As you can see, the environment is extremely competitive—a 709 translates into the 92nd percentile. What you consider a good score will depend on your own expectations and goals. Still, you should keep in mind that top M.B.A. programs consider at least a 600 as competitive. Research the average scores of your target schools and then develop a prep plan to achieve it.

Students are welcome to contact the Albany Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions Center in Stuyvesant Plaza to take a free GRE and/or GMAT computer adaptive test. Please contact them directly at (518) 489-0077 or Sandra.McIntyre@Kaplan.com. These scores are only for practice and will not be submitted for admissions. Good luck!