Should I Take GMAT? A guide to Business school success

11 mins

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or the GMAT, is a computer-based standardized exam that is accepted globally for admission to graduate management/business programs. Should I take GMAT? The GMAT is a multiple-choice test taken by students who aim to pursue management or business programs, such as MBA programs. It is created and operated by the test maker GMAC.

Students often wonder, 'Should I take GMAT?' It makes it easier for business schools to evaluate aspiring students based on common parameters and measure their preparation for graduate-level academic work. The GMAT test is approximately 3.5 hours long, including test-taking time and two optional breaks. Along with the GMAT score, the business school admission committees look out for the student’s educational record, professional experience, and supporting documents to evaluate the student’s preparation for the MBA program. 

The GMAT exam tests the student’s critical thinking abilities, ability to analyze and determine quant and verbal material, and ability to think logically and resolve problems within limited time constraints. A student can obtain an excellent GMAT score if they are aware of reasoning and analyzing details efficiently. 

GMAT Sections is the official website of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the organization that administers the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). serves as a comprehensive resource for individuals interested in pursuing a graduate business degree, particularly an MBA (Master of Business Administration).

The GMAT Syllabus GMAT exam tests students' critical thinking skills and analysis abilities. However, the GMAT test is bifurcated into four different sections, which are mentioned below – 

1. Quantitative

The quantitative section of the GMAT exam is developed to test the student’s math knowledge, including statistics, geometry, algebra, and number properties. This section contains 31 questions, and the test provides 62 minutes to complete this section. 

2. Verbal

The GMAT verbal section tests the students' awareness associated with the ability to read, analyze arguments, and command standard written English. The verbal section contains critical reasoning, reading comprehension, and sentence correction. The total number of questions in this section is 36, to be answered within a limited time frame of 65 minutes.

3. Analytical Writing Assessment

The AWA section of the GMAT provides one question in which the students must analyze an argument within 30 minutes. In this section, the students are presented with a brief argument similar to a paragraph given in the critical reasoning question in the verbal section. The students are assigned the task of analyzing the soundness of the author’s evidence and reasoning and critiquing the author's argument. The score of this section ranges from 0 to 6 in half-point increments. Usually, business schools analyze the student’s writing abilities through this section. 

4. Integrated Reasoning 

This is the fourth section of the GMAT test, where the students are evaluated based on a combination of quantitative and verbal skills. The IR section asks for 12 questions that need to be completed in 30 minutes. The IR section contains similar quantitative concepts, just like the Quant section. However, this section uses specific problems that can be merged with verbal skills, such as reading comprehension and logical analysis. The IR section consists of four problem types: table analysis, graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, and multi-source reasoning. 

Apart from this, the GMAT test offers leverage to the test takers to shortlist the sequence of sections as per their desires. The students can opt for three orders – 

1. Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
2. Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal
3. Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

Should I take GMAT? A Good GMAT Score

What is GMAT?  The official GMAT score report will showcase five distinctive scores. However, these are the scores that are considered to be the most valuable from the perspective of business schools – 

1.    Total score
2.    Verbal score
3.    Quantitative score

A good GMAT score is a score that fits within the score range accepted by other MBA programs. The students may utilize averages and percentiles to check out how well they performed on the exam compared to other test takers. 

Average GMAT Score

Should I take GMAT? As per the Graduate management admission council (GMAC), two-thirds of GMAT test takers obtain a total score between 400 and 600. In the past three years, the average score is 574.51. Given below is the breakdown of the average scores as per different sections – 

  • Verbal: 27.26/51
  • Quantitative: 41.3/51
  • Integrated reasoning: 4.6/8
  • AWA: 4.43/6

To score more than 50% of the test takers, the students must attain a total score of more than 590 to 600. To score more than 25% of the test takers, the students must target to obtain a total score of 710 or higher. 

Advantages of Taking GMAT Test

Should I take GMAT, is often the question? Business schools regard the GMAT exam as one of the most reliable, well-understood, and time-tested gauges of academic accomplishment. The GMAT exam provides admissions officers access to the largest pool of applicants interested in attending graduate management institutions. A GMAT preparation offers the following are the benefits of taking the GMAT test: 

1. Efficient Evaluation Through Adaptive Testing: The GMAT exam employs adaptive computer testing (CAT), tailoring questions' difficulty based on the candidate's past replies and ability. This adaptive technique ensures a more efficient evaluation procedure by precisely measuring the candidate's skills and knowledge throughout the Quantitative and Verbal parts.

2. Uncompromising Test Security: GMAC, the organisation that created the GMAT exam, is a test security pioneer. They continually design and execute strict security measures to ensure the integrity and fairness of the exam. These safeguards, which include standardised test security standards, protocols, and advanced technology at testing facilities worldwide, ensure that candidates' performance correctly represents their ability.

3. Reliable and Comparable Scores: GMAT scores are generally regarded and acknowledged as an industry standard. The Total Score is used for ranking and provides a comparative score for evaluation. It is a full estimate of a candidate's abilities. This standardised technique enables schools to confidently evaluate candidates based on a single number while also allowing them to consider individual section scores.

4. Useful Decision-Making Information: The GMAT exam provides institutions with helpful information and insights to make educated decisions about talent discovery and evaluation for business education. The exam assists schools in identifying prospective individuals who can contribute to their programmes and thrive in business by examining candidates' talents, knowledge, and critical thinking abilities.

5. Enhanced Differentiation with Integrated Reasoning (IR) part: Developed in collaboration with business school admissions officers and industry experts, the IR part assesses key reasoning skills critical for success in business schools. Corporate recruiters recognise the importance of the IR section in evaluating candidates' skills for professional success. This extra information allows schools to distinguish between candidates with similar overall GMAT scores while being consistent with previous GMAT assessments.

6. Increased Diversity and Representation: The GMAT exam has seen considerable increases in participation from diverse demographic groups throughout the years. Women, African Americans, 18 to 23-year-olds(13-17 age group with parent consent), Europeans, and people with non-business undergraduate degrees are increasingly taking the GMAT exam. Furthermore, test takers represent 186 citizenship groups, demonstrating the exam's worldwide reach and inclusivity.

Factors to Consider When Deciding the Right Time to take the GMAT

Should I take GMAT? When students decide to take the GMAT test using the GMAT preparation kit , it is usually based on multiple factors, which are – 

1. Factor 1: Selecting Business Schools - When determining which business schools to target, numerous aspects must be considered. You can choose to transmit your GMAT scores to five business schools for free on the day of the exam. However, after that, each additional score report costs $35. To prevent excessive costs, it is best to report your scores to the colleges to which you will apply.

2. Factor 2: Target Business School Application Deadlines - Once you've narrowed your list of potential business schools, examining their application dates is critical. As a general guideline, you should have your GMAT score ready at least three months before the application date for your desired business school.

Most business schools have multiple application rounds, usually called Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3, with deadlines in September/October, early January, and April. By having your GMAT score accessible ahead of time, you give yourself enough time to complete other application components, such as essays and references, without the extra stress of GMAT preparation.

The cost of the GMAT exam varies depending on the region and currency. As of my knowledge, the registration fee for the GMAT is around $250 globally. In India, GMAT costs $275 for In-centre exam and $300 for online Exam . When compared to other standardized tests, such as the SAT or GRE, the GMAT tends to be in a similar price range.

3. Factor 3: Preparation Time Estimation - You can estimate the number of hours needed for GMAT preparation now that you've chosen your prospective business schools and their application deadlines. For this estimation, a simple formula can be used: GMAT Preparation Time (in Hours) = [Target GMAT Score - Current Estimated GMAT Score] X [7/10] X [1 + CBT]

• Target GMAT Score refers to the final score you want to achieve.
• Your current estimated GMAT score is based on a GMAT Mock Test.
• 7/10 represents the work required to improve a 10-point score by seven hours.
• CBT (Confidence Building Time Factor) values might be 0.0 or 0.25. It considers the extra time required to build core

conceptual knowledge in areas where you may be weak. Because the GMAT measures Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning, the value of CBT is 0.25 if you are particularly deficient in any of these areas (as determined by your mock test score).

According to a GMAC survey, students who score 700 or higher on the GMAT spend an average of 90 hours preparing. Should I take GMAT? As a result, it is best to set up 90-120 hours, or 3-4 months, for continuous GMAT preparation. A personalised study plan can boost your chances of passing by 200% while lowering your preparation time by 25%.

4. Factor 4: Allowing Time for a Retake of the GMAT - Given that approximately one-fifth of GMAT test-takers retake the exam, it is wise to include time in your strategy for a potential retake. A retake may be necessary for various reasons, including pursuing a business school with a higher average GMAT score, being part of an over-represented applicant pool, or experiencing anxiety during the first attempt.

The GMAT terms and conditions require a minimum of 16 days between consecutive attempts, with a maximum of five per year and eight-lifetime attempts. Given these considerations, it is recommended that you complete the GMAT at least six months before the application date for your desired business school. This timetable allows for enough time to retake the GMAT if necessary.

5. Factor 5: Considering Other MBA Application Components - The MBA application process is a marathon, not a sprint. The road from taking the GMAT to receiving interview calls and gaining admission to your desired business school might take 8-12 months.

Aside from the GMAT, you must dedicate effort to writing engaging essays, working with recommenders to write excellent letters of recommendation, and preparing for business school interviews. International students must also account for paperwork and visa requirements. Allocating 3-6 months for these components is fair, depending on whether you are a working professional or a student.

It's important to note that your GMAT score bears typically a 22% weightage in your business school application. Understanding the entire MBA application process and the weightage given to each factor is critical for effective planning.

Considering all of the considerations mentioned above, the best time to take the GMAT is roughly 12-18 months before the start date of your desired business school programme. For example, if you intend to start a programme in the fall of 2023, you should preferably have your GMAT score ready by August 2022.

6. Factor 6: Time Required for Other Tests (TOEFL, etc.) - Depending on the requirements of your desired business schools, you may need to take English proficiency tests such as the TOEFL or IELTS if you are a non-native English speaker. When deciding when to take the GMAT, it is critical to consider the time required to prepare for and take these tests.

7. Factor 7: Availability of Test Centres - Because the business school admission season follows a predictable pattern, GMAT test centres are frequently in high demand at specific times of the year. To ensure you can meet your MBA application deadline, book your GMAT test date 2-3 months before your intended test date.

You can currently take the GMAT Online from the convenience of your own home at any time of day. If a convenient time slot is unavailable, you may need to travel to another city or wait for testing availability in your current location. As a result, when determining the best time to take the GMAT, it is critical to consider test centre availability.

Considering the above variables will allow you to decide when to take the GMAT, enabling you to plan and execute your MBA application efficiently.


Finally, the GMAT exam is valuable for prospective students seeking admission to graduate management or business programs. It assesses critical thinking ability, analytical capabilities, and logical reasoning in a timed setting. The exam has four sections: quantitative, verbal, analytical writing, and integrated reasoning. A solid GMAT score within the range approved by MBA programmes is essential for successful applications.


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