Introduction to the GMAT
The following sections will give you a brief description of the importance, format, content, and scoring of the GMAT.
Why is the GMAT important?
The GMAT is a required component of your application to business school. GMAT scores are used to predict your success in the first year. A high score indicates that you possess solid analytical and verbal skills needed for the academic rigor that is required to pursue an MBA. Though the GMAT score is not the only piece of your application, it is a significant one.
A GMAT score at or above the mean of other applicants will improve your chances of admission. A good score can show that you have taken your MBA application seriously. In short, your GMAT score can be equated to what you choose to wear on a job interview. Alone, a fancy suit will not get you the job and ripped jeans might not lose you the job, but which outfit gives the right impression?
How is the GMAT Scored and What is a Good Score?
You will receive three scores from the GMAT, subsection scores for Quantitative and Verbal and a total score that ranges from 200 to 800. You will also receive a percentile for each subsection and for the total score. Percentiles indicate the percentage of test takers that scored below your reported score. You can see a complete percentile breakdown by visiting Interpreting Your Scores and downloading from GMAC a small file with the percentiles listed.
Here is a partial list of percentiles:
Percent Below 
Quant (0  60) 
50% 
37 
75% 
45 
85% 
48 
95% 
50 
Percent Below 
Verbal (0  60) 
50% 
28 
75% 
35 
85% 
37 
95% 
42 
Percent Below 
Total (200  800) 
50% 
540 
75% 
610 
85% 
650 
95% 
710 
Note that the scaled (0  60) score that places a testtaker in the 50% for quantitative (meaning 50% of all testtakers score below this mark in quant) is very different than the score that places a testtaker in the 50% for verbal.
What is a Good Score?
This is an ageold question and the answer is always necessarily vague since the GMAT score is not a lone determinant for admission. The simple answer is a good score makes you a contender for the school you want to go to. The more complex answer is a good score is one that reflects your preparation and level of commitment to the business school application process. Sending in scores that do not force the admissions committee to question whether you can handle the work at their school will demonstrate that you are serious about applying and aware of the impact of your score.
A good GMAT score alone will not get you admitted, however a below average one can be an unnecessary roadblock, particularly if you do not have considerable and unique accomplishments to offset a subpar score. It is much more difficult for an admissions officer to persuade the admissions committee that they should consider a candidate with a GMAT score of 400 than one with 620.
How is the GMAT Structured?
The GMAT consists of three sections structured as shown below:
Number of Questions 
Allotted Time 
Scoring 

Analytical Writing Assessment Analysis of an Issue Analysis of an Argument 
1 1 
60 minutes 30 minutes 30 minutes 
0  6 (halfpoint increments) 
Quantitative Problem Solving Data Sufficiency 
37 
75 minutes 
0  60 (1point increments) 
Verbal Sentence Correction Critical Reasoning Reading Comprehension 
41 
75 minutes 
0  60 (1point increments) 
What's tested on the Quantitative Section?
Knowledge of the following:
Basic Operations and Properties: Properties of integers, fractions, decimals, ratios and proportions, percents, and powers and roots of numbers
Basic algebra: Simplifying and manipulating algebraic equations, solving linear equations, solving quadratic equations, manipulating expressions with exponents, inequalities, absolute value, and functions
Basic geometry: Lines, convex polygons, triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, rectangular solids, cylinders, and coordinate geometry
Arithmetic and Word problems: Rate, work, mixtures, interest (simple and compound), and profit
Statistics: Probability, sets (overlapping groups), counting methods (combinations and permutations), and descriptive statistics (mean, median, mode, range, standard deviation)
Ability to apply knowledge of above areas
Ability to differentiate between information that is relevant to solving a problem and information that is irrelevant
There are two types of quantitative questions: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. Each type tests the same content areas but each tests them in a different way.
What's tested on the Verbal Section?
Ability to comprehend written material
Ability to understand logical relationships between points in a passage
Ability to analyze written material
Ability to identify and use correct grammatical expression as it relates to the following:
Pronounnoun agreement
Pronoun agreement and ambiguity
Verb tense
Subjectverb agreement
Parallel construction of lists and comparisons
Proper use of modifiers
Correct usage of idioms
The Verbal section tests these skills with three types of questions: Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension.
Earning your best score on the GMAT will require that you gain understanding of the rules and principles that govern each of the above quantitative and verbal areas, learn how to apply them in a variety of contexts, and learn how to most efficiently approach various questions. The following sections will demonstrate Bell Curves methods for doing this.