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What’s the GMAT really testing?

What’s the GMAT really testing?


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what is the gmat testing

What’s the GMAT really testing?

The GMAT tests “executive reasoning” skills — by using quant and verbal questions of different types.


“Why do I have to take this stupid test?”


There comes a time during almost every MBA candidate’s GMAT prep that they ask that question.


The answer is important —- because it gets right to heart of your motivation to do what it takes to hit your target score.


A brief history of the GMAT


Way back in the 1950’s, a group of top MBA schools (some of which are still in the top 10) got together to solve a specific problem: then needed a standardized way to test which candidates would have highest potential to succeed in an MBA program. They focused on what they called “executive reasoning” skills — the ability to take diverse and inconsistent pieces of data (like in a business setting) and process it into decision ready information — and then make the decision.


They needed to use material that every candidate had been exposed to — so they settled on verbal and quant. They then designed a test that used the same cognitive and reasoning skills as business situations called for. That was the GMAT. The approach was so effective that core foundation of the GMAT has hardly changed — only the introduction of computer / online environments has allowed for the dynamic CAT (computer aided testing) platform to be used.


The GMAT uses the same mental pathways and processing as core business decisions


The reason the GMAT is the best predictor of first year MBA success (across all areas not just grades) is that it tests your ability to reason through quantitative and verbal information using smart process, elimination of irrelevant elements and elevating data to decision driving insights.


Many of my clients who have management roles have come back to me and said they’ve applied some of the processes we use to solve GMAT problems (visualization, organizing numbers into tables etc.) to improve their analyses at work. The result has often been recognition and even promotions / raises. Why? Because these skills demonstrate the ability to engage in management level reasoning.


We want our clients to understand that the GMAT is a relevant and fair way to test MBA candidates


The GMAT is surprisingly effective for several reasons:

1. It standardizes the testing of reasoning skills — something that is otherwise a very subjective process.


2. It uses quant and verbal because they are core skills that every person is exposed to in school. That foundation is needed to test reasoning skills.


3. The skills a strong GMAT coach can give you are transferable to real business situations (we’ve seen it hundreds of times with our clients).


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