Why you MUST take the GMAT?

Most of you are planning to appear for Indian entrance tests for MBA such as the CAT, CET, XAT, etc. Given the high competition in such tests, I am sure that a few questions are lingering in the back of your mind at this stage – what would I do if I don’t perform well in this test? What if there was an alternate option which could save my 1 year in case I don’t get a school of my choice?GMAT

What if we say that there exists an option worthy of being considered as an alternate to the best of national tests? Yes, its the GMAT.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Let’s break a myth here at the outset. It is widely believed that the GMAT is a test for those who have many years of work experience, and that too for only international B-schools or Indian Executive MBA programs. However, the fact is that through the GMAT, you can get into many top notch schools worldwide (such as London Business School, Kellogg School of Management, et al) without any or limited work experience. Also, the GMAT is steadily finding acceptance in flagship programs (including ones that require no work experience) of top notch Indian B-schools (such as ISB, SP Jain, GLIM, TAPMI, MICA and more).

In this blog, let’s focus on the top international B-school programs that require little or no work experience and are worthy of being considered alternate to your top Indian B-schools. But before we get into this discussion, let’s take a look at the GMAT and why you should definitely consider it as your alternate test.

Why GMAT is a “perfect” alternate backup option?

Well, apart from the fact that there is a plethora of good B-schools where you can get into, with or without work experience, even the test offers a lot of advantages over other tests. Let’s have a look:

1. The GMAT is a safe bet: One of the most scientifically designed tests, the GMAT is extremely standardized and has no “shock elements”. Here is why nothing can beat GMAT when it comes to standardization:

a) The test structure (section sequence, timing and breaks), question types, subject areas and even sub-topics are extremely well defined.

Test Strcuture Duration Question Duration per Question  Question Types  Scoring System  
AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment) 30 minutes 1 essay topic   Analysis of Argument Scored on a scale of 0-6  
IR (Integrated Reasoning) 30 minutes 12 Questions 150 Seconds / Question Multi-Source Reasoning
Graphics Interpretation
Two-Part Analysis
Table Analysis
Scored on a scale of 1-8  
Quantitative Section 75 minutes 37 questions 121 Seconds / Question Data Sufficiency
Problem Solving
Scored on the scale of 0-60 Total Score on the scale of 200-800
Verbal Section 75 minutes 41 questions 108 Seconds / Question Reading Comprehension
Critical Reasoning
Sentence Correction
Scored on the scale of 0-60
Total Duration of GMAT® 210 minutes

b) The GMAT typically experiments with un-scored questions for a sufficient period of time before introducing them as scored questions on the test.
c) The GMAT is computer adaptive. This means that the test adapts itself based on how you perform. If you get questions wrong, you will start getting easy questions. Thus the score that you get in the end is extremely predictable.
d) Since the GMAT is a highly standardized test, there is hardly any variation in the scores and therefore the percentiles. This means that if a 700 on the GMAT translates to 89 percentile this year, it will continue to translate to a very similar percentile in the next iterations.

With the GMAT, you need not go around preparing for anything and everything. Instead, you need to do an extremely targeted preparation. If you have prepared well for the test, your score will certainly reflect that. As compared to other tests, the standard deviation of performance in practice tests and the actual GMAT test is extremely low.

2. The GMAT takes less time to prepare: While you would normally spend anywhere between 6 months to 1 year to prepare for Indian entrance tests, the GMAT takes spend 1 to 4 months to prepare. This is basically because the question types and topics are well defined. The level of questions asked in Quantitative section is basic high school math.

3. You can prepare for the GMAT together with many Indian entrance tests: If you have prepared for the CAT or other Indian B-school entrance tests, you will have already covered a lot of areas in the GMAT. We believe that if you have prepared for the CAT, another 2 to 3 weeks of preparation is sufficient to ace the GMAT.

We have seen many instances of students preparing for the GMAT and CAT and acing them simultaneously. One such example is Abhishek Aggarwal, a student of IMS Delhi, who appeared for CAT and GMAT and scored a 99+ percentile in both. Today, he has admits from London Business School (ranked 6th in the world) as well as IIM A apart from a host of other top league international and Indian B-schools. Another interesting fact is that Abhishek, like many of you, is a recent graduate with no work experience!

4. Retake the test after 16 days up to 5 times a year: Indian tests are typically held once a year. If you took the test in 2015 and weren’t happy with your scores, you have to now wait to again reappear for the test in 2016. So this delays your plans by a year. The GMAT, on the other hand, is held all through the year. So you can schedule your test date and time slot according to your convenience. And if you are not happy with your score, you can simply cancel it and retake after 16 days. And of course, you can take the test up to 5 times a year – so basically you get 5 attempts a year. Who can beat that?

5. GMAT scores are valid for 5 years: Imagine this. You take an Indian entrance test this year and scored a 96 percentile. You aren’t happy with the schools you are getting and plan to retake the test next year and score a 98 or 99 percentile. What if your score takes a dip instead – say you end up with a 92 percentile? What will you do now? You can no longer use the 96 percentile that you scored the previous year.

The GMAT, however, gives a huge advantage in this aspect – your scores are valid for 5 years. So you can take the test this year and use the score 2 years later, and B-schools will treat you equal to those who are applying with fresh scores!

6. Power of Score Cancellation and Reinstatement: The flexibility that GMAT are almost never ending! Instead of a waiting period before you find out how you fared in the test, you get your unofficial score report the moment you complete the GMAT.

Now there can be two scenarios – (i) you get a score that makes you happy – celebrate with a pint of beer of two! Or (ii) you get a score that doesn’t match your expectation. In the second case, the GMAT allows you to cancel your score in such a case.  So you scored a 710 while you were expecting a 750. You cancel your score and it gets wiped off the records. Even better, up to 4 years and 11 months from when you took the test, if you want to get back that cancelled score, you can reinstate your cancelled score and use it!

Therefore, whatever your plans are, you should consider the GMAT as a parallel option to reduce the risks that you bear.



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