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What is the GMAT and how do I apply?
IV Ranga Rao
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September 20, 2007

The Graduate Management Admissions Test, or GMAT as it is more popularly known, was created by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) to measure the abilities of the applicant aspiring to undertake higher education in the field of business or management.


Over the 50 years of its use, the GMAT has been repeatedly studied, tested, modified and updated to ensure that it continues to help predict performance in the first year or midway through a graduate management programme. The GMAT exam is conducted under standard conditions across 150 countries, with the highest level of security, to ensure that the scores are comparable across all applicants.


MBA programmes typically attract applications from talented individuals with diverse academic and work experiences, unlike many other programmes where subject-relevant education is a pre-requisite.

Such applications come from various countries, regions, education systems and specialisations. While diversity in applications is desired, it also poses the challenge of comparability for the admissions officers since they have to ensure that applicants who finally enrol as students are able to complete the programme successfully.



The GMAT is extremely reliable when it comes to predicting academic performance in graduate level management programmes. The GMAC routinely conducts validation studies to understand how GMAT scores are related to academic performance of students in various programmes.


It has been found that there is a high degree of correlation (0.41) between the GMAT score and the grade obtained by the students during the MBA programme. This correlation is higher than the correlation between the grades during the MBA programmes and those obtained by these students at their undergraduate degree (Bachelor's degree). Therefore, the basic premise on which the GMAT was founded stands justified.


Also, the average reliability of the GMAT score is 0.92; this means that if one candidate takes the test more than once there is a probability of 92 per cent of her/ him getting the same score.


The global benchmark

The GMAT score being more reliable in predicting the performance of the student during the graduate management programme compared to the grades obtained during undergraduate study, it has thus become an invaluable tool to assess applicants' potential for success in an MBA programme.


Accordingly, the GMAT has emerged as a global benchmark for evaluating applicants for admission to business schools across the globe. In fact, almost all the top business schools make the GMAT a mandatory part of the application.


The global acceptability of the GMAT has also eliminated the need of various tests for each school, region or country. By taking this test an applicant can apply to most business schools in the world irrespective of the geography in which it may be located.


Scenario in India

The GMAT is increasingly gaining popularity in India as can be seen from the graph below. The reasons for this can be attributed to:

Method of administration

The GMAT is a computer-based test. It therefore requires some basic knowledge of working on a computer and a decent typing speed on the keyboard to be able to compose and type the essays on the computer.


The test is administered at the authorised testing centres by Pearson VUE, the organisation authorised by the Graduate Management Admission Council to administer this test.


Test centres

Testing centres are located in 150 countries. In India the test is administered in the following cities.

  • Hyderabad
  • Bangalore
  • Mumbai
  • Chennai
  • Kolkata
  • Cochin
  • Ahmedabad
  • Allahabad
  • New Delhi

A complete list of the centres can be found on the GMAT website.


Identification requirements

The GMAC requires applicants to produce valid proof of identity to gain entry into the test centre. For India, and a few other countries, the only acceptable proof of identity is a passport. For other countries, other forms of identification like driving license, national identity cards or military identity cards may be acceptable.


Dates of test

The test is administered throughout the year at all the test centres, barring certain holidays. However, one can only appear for the test by prior appointment and walk-in test takers are not entertained. Appointments for the test can be scheduled:


~ Online

~ By Phone (+91 120 439 7830 for India)

~ By mail

~ By fax


Online test scheduling is the fastest and most convenient way of scheduling an appointment to take the test. You will need to register on the site to enable you to schedule the appointment and you will need a credit card to pay the test fee.


Since India has the largest number of GMAT takers in the world after the US, it is advisable to schedule your appointment well in time. Ideally you should schedule your appointment at least two months before the intended test date. Remember, the test slots get filled very soon as you approach the application deadline for the Indian School of Business and those of the US B-schools, and the harder it is to get an appointment. After all, it is the early bird catches the worm!


The GMAC also monitors the status of appointments and if the slots have nearly filled up they may open additional slots; hence, it is advisable to keep checking the website to see if any additional slots have been created to meet the additional demand.

The facility to reschedule an appointment also exists, although there is a fee associated with this service. You should use this only in cases where unforeseen circumstances prevent you from taking the test on the appointed date and time. It is better than not showing up at the test centre and forfeiting your test fee.


Please note that you have to send in your request for rescheduling at least seven days before the originally scheduled date otherwise the entire test fee will be forfeited.



The fee for the GMAT is US$ 250. Some countries also impose a tax on this fee. As of now no tax is imposed on this fee in India.


It is advisable to prepare well for the test and then appear for it rather than using your first test as a diagnostic tool. Also note that some schools also take all your scores into account and a low score in your 'diagnostic test' may actually work against you.


The fee to reschedule your test date/ time is US$ 50.


The fee can be paid using a credit or debit card, demand draft or money order. The amount has to be in US dollars and drafts have to payable in banks located in the US.

Part II: Tommorrow

The author is the Director - Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India.

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