What is the GMAT® CAT?

Jami Yontz
Jami Yontz

The Graduate Management Admission Test Computer Adaptive Test (GMAT® CAT) is the computer-administered standardized test taken by people who wish to apply for entrance into a graduate business school program in the United States. GMAT® CAT is also known as simply the GMAT®, since only a few test locations outside of the United States administer the paper-based exam. Most programs that offer a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) require an applicant to send in his or her GMAT® score along with their application so that the admissions department can evaluate the applicant’s qualifications and future academic success in the program.

Parts of the GMAT CAT ask multiple choice questions.
Parts of the GMAT CAT ask multiple choice questions.

This exam is called a computer adaptive test because as the test proceeds, the questions are tailored to different levels of difficulty depending on the person’s previous answers. This is unlike many other standardized tests, which have a predetermined list of questions. Questions are given one at a time, and the person’s correct answers to difficult questions are worth more points than easier questions.

Before the test begins, the person will have to take a tutorial on how the GMAT® CAT is given. The person will be able to answer sample questions, and he or she will have to complete certain computer tests. These tests will determine if the person can move a computer mouse, use the word processor, select answers, move to the next screen, and other tasks necessary for completing the computerized exam.

GMAT® CAT exams can be taken almost any day during the year, but a person can only take the test five times each year. The test scores range from 200 to 800, and it takes nearly four hours to complete the exam. A person’s scores on every section of the test besides the writing sample will be immediately viewable, and the person can choose to cancel his scores prior to viewing the scores if they believe that they did not perform well on the exam. Most high-ranking business schools in the United States required over a 600 on the GMAT® to be considered for admission.

The three different sections on the GMAT® CAT are the analytical writing section, quantitative questions, and the verbal section. In the analytical writing section, students are required to write two essays within an hour analyzing an issue and an argument. The quantitative section is made up of 37 multiple-choice problem solving and data sufficiency questions. These questions provide mathematical information and require the person to solve for the problem or determine that there is not enough data to provide a conclusive answer. Verbal questions ask the test-taker to correct grammar, analyze an argumentative statement, or provide answers about the main idea and facts presented in a text selection.

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    • Parts of the GMAT CAT ask multiple choice questions.
      Parts of the GMAT CAT ask multiple choice questions.