The Importance of the GMAT Test in 2023

Globally, more than 1 million Graduate Management Admission Test™ (GMAT™) exams have been taken by individuals interested in pursuing graduate management education over the past five years. In 2022 alone, more than 120 000 GMAT exams were taken worldwide by prospective business school students. While there are different tests for assessing graduate management school candidates, the GMAT test has been an established part of the admissions process for top business and management schools for over 60 years,. Over 2,100 top institutions participate in the exam process, including EDHEC.

Reading time :
9 Jan 2023

Read on to find out what the GMAT test is, why it’s important, and how it will continue to be important throughout 2023.

What is the GMAT Test?


GMAT stands for Graduate Management Aptitude Test. The test was designed by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) in order to create a standardised exam process for potential post-graduate candidates.


The exam provides admissions officers with an overarching snapshot of an applicant’s skills and abilities in both quantitative and qualitative reasoning. It is used by over 2,100 institutions and universities around the world.


The GMAT exam is oriented specifically towards admissions to top management and MBA programmes, making it the industry standard for business school standardised testing.


In 2023, the GMAC has introduced a new version of the exam called the GMAT Focus Edition, which features shortened sections and an updated format, offering a more efficient and targeted assessment of candidates' potential for success in business programmes. 

GMAT Format


The GMAT test measures one's ability to assess higher-order reasoning skills. The in-person exam lasts just over three hours (including breaks), while the online version has shorter breaks, lasting around 2 hours and 45 minutes.


Official GMAT Score Reports are broken into five score sections: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning, Verbal, Quantitative, and overall score.


The GMAT provides numerical score outcome ranges from 200 to 800, with 200 being the lowest possible score and 800 being a perfect score. Worldwide, the median GMAT score is 568.


The GMAT 2023 is conducted multiple times a year. There is no specific date for the GMAT 2023 exam. The candidates can choose the exam dates and format  at the time of filling the application form.

Who can take the GMAT?


If you plan on taking the GMAT test, you need to be at least 18 years old and have a graduate degree from a university, business school or other recognised institution. You can take the GMAT exam and GMAT online exam a combined total of up to five times within a rolling 12-month period with a minimum 16 days of gap during each attempt. However, if you have scored the perfect 800 score, you need to wait five years before you can take the test again.

Why is the GMAT Test Important?


While not an end-all-be-all, GMAT scores are one of the most important tools in determining admissions into business schools.


Despite movements within academia to reduce the emphasis on testing scores, the GMAT remains a tried and true assessment tool of an applicant’s academic skills in today’s post-graduate admissions landscape.


Multiple studies conducted by GMAC have shown that GMAT scores are “an extremely accurate predictor of academic success in graduate management education programs.”


Widely available around the world, the GMAT is considered the industry standard for top business schools globally.


GMAT test scores also play an important part in overall university ranking. US News, a leader in modern college rankings, places over 15% weight in its overall business school ranking on GMAT scores alone, even after having reduced the weight of GMAT scores in 2018.


As business schools strive to move up key school rankings, they seek higher candidate scores which can potentially boost their placement. Nothing can guarantee admission into a programme, but a candidate with a high GMAT test score (generally considered over 730) has a significantly higher chance of being accepted and/or receiving scholarships. To reward excellence, EDHEC's scholarship of excellence is based on the GMAT score.


How would you score in the GMAT? Take our GMAT Mini Quiz to find out!

Understanding Individual GMAT Test Scores


As with virtually all standardised testing models, the higher the score, the better.


That being said, an applicant’s test score percentile compared to the national average is less important than how it relates to a specific school’s scores.


As previously mentioned, business and management programmes are looking to raise their own GMAT test score averages. So a candidate with a score 30 points higher than a school’s average has a significantly higher chance of being admitted.

Demographics and Income


Demographics can play a large role in determining how an applicant’s GMAT score stands in respect to admission.


David White, a founding partner at MBA admissions consulting firm Menlo Coaching, writes:

“There are more applicants from some backgrounds than others – for example, American men in finance and consulting, or Indian men in the tech industry are over-represented, and Hispanic women and successful entrepreneurs are under-represented. Applicants from over-represented groups may need to score up to 30 (or more) points higher than the school's overall average to reach the average for their group. It's the opposite for under-represented groups."


A direct correlation can also be made between higher GMAT scores and higher starting salaries upon graduation. The higher the average GMAT test score, the higher the starting salaries of its graduates — regardless of where the school falls in the ranking.


For example, a graduate student from the Stanford Graduate School of Business has an average GMAT score of 737, and graduates with an average starting salary of $144,000 a year. A Michigan Ross business school graduate, on the other hand, with an average score of 716, earns an average of $125,000 a year.

Increasing Competition in 2023


In response to the Covid-related safety closures during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, GMAC launched its online version of the exam, making it one of the first standardised tests which can be taken completely from a personal computer and giving access to a wider range of participants even if they live far away from physical testing locations. As a trusted means to assess applicants' potential abilities to perform well in a business school programme, the GMAT test will continue to be a vital part of the application process for competitive business schools for the foreseeable future

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