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If you want to end up in a good MBA program, make sure that you do well on the GMAT. See more college pictures.

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If you're applying to graduate school to study business -- whether it's at Harvard or the University of Iowa -- the school will require you to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). This standardized test gauges your math, verbal and reading aptitude to give the schools you're applying to an idea of your overall intellectual acuity, as well as a sense of how well you might perform if you're accepted. Unlike many of the tests you took in high school and college, which assessed your knowledge of a specific subject, the GMAT assesses your general skills.

Scores on the test range from 200 to 800. Typically the higher you score, the better your chances of getting into the program of your choice, although some schools weigh the GMAT into their decision more heavily than other schools.

The GMAT test is timed. It generally takes about three-and-a-half hours to complete the three parts:

  • Analytical writing (1 hour)
  • Quantitative (75 minutes)
  • Verbal (75 minutes)

You'll get your scores online or through the mail about three weeks after you take the test. Whether you're thrilled or disappointed with your scores depends a lot on how well you prepared for the test.

In this article, you'll learn some tips to help you bone up on the skills you need to score high on the GMAT. Start early -- you may need three to six months to get fully up to speed.