The GMAT doesn't measure your business knowledge or test you on any specific subject areas from your college studies. Instead, the GMAT is designed to test general mathematical, verbal and analytical writing skills to give business schools an accurate assessment of your potential as a first-year student.
The GMAT is divided into three sections: the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Quantitative Section and Verbal Section. The AWA is divided into two 30-minute tasks: Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument.
In the Analysis of an Issue section, you're given two opposing opinions on a business-related issue. You must explain your own point of view on the issue using information and observations formed by your own experience and understanding. There's no correct answer. Responses are evaluated for organization, clarity, command of written English and the use of relevant examples.
In the Analysis of an Argument section, you're given an argument taken from a business publication. Your job is to analyze and critique the reasoning behind the argument. Are there any faulty assumptions that weaken the premise? Can you think of any alternative scenarios or examples that could challenge or strengthen the argument [source: mba.com]? Essays are evaluated for your ability to formulate a well-organized, clearly written critique of the argument based on logical thinking.
The Quantitative Section presents two types of multiple-choice questions: problem-solving questions using basic arithmetic, algebra and geometry; and data-sufficiency questions that test your ability to identify relevant and useful information to solve a mathematical problem.
The problem-solving questions are straightforward and are similar to those found on the math section of the SAT or GRE. The data-sufficiency section, however, is unique to the GMAT. Every question consists of a mathematical problem and two statements of fact related to the problem. You must determine if the information in each of the statements is sufficient enough to answer the question, indicating whether only one statement is sufficient, both are sufficient, neither is sufficient, or neither is sufficient by itself, but combine to solve the problem.
The Verbal Section contains multiple-choice questions divided into three categories: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. The Reading Comprehension requires you to read a short passage [source: mba.com]. The associated questions test your understanding of the concepts presented, the organization and flow of arguments, and your ability to make logical inferences from the material.
The Critical Reasoning questions test your ability to use information from a short passage of text to solve a related problem. For Sentence Correction questions, you're asked to recognized awkwardness and ambiguities in sample paragraphs and choose the best answer to replace them.
If this sounds like a lot to cover in one test, don't despair. Keep reading to learn how to prepare for the GMAT.