About the GMAT and how to book

The Graduate Management Admission Test is the internationally standardised test required by most post graduate business schools. You will need to provide a GMAT score to the School of Management for them to commence processing your application for a place on the MBA programme.

The minimum GMAT score for your application to be considered is 600. Whilst we have had applicants for the scholarship who have obtained scores over 750, which is exceptional, the GMAT score is not a criterion which is input into the selection process for the scholarship and thus will not affect your chances of winning the Scholarship. All that we require is that you meet the cutoff score of 600. We also make sure that the interviewing panel is NOT aware of the GMAT score.

That said, a high GMAT score may possibly influence you chance of winning a Fee Share scholarship offered by Cranfield.

You will note from the very useful notes that Adrian Wood, NZ scholarship winner 2007, has provided below, that a low GMAT score did not prevent him from excelling at Cranfield.

We suggest that you try to get the GMAT done by mid-Feb or early March.

Refer also to GMAT under the FAQs on this website.

GMAT structure

The GMAT has four main sections:

GMAT Test Section # of Questions Question Types Timing
Analytical Writing Assessment 1 Topic Analysis of Argument 30 Minutes
Integrated Reasoning 12 Questions Multi-Source Reasoning
Graphics Interpretation
Two-Two Part Analysis
Table Analysis
30 Minutes
Quantitative 37 Questions Data Sufficiency
Problem Solving
75 Minutes
Verbal 41 Questions Reading Comprehension
Critical Reasoning
Sentence Correction
75 Minutes
Total Exam Time 3hrs, 30 minutes



Booking the GMAT

There are GMAT testing centers in all states and you can book your test online at http://www.mba.com/mba/takethegmat.

GMAT Help line (02) 9478 5430
Test cost is $USD 250.00 (as at 2009).

Results are available in three weeks.

You should quote the reference for Cranfield to ensure that they receive a copy of your GMAT report as soon as it is available.

Getting a good GMAT score

You should view the GMAT preparation as like training for a marathon. If you are fit, you can do a little less preparation, if you are not, it can take more time…  But everyone can do it.

The GMAT test is a test that you can and should practice for. As you become more comfortable with the different types of question you will be able to complete them faster and with less effort.

It is important to practice, especially if you have not studied for a few years. You will be rusty and it will show! In fact, because there are so many coaching services for GMAT, everyone does tend to study for it. Over the years, this means that the  raw score required to reach the  normalized 60% percentile has increased. .

Most people find the Verbal Section and Analytical Writing Sections to be the most concern and hence tend to spend their time on these! Especially because the Quantitative Section is based on Year 10 maths and is perceived as “easier”. However, getting a good score on the Quantitative section can mean the difference between a 540 score (not acceptable) to a 600 score (acceptable) or even a 660 score (excellent). So we recommend you take the time to work on this section as these are easy additional marks to obtain.

Now that we had over 5 years experience and watched many talented people sit for the GMAT (and sadly lost too many of those in the process), our practical experience is that most Australian-educated applicants tend to do well on the Verbal section getting scores in the 80% percentile and less well on the Quantitative section (scores in the 30% percentile).This includes highly numerate candidates such as engineers.

We believe that the reason for this failure is simply that the applicants’  mental arithmetic skills let them down because people have become so dependant on calculators.

So we now recommend that you actively work to improve your mental calculation skills, relearn your “time tables” and practice addition, subtraction and long division – as well as revising the basic year 10 maths skills. It will take about 21 days of daily practice for you to get the necessary speed and skills.

There are quite a few websites that allow you to do this – we suggest you Google “how to improve mental arithmentic”.  One site you can try is  http://www.braintrainingpuzzle.co.uk/arithmetic-training.php.

We are also in the process of establishing a relationship with a GMAT coaching service. More about this will come out when it is available.

GMAT stories from prior scholars

Anna Baggoley (2011 Scholarship Winner)

This test deserves its own section. Don’t be fooled into thinking because you were great at Maths or English in high school you will be able to remember it all now- for most of us that was a while ago! There are questions designed to challenge your problem solving skills, and abilities to work out data sufficiency. The reading passages can be quite convoluted, and are designed to make your mind wander as you read them. You need a score of at least 600 to get into Cranfield. No 600 score, no scholarship.

The bottom line- plan early.

Allow time to sit the exam twice if you need to- if you get through on the first attempt, that is great, if not, you have time for redemption. After attempting the exam, you must wait 31 days before you can attempt it again. Don’t let this rule you out of contention for the scholarship. Read the information available on the website, (www.mba.com) and know what you are in for- arriving early, providing identification, including a thermo-palm print, and other people coming in and out of the exam room, starting at different times. Ask for ear plugs, and if they offer you a choice of seating, make sure you are comfortable. Take your breaks during the exam, take these moments to recollect your thoughts and stop brain fatigue from setting in. For most of us, it has been a long time since we have sat a 3.5 hour exam!

Start studying.

Do not be fooled into thinking a few days refresher is enough to get you through this. Download the software available free from the GMAT website. This will assist you in getting to know the software you will be working with during the exam, and will certainly ease anxiety about what to expect. The software provides review sections and practice tests- initially, I thought I would be ok, but my first attempt on the practice software, I only managed to score 510!

I combated this in several ways- I contacted the daughter of a work colleague who had just finished year 12, and arranged a couple of tutoring sessions. It felt odd at first, but it just reminded me of some of the formulas.

I also went back to practicing my times tables- a must when you are completing the exam without a calculator.

I also looked online, and found there were several GMAT prep courses available. I enrolled in the Knewton Online GMAT prep course (https://www.knewton.com) – which was a worthwhile investment- they have a 50 point increase or your money back guarantee. This course was perfect for me- although I had the opportunity to participate in interactive classes, they were generally not at convenient times, so I took the “on demand” classes. This meant I could work at my own pace, when I wanted, where I wanted, pausing wherever I needed to. There were practice exams, and good hints about if you needed to guess, how to do it, and when to do it. There were 13 classes and 6 practice exams in all, written by the people who designed the GMAT test. I would certainly recommend doing this class, allowing at least 6 weeks for completion. In the end, my score jumped from that initial 510 to 660- and a score of 6/6 for the essay component. I cannot speak highly enough about the Knewton course, the tech support, the teachers, and the benefit I gained from it.

Get organized

Don’t forget to check when the GMAT exams will be held in your area. They weren’t very frequent in Adelaide, yet in Melbourne and Sydney, there were daily sessions. This will need to be taken into consideration when planning your scholarship application.

Now that all of that is said and done- add it all up, if you are in an area where there are frequent exams, or are able to travel to one of these cities, then you need to allow at least two and a half months before the scholarship deadline to ensure that the GMAT wont close the door to your scholarship application. If you are in an area where the tests aren’t frequent, you will need to plan for more time. If you don’t need to re-sit, that is great- all the more time to prepare your applications- but it is nice to know you have the option if you need it.

Adrian Wood (MBA 2008)

Adrian won the 2007 NZ Alumni Scholarship and subsequenty went on to win the Henry Ford II Scholar prize for the top student on the MBA programme and describes himself as “a person who has to take his shoes off to count to 20!”, despite his clear academic excellence. Adrian writes:

“ I could write pages on “how to survive GMAT”. I had fun and games with GMAT, and so can comment there ( i.e. exam technique is important, watch the clock!)  From doing comfortably-well in the practice tests I messed up the live exam, and in the end just scraped through.

“First, by way of background, I sat GMAT in 2007, supporting my application for Cranfield and the NZ scholarship. I’d put a lot of effort into preparation, and went in having achieved good scores in practice exams. On the day however, I made a hash of the Quant section (of which more later) and ended up with a “there by the skin of my teeth” score.  Fortunately, I’d done just enough to earn a place; however, I’d left no margin whatsoever. I understand from Alex Chapman that I’m not the only candidate to have had this experience – with some unfortunately falling under the bar. A few thoughts then, which hopefully will assist your own preparation – and hopefully prevent you repeating my mistakes!

“Preparation: In terms of preparation there plenty of resources available – as a starter there is a list on the Australian Alumni site.

“I was living in a smaller town at the time and so did not have the option of attending a GMAT class; that said I’m not sure that would have added much in any case.  Instead I bought a good resource book, with practice questions and refresher material on maths and sentence construction, and then spent quite a bit of time getting comfortable with the sorts of questions I’d encounter.

“In addition, I made good use of the preparation tests, which you can access via the internet.  I quite quickly identified the areas I needed to work on – even just refreshing mental arithmetic in a world of calculators and spreadsheets was important (I remember the happy feeling I had when I checked and realised no calculators are allowed in the exam room!).

“I also made sure I understood the mechanics of how the GMAT works and is scored (for example the impact of not completing the questions in the time allowed) as this will drive your strategy in terms of taking the exam.  This is very important.

“The exam itself: I found the exam environment quite unusual – not aided by the fact that I’d been up very early to fly to the city where the exam centre was located!  Fingerprint ID, and then being in a sterile sort of room with just me, a computer, some paper for workings, and all the time being monitored by CCTV was all a bit strange – and just something to be aware of if you’ve been preparing and practicing at home.

“I mentioned I made a hash of the Quant section.  This came down to exam technique; I didn’t manage my time well, and paid the price.  In the practice exams I’d always finished ahead of time.  Knowing this, on the day, I told myself to slow down.  Unfortunately I slowed down too much and realised at half-way on the clock that I’d only done a quarter of the questions.  You don’t need a GMAT of 780 to realise that this had created a problem.    I had to materially lift the pace, and unfortunately accuracy suffered.

“Two things are important here: First, I’d mentioned I’d prepared well.  I had, and yet I still made a basic exam-technique error on the day.  As you prepare and take the exam, please learn from my example!

“Second, remember the GMAT is a game of two halves (three thirds, actually).  Having realised where I’d gone wrong in the quant section, I was able to recover things through the verbal section.  I was fortunate in that this was my stronger suit in any case, however I certainly also took a lot more care over pacing against the clock – so all is not lost on the strength of one weaker section.

“Summing up. Some of you will find the GMAT easy; I have friends who hit the high 700s, which is very impressive.  Others will find it more of a hurdle.

Two things then in closing:

1         There is a lot you can do in terms of basic preparation (both reviewing content, making sure you understand the process) and then in terms of managing yourself through the exam (being ready for an “unusual” environment, and watching the clock as you are working through the questions) which will go a long way towards making the process as pain free as possible.

2     Remember then the GMAT is just the hurdle to get you on the course – high or low scores, once accepted to the course you all go in even with all the same opportunities to make the most of a fantastic opportunity to learn, have a great year, and build a network of friends and colleagues.

“All the best for your applications.

Sarah Nicholson, (MBA 2008)

Sarah , a chemical engineer and winner of the Australian Alumni scholarship  had to say about the GMAT.

“A few days before my test I tracked down some practice ones on line and thought I’d go through a couple of them. I’ve got an engineering degree so I wasn’t worried about the maths and my arts degree taught me to write essays but my grammar’s never been great so I was mostly concerned about the sentence correction questions. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE GMAT! Turns out my grammar was in the top 10% but my maths marks were horrible. They were asking about stuff I hadn’t touched since high school (and hated then) – probability, permutations, geometry, surds – and you had about 2 minutes per question with no calculator.

“GMAT took over my life for the next three days. Once I had revised all my senior maths and worked out the strategy involved in the test I had time for about 5 hours sleep before driving to Sydney. The cram sessions paid off and I came out with a score of 660, the average for Cranfield students.”

– Sarah Nicholson (Read more from her Blog)

Helpful GMAT websites

There are many websites that help with the GMAT test.

Wikipedia gives a good overview

www.mba.com gives good advice on preparing for and taking the test. Also download their lastest GMAT Bulletin.

www.gmac.com gives advice on the test

www.testprepreview.com allows you to practice

www.800score.com gives free practical advice for passing the test

www.test-preparation.net gives a list of books and courses which you could use in preparing for the GMAT test

www.braintrainingpuzzle.co.uk for mental arithmetic practice

GMAT Exams Practice GMAT Tests, Complete Simulation Software

We suggest picking a few and having a go.