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The GMAT

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Most business schools require candidates to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). The test includes a variety of multiple choice questions to test verbal and math problem-solving abilities, as well as a writing sample.

The GMAT is administered on computer terminals at test centers throughout North America. The test can be taken by appointment on any one of several days each month. Find out more at the website of the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Take the GMAT sometime in the spring or the summer. If you think you did not do well, you can cancel the scoring immediately after the test and take it again the following month. October and November are generally the last opportunities to take the GMAT before the first application deadline. It is best to take the GMAT only after you have had a chance to prepare for it thoroughly.

Test scores range from 200 to 800, and conventional wisdom suggests that, to be a competitive applicant at a top program, your score should be at least 600. Top business schools usually report average GMATs in the 640-680 range.

Several test-preparation resources are available, including books with GMAT practice questions and test-prep courses. Most schools consider only your highest GMAT score, but others take lower scores into account.