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  A Glossary of GMAT Terminology

Posted by ian on Thu 16 Oct 08 at 2:18pm

New to the GMAT? If you're looking at GMAT-related material on the web, you're likely to run into a lot of acronyms, and some might be confusing if you're unfamiliar with the test. We explain a few of the common ones below.


ACT- Since 2006, ACT Inc has developed the GMAT test (the letters ACT do not stand for anything).

AWA- The 'Analytical Writing Assessment', one of the three sections on the GMAT test. Every GMAT begins with two essay questions ('Analysis of an Argument' and 'Analysis of an Issue') and the test-taker has a half hour to write a short response to each. The AWA is the only section of the GMAT which is not multiple choice, and is graded on a scale from 0 to 6; it does not contribute to the Total Score out of 800.

CAT- 'Computer Adaptive Test'. The Quantitative and Verbal sections of the GMAT are 'computer adaptive', which means that the questions become more difficult if you answer correctly, and become less difficult if you answer incorrectly. Your score is not based on the number of questions you answer correctly. Instead, the test is trying to determine what difficulty level of question you are able to handle. We'll discuss this in more detail in a full article.

CR- 'Critical Reasoning'. The multiple choice Verbal Section of the GMAT has three question types: Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction and Reading Comprehension. In a Critical Reasoning question, a short argument (or something similar) is presented, and the test-taker is asked to identify the structure of the argument, a flaw in the argument, a fact which would strengthen the argument, or something similar.

DS- 'Data Sufficiency'. The multiple choice Quantitative Section of the GMAT has two question types: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. The Data Sufficiency question type is unique to the GMAT. In a DS question, a question is asked which cannot possibly be answered without additional information. Two pieces of information are provided, and the test-taker must determine whether either piece of information alone would allow the question to be answered, whether both pieces of information would be required, or whether the question still cannot be answered even using all of the information provided.

ETS- 'Educational Testing Service'. ETS develops standardized tests including the SAT and the GRE, and was the developer of the GMAT test until the end of 2005. ACT Inc is the current GMAT test developer.

GMAC - 'The Graduate Management Admissions Council'. GMAC is an association of business schools, and owns the GMAT test. They publish test preparation materials, including the Official Guide and the GMATPrep software package, consisting of retired GMAT questions. They also conduct research into MBA admissions and the GMAT test.

GMAT - 'The Graduate Management Admissions Test' - The GMAT is a test used by many MBA programs and some Masters and PhD level academic programs, as one component in admissions decisions. See the 'What is the GMAT?' article on this site for further information.

GMATPREP- GMATPrep is a software package distributed by GMAC, and among other materials contains two simulation GMAT tests. These simulation tests use real, retired GMAT questions, have the same interface as the real GMAT, and use the real GMAT scoring algorithm, and are the most accurate representation available of the real test. GMATPrep is free to download after you register with

GRE - The 'Graduate Record Examination'. The GRE is a standardized test used by many graduate level Masters and PhD programs as one component in admissions decisions. Like the GMAT, it includes multiple choice questions testing mathematical and verbal skills, though the question formats, particularly in the verbal section, are substantially different. Some MBA programs accept a GRE result in place of a GMAT result.

JJ- 'Jungle Juice', or 'jijing'. JJs (including MJJs and VJJs) were documents distributed by ScoreTop, and consisted of 'live' GMAT questions- questions that were being used on the current test. It is illegal to distribute current GMAT questions, and ScoreTop was shut down in mid-2008 as a result of a lawsuit filed by GMAC. Accessing live GMAT questions is also a violation of the contract test-takers agree to prior to taking the GMAT, and test-takers have faced severe consequences for using JJ documents. We discussed this at length in our articles entitled 'Preparing for the GMAT: Legal Issues'.

OG- 'Official Guide'. The Official Guide, now in its 11th edition, is a large orange book consisting of several hundred example GMAT questions from past tests. It is published by GMAC. In addition, GMAC publishes two supplemental Official Guides- one for the Quantitative section (a green book) and one for the Verbal section (a purple book). The supplemental guides contain different questions from the larger orange book.

POWERPREP- PowerPrep was a software package, consisting of two simulation GMAT tests, and only available on CD-ROM, that was distributed to registered test-takers prior to the introduction of GMATPrep. Many of the questions on PowerPrep have been reprinted in the Official Guides.

PS- 'Problem Solving'- The multiple choice Quantitative Section of the GMAT has two question types: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. A Problem Solving question consists of a mathematics question with five answer choices.

RC- 'Reading Comprehension'. The multiple choice Verbal Section of the GMAT has three question types: Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction and Reading Comprehension. Reading Comprehension questions are preceded by a short article (normally 2-4 paragraphs), followed by a set of questions which ask the test-taker to draw conclusions from the article, identify information presented in the article, analyze the structure or tone of the passage, etc. The test-taker can look at the article when answering the questions.

SC- 'Sentence Correction'. The multiple choice Verbal Section of the GMAT has three question types: Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction and Reading Comprehension. In a Sentence Correction question, a single sentence is presented, some or all of which is underlined. The test-taker is asked to choose which answer choice would best replace the underlined section to improve the grammar, clarity or style of the sentence.


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