The GMAT has been around for about 50 years already. It is known to be the most important test for admission to MBA programmes, as well as to some specialised Master’s programmes.
The Graduate Management Admissions Council, the owner of the test, explains that “GMAT scores are a valid predictor of academic performance in the first year of a graduate management programme.” This statement has been supported by over 300 validity studies conducted over the decades. Moreover, studies revealed that “GMAT scores are generally a better predictor of performance in the first year of business school than undergraduate grades“.
GMAC scores are valid for five years. Actually, test-takers’ scores are kept for ten years before being destroyed. Under special circumstances and for an additional fee scores older than 5 years can be reported, but will be accompanied by a special notice that they should be interpreted carefully, as they may not reflect the current skills of the test taker.
A recent development is that GMAT scores are being taken into consideration by employers when they recruit MBA graduates. So it seems that the GMAT is starting a new life beyond academia. However, on each score report GMAC clearly states what the GMAT does not measure.
First, it is not an indicator of English language skills. English language proficiency tests check all fours skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening. In the GMAT, test takers only use their reading comprehension and writing skills. GMAC explains “If a test taker’s first language is not English, he or she may still perform well on the exam; however, the GMAT exam may not accurately reflect the abilities of someone who is not proficient in English.”
Second, the GMAT does not measure knowledge of business, management or economics. The content of the test covers various subject areas, much as business is done in different sectors. So, one may have texts and tasks in the GMAT which are related to chemistry, history, finance, medicine, etc.
Finally, the GMAT is not intended to measure motivation, creativity, interpersonal skills or job skills.
Thus, according to the owner of the test - GMAC - GMAT scores are not intended to be used by recruiters or employers as a requirement for a job, for licensing or certification, raises or promotions. Neither is GMAT an achievement test.
Accordingly, employers may use GMAT results only in relation to what the test actually measures -- basic verbal, mathematical, analytical writing, and integrated reasoning skills. Although most of the test takers commit to special preparation for the GMAT, the skills which are tested are usually developed over a long period of time in their previous education and work. Preparation may just improve the level of the skills and help test takers get used to the specific format of the test and to work within time limits.