All about NMAT by GMAC™ 2016

The NMAT by GMAC™ exam is a computer-delivered test conducted by Pearsonvue and considered by NMIMS for admissions to its campuses in Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. In 2015, GMAC™ took over the conduct of NMAT with an objective of making it an nationally accepted test by many more institutes other than NMIMS. Since then, GMAC™ has been able to on-board about 20 Indian B-schools that now accept NMAT test scores for their selection process. Recently XIM Bhubaneshwar joined the NMAT bandwagon and if a few more institutes of similar repute get added to this list, we can expect the number of NMAT by GMAC™ test-takers to swell in the years to come. In this blog I have listed all things that you would probably need to know before taking the test this year.

  1. The NMAT by GMAC™ test is unique  because of the flexibility that it offers the test-takers – the test can be taken anytime within a test window of ~3 months. A test-taker is allowed 2 retakes, you can effectively take the test thrice if you are not satisfied with your performance. You can also choose to reschedule your test, just in case you are not confident of taking the test on the scheduled date.
  2. The test-taker can choose to submit the best of the 3 test scores for the selection process – so if your score goes down in a retake, you can still submit your previous best score.
  3. The flexibility however comes at a cost – you need to pay Rs 1700 for every retake and Rs 1000 for rescheduling. And given that a majority of the students end up taking the test at least twice – NMAT by GMAC™ ends up being the most expensive Indian test as of date. You may end up spending anywhere between Rs.5000 to Rs.6000 just for the test – you need to pay some more money if you wish to send scores to more than 7 institutes accepting NMAT scores and then some more if you get selected for the CD-PI rounds after the results are out. Spend wisely.
  4. The exam gives each candidate a randomly generated test from a pool of questions, delivered one-at-a-time. The number of questions, difficulty levels, and the time limit for each of the sections is predetermined and, under normal administration conditions, are the same regardless of when and where the test is administered. Do not worry too much about the possible disparity in test difficulty levels across the window – it is anyway not in your control, you take the test when you have to.
  5. NMAT by GMAC Test pattern
    • The exam has 120 questions across three sections, viz.  Language Skills(LS), Quantitative Skills(QS) and Logical Reasoning(LR) with 32, 48 and 40 questions respectively.
    • Candidates have a choice of selecting the order/sequence of the test sections. Students are advised to decide the order beforehand, based on your strengths and weaknesses.
    • The three sections of the exam are individually timed. The sectional time limits are LS – 22 min, QS – 60 min and LR – 38 min (Total- 120 min). Students are advised to immediately click ‘OK’ once a section’s time is over and load the next section on the screen as the timer does not stop till the time ‘OK’ button is clicked.
    • Every correct response yields 3 marks. One of the prominent features of this test is that it has no negative marking – so you can go ahead and wild guess answers for even questions that you haven’t the faintest idea about how to solve. Leaving questions unattempted is an unpardonable sin for NMAT:-)
    • Test takers cannot move back and forth across sections – once a section is submitted you cannot go back to solve a few more questions or to change your answers.
    • From the ‘Review’ page, the student can see the number of questions attempted or not attempted. By clicking the unattempted questions from the ‘Review’ page, the student can navigate directly to that question. If a student clicks the ‘Next’ button after the last question of a screen and there is some time left for the section, the ‘Review’ page loads on screen.
  6. If you plan to retake the test, please note that the test centre staff will return the copy of your admit card to you after signing and stamping it. Make sure that you retain the same because you will have to carry the same copy for later attempts of NMAT.
  7. Analysis of NMAT 2016, story so far:
    • Language Skills:
      • With 32 questions to be solved in 22 minutes, this section is a test of speed and accuracy.
      • Speed should not be a problem in this section as 20 to 24  of the 32 questions are based on Vocabulary, Grammar and Verbal Reasoning.
      • There are usually around 2 to 3 RC passages with 8 to 12 questions – and attempting RC after solving the rest of the questions can be a winning strategy.
      • The Vocabulary questions based on synonyms, antonyms and FIBs are usually easy should be able to solve the 6 to 8 vocabulary questions spending not more than 30 seconds on each of these questions.
      • The 6 to 8 Grammar based questions have an easy to medium level of difficulty and you should be able to solve these questions taking not more than 30-40 seconds.
      • Jumbled paragraph (4 or 5 sentences), Analogies and Cloze passage questions constitute the 8 to 10 Verbal Reasoning questions that appear in the test. These questions have a moderate level of difficulty and you should be able to solve most of these questions in less than a minute.
      • The remaining time can be used to solve Reading Comprehension – take some time to identify the easier passage(s) and solve accordingly – some of the RC questions may be inferential and will require you to have a through understanding of the passage.
      • Good Score: You should be looking at getting at least 18 to 20 questions correct in this section. Last year, the sectional cut-off for NMIMS Mumbai was 50 for LS.
    • Quantitative Skills
      • This section has 48 questions to be solved across Quantitative ability (22-24 questions), Data Interpretation(16-20 Qs) and Data sufficiency (6-8 Qs).
      • In QA, if you are short of preparation time focus on Numbers and Arithmetic for maximum yield – as Numbers with 5-6 questions and Arithmetic with 8-10 questions make up for the bulk of the Quantitative Ability questions.
      • The rest of the QA questions comprise Geometry(2-3 Qs), Algebra(2-3 Qs) and Modern Math(2-3 Qs).
      • The Data Sufficiency questions are usually 6 to 8 in number and a fair chunk of them are again based on Numbers or Arithmetic. These questions are of easy to medium level of difficulty – but avoid the tendency to overspend time on these questions.
      • The section has around 5 sets of Data Interpretation with 4 questions each. The sets are usually calculation intensive – with some fairly more than the others. Identifying and solving the sets that are less calculation intensive would be key to maximising your score in this section.
      • Good Score:You should be looking at getting at least 22 to 25 questions correct in this section. Solving around 14 to 16 QA questions along with a couple of easy DI sets and 2 or 3 easy DS questions should take you across the cut-offs for this section.Last year, the sectional cut-off for NMIMS Mumbai was 60 for QS.
    • Logical Reasoning
      • This section has 40 questions, of which 12 are based on Verbal reasoning while 28 are based on Non-verbal reasoning.

      • The Verbal  reasoning questions comprise the usual question types like Critical Reasoning, Strong & Weak  Arguments, Syllogisms, Fact-Inference-Judgement, Statements-Assumptions-Conclusions et al. Some of these questions tend to be time-consuming and one should be very careful to not spend more than a minute on any of these questions.

      • The Non-Verbal Reasoning questions may include Coding-Decoding, Series, Family Tree, Arrangements, Puzzles, Visual Reasoning, Cryptomath problems and Sequential Output Tracing. While question types like coding, Series and linear arrangements can be solved quickly, others like matrix arrangements, sequential output tracing and cryptomath may need more time to solve.

      • With less than a minute available per question, it is imperative for a test-taker to select the “RIGHT” questions to attempt and move quickly across the section without wasting time on questions that are likely to take more time.

      • Good Score:You should be looking at getting at least 20 to 22 questions correct in this section. For the mocks you take, identify question types with the maximum return on investment(Marks per Minutes) & prioritise accordingly.Last year, the sectional cut-off for NMIMS Mumbai was 55 for LR.

      • To sum up, to secure a CD-PI call from NMIMS Mumbai, the number of genuine attempts per section (genuine because you are expected to mark answers for all questions anyways as there is no negative marking) is given below:

        Sections Target Attempts Target Score
        Language Skills 24-25 60+
        Quantitative Skills 36-38 90+
        Logical Reasoning 22-24 60+
        Total 75 210

        The cut-off for selection to the NMIMS Mumbai campus is generally around 210 (it was 207 last year) while that for the Bengaluru and Hyderabad campus is in the range of 190-195. Having said this, I would still advise test-takers to work on maximising your score rather than feeling satisfied about being at 210 or thereabout.

        Try to exceed expectations in at least one of the above sections, and you will place yourself in the safe zone as far as clearing the overall cut-offs is concerned. (Note that the random guessing for questions not attempted genuinely may also yield some additional marks – but one cannot depend on the same).

  8. How to best prepare for NMAT in the remaining days?
    • NMAT, being a speed test, will have a lot of familiar looking questions across all sections – the key is to attempt these questions correctly and quickly while taking the test.
    • Do not get into concept learning at this stage – you may never get a sense of completion with regards to your conceptual clarity.
    • You should rather practice with 8 to 10 mock tests (based on NMAT) that are followed by a detailed feedback and analysis.
    • Solving around 1200 questions across 10 tests in the remaining period will help you familiarize yourself with the usual question formats and types. This will stand you in good stead when you take the actual test.
    • A detailed analysis of every question after completing the test will not only help you bridge the conceptual gaps but also give you the confidence to solve similar questions in future tests.
    • My recommendation: Use the official NMAT guide and 10 mock tests offered by IMS for purposeful practice and learning in the remaining time period.
  9. How many times should one take the NMAT?
    • I firmly believe that one should ideally take the NMAT only once – and that is when one is fully prepared to take it. At the same level of preparation, we have observed in the past that the scores do not really vary by much.
    • However, if you believe that you were not able to perform as per expectations on the test day because, for example, you were unwell or you were under-prepared  – then you could possibly give it another shot and hope to score sufficiently more than your previous attempt.
  10. When should one take the NMAT?
    • All serious CAT aspirants should either take the NMAT after CAT or about 1 month before CAT – this will ensure that your NMAT preparation does not come in the way of your CAT preparation.

All the best for NMAT 2016!!

For a detailed analysis of NMAT 2016 (and previous years as well, click here.


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