Image from “MBA for Better Future”

Graduate Management News, from GMAC, the creators of the GMAT recently had a post about how they work to reduce bias on the exam. Often, for international and also minority students, hidden biases can really add an additional layer of challenge to an already difficult test.

Check out a few of the things the GMAT creators take into consideration regarding bias…these are things they attempt to eliminate from the exam:

  1. Use vocabulary, idioms, and constructions that are not universal. My favorite example is skimmed milk. You might expect all educated individuals applying to a graduate level English language program would know skimmed milk. But in India, toned milk and double toned milk are common, and skimmed milk is rare. Vacation and holiday, and quite and very, are other examples.  Also under this category are the use of double negatives (The GMAT is not unfair), contractions (should’ve), abbreviations (for example, e.g.), imperatives, possessives, and some sentence structures (Do you have a pencil? Have you a pencil?).
  2. Use culturally loaded phrases, idioms, and constructions.  Most people who grew up in North America would probably know what is meant by a Mickey Mouse job (a job that is trivial and a waste of time), the whole nine yards (everything), or skedaddle (depart quickly). Also under this category are military terms (your mission), sports terms (game plan), colloquialisms (lots more), regional terms (pop, hoagie), metaphors (launch an idea), euphemisms (under the weather), clichés (between a rock and a hard place), literary references (wears his heart on his sleeve), scriptural references (last straw), US cultural references (Big Mac), lesser known US places and people (McKinley), acronyms (ASAP), and initials (IRS).

Another interesting note regarding the English language ability required for the GMAT:

Yes, the GMAT test is administered in English and is designed for programs that teach in English. But the required English skill level is much less than what students will need in the classroom.

Check out the whole post in Graduate Management News.