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Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers?

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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2011, 21:09
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I feel there's no point arguing on this topic because we are on GMAT's turf and we have to play with GMAT's rules. PERIOD

Secondly, Q45 is 99%tile not because GMAT makers have made it so but it has automatically become disproportionate, since there are many international test takers who score well in Quant, which has pushed 99%tile to Q51, and relatively score less on Verbal Section. This has messed up the scoring system, according to me.

GMAT makers are subject to integrity and I firmly think there is no bias towards any native or non-native speakers. Even if there is, we can't do much about it.

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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2011, 09:08
Interesting post.............I believe there are some factors for this bias towards Verbals
1) Demand and supply as truly mentioned by gmatpill
2) What if less people scored high on quants...then the results would be different...it would be highly biased towards those from Engg./Quant. background than against the rest
3) In the current global climate, English is the only language whose knowledge is considered essential to CONNECT with the WORLD...so logically you need to have a good grasp of English
4) English grammar is not tested --> What is tested is the LOGIC (even in SC section, yes even here)..How you can effectively communicate your ideas unambiguously in the most concise manner without violating the basic tenets of grammar...In my opinion, you do not need to be a grammar freak for getting all SC right...Because I have seen that GMAC gives higher weightage on LOGIC evn if some outer rules of Grammar are violated(The basic and most important ones, of course cannot be violated)

Feel free to add your thoughts!!!

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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2011, 16:28
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walker wrote:
My 2 cents. GMAT tries to predict your academic success in b-school. Why? CR+RC+SC is almost equal to cases: you need read carefully, fast, be critical and write a good write-up. So if you fail due to language barrier, you will fail in school for the same reason. Believe me, it is not easy to be a non-native English speaker in b-school and GMAT helps you to be prepared. You can't imagine how difficult it is for the person who have never spoken English before. I was in your shoes with 25% success rate in SC after 2 months of intensive GMAT classes. So, don't try to find excuses, just do as much as you can to learn English, not just for good score, but for ability to get much more from b-school later. By the way, I'm not talking just about academic success. For first 3 months I hated myself that I didn't spend more time on English because I can't socialize, express myself properly and so on.


You are the man! I got this idea after ~15 days of the preparation. I was feeling sick to start with. While reading RC/CRs, I used to be like WTF?... I just don't know what this means. What if I misinterpret it? Will I get all the questions wrong? Will all the time spent reading this passage be in-vain as I will get all questions wrong anyways? Even worse when in the 1st line of the RC you hit some unknown (for you but common among the native speakers) word(s) that you have no freaking clue what-so-ever. That's a very depressing scenario. And EVERY non-native speaker goes through that. Just keep chugging! It only gets easier and you start making right assumptions of these GMAT's tricky words, whose meanings are sometimes not that difficult to guess.

Anyhow, point I am trying to make is - GMAT IS A NECESSITY FOR MBA (period!). In the past couple of months, I can't even imagine how much I have improved. I feel good about myself. I have written few recommendation for promotions of my colleagues in last 15 days, and I can see a drastic difference in my presentation of ideas and my choice of words. I did an interview of a candidate 10 days ago and wrote a full review of the candidate (that's a normal protocol at our work) - In my 5 years, I have never written such a review; My CTO sent me email the next day appraising it whole-heartedly, thanking me and saying one of the best reviews he has read. What I used to consider flamboyant while reading/writing, is now soothing to me! I am enjoying the whole experience more than ever. No matter what happens, I know GMAT is teaching me many things and even if few consider GMAT biased, I praise it WHOLE-HEARTEDLY. In modern era, ENGLISH IS THE MUST!

My one and only advice - ENJOY the experience! Feel as-if GMAT is doing you a favor by making you learn the MOST IMP aspect of your being a professional (period!).
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2011, 17:01
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I do not think GMAT discriminates with non-English speakers. Gmat basically tests our analytical and communication skills and having proper verbal ability is one of the things which can certainly make a person better business person. TOP MBA programs require a test which gives verbal and analytical ability of a person. Both verbal and quant section of GMAT tests your logical ability and your ability to infer something from a limited amount of data. GMAT being a test of america naturally comes in english language, when international test takers are taking Gmat, they essentially want to take admission in the universities in which learning medium is english, so it is imperative that they know standard english.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 28 May 2012, 11:47
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Hello everyone, I'm a recent addition to the GMAT Club and a newbie in every way! I have been going through the numerous posts, reading the various advice tips offered, as well as gaining insight into this test. So I came across this post and I wanted to share a photo that I believe pictorially represents the views being put forth.

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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 31 May 2012, 11:12
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By the way-2, here is another question: why verbal score outweights the quantative score in overall GMAT score?
I mean GMAT scaled score of Q40 V45 is higher than CMAT scaled score of Q45 V40. Why?!


Hello! I am a Manhattan GMAT instructor and I can answer this.

The GMAT was not *designed* to have verbal count more than quant (at least at the high ranges) -- this phenomenon is simply the result of the fact that, globally, more GMAT test takers get very high quant scores than very high verbal scores.

Simply put, if you get a 45Q, you are in a club with quite a lot of people! If you get a 45V, you are in a much more exclusive club! Some of that is for exactly the reasons detailed in this forum -- native English speakers, or those who got a very good education in English, tend to score better in verbal.

That said, some of my very best verbal students are non-native speakers (at the end of the Manhattan GMAT Foundations of GMAT Verbal book, I include a letter from one of my former students who is Indian and who got a 780), and some of my native-speaking students are very confused that they are doing so poorly in verbal. (As I always tell them, if you think what you hear on TV is proper written English, you will get a B- performance, at best.)

Sometimes, having to learn rules explicitly is superior to feeling like you've just known something all your life. For instance, many native speakers have never thought about the simple little fact that regular verbs in English have an "s" when singular and no "s" when plural. This, of course, is exactly the OPPOSITE of what someone learning English for the first time would expect!

I'll just add one more thing -- some commenters think the GMAT shouldn't require science reading! Of course, a huge number of MBAs go into tech-related fields! And, of course, most businesses you might end up working for are, er ... *about* something other than business.

Good luck! I really respect the students who've come through my classroom and have put in a huge amount of effort to master the nuances of the English language, and to be able to comprehend graduate-level reading on any topic.

Sincerely,
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 31 May 2012, 13:11
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Quote:
By the way-2, here is another question: why verbal score outweights the quantative score in overall GMAT score?
I mean GMAT scaled score of Q40 V45 is higher than CMAT scaled score of Q45 V40. Why?!


Hello! I am a Manhattan GMAT instructor and I can answer this.

The GMAT was not *designed* to have verbal count more than quant (at least at the high ranges) -- this phenomenon is simply the result of the fact that, globally, more GMAT test takers get very high quant scores than very high verbal scores.

Simply put, if you get a 45Q, you are in a club with quite a lot of people! If you get a 45V, you are in a much more exclusive club! Some of that is for exactly the reasons detailed in this forum -- native English speakers, or those who got a very good education in English, tend to score better in verbal.

That said, some of my very best verbal students are non-native speakers (at the end of the Manhattan GMAT Foundations of GMAT Verbal book, I include a letter from one of my former students who is Indian and who got a 780), and some of my native-speaking students are very confused that they are doing so poorly in verbal. (As I always tell them, if you think what you hear on TV is proper written English, you will get a B- performance, at best.)

Sometimes, having to learn rules explicitly is superior to feeling like you've just known something all your life. For instance, many native speakers have never thought about the simple little fact that regular verbs in English have an "s" when singular and no "s" when plural. This, of course, is exactly the OPPOSITE of what someone learning English for the first time would expect!

I'll just add one more thing -- some commenters think the GMAT shouldn't require science reading! Of course, a huge number of MBAs go into tech-related fields! And, of course, most businesses you might end up working for are, er ... *about* something other than business.

Good luck! I really respect the students who've come through my classroom and have put in a huge amount of effort to master the nuances of the English language, and to be able to comprehend graduate-level reading on any topic.

Sincerely,
Jennifer



What about the skewed tilt in the favor of "idioms"? How do you take that into account?

Though Indians may look non-native, most of them taking GMAT have been studying English since childhood; it's a British legacy. India has many different languages, and as such, English is the lingua franca of the country.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 31 May 2012, 19:14
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What about the skewed tilt in the favor of "idioms"? How do you take that into account?

Though Indians may look non-native, most of them taking GMAT have been studying English since childhood; it's a British legacy. India has many different languages, and as such, English is the lingua franca of the country.


Hi there,

Idioms are being de-emphasized by GMAC in favor of more questions that hinge on meaning, which I think makes sense. (Not that my opinion is very important! If the GMAT wanted us all to learn to hop on one foot while patting our heads, I would teach people to do that.)

I have been to India, albeit briefly. I could write all day about the idiomatic differences between US and Indian English! Of course, many expressions in Indian English are closer to the original British (for some reason, Americans think that "thrice" is a very snooty word, whereas in India and the UK, it's just a normal word, like "twice.") Stores in India have "timings" instead of "hours"; one "gives" an exam rather than "takes" one. A Citibank ATM in Bangalore informed me, "Your transaction is getting done," which just sounds funny to an American (in the US, it would probably say, "Your transaction is being processed.") Of course, it makes perfect sense to "prepone" a meeting. (Maybe now you can tell a little something about the kind of person who becomes a GMAT instructor!)

In short, there are all kinds of nuances that are interesting, but I find that these sorts of things simply do not come up on the GMAT.

Idioms that DO come up include, for instance, "capable OF" and "ability TO" (you cannot be capable to do something, or have the ability of doing something). I think anyone who learns English in the UK, Australia, India, the US, or elsewhere would/should know that.

Separately from one's GMAT studies, it is worth considering whether there is value in learning to write more like an (educated) American if one intends to work in the US. That, I cannot answer.

But I think the GMAT is moving in the right direction by including more problems about meaning. We have numerous posts about this topic on the Manhattan GMAT blog -- I'm new so I can't seem to post links, but google "Meaning is Mean! A GMATPrep Sentence Correction Problem" for a nice example.

Sincerely,
Jennifer
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 31 May 2012, 20:46
Disclaimer/Caveat: I am a non-native speaker of the language AND run a training company that focuses on GMAT Verbal.

Interesting thread that got picked up by the GMATClub Newsletter. My $0.02 on this.

1) GMAT does not test vocabulary. Someone mentioned GRE - check that to get an idea how tough it can get! Even if you don't understand a few words that's okay - you can always put it in context and figure out what it means.

2) In SC I feel non-native speakers sometimes have an advantage because when you speak in your native language you really don't think noun-verb-gerund-yada yada! Heck it is almost impossible - you just intuitively know what is right and what is not. So as a non-native speaker you can actually look at it and says well this is a modifier, this modifies this noun etc. I mean SC can actually be like math in some cases. A bunch of rules you need to follow.

3) Actually on a higher score, SC doesn't really test you so much on strict rules of grammar but more on how you are able to apply yourself to a context. It is about logic and figuring out what the sentence means. If you apply logic then the rules of grammar will make sense. But if you apply just the rules of grammar then it will not be logical.

4) CR has little to do with English skills actually and is a direct application of logic. Infact in my classes the teaching usually veers around day to day analogies we are all comfortable dealing with. Once you start looking at it from that perspective CR is really interesting AND easy to solve.

5) RC is about processing power - your ability to digest a dense passage and answer questions that are inferential. To be frank this is a function of your brain power. If you are a native speaker perhaps you expend less power and if you are non-native you perhaps spend more mental currency. Apart from that I really don't see how this is different from say data interpretation, which I think non-natives are good at.

Coming back to the original post I think Indians (and to some extent, based on what I know, even Chinese, and Russians) are good at math because of 2 reasons (a) a culture that places more emphasis on learning the rules than questioning the status quo (b) focus on math because softer-skills, and and liberal arts were never considered important. So when you look at an SC question you were not able to answer instead of internalizing the problem (i.e. this is stuff I need to figure out) we tend to externalize the problem (i.e. maybe there is a rule of grammar that I did not know). I think it is this attitude which stops us from scoring high on the test more than anything else.

I am sorry if I ended up stereotyping but these are my thoughts on the matter,

Arun

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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 01 Jun 2012, 10:39
My two cents worth of thought:
I am not a native English speaker. I have quite high abilities to deal with number properties questions involving for example divisibility properties. But I cannot distinguish between very fine nuances in sentence correction, and I am not an expert in English grammar for sure. So, am I a good candidate to be acccepted to an MBA school? (I am now even wondering whether my last sentence is correct English...) It seems that none of the above is relevant. The demand is really high, and candidates are not able to influence the selection criteria. So, really it won't harm to improve your thinking abilities by doing some basic math and improving your English, is just a bonus. It seems that I am a fatalist...if you cannot get into the desired business school, it means you are not supposed to be there... think of an alternative. It means, you must do something else.
Some might say this is not fair, others might say this is called life! The best thing is to take it easy!

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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2012, 08:02
This Thread is very interesting. Alot of great viewpoints have been expressed thus far. As a native speaker I do emphasize with non native speakers taking the GMAT. The material in the verbal section must be tough to get through for anyone let alone someone who speaks english as a second or third language. However, what about the advantage it seems non english speakers possess on the quant section? US Citizens who were born and raised here spent k to 12 education learning english, and most of us dont even understand nor use the language correctly. Also other countries tend to prepare applicants much better in terms of quant. It is a long known fact that in the US are students are struggling in math and sciences. ( I can't think of a single math teacher I had in k-12 that actually had a bachelors in mathematics) I mention all of this because both sides are forced to play catch up when studying for the GMAT. Upon looking at what the GMAT covers I have had to purchase Bob Miller's Algebra and Geometry books to assist my studying in the quant section.I live right outside of Detroit,MI. 50% of the population in Detroit is functionally illiterate. That means it is extremely likely anyone who would take the GMAT from this area would be at a great disadvantage in terms of verbal as well and these are people who grew up speaking only english. Based on any applicant or tester's life experiences, they will come to the exam with certain advantages and disadvantages. From these previous experiences during the time of GMAT prep we spot our weaknesses and we strive to make them our strengths.

*Random Notes * Standardized tests aren't perfect by any means Testing African American Students by Asa Hilliard is an amazing book detailing the biased that can/is involved in standardized testing practices, read it in college, must read for anyone interested in diving deeper into this topic.

Also here is the source i used for mentioning 50% of Detroit is functionally illiterate.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/07/detroit-illiteracy-nearly-half-education_n_858307.html
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] New post 02 Jun 2012, 22:32
JenDziura wrote:
Hi there,

................................

Sincerely,
Jennifer


Jennifer,

I agree with most of what you said.

It was a trap I had set for you, and you went straight for it. We do agree that just knowing English is not enough; a person need to know American English. This becomes more of an issue when someone is stuck between two choices that hinge on nuances that are not so clear to a non-native. Even in Quant section there are many questions that depend upon verbal tricks.

I don't agree that GMAT is unfair to non-natives, but rather believe that native American English speakers have an advantage in the test. Historically, GMAT was designed for American Schools that wanted a standardized tests for admissions. Now, all over the world, schools are relying on GMAT. This fact alone speaks for the beauty of the tests.

GMAT is phasing out idioms, and that may level the playing field in some respect, but there is a long road ahead.

Regards,
someone somewhere in middle of little nothings
Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers?   [#permalink] 02 Jun 2012, 22:32
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