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# Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers?

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Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  20 May 2010, 21:56
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Disclosure: It is a not a complaint or grievance at all.
I just would like to share a couple of my thoughts and ideas here and would like to hear/(read) yours.
Excuse me, if I somehow have desriminated someone, this was not my intention.

I think that GMAT somehow may discriminate those people, whose english is not native language.
Let me explain:
I believe that, if an indian, chinese or russian would take the gmat in his/her native language, results would be different and probably much better because of language barrier.
Of course I agree that those who want to pursue an MBA degree must know english very well, BUT posessing english very well does mean to be a native speaker. Occasionally, few unknown words may play crucial role.

For example, sometimes (I am feeling so pissed off in such situations), when reading a RC (often biology or history passages) or a CR question, I lose my concentration, self-confidence and understanding, because I did not undersand just a couple of words.
Often just because of not clear understanding of "what a hell is exactly going on here", I fail the question, not because I am not smart/intellegent, but because I did not understand the intended meaning. (once I translated in my native language 10 CR and 10 RC questions that I took wrong, about 60% of fails were due to language barrier).

Thus, non-native speakers often have such huge disbalances like Q45-50, V18-25 (total GMAT score ranging from 530 to 620) and can't improve significantly the verbal raw over a short period of time.
Another example, when reading explanations of tough SC questions, native speakers may crack SC questions just feeling/seeing awkward nuances very quickly.

Please share your ideas, thoughts or may be critics. you may award kudos, if I deserve it.

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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  21 May 2010, 20:59
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Pkit,
I think that the GMAT does discriminate against non native english speakers. I do not think they do so intentionally. They are trying to test English grammar and logic and thus it will almost certainly be more difficult for non native. Many of the SC questions, I answer correctly without exactly knowing why. I think that the best way to overcome this is to read English articles or abstracts in reputable news papers and journals. Read Scientific American, any higher level political journal, the NY TImes, etc. Try to absorb as much of the language as you can by reading articles and then trying to answer questions about the subject matter discussed. This will help you t o do the best that you can do. Good luck.

Thanks,
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Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  21 May 2010, 21:23
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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 down a good write-up. So if you fail because of a 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 has 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 a good score, but for getting 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 hadn't spent more time on English because I couldn't socialize, express myself properly and so on.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  21 May 2010, 21:52
Well said Walker.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  21 May 2010, 23:48
GMAT is a test designed for native speakers. That the fact and nothing can be done about it. So it'd be better for you not to think about it and rather study to master the language.

I think that an admission committee tolerates below average verbal scores of international students. But they tend to look closer at your quant score. But I don't have this information confirmed.

I also concur agree with one of the posters who said that the level of English tested by the GMAT is essential for your success in the b school and for your success as a top manager in an American company. B schools just set ceratin standards for their graduates and by keeping those standards they preserve the prestige and great quality of their graduates. It's like buying a Rolls Royce - by buying this car you are guaranteed that it will be of the best quality. There are less cheaper car manufacturers that do not guarantee the same quality but in their case you will be buying a totaly different car. Top business scools produce the best professioanls in the world so it's no suprising that their candids should meet the most demanding criteria.

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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  22 May 2010, 00:07
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skipjames wrote:
Well said Walker.

Thank you walker, you probably understand me perfectly, because we are from the same region.
My score has already been improved by more than 100 points, since 3 month of intensive preparation.
Of course I do not negate the importance of English, because it is primarily language of study in most Business schools in the world.
I agree with you and you are perfectly right, but I just wanted to say that, given the fact that GMAT measures individual intellectual abilities, this measurement may be a bit distorted. Lets imagine, if GMAT had been adjusted to native language of test takers, test results would have been different. This was my point.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  22 May 2010, 01:12
there is nothing to add to Walker`s speach

do not give up

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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  22 May 2010, 02:20
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I understand your frustration, I once failed miserably one CR cause I didn't know the word 'scarcity'.
However, I received a poor education in English and if I'm not wrong I got a 39 in verbal, so I don't think it's so critical after all.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  22 May 2010, 04:59
saruba wrote:
I understand your frustration, I once failed miserably one CR cause I didn't know the word 'scarcity'.
However, I received a poor education in English and if I'm not wrong I got a 39 in verbal, so I don't think it's so critical after all.

Here interesting-insights-into-gmat-questions-from-gmac-93926.html#p722629 apprx the same topis is discussed. I want just to cross reference these two topics in order to add ideas.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  22 May 2010, 06:45
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some more ....
I have posted it in another similar post as well but THEN I WAS NOT AWARE that this post exist...

so not intension is not spamming forum

I think one thing is for sure, words only are never going to solve this issue. May be ,can work as sympathy but can never solve the real problem.
Ok, i guess this native and non native argument is never going to end. So, here are some thing i want to say
1)Everybody seems to accept that 'native speakers do have huge advantage over non native speakers in verbal section'. So, what has been done till date to reduce it. Can we come to conclusion that GMAT is biased towards non native speakers or GMAT test is not 100% fair.
Should anybody have a better score just because he knows some more words than other who knows the language less.
2)Is it Aptitude Test or language test?
Most of users take GMAT as a requirement for attending Business school not to be a LANGAUGE Instructor. So, when i prepare to SC and RC ,I ask myself, ”am I trying to be language instructor?” or “am I trying to be language or meaning analyst?”.So for me if you say GMAT is Aptitude test then inclusion of SC and style of passages in RC is not justifiable at all. I agree with the CR questions for business student candidates.
If it really works as language test, why are international students required to take TOEFL in addition to taking GMAT.

3)If Compare verbal section’s scores with the quantative section’s score for native speakers or take an average I bet you will find most of them have better verbal sections scores and especially in SC and RC where as I have seen non native speaker student getting 100% marks in quantative section and even not getting 40% marks in verbal section ruining the whole GMAT score.
What does it tell about his caliber?
4)In most of non-native countries GMAT type English is not taught and it doesn’t happen in a day or two.
When I use to be in school ,for e g, I use to say
Harry works better than Larry.
Harry can do different link like singing, playing
These sentence were right(this is how things are taught) when I was in school but for this exam these are not correct. So, all of the sudden somebody says this is not right then things are bound to get difficult for you.
I also feel discussion like this doesn’t have or will not get to any logical end so I also know joining the band wagon seems to be best ploy for now rather than arguing over it.
Just my thoughts.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  22 May 2010, 07:19
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frank1 wrote:
some more ....
I have posted it in another similar post as well but THEN I WAS NOT AWARE that this post exist...

so not intension is not spamming forum

very good post, thanks !
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  22 May 2010, 07:49
frank1 wrote:
If it really works as language test, why are international students required to take TOEFL in addition to taking GMAT.

That's something I could never understand. Language wise the GMAT is a much more difficult test than the TOEFL. Yet, international students have to take the TOEFL as well and pay additional money for one more test.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  22 May 2010, 08:59
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nonameee wrote:
frank1 wrote:
If it really works as language test, why are international students required to take TOEFL in addition to taking GMAT.

That's something I could never understand. Language wise the GMAT is a much more difficult test than the TOEFL. Yet, international students have to take the TOEFL as well and pay additional money for one more test.

I may agree with you, since GMAT tests language ability as well. However, TOEFL has listening and speaking sections, these sections GMAT does not have.
RC in gmat is much harder than in TOEFL.
Some universities even for Ms degree do not require GMAT, only TOEFL, and TOEFL score requirements may start from 61 points.
I think most of internationl students would agree to exlude from GMAT the verbal part.

Nevertheless, I agree with WALKER, that english proficiency is very important for MBA degree. (just imagine you are an associte in IB or management consulting company and there are ridiculous ERRORS in your presentation, funny isn't it?
Without doubts, english proficiency would increase significantly, while studying/staying two years on campus in english language environment, but still the pre-MBA strong level of English is required.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  22 May 2010, 10:11
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Pkit wrote:
Nevertheless, I agree with WALKER, that english proficiency is very important for MBA degree. (just imagine you are an associte in IB or management consulting company and there are ridiculous ERRORS in your presentation, funny isn't it?
Without doubts, english proficiency would increase significantly, while studying/staying two years on campus in english language environment, but still the pre-MBA strong level of English is required.

Well if you ask me i dont say completely eliminate the verbal section (if so then it will be total quantative....understand their problem as well ...of natives )

any way i would say
1)Eliminate SC from verbal part and let TOEFL handle the language requirement part
You are correct when you say ,a businessman should not be pack of errors while speaking but you should not forget that even if we eliminate SC from GMAT and take toefl only, it is not easy to get good marks in TOEFL as well ,without knowing anything about english.

If we do so(eliminate SC),we wont be taking language test in the name of Aptitude test and somebody might not be considered better than others just because he knows some more idioms/meanings than the other guy.

and what is tested in SC is not language skill neither it is analytical skill
It targets at ,
if this is right then, this must be MORE right (atleast 3 out of 5 choices in most questions are valid ....may be if you ask some laywers to fight for it...infact they may be able to revert the correct answer... )
Even you dont need lawyers,see the verbal question section of this forum and see the how many poster still not feel the correct answer they say is not 100% logical...

i wonder, i will think 'ok i need to make sentence parallel' when i talk with my clients or 'was the modifier used at correct place when i talked with those partners?' lol....

2)Change type passage of RC
I am a potential business student....give me passage about economics,management and so on....but what do i get?
passage from astronomy full of jargons....passage from biology........

More jargons and complex structure means easier for native speakers PROBLEM for non-natives...

I really wonder what might be the intension here.....
Sometime i feel,are you kidding?
or do you think ,it really tests skills of businessman?
Can it be made more productive...why to waste things in the name of making it difficult....

I feel CR should be there....atleast it test businessman skills and intrepretation....in sentence correction ,you read things by hard...here one uses his brain....
(In complex construction natives do have advantages here as well,but atleast they wont be able to get it correct just knowing some more words or word meaning...)

So,these are what i think.
and i know these are just talks for talk....nothing is going to change....atleast for some years

Last edited by frank1 on 23 May 2010, 21:57, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  23 May 2010, 13:49
Frank1,

Thank you for excellent post! some things were really funny +1!

As far as I know (I've read this somewhere), GMAC will make significant changes in GMAT since 2013. Among the changes I remembered that the biology, astronomy, medicine and other sceince RC will be changed to economics, social, management and other relevant to business degree passages.

Another reason, why GMAT is going to be changed is GMAT may lose its positions to GRE test, in terms of $GRE<GMAT, and nowdays more and more schools accept GRE as well as GMAT. By the way, Frank1, my accuracy rate in business, economics and management RC passages is much much higher than in science/ history passages. I agree, that science RC "kill" non-natives. 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?! _________________ Audaces fortuna juvat! GMAT Club Premium Membership - big benefits and savings CEO Joined: 17 Nov 2007 Posts: 3574 Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Other Schools: Chicago (Booth) - Class of 2011 GMAT 1: 750 Q50 V40 Followers: 432 Kudos [?]: 2341 [1] , given: 359 Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] 24 May 2010, 06:52 1 This post received KUDOS Expert's post Here is good stuff to read about how GMAC works and who are people at the Board of Directors: http://www.gmac.com/gmac/aboutus/governance/ I just what to ask you, guys, maybe there is a reason why GMAT is as it is? Maybe decades of collaboration between GMAC/b-schools/companies made sense? Maybe mainstream IB/consulting industries have some requirements that are reflected in GMAT and b-school curriculum? Put yourself in shoes of b-schools with their competition based on employment/salary/reputation among companies. If somebody fails at work/school, it doesn't matter why. If you say GMAT discriminates non-natives, so do b-schools and companies as they are all in the same boat. Right? Sorry guys, can't agree with you. GMAT is just a piece of puzzle that plays its role and this role is prediction of academic success at b-school. _________________ HOT! GMAT TOOLKIT 2 (iOS) / GMAT TOOLKIT (Android) - The OFFICIAL GMAT CLUB PREP APP, a must-have app especially if you aim at 700+ | PrepGame Director Joined: 23 Apr 2010 Posts: 583 Followers: 2 Kudos [?]: 42 [0], given: 7 Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] 24 May 2010, 12:52 Exactly, if you feel it's not fair, don't apply to b schools. Posted from my mobile device Intern Joined: 24 May 2010 Posts: 2 Followers: 0 Kudos [?]: 0 [0], given: 0 Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink] 24 May 2010, 18:16 Pkit wrote: Frank1, Thank you for excellent post! some things were really funny +1! As far as I know (I've read this somewhere), GMAC will make significant changes in GMAT since 2013. Among the changes I remembered that the biology, astronomy, medicine and other sceince RC will be changed to economics, social, management and other relevant to business degree passages. Another reason, why GMAT is going to be changed is GMAT may lose its positions to GRE test, in terms of$ GRE<GMAT, and nowdays more and more schools accept GRE as well as GMAT.

By the way, Frank1, my accuracy rate in business, economics and management RC passages is much much higher than in science/ history passages. I agree, that science RC "kill" non-natives.

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?!

Not to discriminate non-English speakers, but I think it is case-sensitive. I am also accurate in Business Management and Science. This must provide a general statement which tells that Science kill non-natives.

Last edited by jeanlerymc on 08 Jun 2010, 10:50, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  25 May 2010, 22:32
Hopefully Adcoms prefer a V39 from a non-native candidate than a V39 from a native one. Or maybe I'm lying to myself...

I would see fair if this is true. They should take into account the fact of not being native, because the Verbal section will be always much harder. Even in Quant section some times it's more complicated for us (word problems for example) because in most of the cases we should translate the text to our own language and it is easier to misinterpret some key info or lose time.

I'm non-native candidate and with a 102 in TOEFL, struggling to reach +700 on the GMAT (planned next week). In addition, I will retake TOEFL as this mark is not enough for my dream schools... Some time ago I realized that the most important factor on my application is my English level, needed for GMAT, TOEFL, essays, interview, etc. Having a very good profile, international experience, etc is not enough, we internationals need to dominate English language to be admitted.

I'm not saying that this is unfair, because is our choice to apply for an MBA in English. However, I'm only saying that they should appreciate in the applications the fact that the candidate is non-native.

rid
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers? [#permalink]  25 May 2010, 22:54
rid82 wrote:
Hopefully Adcoms prefer a V39 from a non-native candidate than a V39 from a native one. Or maybe I'm lying to myself...

rid

Rid82, the same for me, my TOEFL score is about 100, and I need to increase it at least by 5-10%. I angry about the fact that I did not visit US each summer (Work&Travel) when I was a student. Lots of my friends have better english then me, but most of them don't want toefl, gmat, mba, etc.

I hope everything will be alright! I am sure that the AdComs appreciate non-natives.
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Re: Does the GMAT discriminate non-english speakers?   [#permalink] 25 May 2010, 22:54

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