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Graduate and Managerial Assessment series


GMA was the first series of tests designed in Britain to target the intellectual skills commonly required of elite graduates entering and progressing through professional and managerial roles. First published in 1985, it was soon imitated in content and even name, but still sets a standard of quality that has not been bettered. It discriminates well among the top 10% of the population by ability, and particularly well among the top 5%.


There are three component tests, each specifically designed to a rationale related to the needs of the workplace. This is not a battery of tests, arranged like flavours on an ice-cream cart. User choose which parts to use, and some indeed choose to use all three parts. But all three come in two distinct but highly parallel forms, with each test having a time limit of 30 minutes.

GMA Abstract

This is the most innovative component of the series - indeed when it first appeared many found it incomprehensible. GMA Abstract is aimed at flexibility of thinking, what is sometimes called "fluid intelligence", the ability to switch focus between different ways of thinking and different ways of seeing. Drawing on only the simplest of concepts, and virtually language-free, GMA Abstract is about as far from a general knowledge test as you can find. And yet it is very challenging to even the best of minds, and has not proved subject to the Flynn effect (whereby tests apparently become easier with the passing of the years).

GMA Abstract is widely used to identify individuals with strategic, transformational management potential. It is strongly predictive of success in progress, for instance, to partnership level in accountancy, law and consultancy practices. Because of its very small language content, it is used internationally as a benchmark alongside other tests.

GMA Numerical

GMA Numerical was designed in a very precise way to cover the kinds of reasoning that elite groups of staff might be expected to handle in a numerical context. It was designed by stripping the old 'O' Level mathematics syllabus of everything that did not relate to the focus of the test - calculus, for ionstance, and geometrical proofs - and then designing items reflecting the necessary mental processes at three levels of complexity.

It is not, however, a test of mechanical arithmetic. The items are designed so that the calculations are simple - and the answers correspondingly obvious - if the candidate understands the demands of the problem.

The design was motivated by the needs of accountancy practices taking graduate recruits from general disciplines. The poor performance of some candidates - even candidates who have charge of large corporate budgets - has been a wake-up call in some organisations.

GMA Verbal

The design of GMA Verbal goes back to 1977, with the requirement to devise a high-level critical thinking skill test suitable for high-level British graduates for whome the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Skills Analysis was proving just too easy. The result was the VA3 test, published b Saville and Holdsworth Ltd, which, along with its numerical companion NA4, opened up the use of ability testing in the graduate recruitment market.

The design was refined and elaborated through bespoke tests for private use, and GMA Verbal's design reflects what was learned about the mistakes people consistently make in evaluating arguments. GMA verbal is not about logic=-chopping, it focuses on correctly identifying what is and what is not being successfully argued in real texts culled from newspapers and technical and scientific reports.

As well as provioding a test of high-level critical thinking skills, GMA Verbal has a subsidiary use in identifying those who are not native English speakers but who nonetheless can be trusted to understand enough of the subtleties of the language to function effectively where English is the language of business.


For more details on the online version of GMA, please click here.

GMA paper version

The original paper version of GMA, as revised in 2006, has from January 2012 been published exclusively by PRD, and was also distributed under licence by SHL/Previsor, now known variously as CEB and SHL Talent Management. As of November 2015 it is available principally through our new online shop, in collaboration with our printing and distribution partner X1 Ltd. Email us or phone +44 (0)1727 841455 for bulk ordering information.