Most important and basic things you must know about GMAT Exam

GMAT Prep

Graduate Management Admissions Test or GMAT is a standardized test conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). As you already know this is the first step on the MBA journey as most top business schools (B-schools) worldwide require a GMAT score as part of their MBA application process.

The GMAT test takes almost 4 hours to complete and is created to test candidates’ quantitative aptitude, reasoning and writing ability.  The test is usually administered in a GMAC accredited secure test centers. However, during the CoVid-19 pandemic, GMAC has launched an online version of the test temporarily. As of August 2020, the understanding is that the online version of the test will be discontinued in future, likely by end of 2020.

Check out: GMAT Online vs In-Center key differences

Before you dive into the preparation, it is very important that you familiarize yourself with the exam structure and format. Hence, in this post, we will look at the overall GMAT exam structure in brief:

GMAT Exam Structure

GMAT test sectionsTime & # of questionsQuestion typesScore Range
Analytical Writing (AWA)30 min., 1 questionAnalysis and reasoning of an argument 0-6
Integrated Reasoning (IR)30 min., 12 questionsMulti-source reasoning
Table analysis
Graphics interpretation
Two part analysis
1-8
Quantitative Reasoning62 min., 31 questionsProblem Solving (PS)
Data Sufficiency (DS)
6-51
Verbal Reasoning65 min., 36 questionsSentence Correction (SC)
Critical Reasoning (CR)
Reading Comprehension (RC)
6-51
GMAT exam sections and question types

In the past GMAC did not allow the candidates to choose the order of the sections in the GMAT exam. Recently however, this has changed and during the exam candidates have 2 minutes to make an order selection from 1 of the three choices:

Order choice #1Order choice #2Order choice #3
 Analytical Writing Assessment VerbalQuantitative
Integrated Reasoning8 min break (optional) 8 min break (optional) 
8 min break (optional) QuantitativeVerbal
 Quantitative8 min break (optional) 8 min break (optional) 
 8 min break (optional) Integrated ReasoningIntegrated Reasoning
 Verbal Analytical Writing Assessment Analytical Writing Assessment

It is important to remember that the breaks are optional and the time is fixed. If you take more than the allotted time for a break, you will loose time from the next section. Now, lets look a little deeper into each section of the GMAT test:

Analytical Writing (AWA)

The AWA section is 30-minute writing task which tests the candidates’ ability to perform an ‘Analysis of an argument’. In this section, the candidates are expected to analyze an argument and provide a critique (pros/cons) of the argument. The arguments provided in the test are based on general topics and no specific study is needed. This is usually considered the least important section on GMAT as the schools are known to not pay too much attention to the scores on this section.

For additional information on AWA section, please visit mba.com

Integrated Reasoning (IR)

This purpose of this section is to gauge candidates’ ability to solve complex problems and make logical decisions by assimilating large amounts of data. Most the b-schools are interested candidates who demonstrate this competency.

Per mba.com, The integrated reasoning section contains four kinds of questions (total of 12 questions) — most requiring multiple responses.

Integrated reasoning section tests the ability to:

  • Synthesize information presented in graphics, text, and numbers.
  • Evaluate relevant information from different sources.
  • Organize information to see relationships and to solve multiple, interrelated problems.
  • Combine and manipulate information from multiple sources to solve complex problems.

Since candidates will be dealing with lot of data, use of calculator is permitted in the exam. However, candidates are only allowed to use the on-screen calculator provided during the GMAT exam.

Please visit mba.com for more information

Verbal Reasoning

GMAT’s Verbal section measures the applicant’s understanding of standard written English. To measure this ability, Verbal section consists of three types of questions: Reading Comprehension (RC), Critical Reasoning (CR), and Sentence Correction (SC). In the GMAT exam, this section consists of 36 multiple-choice questions and the candidates will be given 65 minutes to complete it. Hence, the candidates have less than 2 minutes on an average to solve each question.

The sentence correction section measures candidates’ proficiency in identifying grammatically and structurally sound sentences. In other words, the test is asking candidates to choose those sentences which can clearly and concisely express an idea or a relationship.

Each sentence correction question presents a sentence, part or all of which is underlined. As answer choices, candidates see five ways of phrasing the underlined part. In the end, the candidates must choose the answer that produces the most effective sentence.

The CR section tests the candidates’ ability to make and evaluate arguments, and formulate or evaluate a plan of action. The critical reasoning questions are short passages with usually fewer than 100 words.

The RC section tests the candidates’ ability to understand:

  • Words, statements and their meaning/context in a a passage
  • Logical relationships between different parts of the article
  • The flow of qualitative and quantitative information

In the test, each RC passage is accompanied by multiple questions that require the candidates to interpret the information, draw inferences or apply the given information to further context.

For more information on verbal section, please visit mba.com

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quant section measures the candidates’ ability to mathematically solve quantitative problems, and interpret graphic data. It consists of 31 multiple-choice questions and the candidates have 62 minutes to complete the section. Hence, the candidates have only an average of 2 minutes per question. Since no calculators are allowed, speed and accuracy are both important in this section. There are two types of questions asked in this section:

Problem solving (PS)

Problem-solving measures the candidates’ ability to use analytical reasoning to solve mathematics problems. Candidates have to select the answer from one of the five answer choices provided.

Data sufficiency (DS)

Data sufficiency checks the candidates’ ability to determine if the data provided is enough to solve the problem. Each question is accompanied by two statements. Using the data in the statements and knowledge of mathematical concepts, the candidates have to decide whether they have enough data to answer the question asked.

Read more about Quant section at mba.com

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