GMAT Exam Structure, Timing, and Scoring

Understanding GMAT Exam Content

Students taking GMAT on computers
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The GMAT is a standardized test created and administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council. This exam is primarily taken by individuals who plan on applying to a graduate business school. Many business schools, particularly MBA programs, use GMAT scores to evaluate an applicant's potential to succeed in a business-related program.

GMAT Structure

The GMAT has a very defined structure. Although questions can vary from test to test, the exam is always split into the same four sections:  

Let's take a closer look at each section to gain a better understanding of the test's structure.

Analytical Writing Assessment

The Analytical Writing Assessment is designed to test your reading, thinking, and writing abilities. You will be asked to read an argument and think critically about the argument's validity. Then, you will write an analysis of the reasoning used in the argument. You will have 30 minutes to accomplish all of these tasks.

The best way to practice for the AWA is to look at a few sample AWA topics. Most of the topics/arguments that appear on the GMAT are available to you prior to the test. It would be difficult to practice a response to every article, but you can practice until you feel comfortable with your understanding of parts of an argument, logical fallacies, and other aspects of discourse. This will help you write a strong analysis of the reasoning presented in an argument.

Integrated Reasoning Section

The Integrated Reasoning section tests your ability to evaluate data presented in different formats. For example, you may have to answer questions about data in a graph, chart, or table. There are only 12 questions on this section of the test. You will have 30 minutes to complete the whole Integrated Reasoning section. That means that you can't spend much more than two minutes on each question.

There are four types of questions that can appear in this section. These include graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multisource reasoning questions. Looking at a few sample Integrated Reasoning topics will give you a better understanding of the different types of questions in this section of the GMAT.

Quantitative Reasoning Section

The Quantitative section of the GMAT consists of 31 questions that require you to use your math knowledge and skills to analyze data and draw conclusions about information presented to you on the exam. You will have 62 minutes to answer all 31 questions on this test. Again, you shouldn't spend more than just a couple of minutes on each question.

Question types in the Quantitative section include problem-solving questions, which require the use of basic math to solve numerical problems, and data sufficiency questions, which require you to analyze data and determine whether or not you can answer the question with information available to you (sometimes you have enough data, and sometimes there is insufficient data).

Verbal Reasoning Section

The Verbal section of the GMAT exam measures your reading and writing ability. This section of the test has 36 questions that must be answered in just 65 minutes. You should spend less than two minutes on each question.

There are three question types on the Verbal section. Reading comprehension questions test your ability to comprehend written text and draw conclusions from a passage. Critical reasoning questions require you to read a passage and then use reasoning skills to answer questions about the passage. Sentence correction questions present a sentence and then ask you questions about grammar, word choice, and sentence construction to test your written communication skills.  

GMAT Timing

You will have a total of three hours and seven minutes to complete the GMAT. This seems like a long time, but it will go quickly as you are taking the test. You must practice good time management. A good way to learn how to do this is by timing yourself when you take practice tests. This will help you to better understand the time constraints in each section and prepare accordingly. 

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Schweitzer, Karen. "GMAT Exam Structure, Timing, and Scoring." ThoughtCo, May. 4, 2021, Schweitzer, Karen. (2021, May 4). GMAT Exam Structure, Timing, and Scoring. Retrieved from Schweitzer, Karen. "GMAT Exam Structure, Timing, and Scoring." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).