GMAT Test Structure and Overview
The Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®) consists of four separately timed sections.
Format and Timing
The GMAT exam consists of three main parts, the Analytical Writing Assessment, the Quantitative section, and the Verbal section.
You have three and a half hours in which to take the GMAT exam, but plan for a total time of approximately four hours.
Analytical Writing Assessment
The GMAT exam begins with the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). The AWA consists of two separate writing tasks—Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument. You are allowed 30 minutes to complete each one.
Following an optional break, you then begin with the Quantitative Section of the GMAT exam. This section contains 37 multiple-choice questions of two question types—Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving. You are allowed a maximum of 75 minutes to complete the entire section.
After completion of the Quantitative Section (following an optional break), you begin the Verbal Section of the GMAT exam. This section contains 41 multiple choice questions of three question types—Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. You are allowed a maximum of 75 minutes to complete the entire section.
Each of the first two sections consists of an analytical writing task; the remaining two sections (Quantitative and Verbal) consist of multiple-choice questions delivered in a computer-adaptive format. Questions in these sections are dynamically selected as you take the test; the multiple-choice questions will adjust to your ability level, and your test will be unique.
How does it work?
For each multiple-choice section of the GMAT exam, there is a large pool of potential questions ranging from a low to high level of difficulty. Each section of the test starts with a question of moderate difficulty. If you answer the first question correctly, the computer will usually give you a harder question. If you answer the first question incorrectly, your next question will be easier. This process will continue until you complete the section, at which point the computer will have an accurate assessment of your ability level in that subject area.
In a computer-adaptive test, only one question at a time is presented. Because the computer scores each question before selecting the next one, you may not skip, return to, or change your responses to previous questions.
What If I make a mistake or guess?
If you answer a question incorrectly by mistake or correctly by randomly guessing, your answers to subsequent questions will lead you back to questions that are at the appropriate level of difficulty for you.
Random guessing can significantly lower your scores. So, if you do not know the answer to a question, you should try to eliminate as many answer choices as possible and then select the answer you think is best. For more testing strategies, see Test-Taking Strategies.
What if I do not finish?
Pacing is critical, as there is a severe penalty for not completing. Both the time and number of questions that remain in the section are displayed on the screen during the exam. There are 37 Quantitative questions and 41 Verbal questions. If a question is too time-consuming or if you don’t know the answer, make an educated guess by first eliminating the answers you know to be wrong.
How is my score determined?
Your score is determined by:
- the number of questions you answer,
- whether you answer the questions correctly or incorrectly, and
- the level of difficulty and other statistical characteristics of each question.
The questions in an adaptive test are weighted according to their difficulty and other statistical properties, not according to their position in the test.
Are all questions counted?
Every test contains trial multiple-choice questions being pretested for use in a real exam. These questions are not identified and appear in different locations within the test. You should, therefore, do your best on all questions. Answers to trial questions are not counted in the scoring of your test.
What Computer Skills do you Need?
You need only minimal computer skills to complete the GMAT exam. Familiarize yourself with the mechanics of taking a computer-adaptive test by using the GMAT Tutorials that is included with the free GMATPrep® Software. The tutorials cover such topics as:
- using a mouse
- entering responses
- moving on to the next question
- using the word processor
- accessing the Help function
Before the day of your test, review the testing tools covered in the tutorials. Although you will be able to use a Help function during the test, the time spent doing so will count against the time allotted for completing a test section.
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- Analytical Writing Assessment Section
- GMAT Test Structure and Overview
- Quantitative Section
- Verbal Section
- What is the GMAT Exam?