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9th Nov 2022
Afia Azmi

GMAT: Everything You Need to Know

Get 700+ on your GMAT to get into your dream business school with tips on eligibility, pattern, registration fee, application, syllabus, and exam dates.

What is the GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test is a computer adaptive test (CAT) is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). It is introduced to evaluate analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to a graduate management program, such as an MBA.

It is a 3½-hour exam that is designed to predict how test-takers will perform academically in MBA (Masters in Business Administration) programs. GMAT scores are used by graduate business schools to make an admission decision.

Test Format
  1. GMAT Online Exam

Format - The GMAT Online Exam allows test-takers to take the exam remotely from their own homes using their personal computers.

Availability - The online format was introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is currently available in many countries.

Sections - The online exam consists of the same sections as the in-center exam: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Quantitative Reasoning (Quant), and Verbal Reasoning (Verbal).

Test Delivery - The online exam is delivered through GMAT Online Exam software, which provides a similar test-taking experience to the in-center exam.

Test Duration - The total duration of the online exam is approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes, including optional breaks.

Score Validity - The scores obtained from the GMAT Online Exam are valid and accepted by business schools for admission purposes.

  1. GMAT In-Center Exam

Format - The GMAT In-Center Exam is conducted at secure testing centers designated by GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council), which administers the GMAT.

Availability - In-center exams were the traditional format of the GMAT and are still available in many locations worldwide.

Sections - The in-center exam includes the same sections as the online exam: AWA, IR, Quant, and Verbal.

Test Delivery - The in-center exam is administered on-site at a testing center using standardized test procedures and equipment.

Test Duration - The total duration of the in-center exam is approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes, including optional breaks.

Score Validity - The scores obtained from the GMAT In-Center Exam are also valid and accepted by business schools for admission purposes.

What’s on the GMAT exam?

The GMAT exam comprises of four sections -

  • Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Integrated Reasoning Section
  • Quantitative Section
  • Verbal Section.

Total testing time is three hours and seven minutes.

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) – One Topic – 30 Minutes
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR) – 12 Questions – 30 Minutes
  • Quantitative – 31 Questions – 62 minutes
  • Verbal – 36 Questions – 65 Minutes

Analytical writing Assignment

requires you to -

  • Examine and then analyze a given argument
  • Identify the reasoning behind an argument and also write a critique of the same
  • Follow and work in a methodical approach to present your answer
  • Consider various views
  • Support your answer with relevant examples and explanation
  • Ensure usage of right grammar while presenting your answer

Integrated Reasoning

This section has four different types of questions -

  • Table analysis
  • Graphics Interpretation
  • Multisource reasoning
  • Two-part analysis

Quantitative section

This section comprises of basic arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Problem-solving and data sufficiency questions are in this section.

Verbal section

The three major sections of the verbal section include:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Critical reasoning
  • Sentence correction
Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

The Analytical Writing Assessment tests a student's ability to analyse an argument and present a practical written analysis.

  • Format - The AWA section consists of one essay prompt that you need to respond to within a given time frame. The prompt typically presents an argument or an issue, and you must provide a well-structured analysis of the given topic.
  • Time Allocation - 30 minutes.
  • Essay Structure - Your AWA essay should have a clear and logical structure. It generally consists of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • Scoring - The AWA section is scored separately on a scale of 0 to 6 in half-point increments.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Comprehend the Argument - It is essential to thoroughly understand the given statement before writing about it. Candidates must identify the premises and conclusions of the argument and comprehend its overall structure.

  • Analyze the Argument - Candidates must evaluate the reasoning used in the discussion and determine if the provided evidence supports the conclusion. They should also identify and assess any assumptions made in the argument.

  • Organization and Structure - The essay must have a clear and logical structure with an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should provide a summary of the argument, and the decision should summarise the critical points made in the essay.

  • Support and Examples - The candidate must use specific examples to illustrate their points and support their argument. The examples used must be relevant to the argument and must be presented clearly and logically.

The essay must be well written with correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The candidate must also use appropriate vocabulary and sentence structure to convey their ideas.

Tips and Strategies

To write a strong essay -

  1. Understand the main points and assumptions.
  2. Evaluate strengths and weaknesses of the argument.
  3. Support your points with examples and evidence.
  4. Write well with varied vocabulary and sentence structures.
  5. Learn from high-scoring sample essays.
  6. Proofread for errors and address all prompt points.
Integrated Reasoning

Integrated Reasoning tests a candidate's ability to analyse data from multiple sources and synthesise the information to solve a problem. This test section assesses students' ability to think critically and use problem-solving skills.

  • Format - The IR section consists of 12 questions that must be completed within 30 minutes. The questions are presented in multiple formats, including graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning.
  • Scoring - The IR section is scored on a scale of 1 to 8 in single-digit increments. The IR score does not contribute to the overall GMAT score based on the Verbal and Quantitative sections.

Types of Questions

  • Graphics Interpretation - You are presented with a graph, chart, or other visual data representation. You must analyse the information, select the correct answer, or make inferences based on the given data.

  • Two-Part Analysis - These questions present a complex problem or scenario with two related questions. It would be best if you answered both questions correctly to receive credit.

  • Table Analysis - You are provided with a table or spreadsheet containing sortable data. You must analyse the data and answer questions by selecting the appropriate options.

  • Multi-Source Reasoning - These questions involve analysing information from multiple sources, such as text passages, charts, and tables. You must evaluate the information and draw conclusions or answer questions based on the data.

Tips and Strategies

  1. Practice with official materials for realistic test experience.
  2. Learn to read and interpret graphs and tables effectively.
  3. Use process of elimination to narrow down answer choices.
  4. Focus on improving weaknesses and reinforcing strengths.
  5. Utilize the online calculator but understand basic math concepts.
  6. Use scratch paper to organize thoughts and make calculations.
  7. Develop data analysis skills for quick interpretation.
Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning, or quant tests your ability to solve math problems. It assesses your ability to reason, draw conclusions using numerical data, and apply logic and problem-solving skills.

  • Format - The Quant section consists of 31 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within 62 minutes. The questions test your arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis knowledge.
  • Scoring - The Quant section is scored on a scale of 0 to 60, with scores reported in 1-point increments.

Syllabus -

  • Arithmetic - Topics such as fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, and probability.
  • Algebra - Concepts such as equations, inequalities, exponents, and functions.
  • Geometry - Geometric shapes, properties, measurements, and coordinate geometry.
  • Data Analysis - Interpretation of graphs, charts, tables, and statistical concepts such as mean, median, and standard deviation.

Question Types -

  • Problem-Solving - Multiple-choice questions based on quantitative problems.
  • Data Sufficiency - Assessing the sufficiency of information to answer a question.
  • Arithmetic - Fundamental operations, percentages, ratios, averages, and number properties.
  • Algebra - Equations, inequalities, variables, exponents, functions, and quadratic equations.
  • Geometry - Geometric shapes, measurements, and coordinate geometry.
  • Data Interpretation - Analyzing data presented in tables, charts, graphs, or diagrams.
  • Word Problems - Applying mathematical concepts to real-life scenarios.

Tips and Strategies -

  1. Master the fundamentals of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.
  2. Memorize key formulas to save time and avoid mistakes.
  3. Utilize free online resources like Khan Academy and GMAT Club.
  4. Work backwards from answer choices to eliminate options.
  5. Use approximation and estimation techniques to save time.
Verbal Reasoning

Verbal reasoning in the GMAT tests a candidate's ability to understand and analyse written material, identify a speaker's assumptions and draw conclusions from the material. It also requires the candidate to be able to identify relationships between words and concepts, as well as to comprehend and evaluate arguments.

  • Format - The Verbal section consists of 36 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within 65 minutes. The questions are divided into Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction.
  • Scoring - The Verbal section is scored on a scale of 0 to 60, with scores reported in 1-point increments.

Question Types -

  • Reading Comprehension - Assess comprehension, analysis, and inference skills in understanding complex passages, identifying main ideas, evaluating arguments, and recognizing author's tone and purpose.
  • Critical Reasoning - Evaluate arguments, identify assumptions, weaknesses, strengths, and draw logical conclusions based on provided information.
  • Sentence Correction - Evaluate grammar, sentence structure, and written expression to choose the most grammatically correct and effective sentence.

Tips and Strategies -

  1. Read extensively to improve comprehension and language skills.
  2. Understand argument structures and reasoning flaws.
  3. Recognize common errors in written material.
  4. Focus on precision and understanding the meaning of words in passages and questions.
Scoring And Score Interpretations

Consider average scores of admitted students at your target schools when interpreting your GMAT score. Admissions committees assess various factors, including GPA, work experience, recommendation letters, and personal statement. GMAT score is part of a holistic evaluation.

GMAT score ranges from -

  1. 200 to 800 with 10-point increments in Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections (0-60).
  2. Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is scored separately from 0 to 6.
  3. Integrated Reasoning doesn't affect the total score.

What is a good score on the GMAT?

  • 650-800 - Highly competitive, increases chances for top-tier schools.
  • 550-650 - Considered solid, opens doors to a wide range of schools.
  • Below 550 - Less competitive, may limit options, but some schools accept a range of scores.

Percentile rankings can provide a more precise understanding of where you stand compared to other test-takers. For example, a percentile rank of 90% means you scored higher than 90% of test-takers.

Do GMAT scores expire?

The GMAT score is valid for five years. Your GMAT score report is available and can be reported to schools for five years from when you took the exam. After five years, the score becomes invalid, and you would need to retake the GMAT if you wish to report a more recent score.

Score Reviewing

To request a Score Review, you must submit a written request to GMAT Customer Service. The Score Review process requires a fee, payable at the time of the request. It's important to note that the outcome of the Score Review is final and cannot be appealed or further reviewed.

Are there any negative marks in GMAT?

There is no negative marking for the GMAT guide exam. It’s a computer adaptive test which means the computer will accept your answers itself and will let you know whether your answer is right or wrong. If your answer goes right your next question will be tougher but in case your answer gets wrong next question will be easier.

Do you get your GMAT score immediately?

An applicant will get their unofficial verbal, quantitative, integrated reasoning, and total scores immediately after finishing the GMAT. You can decide on whether you want to keep or cancel these scores.

Can I cancel my GMAT scores?

GMAT applicants can cancel their score at the test center immediately after their exam. They can do it without any sort of additional cost. One can also cancel their GMAT score online for a certain fee. It can be done within 72 hours after the scheduled start time of your exam.

Can schools see if I cancel my GMAT score?

Business schools do not see any sort of indication that you have canceled a score.

Taking and Retaking the GMAT Test

How many times is the GMAT exam conducted in a year?

You can only take the GMAT once in any 16-day period, five times a year, and eight times in your lifetime.

Can I retake the GMAT Exam?

You can retake the GMAT 16 days after your first attempt. You can take the GMAT up to 5 times in 12 months, but each shot has a fee. Additionally, you can take the GMAT no more than 8 times in your lifetime. So, it is essential to ensure you are adequately prepared and do your best on each attempt.

What is the best time to take the GMAT test?

The ideal time to give the test is at least 12 months before an MBA batch starts. Most schools have 3-4 application cycles for the admission process.

Is it bad to take the GMAT multiple times?


Cost of GMAT
ExamCost (USD)Cost (INR)
Exam FeeIn-Center: $275In-Center: INR 22,500 
Online: $300Online: INR 24,500
Cancellation Fee$25INR 2,000
Rescheduling Fee$55INR 4,500
Extra Report Card$30INR 2,500

Should I take the GMAT?

Students applying to MBAs are aware that most business schools will require them to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) as part of their application requirements.

However, there are seven MBA programs around the U.S. that do not require applicants to take the GMAT exam. They are as follows - 

  1. Executive MBA at Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University
  2. One-Year MBA at Hult International Business School
  3. Executive MBA and MBA in Financial Management at Lubin School of Business at Pace University
  4. MBA at Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at University of Delaware
  5. Professional MBA at the College of Business at Florida International University
  6. Executive MBA at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
  7. Executive MBA at Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California
GMAT Registration

How do I register for the GMAT?

To register for the GMAT in India, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the GMAC website.
  2. Create an account if you don't have one.
  3. Complete the registration form with your personal information and ID documents.
  4. Choose a convenient test center and date.
  5. Pay the registration fee online.
  6. Check your email for confirmation and appointment details.
  7. Review and update registration information if needed.
  8. Register well in advance to secure your preferred test date and location.

How do I reschedule the GMAT test?

  1. Log in to your GMAT account on the official GMAC website.
  2. Navigate to the "My GMAT" section or a similar option.
  3. Look for the option to reschedule or postpone your test.
  4. Follow the provided instructions and select a new test date.
  5. Pay any applicable rescheduling fees, if required.

Age Criteria

  • The applicant must complete 18 years of age.
  • There is no upper age limit of the applicant.
  • If the candidate is between 13 to 17 years old, they should have permission in writing from their parents or legal guardian.

Qualification Required

  • GMAC has not released any official statement on the qualifications required to take the GMAT exam.
  • Candidates who have previously achieved a perfect score of 800 must wait for five years before retaking the exam.
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Test Day Prep

What do I need to bring on GMAT test day?

The checklist that you need to follow is as follows:

  1. A Valid, GMAT Approved Photo ID
  2. Names of the five MBA programs where you plan to send your scores
  3. Appointment Confirmation Letter or Email in case there is any sort of discrepancy with the test date and time
  4. Printed directions to the Test Center

Three things that applicants are not allowed to bring inside the test center are -

  • Electronic items
  • Weapons
  • Books and other print aids

Can one use a calculator on the GMAT exam?

Candidates are not allowed to bring their own calculator for the exam. A calculator will be provided when one is working on the Integrated Reasoning section of the exam. Calculators are not permitted while one is working on the Quantitative section. Applicants will be provided with note boards and markers to work out your calculations on the Quantitative section.

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GMAT Focus Edition

The GMAT Focus Edition is a shorter version of the regular GMAT exam, taking only 2 hours and 15 minutes instead of 3 hours. The GMAT Focus Edition was launched in the fourth quarter of 2023, offering test takers the chance to take the GMAT in a shorter time frame. The current version of the GMAT will be available until early 2024. The GMAT Focus Edition focuses on the exam's quant, verbal, and data insights sections and tests a test taker's ability to think on their feet and solve problems quickly. It is designed to test a test taker's ability to rapidly identify patterns and draw conclusions from data.

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