GMAT Format


What is GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is made by Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC).    The GMAT (sometimes called GMAT CAT) is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) which means that if you get a question right, a harder one appears and if you get a question wrong, an easier one appears.   However, you could also be given experimental questions which are given randomly and do not count toward your score.   You will not know whether a question is experimental or not.

Fees /Locations /How to Register/Etc.

The fee is us$250 (about Rs. 12,000) plus any taxes (none in US or India) and is normally paid by credit card.    You can register for GMAT on     Anyone over the age of 18 can take the exam (those between 13 and 18 must have parent/guardian approval).   The test can be taken at many centers throughout the world.   Information for disability accommodations can be found here.

What is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT)?

A Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) adjusts to your level of difficulty.    One question at a time is shown on the screen.  You must answer that question.  You cannot skip a question and go back to it later.   Usually, the first question on the test is of medium difficulty.  If the first question is answered correctly, the next question will be harder.   If the first question is answered incorrectly, the next question will be easier.

What is the format of GMAT?

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) – 30 Minutes, 1 Essay – Called An Analysis of Argument –

Integrated Reasoning – 30 Minutes, 12 Questions.   This section consists of Multi-Source Reasoning, Table Analysis, Graphics Interpretation, and Two-Part Analysis.  This section is not Computer Adaptive; However, once you answer a question, you may NOT go back and change your answer.

Optional 8 Minute Break where you can go to your locker and have a snack/use the bathroom.

Quantitative Section – 37 Questions, 75 minutes which gives you about 2 minutes per question.   All Quant questions are multiple-choice and have 5 choices.   There are two types of questions: Regular Problem Solving Questions and something called Data Sufficiency Questions.

Another optional 8 minute break.

The Verbal Section – 41 Questions, 75 minutes which gives you about 1 minute and 49 seconds to answer each question.   These questions are also all multiple-choice, have 5 choices, and consist of three types of questions: Sentence Correction, Critical Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension.

*Note some are saying the break is 5 minutes or 10 minutes; when I sat for the exam in August 2010, it was 8 minutes.   According to GMAC’s website, it is 8 minutes (source:

How is the GMAT scored?

The AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment) is scored separately from the Quantitative and Verbal Sections.    The AWA is scored from 0 to 6 in 0.5 increments.   The Quant and Verbal sections give you a combined score that ranges from 200 to 800.    More on Scoring

IMPORTANT:  You must answer each question before going on the next question and that answer is final.   You can’t skip a question and return to it later.    On GMAT, there is a harsh penalty for not answering every question so you need to be sure to answer every question.   Also, getting many questions wrong in a row has a harsher penalty than getting questions occasionally wrong.   Therefore, pacing is very important and do note that high scorers do miss quite a few questions.

What about score reports?

Score reporting can be done on test day for free for up to 5 colleges.   Otherwise it is us$28 (About Rs. 1200) per score report per school.

What is this Integrated Reasoning Section/New GMAT I am hearing about?  How will the GMAT change?

Beginning June 4, 2012, a new 30-minute section called Integrated Reasoning will replace one of the essays.     A new score for Integrated Reasoning will be added.   This change will not affect the Quant Section, the Verbal Section, or its scoring.    The integrated reasoning section will include graphs and data and you will have to interpret these items.    This new section is similar to the Data Interpretation (DI) on India’s CAT (Common Admissions Test).

The total test time will not change.  Instead, the new GMAT will only have 1 AWA essay and you could be given either the Analysis of Issue or the Analysis of Argument question.      The new section will not be computer adaptive.   Questions for this new section may have multiple parts and may even have multiple correct answers.   The Integrated Reasoning Section will have its own separate score.

Will Quant or Verbal Questions change with the new GMAT?

I don’t know.   According to GMAC’s website, “Both Quantitative and Verbal new questions types are being tested.”

How many people take the GMAT?   How many from India? US? Other regions?

There were 265,613 GMAT* tests taken worldwide in 2009.    By citizenship, 30,633 Indians took the GMAT in 2009 up from 13,544 in 2005.  By test centre location, 21,781 tests were taken in India during 2009 versus 7,206 during 2005.   The number of US Citizens taking the exam was 130,508 and 110,922 for 2009 and 2005 respectively.  By testing location, the US numbers are 156,613 and 135,636 for 2009 and 2005 respectively.

Source:  2009 World Geographic Trend for GMAT® Examinees. Graduate Management Admission Council.  <> Accessed 7 October 2010.

5 Responses to GMAT Format

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