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What is the Format of the GMAT?

Wondering what is the format of the GMAT?  Well here are some rough-and-ready facts about the format of the GMAT.  The current incarnation of the GMAT has four sections, given in this order:

Section #1 = Analytic Writing Assessment (30 minutes) — one essay, analysis of an argument.

Section #2 = Integrated Reasoning (30 minutes) — 12 multi-part problems on data interpretation and combined Verbal/Math reasoning.

Section #3 = Quantitative (75 minutes) — 37 questions, either standard five-choice multiple choice or Data Sufficiency.

Section #4 = Verbal (75 minutes) — 41 five-choice multiple choice questions, of three types: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction.

Fact: these four sections, including the two allowable breaks, as well as the whole pre-exam security procedure will run over four hours.

Fact: the whole GMAT is taken at a computer, a computer at the Pearson VUE testing center.

Fact: on the Integrated Reasoning section, you will have access to an on-screen calculator; on the Quantitative section, you get no calculator.

Fact: both the Quantitative and Verbal sections employ Computer Adaptive Testing.  As you move through each of those sections, the test adjusts to how you are doing.  If you are doing well, on average you get more challenging question.  If you are having trouble, on average you will get easier questions.  Only the final two sections employ the CAT.  On the Integrated Reasoning section, you just get a batch of 12 questions, and those are the ones you do.

Fact: on no part of the GMAT can you go back to a question once you are done with it. Among other things, this is an unavoidable feature of the CAT.  Once you submit your answer, that question is gone forever.  Because of this, and because of the time constraints, it’s important to understand when to guess and when to skip questions.

Fact: your GMAT Score (200 – 800) is determined only by the Quant & Verbal sections.  Your full score has several components, but the BIG one depends only on these two sections.

Fact: with good resources, you can learn both the content and strategies you need, and improve your performance on the GMAT.  :)

Questions about the format of this long test?  Let us know in the comment section below!


About the Author

Mike McGarry is a Content Developer for Magoosh with over 20 years of teaching experience and a BS in Physics and an MA in Religion, both from Harvard. He enjoys hitting foosballs into orbit, and despite having no obvious cranial deficiency, he insists on rooting for the NY Mets. Follow him on Google+!

6 Responses to What is the Format of the GMAT?

  1. David May 13, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    Hi Mike,
    On the IR section, 12 problems mean 12 sets of situations with possibly multiple questions each yes? Which mean that the actual number of questions on the IR will be more than 12.

    In comparison to RC section, I have read that there are around 12-13 questions for RC. Does this mean that there are 12-13 passages with multiple questions each, resulting in definitely more than 12 question on RC alone (seems to be too much stress on time), or does this mean that there are X number of passages with a total of 12-13 q?

  2. Piyush Jain March 19, 2013 at 6:51 am #

    How long are the breaks in middle of each sections ?

    Thank you

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