Current GMAT Format and Section Breakdown

Stack of papers

The GMAT format can be broken down into three sections: Data Insights (20 questions), Quantitative Reasoning (21 questions), Verbal Reasoning (23 questions). Each section is 45 minutes for a total exam time of 2 hours and 15 minutes. You also have the option to take a 10-minute break after either the first or second section. Keep reading to learn about the full GMAT exam format.
Click the below links to go straight to that section, or read on for the full scoop!

Exam Format and Sections of the GMAT

Here’s a breakdown of the GMAT exam format and section pattern.

Section of the GMAT How many questions? Types of questions Time limit
Data Insights 20 multiple choice Multi-Source Reasoning
Graphics and Table Interpretation
Two-Part Analysis
Data Sufficiency
45 minutes
Quantitative 21 multiple choice Problem Solving 45 minutes
Verbal 23 multiple choice Reading Comprehension
Critical Reasoning
45 minutes
Break 10 minutes (Optional)
TOTAL EXAM STATS 64 multiple choice 2 hours, 15 minutes

Note: that you may choose any order in which you attack the GMAT sections 😁

Sections of the GMAT

Click the links below to read more detailed guides for each section of the GMAT:

6 Facts You Should Know About the GMAT Exam Format

1. Total Exam Time: 2.25 hours

The three GMAT sections, including the one optional break, as well as setting up your at-home space, or checking into a testing center will run a little over 3 hours.

2. The GMAT is Strictly Computer-Based

All three GMAT sections are taken on a computer. During the GMAT, the only break you get from staring at an electronic screen is to take the optional break (and we highly recommend that you do so!)

3. The On-Screen Calculator is Only Available for Data Insights

On the Data Insights section, you will have access to an on-screen calculator; on the Quantitative section, you get no calculator.

4. The Questions Adjust in Difficulty Based on Your Performance

All three sections employ a computer adaptive testing (CAT) format. As you move through each section, the algorithm adjusts the difficulty of each new questions based on your overall performance thus far. If you are doing well, on average you get more challenging questions. If you are having trouble, on average you will get easier questions.

5. Question Review and Edit

Although you cannot skip questions and must submit an answer before moving on to the next question (otherwise the CAT wouldn’t be able to track your up-to-second progress), you are allowed to edit responses at the end of each section. As you work the questions in a section, you can bookmark questions that you want to return to later. When you have answered all questions in a section, you’ll arrive at the Question Review and Edit screen. But! If there is no time remaining at the end of a section, you will not be given the option to review and edit. If there is time remaining, you can review as many questions as you want, but you can only edit up to three (3) answers.

6. Your Composite Score is Determined by all Three Sections

Your BIG composite GMAT Score (205 – 805) is determined by all three sections. Prior to November 2023, the composite score was only determined by the Quant and Verbal sections.

GMAT Format Resources

If you are just getting starting in your GMAT studies, take heart. I know this can all feel overwhelming when it’s all new. Be patient with yourself: step by step, you will make this new world your own. We definitely recommended getting an official guide: you don’t necessarily need the latest edition, if you can find last year’s edition at a much cheaper price.

A great—and free!—supplement is our Hassle-Free Guide to the GMAT. Aside from the format of the GMAT, it covers everything including how a GMAT practice test can help to kick off your GMAT prep.

We provide a variety of study schedules and we provide a GMAT Diagnostic Test that helps you place yourself in these study plans.

Summing It All Up

Knowing the GMAT format is just the first piece of the puzzle. The GMAT requires critical thinking skills, mastery of several math and verbal content areas, and a host of test-taking strategies. At Magoosh, we can guide you from your first tentative steps to your final bold strides toward the GMAT. Get a free 1-week trial to access our expert-created lessons, practice questions with video explanations, and full-length practice tests!


  • Mike MᶜGarry

    Mike served as a GMAT Expert at Magoosh, helping create hundreds of lesson videos and practice questions to help guide GMAT students to success. He was also featured as “member of the month” for over two years at GMAT Club. Mike holds an A.B. in Physics (graduating magna cum laude) and an M.T.S. in Religions of the World, both from Harvard. Beyond standardized testing, Mike has over 20 years of both private and public high school teaching experience specializing in math and physics. In his free time, Mike likes smashing foosballs into orbit, and despite having no obvious cranial deficiency, he insists on rooting for the NY Mets. Learn more about the GMAT through Mike’s Youtube video explanations and resources like What is a Good GMAT Score? and the GMAT Diagnostic Test.

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