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GMAT: Overview

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What is GMAT?
What does the GMAT look like?
How does the computer adaptive system work?
Do I need to be computer literate to take the GMAT?
What does the analytical writing section look like?
What does the verbal section look like?
What does the quantitative section look like?
What types of questions will the GMAT have?
How long will the GMAT take?
What are the requirements for the GMAT?
Who is required to take the GMAT?
How should I prepare for the GMAT?

What Is The GMAT?

The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is required for admission to most U.S. and Canadian MBA programs. Most students attend graduate business school for pursuing an MBA degree. However, GMAT can also be used for admission to PhD program in business major, such as Finance, Accounting, and Economics.

The GMAT exam does not test any specific knowledge in business or other subjects. Rather, it measures your basic verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing skills.

What Does The GMAT look like?

The GMAT is divided into three sections, as follows:


Number of questions


Analytical Writing Assessment
Present your perspective on an issue.
Analysis of an argument.

2 essays

30 min for each essay

Quantitative (Multiple-Choice)
Problem Solving
Data Sufficiency

Total 37

75 min

Verbal (Multiple-Choice)
Sentence Correction
Critical Reasoning
Reading Comprehension

Total 41

75 min

There are optional 5-minute breaks between sections.

While the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section usually comes first, the section that comes after it may vary. The two essays in the AWA do not have a fixed order either.

The entire test will be done on a computer, so make sure you are thoroughly familiar with the system before you begin your exam. You can download free GMAT tutorial software on the Internet.

How Does The Computer Adaptive System Work?

The GMAT is done on a computer, and the test wriers have taken advantage of this. The verbal and quantitative sections of the GMAT are adaptive tests; that is, they are tailored to your performance level and provide precise information about your abilities using fewer questions than traditional paper-based tests.

At the start of the test, you are presented with test questions of average difficulty. As you answer each question, the program grades that question and uses that information, as well as your responses to preceding questions and information about the test design, to determine which question is presented next. As long as you respond correctly, the program will typically present harder questions. When you respond incorrectly, the computer will typically present easier questions. Your next question will be one that best reflects both your previous performance and the requirements of the test design. Thus, different test takers will be given different questions.

Because the program grades each question before selecting the next one, you must answer each question when it is presented. You may not skip questions or return to previous questions. Only one question is given at a time. On the analytical writing section, the 2 writing tasks are delivered on the computer, and you must enter your responses through a word processor.

Do I Need To Be Computer Literate To Take The GMAT?

You need only minimal computer skills to complete the GMAT. You can download free GMAT tutorial software to familiarize yourself with the test system. The tutorials cover topics like using a mouse, entering responses, moving on to the next question, using the word processor, and accessing the Help function.

Before your test day, make sure you review 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.

What Does The Analytical Writing Section Look Like?

The Analytical Writing Section consists of two 30-minute writing sections, Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument. They can be presented in any order.

For the Analysis of an Issue section, an issue will be presented and you will need to analyze it and explain your point of view on the subject.

For the Analysis of an Argument section, an argument is given and you will need to analyze the reasoning behind the argument and write a critique on it. You are not being asked for your opinion.

What Does The Verbal Section Look Like?

The verbal section has three kinds of questions: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. All three kinds are multiple choice.

Reading Comprehension questions are typically up to 200-400 words long, and generally cover material from the social sciences, physical or biological sciences, and business-related areas such as marketing and economics. The passages are followed by 4 questions, which will be shown one at a time. The questions test your ability to understand, analyze, and apply information and concepts given in written form.

Critical Reasoning questions are designed to test the reasoning skills involved in making arguments, evaluating arguments, and formulating or evaluating a plan of action. The questions generally ask you to:

1. Strengthen an argument.

2. Weaken an argument.

3. Identify a parallel argument.

4. Identify the assumption.

5. Identify the inference.

6. Select the best conclusion.

The questions are taken from material from various sources.

Sentence Correction questions give a paragraph with an underlined sentence. The sentence may contain errors, which might be corrected by one of the answer choices. This section tests your knowledge of the conventions and grammatical rules of English, as well as your ability to correct ineffective expressions.

What Does The Quantitative Section Look Like?

The quantitative section has two kinds of questions: Problem-Solving and Data Sufficiency. Both require knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, and common concepts of geometry, and both are multiple choice.

Problem-Solving questions test basic mathematical skills, understanding of elementary mathematical concepts, and the ability to reason quantitatively and solve quantitative problems.

Data Sufficiency questions test your ability to analyze a quantitative question, recognize which data is relevant, and determine at what point is data sufficient to solve a problem. The questions contain some initial information, followed by two statements, marked 1 and 2. You must decide whether the information given by the statements is enough to solve the question. The choices are always the same:

  • Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) is not sufficient.
  • Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) is not sufficient.
  • BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.
  • EACH statement ALONE is sufficient.
  • Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient.

What Types Of Questions Will The GMAT Have?

The Verbal and Quantitative sections are multiple choice, with five choices for each question. The Analytical Writing Assessment requires you to write two essays.

How Long Will The GMAT Take?

The total time is approximately four hours. Two optional five-minute breaks are given between sections.

What Are The Requirements For The GMAT?

There are no education or nationality requirements. Anyone willing to pay the test fee may take the GMAT. There are different rules for applying, however, if you are a citizen of certain countries.

Who Is Required To Take The GMAT?

Taking the GMAT is required for those who want to do their post graduation (MBA) in countries like USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

How Should I Prepare For The GMAT?

You should take a few mock GMAT exams in the computer-adaptive format, to familiarize yourself with the system and for practice. Try to simulate the testing environment by refraining from breaks until you finish a section, etc. You are also encouraged to use actual past exam questions, instead of those written by GMAT prep companies

What is on the GMAT?

Try the free Mathway calculator and problem solver below to practice various math topics. Try the given examples, or type in your own problem and check your answer with the step-by-step explanations.
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