Format of the GMAT

GMAT Format

The GMAT is computer-adaptive, meaning as a test-taker answers questions correctly the test becomes more difficult, while incorrect answers prompt easier questions. Because of the computer-adaptive model, test takers can not skip questions or go back to change earlier answers. The final score is based on the number of questions answered correctly and the level of difficulty of the questions. There are four sections of the GMAT.

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section is a single essay question that test takers have 30 minutes to complete. It measures the ability to write analytically about a certain topic. Knowledge of the topic is not necessary—the test is measuring whether the test taker can write critically and form a conclusion. The AWA is scored by two different evaluators, one of which might be an electronic scoring engine, and the scores are averaged together. (If the two scores vary by more than a point, a second expert reader will review the essay.) The scores range from zero to six at half-point intervals. The AWA score is separate and not factored into the total score.

The Integrated Reasoning section, added in June of 2012, is the newest section of the test. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which administers the GMAT, added the Integrated Reasoning section because in a 2009 survey, 740 faculty members from business schools around the world indicated that integrated reasoning skills, are a prerequisite for graduate business programs. The section contains 12 questions and takes 30 minutes to complete. The section includes data from graphics, text and numbers. It tests the ability to evaluate data from different sources and organize and combine data from different sources to solve complex or related problems. The section has a score ranging from one to eight in single digit intervals. The Integrated Reasoning section is scored separately and does not affect the total score.

The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are the two traditional sections of the test. These two sections are both scored independently, and then combined to calculate the total score. The Verbal section includes 41 questions and the Quantitative section includes 37 questions. Each of these sections has a 75 minute time limit. The Verbal section tests reading comprehension, critical reasoning and sentence correction. The Quantitative section includes arithmetic, algebra and geometry and tests the ability to solve quantitative problems and evaluate data. When scored independently, each of these two sections has a score of zero to 60. The Verbal and Quantitative scores are combined for the total score, which ranges from 200 to 800. This total score is the most widely reported score that schools list when they report the GMAT scores of their incoming class.