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Last Updated: June 06, 2021

GMAT Test Structure and Format

GMAT is the standardized test taken by students who wish to enroll in business schools and other managerial courses. The exam is computer-adaptive and computer-based making it reliable for the student population and the admission officers in choosing the candidates for their schools by taking the GMAT scores into consideration. It is conducted in a multiple-choice format and has a structure that has not wavered over the past years making it easier for students to prepare for the same.

The exam is based on a syllabus that is based on basic mathematics including algebra, geometry, and data analysis along with some basics in language proficiency. It focuses on understanding the skills students have in critical thinking, problem-solving, and also in analyzing data that is presented to them over time.

Test Sections of GMAT

GMAT is comprised of 4 different sections which are all distinct in nature and deals with different skill-sets that students are required to have if they wish to enroll in business schools. The sections are- The test format for each of these sections varies from the time they are provided to the number of questions each of these sections has. This also implies that the weightage provided to each of the sections is different from each other and has to be carefully examined before a candidate wishes to take the test.

Orders to Attend the Sections in GMAT

There are three different orders in which candidates can attempt the four sections. This flexible nature of the test is unlike any other standardized test students might have been exposed to. The choice of which order the exam has to be taken resides solely with the candidate hence providing them ample time to work on what they can confident in first before moving on to the tougher bits.

The orders in which candidates can attempt the exam are-

Analytical Writing Assessment Section

This is the essay section of the examination and though it does not add to the final score of GMAT it is considered to be one of the most important sections in the exam. In this section, candidates will be provided with an argument based on which there will be a question-based in critical reasoning. Candidates are expected to express their language proficiency in the section through the essay they write for the section.

Question Types for Analytical Writing Assessment

This section contains only a single question which will be based on the paragraph provided in it. Candidates are expected to critique the paragraph which will be argumentative in nature and through their critique they are supposed to either stand for or against the argument placed in the section.

It is not expected of candidates to express their personal views on the matter that is being discussed. They are to objectively tear apart the paragraph provided and use only logic and reason to argue either for or against the topic most often by taking content from the paragraph and using it against for the same. The essay was written should be organized and ideally should not have any loose ends.

Scoring in Analytical Writing Assessment

The Analytical Writing Assessment section of the examination is scored based on the level of reasoning the candidate has portrayed through the essay they have written. There is an added importance to the number of examples and logical conclusions they have drawn from the given paragraph. The organizational skills of the candidate will also be judged through the essay they have written.

The scoring is done on a scale of 0-6 where the score increases with 0.5-point increments. This is not considered as a part of the 200-800 score scale that the grades will be converted to. The section is scored both by a human and a computer grading system both of which are used to create an average that becomes the final score.

Integrated Reasoning Section

This section has been added to GMAT only since 2012 and deals with the assessment of skills that candidates require both in an academic space and business-related workspace. Candidates will be provided with data innumerable forms from which they will have to draw conclusions by critically interpreting and analyzing the given data. Preparing for the Integrated Reasoning section will require a combined approach of mastering both the Verbal Reasoning section and the Quantitative Reasoning section.

Question Types for Integrated Reasoning

This section is the only one in the GMAT exam without an adaptive testing method and includes 12 questions in all. The data that is provided for analysis will be in the form of words, charts, diagrams, graphs, tables, etc., and will require a certain level of knowledge for candidates to crack the section fairly. The different question types in the section are-

Scoring in Integrated Reasoning

The scoring in this section is done on a scale of 1-8 where the score increases in 1-point increments. This score, like the score of Analytical Writing Assessment, is not included in the 200-800 score scale of GMAT but is considered separately.

Verbal Reasoning Section

The Verbal Reasoning section of the examination deals with the proficiency the candidate has in the English language. This section also deals with the ways in which candidates can analyze and understand arguments from passages while at the same time critiquing the said passages. The section is mostly in the form of reading comprehension but it also includes questions based on basic grammar to evaluate the level of knowledge the candidate has in the language.

Question Types for Verbal Reasoning

This section contains questions in three different formats which will let them critically reason with the arguments provided, correct grammatical errors from long, winding sentences, and also general reading comprehension-related questions. There will be around 36 questions in all in the section. The question types are as follows-

Scoring in Verbal Reasoning

The scoring in this section is calculated from 0-60 which will be converted into the 200-800 overall scale of GMAT. It is one of the easily scoring categories in the test which can be cracked if the candidate has a general understanding of the language. The score increases in 1-point increments. Since it is rare to score between 0-6 and 51-60, it is generally not considered by candidates.

Quantitative Reasoning Section

This section deals with the basic mathematical abilities the student has. Candidates will have to solve mathematical problems using reason and also solve other quantitative problems. They will also have to interpret graphic data and solve questions based on it. This section is considered to be one of the toughest sections in GMAT and requires constant practice to clear.

Question Types for Quantitative Reasoning

There are two question types in the Quantitative Reasoning section which deals either with the logic and analytical reasoning method to solve quantitative problems or with the ability the candidate has in analyzing the problem provided to them by identifying relevant data and eliminating others. Candidates will have to either choose the right option available in the options or might even have to go along with the closest possible answer in order to crack this part of the examination. They might also be provided with questions that consist of a question and two statements where they have to establish whether the given data is enough to reach any conclusion. There will be 31 questions in all in the section.

The two question types are-

Scoring in Quantitative Reasoning

The scoring in the Quantitative Reasoning section is done between 0-60 where the score increases in 1-point increments. Scoring between 0-6 and 51-60 are extremely rare which makes it easier for candidates to consider the score range to be between 6-51.

Time Duration for the Examination

The time duration for the different sections of the examination is different from each other. It depends upon other factors like the number of questions in each section and the time required to complete every question in different sections. The time distribution is as follows- The time taken to complete the entire GMAT exam is 3 hours and 7 minutes along with two 8-minute breaks.

Adaptive Testing in GMAT

The GMAT exam is a computer-adaptive test for both the Quantitative Reasoning section and the Verbal Reasoning section. This implies that after the initial question the candidate receives of medium-difficulty, the rest of the questions will be based on whether the candidate could crack the question or not. If they were to crack the question they will be provided with a question from a higher level and if they could not, they would be provided with a question from a lower level.

In the GMAT examination, candidates will not be provided with the option of returning to a previous answer or change the answer they have marked which makes it essential for candidates to attend the examination with complete focus.


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