The GMAT is the standard examination used for admissions to top business programs around the world. A strong GMAT score is a direct indication to top business schools that you have the analytical and reasoning skills to be successful at a top MBA program. While there are also MBA programs around the world that do not require the GMAT score as an admissions criterion, they are, almost without exception, not top-ranked programs. 

Analytical Writing SectionIntergrated ReasoningQuantitative ReasoningVerbal Reasoning
1 Topic – 30 minutes12 Questions – 30 minutes31 Questions – 62 minutes36 Questions – 65 Minutes
Analysis of argument (Essay)Table analysis, Two-part analysis multiple-source reasoning Graphics interpretationData Sufficiency Problem solvingReading unseen passages Sentences correction Critical reasoning

The GMAT has four sections:

  1. Quantitative Reasoning: This involves the application of numerical and algebraic concepts to specific objective-type problems. Some advanced concepts, such as Probability, Permutations & Combinations, and Statistics, are tested too. There are two questions types – problem solving and data sufficiency. Overall, the Quantitative Reasoning section has 31 sections to be answered in 62 minutes.
  2. Verbal Reasoning: The Verbal Reasoning section has 36 questions to be answered in 65 minutes. It has three sub-sections: The first is a Reading Comprehension. You need to read a passage, and answer questions based on it. The passages can be challenging, though, as they are drawn from areas as diverse as science, humanities, business reports, or even biographies. The second sub-section deals with Sentence Correction. You are given a sentence, which may not necessarily be grammatically correct, and choose the option which makes it so. The third sub-section within Verbal Reasoning deals with Critical Reasoning – given a logical argument, you are asked to choose the option that best highlights the argument underlying it. 
  3. Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA): This section tests your ability to analyze the reasoning that underlies a given situation, and then write a short critique of it, highlighting logical gaps and possible points of improvement. In 30 minutes, you will need to understand, plan, and type out your response to the given prompt.
  4. Integrated Reasoning (IR): Modern business needs managers to interpret data and charts, and this section tests exactly this ability. Interpreting charts, combining numbers from different sources to reach a conclusion, and making sense of data in tables, are examples of the kinds of problems you will come across in this section. With 12 questions to be answered in 30 minutes, this section also includes an on-screen calculator to help you focus on the analysis, and not waste time on the computations.

The GMAT practically takes closer to 3½ hours, including breaks.

How is the GMAT scored?

Different sections on the GMAT are scored on different scales, but the part that matters most is the consolidated score on the Verbal and Quantitative sections, which combine to give you an overall score of 200-800 in 10-point increments.

What score should you target?

A higher GMAT score enhances your chances of making it to a top school. GMAT scores for the current class at the Wharton School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, two of the world’s most prestigious MBA programs, are 732 each. While even lower scores can sometimes get applicants into top programs, a good target to aim at as a benchmark is a minimum of 700.

A GMAT score is valid for 5 years

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