GMAT Exam Pattern

The GMAT is a computer adaptive test that assesses an applicant’s potential by testing various parameters to determine their expertise in various areas by means of four sections in the new exam pattern:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Integrated Reasoning Section
  • Quantitative Section
  • Verbal Section

Candidates are given three and a half hours to complete these four sections. The total score out of 800 is only for the verbal and quantitative sections. The remaining two sections receive their independent scores.

Section 1: Analytical Writing Assessment

This section has a 30-minute essay which includes:

Analysis of an Argument

Here you’re expected to-

  • Examine and analyse the given argument
  • Figure out the reasoning behind an argument and write a critique of the same
  • Work out a methodical approach to present your answer
  • Consider various viewpoints
  • Support your answer with appropriate examples and explanation
  • Be sure of the right grammar usage while presenting your answer

The scores for this section are on a six point scale. Your essay is given two independent ratings and then an average is considered.

One of these scores is done by an automated essay-scoring engine. If the difference between both the ratings is more than one point, a third rating would be provided by an expert reader which would then be the final score.

Section 2: Integrated Reasoning (IR)

This new section of the GMAT was introduced in June 2012. It has 12 questions with thirty minutes to answer this section. This section has replaced one of the AWA essays. The score is on a scale of 1 to 8.

This section tests how well you can make use of your analytical skills to solve a complicated problem. You are provided with data in various forms.

Your skill depends on being able to handle the data, pick out the information that is relevant and then choose the right answer. In each question, you are expected to provide multiple answers from the choice provided. This section has four different question types:

  • Table Analysis: In this, you are provided with loads of information in a table format. The question asked expects you to pick answers from yes/no, true/false with multiple statements to answer under each question.
  • Graphics Interpretation: In this type, you are given a graph or a graphical image. You’re expected to interpret the graph and complete the statements given by choosing one of the options from the pull-down menu.
  • Multi-Source Reasoning: Here you have to gather information by clicking on the various tabs (2-3) provided. The data available may be presented either as text or in the form of charts, tables. The answers may be in the yes/no, true/false format or as multiple choice options.
  • Two-Part Analysis: You have a question and multiple choices provided. The answers in a table form have the two components occupying the first two columns and the answer options in the third column. Of all the options provided, you have to choose only one option under each component to complete one answer.

Section 3: Quantitative Section

This is the third section of the GMAT. You have to attempt 37 questions with 75 minutes to complete this section. The questions are designed to put your math skills to test. They revolve around basic arithmetic, algebra and geometry. This section has multiple choice questions that fall in the following two categories:

Data sufficiency questions

This section is intended to test your ability to assess the given data systematically. You’d be given a question followed by two statements and five answer choices. These answer choices always remain the same.

So it’s a good idea to memorise them all including their order. Then use your logical and analytical skills combined with quantitative knowledge to check what data is required or sufficient to find the answer. Here it’s more about checking the data sufficiency as the name suggests rather than finding the answer.

Problem solving questions

This part is designed to test your quantitative skills and your ability to solve a problem using the various mathematical concepts.

The number of problem solving questions would be greater in number. Each of the above two category of questions would appear in random order throughout the entire section.

Section 4: GMAT Verbal Section

In this last section of the GMAT, you’ll have 75 minutes to answer 41 multiple choice questions that fall in one of the following category:

Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction.

A. Reading Comprehension

In this section you are given a passage (approx. 350 words) on a topic and multiple choice questions based on the same.

You need not have an in-depth knowledge of the topic. Rather you should be able to

  • Understand the underlying concept of the passage
  • Grasp the key idea and the relationship between the various entities involved

B. Critical Reasoning

There are around 14 critical reasoning questions in the GMAT verbal section. The passage is in the form of an argument with five answer choices. You should be able to

  • Sort out the useful information from the irrelevant matter
  • Identify the key points that influence, strengthen or weaken the given argument
    You need to carefully go through the argument to logically analyse it, read through the options carefully to be able to decide which option would be the best possible answer.

C. Sentence Correction

You are given a sentence having an underlined portion and five answer choices.

  • If the sentence sounds correct as it is, option 1 is the answer
  • You have to be familiar with the rules of English grammar and choose the answer which seems the best in compliance with standard written English.
  • Once done, read it over again to check if the sentence construction looks correct and if the original meaning of the statement has been retained.