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Everything You Need To Know About the GMAT

Everything You Need To Know About the GMAT

If you’re considering an advanced degree such as an MBA or other graduate business degree program, you may already be familiar with the GMAT. Or, if you’re just beginning to think about how an MBA could help advance your career, you may not have started your research or preparation quite yet. Either way, the GMAT will play a significant role in your journey. Familiarize yourself now with everything you need to know about the GMAT.

GMAT Basics

Not only is it a reliable predictor of your academic success within a school’s graduate degree program, it also showcases and measures your individual ability and talent as a student and business professional. It tests your decision-making ability along with your business mindset, and measures “higher-order” reasoning skills involving complex judgments, critical thinking and problem-solving.

The majority of MBA programs require the GMAT as part of the admissions process. Prospective b-school students should take the exam at least two months prior to your target schools’ application deadline, in order to allow time for your scores to be reported to schools.

The GMAT can be taken in-person or online, and costs vary by country.

Structure and Scoring

There are four sections of the GMAT™ exam. Two of these sections are scored independently (Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning) and the other two sections’ scores (Verbal and Quantitative) are combined, factoring into the total GMAT score. Total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800, with two-thirds of test-takers scoring between 400 and 600.

Below is an overview of the GMAT exam’s four sections.

Analytical Writing Assessment

The AWA is one 30-minute written essay on the analysis of an argument and its score ranges from 0-6 in half point intervals. Knowledge of the specific topic isn’t necessary, only the capacity to write analytically is assessed.

Integrated Reasoning

The Integrated Reasoning section consists of 12 questions of four types: Multi-Source Reasoning, Graphics Interpretation, Two-Part Analysis and Table Analysis. It measures the ability to analyze and synthesize data in different formats from multiple sources. Scoring ranges from 1-8 in single digit intervals.


The Verbal section assesses and showcases your verbal abilities. It has 36 questions covering reading comprehension, critical reasoning and sentence correction. Scores range from 6-51.


The Quantitative section contains 31 questions on Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving, which will highlight your data analysis and reasoning skills, gauge your ability to reason quantitatively, solve quantitative problems and interpret graphic data. It also measures your understanding of problems involving arithmetic, algebra and geometry concepts. Scores range from 6-51.


On average, prospective MBA candidates should spend about three months studying for the GMAT, with a goal of 10 to 15 hours of study per week. It’s important to maintain a consistent study schedule, but balance study time with other activities to avoid burnout. Scores are valid for five years, so plan ahead rather than risking missing a deadline or being too short on time to allow for adequate preparation.

There are multiple resources (both free and paid) to help you prepare for the exam, like practice quizzes, study planners, interactive tutorials and full-length exams. Make sure to research a variety of materials, familiarize yourself with the GMAT’s structure and question types and allow yourself enough time to prepare thoroughly. You can always retake the exam to try and improve your score.

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