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gmat mba test

GMAT Test Format

Published On: 20 Mar 2012 | Last Updated On: 20 Mar 2012

The GMAT test is a standardized test in Mathematics and English to measure the aptitude and skills of the students seeking admission in management schools of the countries where English is one of the spoken languages.

The GMAT® exam is administered in a computer-adaptive format that adjusts to your level. The GMAT consists of three main parts—the Analytical Writing Assessment, the Quantitative section, and the Verbal section. You have three and a half hours in which to take the exam, but plan for a total time of approximately four hours.

The GMAT adjusts to your individual ability level, which both shortens the time it takes to complete the exam and establishes a higher level of accuracy than a fixed test. At the start of each multiple-choice section of the exam, you are presented with a question of medium difficulty. As you answer each question, the computer scores your answer and uses it—as well as your responses to any preceding questions—to determine which question to present next. Correct responses typically prompt questions of increased difficulty. Incorrect responses generally result in questions of lesser difficulty.

This process will continue until you complete the section, at which point the computer will have an accurate assessment of your ability level in that subject area. In a computer-adaptive test, only one question at a time is presented. Because the computer scores each question before selecting the next one, you may not skip, return to, or change your responses to previous questions. There are in total 78 questions, 41 in verbal and 37 questions in quantitative section. The newly introduced integrated reasoning section will have 12 questions to be completed in time limit of 30 minutes. The essay and analytical writing assessment section has been replaced by integrated reasoning section.

Analytical Writing Assessment Section

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) of the GMAT® is designed as a direct measure of your ability to think critically and to communicate your ideas. The AWA consists of two 30-minute writing tasks—Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument.

The issues and arguments presented on the test concern topics of general interest related to business or a variety of other subjects. A specific knowledge of the essay topic is not necessary; only your capacity to write analytically is assessed.

Quantitative section

Two types of multiple-choice questions are used in the Quantitative section of the GMAT® exam—Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. The Quantitative section of the GMAT measures the ability to reason quantitatively, solve quantitative problems, and interpret graphic data.

Problem-Solving and Data-Sufficiency questions are intermingled throughout the section. Both types of questions require knowledge of:

  • Arithmetic,
  • Elementary algebra, and
  • Commonly known concepts of geometry.


Problem-Solving Questions

Problem-Solving questions are designed to test:

  • Basic mathematical skills,
  • Understanding of elementary mathematical concepts, and
  • The ability to reason quantitatively and solve quantitative problems.


Data-Sufficiency Questions

Data-Sufficiency questions are designed to measure your ability to:

  • Analyze a quantitative problem,
  • Recognize which information is relevant, and
  • Determine at what point there is sufficient information to solve a problem.

Data-Sufficiency questions are accompanied by some initial information and two statements, labeled (1) and (2). You must decide whether the statements given offer enough data to enable you to answer the question. You must choose one of the following answers:

  • Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) is not sufficient.
  • Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) is not sufficient.
  • BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.
  • EACH statement ALONE is sufficient.
  • Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient.

Verbal section

Three types of multiple-choice questions are used in the Verbal section of the GMAT® exam—Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction.

The Verbal section of the GMAT exam measures your ability to:

  • Read and comprehend written material,
  • Reason and evaluate arguments, and
  • Correct written material to conform to standard written English.


Reading Comprehension Questions

Reading Comprehension passages are up to 350 words long. Topics contain material from the social sciences, physical or biological sciences, and business-related areas (marketing, economics, human resource management, etc.).

Because the Reading Comprehension section of the GMAT exam includes passages from several different content areas, you may be generally familiar with some of the material; however, no specific knowledge of the material is required.  All questions are to be answered on the basis of what is stated or implied in the reading material.

Reading Comprehension passages are accompanied by interpretive, applied, and inferential questions.

Integrated Reasoning Section

The Integrated Reasoning section will test skills indentified as important for incoming students by a survey 740 business school faculty worldwide:

  • To assimilate and integrate information from different sources to solve challenging problems.
  • To accurately interpret data presented visually in graphs to determine or estimate probabilities and statistics.
  • To recognize and evaluate tradeoffs and the likelihood of outcomes.
  • To convert quantitative data between graphical and verbal formats.

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