Understanding the Sections of the GMAT Exam
Since taking the GMAT is such an essential part of the business school application process, it can be the source of a lot of stress and anxiety for many students. Knowing what to expect on the GMAT can alleviate some of those anxious feelings and give you an idea of what to study for. Take a look below for some information about GMAT test format, structure, and question types.
Subjects & Question Topics
What's Covered on the GMAT?
Although most people take the GMAT exam in person at an official testing center, some students choose to take a remote proctored version online. Regardless of which GMAT format you prefer, you'll be answering the same types of questions covering the same topics. The four GMAT sections are as follows:
- Integrated Reasoning: Questions in the integrated reasoning portion of the GMAT measure your ability to analyze data in different formats (i.e., charts, graphs, and tables) and use the information to solve complex problems. You'll need to use a combination of quantitative and verbal skills to do well on this section of the exam.
- Quantitative Reasoning: For the quantitative reasoning section, GMAT test-takers must solve equations and answer a series of questions by using their math skills and interpreting graphic data on frequency tables, line graphs, and bar graphs.
- Verbal Reasoning: Verbal reasoning GMAT questions evaluate your reading comprehension and standard written English skills. On this portion of the exam, you must evaluate a written argument, decipher its meaning, and use logic to correct the flawed reasoning within a text.
- Analytical Writing: The analytical writing section of the GMAT measures your ability to think critically and communicate effectively. Students analyze the reasoning behind a given argument and write a clear, concise critique of the information in the text.
Section Time Limits
How Long Do You Have to Complete Each Section of the GMAT?
Test-takers have approximately 3 hours and 7 minutes to complete the GMAT exam, and each section has its own time limit. Students have 65 minutes to answer the 36 verbal reasoning questions and 62 minutes to complete the 31 quantitative reasoning questions on the exam. Both the analytical writing essay and the 12-question integrated reasoning portion have a 30-minute time limit.
Question-Type Order Possibilities
Again, these four GMAT sections are on both the online and in-person exams. However, test-takers have the flexibility to choose the order in which these sections appear. Students can select one of the following three GMAT structure options:
- Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning
- Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
- Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
Choose an Order that Suits Your Strengths
It's important to select an exam structure that lets you play to your academic strengths. For example, if you're feeling anxious about a particular portion of the exam, finishing that test first can relieve your stress so you can complete the rest of the GMAT calmly and confidently. However, depending on your test-taking style, you may prefer to save that exam for last.
While taking the analytical writing exam first can be daunting for some test-takers, others may choose the default GMAT structure and use the writing prompt as a sort of warm-up to get them in a test-taking frame of mind. If you need help deciding, check out our strategies for choosing the best GMAT section order for you.