What Is the GMAT Test?

Student studying for the GMAT test

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is an online multiple-choice exam required for admission to most business school graduate programs. Higher learning institutions in the U.S. and around the world administer this test to students pursuing an MBA and other postgraduate business degrees.


What Is the GMAT Used For?

Admissions committees look at GMAT scores, practicums, academic performance, and other supplementary materials when accepting students for graduate-level business programs. GMAT test-takers also have access to a program recommendation service which provides a list of schools that align with their scores and student profile.

Topics & Questions

What Is the GMAT Test Like?

The GMAT exam assesses the critical thinking, analytical, and decision-making abilities necessary to start, manage, or lead a successful business. The test measures these skills with questions that focus on solving complex problems with logic and reasoning, analyzing data, and evaluating intent.

GMAT questions undergo frequent fairness reviews to guard against gender, program, language, or cultural bias. While the exact questions and materials vary, most universities view this test as an accurate, reliable assessment of students' abilities, and scores rarely change among multiple retakes.

Format & Sections

What Is on the GMAT?

The in-person format of the GMAT exam includes four sections: analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning. However, analytical writing is not part of the online version, making it 30 minutes shorter. The GMAT is also adaptive, so question difficulty changes according to your performance. You can start with any section, but you must finish on time.

The GMAT exam structure includes:

  • Quantitative Reasoning – Measures data analysis and logical reasoning skills (62 minutes)
  • Verbal Reasoning – Evaluates reading comprehension, argument assessment, as well as grammar and writing skills (65 minutes)
  • Integrated Reasoning – Tests data interpretation abilities with information presented in multiple formats (30 minutes)
  • Analytical Writing Assessment – Assesses critical thinking and communication skills (30 minutes, in-person test center GMAT version)

The computer-adaptive GMAT exam serves as a consistent predictor of postgraduate readiness, whether you take the exam in a test center or at home. Students aiming for specific scores to meet admission requirements should prepare for what is covered on the GMAT with practice tests and other study materials to increase their chances.

More info about the GMAT sections.


Are There Any Prerequisites for the GMAT Exam?

The GMAT exam showcases your abilities as well as your commitment and motivation for an MBA or other business school program. Prior academic performance or an undergraduate degree does not affect GMAT eligibility. Whether you're a working professional or student, anyone can register and take the test online at home or in a test center.

How Many Times Can You Take the GMAT?

Applicants over 18 can take the test without restrictions, while those under 18 require consent from a parent or guardian. You can retake the GMAT exam 16 days after a previous attempt. However, you can only repeat the exam five times in 12 months, with a lifetime limit of eight attempts. Your GMAT score remains valid for five years upon successful completion.


When Should I Take the GMAT?

While you can take the GMAT exam at any time, testing should coincide with your plans to pursue a graduate business degree. Keep track of any relevant MBA application deadlines to ensure your score report is ready on time. However, avoid rushing to take the GMAT to meet a cutoff date. Leave yourself plenty of time to prepare, as results can directly affect your chances for admission.

Studying Leads to High Scores

Most students with GMAT scores at or above 700 studied for about 120 hours before taking the test. If you are pursuing an MBA, dedicating your time to preparing for the GMAT can improve your score and give you a competitive edge for your preferred graduate business program.

Study Resources

Online GMAT Test Prep

Sections of the GMAT

GMAT Test Day Checklist

Registering for the GMAT

Studying for Your Exam

GMAT Math Tips

GMAT Verbal Reasoning Tips

GMAT Analytical Writing Tips

GMAT Integrated Reasoning Tips

Exam Difficulty

GMAT Strategies & Pacing

GMAT vs. GRE Breakdown

GMAT Scoring

Deciphering Your GMAT Results

GMAT Percentiles