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Exam Preparation

About the GMAT

The Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®) was designed to help business schools assess the qualifications of applicants for advanced study in business and management. It measures basic verbal, quantitative, and writing skills that are developed over a long period of time and is available year-round at test centers throughout the world. Of the several thousand graduate management programs worldwide, 1,700 use the GMAT and more than 1,000 require it.

In the school selection process, applicants are asked to show evidence of their potential to succeed. The GMAT is only one such measure of potential academic performance in graduate management education. In addition to the GMAT, this evidence typically includes academic records, work experience, application essays, recommendations, and interviews.

The GMAT is specifically designed to measure the verbal, quantitative, and writing skills of applicants for graduate study in business. It does not, however, presuppose any specific knowledge of business or other specific content areas, nor does it measure achievement in any particular subject areas. In addition, the test does not measure subjective factors important to academic and career success-such as motivation, creativity, interpersonal skills, and study skills. Test takers should note that the GMAT is entirely in English and that all instructions are provided in English.

All of the information that you need to prepare yourself for taking GMAT including the actual directions on the test, sample questions, and testing procedures are contained in subsequent sections of this website, and are repeated in the GMAT Information Bulletin.

Format and Content

The Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®) is a standardized assessment. Each individual test that is administered contains the same format and areas of content. The test is comprised of three main sections-analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning. Each of these areas is measured using different types of questions that have specific instructions for each. Visit Overview for more specific information about each section.

It is important to recognize that the GMAT evaluates skills and abilities that develop over relatively long periods of time. Although the sections are basically verbal or mathematical, the complete test provides one method of measuring overall ability. The GMAT does not test specific knowledge obtained in college course work, and it does not seek to measure achievements in any specific areas of study.

The Graduate Management Admission Council® recognizes that questions arise concerning techniques for taking standardized examinations such as the GMAT, and it is hoped that the descriptions and sample questions provided on the website will give you practical familiarity with both the concepts and techniques required by GMAT questions. Of course, specific questions vary from one GMAT to another. Test questions are continuously written to replace previously administered questions, but must meet content and statistical requirements for the GMAT. Actual test questions that have been used previously are published in the Sample GMAT® Questions and GMAT Mini-Test areas and in The Official Guide for GMAT® Review and the GMAT: POWERPREP® 3.0 Software.

Part of the standardization of the GMAT relates to the procedures followed at the testing center on the test day. Please visit the Procedures & Regulations area of the website to review these procedures before you appear at the test center. This will help reduce your anxiety and avoid any unforeseen problems the day of your test.


The Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®) includes analytical writing, quantitative, and verbal questions using a computer-adaptive format-the test adjusts to your individual ability level. Questions are chosen from a very large pool of test questions categorized by content and difficulty. Only one question at a time is presented to you on the screen. The first question is always of middle difficulty. The selection of each question thereafter is determined by your responses to all previous questions. In other words, the adaptive test adjusts to your ability level—you will get few questions that are too easy or too difficult for you.

You must answer each question and may not return to or change your answer to any previous question. If you answer a question incorrectly by mistake-or correctly by lucky guess-you answer to subsequent questions will lead you back to questions that are at the appropriate level of difficulty for you.

Every test contains trial multiple-choice questions needed for pre-testing for future use. These questions, however, are not identified and appear in varying locations within the test. You should therefore do your best on all questions. Answers to trial questions are not counted in the scoring of your test.


The GMAT consists of four separately timed sections (see Summary). Each of the first two sections contains a 30-minute writing task; the other two sections are 75 minutes each and contain multiple-choice questions;

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment

    You begin the GMAT with the Analytical Writing Assessment, which is comprised of two essays topics selected by the computer. You are allowed 30 minutes to respond to each topic. One task is to analyze an issue; the other is to analyze an argument. Most topics are published on the website (see Sample GMAT® Questions) and in the GMAT®: POWERPREP® 3.0 Software. The Analytical Writing Assessment measures the ability to think critically and communicate complex ideas through writing.

  2. Quantitative Section

    After an optional five-minute break, you begin the GMAT Quantitative section. This section contains 37 multiple-choice questions (with five answer choices per question) of either two question types, Data Sufficiency or Problem Solving. You are allowed a maximum of 75 minutes to complete the section. The Quantitative section measures basic mathematical skills and understanding of elementary concepts, and the ability to reason quantitatively, solve quantitative problems, and interpret graphic data.

  3. Verbal Section

    After a second optional five-minute break, you begin the GMAT Verbal section. This section contains 41 multiple-choice questions (with five answer choices per question) of any of three question types, Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. You are allowed a maximum of 75 minutes to complete the section. The Verbal section measures the ability to understand and evaluate what is read and to recognize basic conventions of standard written English.

  4. Completing the Testing Session

    Following the end of the official testing time, you are asked questions concerning your background and the schools to which you are sending your GMAT scores. You may print a copy of your GMAT Quantitative, Verbal, and Total scores at the center at the end of your testing session.

Summary of Format, Content, and Scoring

You'll receive four GMAT scores:

Analytical Writing Assessment
Score ranges from 0–6. This is a separate score that is less important than the 200–800 cumulative score.

  • Analysis of an Issue (1 Topic, 30 Minutes)
  • Analysis of an Argument (1 Topic, 30 Minutes)
  • Optional Rest Break (5 Minutes)

GMAT Quantitative
Quantitative scaled sub-score, ranging from 0–60. (Effectively, 51 is the max score.)

  • Problem Solving (37 Questions, 75 Minutes)
  • Data Sufficiency
  • Optional Rest Break (5 Minutes)

GMAT Verbal
Verbal scaled sub-score, ranging from 0–60. (Effectively, 48 is the max score.)

  • Reading Comprehension (41 Questions, 75 Minutes)
  • Critical Reasoning
  • Sentence Correction

Scaled score, ranging from 200–800. This is an overall score that is the combination of your 0–60 Quantitative and Verbal scores. The 200–800 cumulative score is what business schools primarily use.

National Averages
50th Percentile: 540
75th Percentile: 620
90th Percentile: 690
95th Percentile: 720
99th Percentile: 760–800

Retaking GMAT Tests

You may take the test (computer-based and/or paper-based) only once per calendar month and no more than 5 times in any 12-month period. This applies even if you canceled your scores on a test taken previously.