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GMAT Exam Paper Pattern: A Guide to Help You Crack the Exam!

GMAT Exam Paper Pattern

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is administered as an entrance exam for students who want to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Management (MIM), and other business or finance-related graduate programs. Passing the GMAT exam validates students’ skills and ability to manage management programs taught in business schools. Therefore, a complete and detailed understanding of the GMAT exam pattern and a breakdown of the exam pattern can increase your chances of getting a high score.

Do you know?

According to the Graduate Admissions Council (GMAC), which owns the test, the GMAT is a trusted and preferred part of the admissions process for more than 7,000 business and management programs worldwide.

Before we move further, let’s first have a look at how GMAC defines the GMAT exam – “The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a computer-assisted adaptive test (CAT) designed to assess specific analytical, written, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in program admissions postgraduate management, for example, MBA”.

Let’s get started…

Overview of GMAT exam pattern

Here’s the general overview of the GMAT exam pattern:

Exam organizerGraduate Management Admission Council
Total number of questions80
Score range200-800
Average score556
Exam Duration3 hours 7 minutes
Language of InstructionEnglish
Mode of ExaminationComputer-based
Negative MarkingNone
Official GMAT

Apart from the above few more exam highlights is:

  • The GMAT exam has no standard syllabus; thus, questions are set to test students’ analytical and reasoning skills.
  • Students can choose from three given orders to complete the exam.
  • The analytical writing assessment consists of an essay question.
  • Integrated Reasoning consists of non-MCQs such as the TITA question type (enter answer).
  • There is no such thing as a negative mark on the GMAT.
  • Two optional eight-minute breaks are given during the exam.

Significance of understanding the GMAT exam pattern

It is crucial for those pursuing a graduate business degree like an MBA. It assesses skills necessary for success in business school. Comprehending the pattern helps test-takers familiarize themselves with the structure and format.

The GMAT consists of four sections: Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. Knowing question numbers, time limits, and section order aids in planning a strategy and managing time effectively.

Understanding the pattern also helps identify strengths and weaknesses, allowing candidates to allocate study time accordingly. It enables focused preparation, increasing the chances of a competitive score. Familiarity with the pattern aids in practicing with relevant study materials and simulated tests, reducing anxiety and building confidence.

Knowledge of the adaptive nature of the exam enables strategic decision-making, such as skipping or investing more time in certain questions. Overall, comprehending the GMAT exam pattern facilitates effective preparation, reduces anxiety, and enables strategic test-taking for a successful GMAT journey.

Enough of talking let’s now understand the GMAT exam pattern of all four sections… Come along…

GMAT exam pattern – Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section of the GMAT holds significant importance as it evaluates a test-taker’s ability to analyze an argument and express their thoughts effectively. The AWA section consists of two tasks: Analysis of an Argument and Analysis of an Issue.

In the Analysis of an Argument task, candidates are presented with an argument and are required to critically analyze the reasoning behind it. This involves identifying the assumptions made, evaluating the evidence provided, and assessing the overall logic and effectiveness of the argument. It is essential to provide a well-structured response that showcases logical thinking, clear reasoning, and coherent writing skills.

The Analysis of an Issue task prompts test-takers to present their viewpoint on a specific issue. Here, individuals must analyze the given topic, identify relevant perspectives, and construct a well-supported argument. It is crucial to provide examples, evidence, and logical reasoning to strengthen the argument and convey ideas effectively.

  1. Duration: 30 minutes
  2. Pattern: Analysis of argumentation on 1 topic & Analysis of Issue
  3. Score: The GMAT AWA percentile score is the percentage of candidates in which you performed best. For example, if you scored an AWA of 4.5, you performed better than 43% of test takers. The GMAT percentile score is not static and constantly changes based on the number of test takers each year.

GMAT exam pattern – Integrated Reasoning

The Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT is a crucial component that assesses your ability to evaluate information presented in various formats from different sources, reflecting the skills necessary to thrive in our technologically advanced and data-driven world. The Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT was introduced in 2012 and is designed to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate and analyze information from multiple sources.

The section consists of 12 questions and has a time limit of 30 minutes.

Question formats

The Integrated Reasoning section includes four different question types:

  1. Multi-Source Reasoning: It evaluates your ability to analyze data from different sources, such as text passages, tables, and graphics. You must carefully examine each source and answer multiple questions based on the information provided. Some questions require identifying discrepancies among the sources, while others ask you to draw inferences or determine data relevance.
  2. Table Analysis: It measures your aptitude for sorting and analyzing data presented in a table format. Like a spreadsheet, you must identify relevant information and determine if it meets specific conditions.
  3. Graphics Interpretation: It assesses your capability to interpret information presented in graphical formats, such as graphs, scatter plots, and pie charts. Your task is to discern relationships, make inferences, and draw conclusions based on the graphical representation.
  4. Two-Part Analysis: It challenges you to solve complex problems that may involve quantitative, verbal, or combined content. This question type tests your ability to evaluate trade-offs, solve simultaneous equations, and identify relationships between two entities.

Scoring Criteria

The Integrated Reasoning section is scored on a scale of 1 to 8, with 1 being the lowest and 8 being the highest. The score is based on the number of questions answered correctly, and partial credit is given for questions with multiple parts.

For instance, if you scored 6 or higher, it is a good score. If you score a 6, you’ll be in the 64th percentile, which means you’re ahead of about two-thirds of the test takers. A 7 would put you in the top 20% of test takers, and a perfect 8 would put you in the top 10%.

GMAT exam pattern – Quantitative Section

The Quantitative section of the GMAT evaluates a test-taker’s mathematical and problem-solving abilities. The section is designed to assess the candidate’s proficiency in basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.

It consists of 31 multiple-choice questions, which must be completed within 62 minutes.

Question formats

The questions in the Quantitative section can be broadly categorized into two types: Problem-Solving and Data Sufficiency. Both tests aim to measure your ability to think critically and apply problem-solving strategies effectively.


In problem-solving, you will be presented with a question and five answer choices. Your task is to use logic and analytical reasoning to identify the best answer choice.

Data Sufficiency

It evaluates your ability to analyze a quantitative problem and determine if there is enough data provided in two statements to answer the question. By assessing the relevance of the data, combined with your mathematical knowledge and everyday facts, you determine whether the statements contain sufficient information.

Scoring Criteria

Quantitative scores range from 0 to 60. Scores above 50 and below 7 are rare, and the average GMAT Quantitative Score of all test takers is 38.91. However, to get into most MBA programs, you will need to achieve higher grades.

GMAT exam pattern – Verbal Section

The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) exam consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Quantitative Reasoning (Quant), and Verbal Reasoning (Verbal). In this response, we will focus on the Verbal section.

The Verbal section consists of 36 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of 65 minutes.

Question formats

The Verbal of the GMAT exam assesses your ability to analyze written material, understand and evaluate arguments, and identify and correct written errors. It consists of three types of questions:

  1. Reading Comprehension: In this question type, you will read passages and answer questions based on the information provided. The passages cover a variety of topics from different fields.
  2. Critical Reasoning: These questions test your ability to analyze arguments, identify assumptions, and evaluate the logical structure of a given argument. You will be required to draw conclusions and make inferences based on the information provided.
  3. Sentence Correction: In Sentence Correction questions, you will be given a sentence with an underlined portion. You need to identify the best grammatical and stylistic choice among the given answer options.

Scoring Criteria

Verbal Reasoning scores range from 0 to 60. Scores below nine and above 44 on Verbal Reasoning are rare. The Verbal Reasoning assessment is a component of the overall assessment.

Note: For details on the exam syllabus refer to our GMAT syllabus post.

Tips & strategies to ace the GMAT exam

This section will provide you with an overview of tips and strategies to succeed in the GMAT exam. To ace the GMAT exam, it is essential to have a solid study plan and employ effective strategies. Here are some common tips and strategies to help you prepare for and perform well on the GMAT:

Tips and sample essay structures for achieving a high AWA score

To achieve a high Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) score on the GMAT, consider the following tips and a sample essay structure:

  1. Understand the Task: Read the prompt carefully and ensure you comprehend what is being asked. Identify the key components, such as the argument’s structure, evidence, and assumptions.
  2. Plan Your Response: Take a few minutes to outline your essay before writing. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure a coherent and logical flow of ideas.
  3. Introduction (1-2 paragraphs): Begin with a concise introduction that summarizes the argument and presents your thesis statement. Clearly state your position on the argument.
  4. Body Paragraphs (2-3 paragraphs): Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of the argument. Start by discussing the weaknesses or assumptions of the argument, providing evidence and logical reasoning to support your claims. Use examples, counterarguments, or alternative explanations to strengthen your position.
  5. Counterargument (optional): Consider including a paragraph addressing potential counterarguments or alternative perspectives. Acknowledge opposing viewpoints and explain why they are less valid than your position.
  6. Conclusion (1 paragraph): Summarize your main points and restate your thesis. Offer a strong concluding statement that reinforces the flaws in the argument and emphasizes the importance of critical thinking.

Tips and strategies for achieving a high Quantitative Section

To achieve a high score in the Quantitative Section of a test, consider the following tips:

  1. Understand the concepts: Master the fundamental mathematical concepts tested, such as algebra, geometry, arithmetic, and data interpretation.
  2. Practice regularly: Solve a variety of quantitative problems, including both theoretical and word problems. Familiarize yourself with the question types and develop problem-solving strategies.
  3. Time management: Practice working efficiently under time constraints. Learn to quickly identify the relevant information and solve problems accurately.
  4. Identify weaknesses: Analyze your performance to identify areas where you struggle the most. Focus on improving those weak areas through targeted practice.
  5. Learn shortcuts: Familiarize yourself with time-saving techniques and shortcuts for common calculations or problem-solving methods.
  6. Review formulas: Memorize essential formulas and equations that are frequently used, such as area, perimeter, and the Pythagorean theorem.
  7. Simulate test conditions: Practice solving problems under timed conditions to develop confidence and manage test anxiety.

Remember, consistent practice and a thorough understanding of the concepts are key to achieving a high score in the Quantitative Section.

Strategies for approaching integrated reasoning questions

To approach integrated reasoning questions effectively, follow these strategies:

  1. Understand the question types: Familiarize yourself with the different question types, such as two-part analysis, table analysis, graphics interpretation, and multi-source reasoning.
  2. Read the instructions carefully: Pay attention to the specific requirements for each question type, such as selecting multiple answers or ranking options.
  3. Skim the information: Quickly scan the given data, identifying key details, relationships, and trends. Take notes or mentally summarize the main points.
  4. Analyze the question stem: Understand what the question is asking and what information is needed to answer it. Break down complex questions into simpler parts if necessary.
  5. Work efficiently: Utilize the given time wisely. Prioritize questions based on difficulty or your strengths, but ensure you allocate enough time for each.
  6. Use elimination and estimation: Integrated reasoning questions often provide answer choices. Use the process of elimination to remove incorrect options. If needed, estimate values based on the given data to narrow down choices.
  7. Practice time management: Regularly practice integrated reasoning questions under timed conditions to improve your speed and accuracy. Time yourself and aim to complete questions within the allocated time frame.
  8. Review your answers: If time permits, double-check your responses to ensure accuracy. Pay attention to details and verify that your choices align with the given data.

By implementing these strategies and practicing consistently, you can enhance your performance in integrated reasoning questions and improve your overall score.

Techniques for improving verbal skills

To improve verbal skills and tackle different question types, you can:

  1. Expand Vocabulary: Read extensively, learn new words, and use them in daily conversations to enhance your language proficiency.
  2. Practice Active Listening: Pay attention to the speaker, maintain eye contact, and take notes to understand and respond effectively.
  3. Develop Critical Thinking: Analyze information, evaluate arguments, and formulate well-reasoned responses to different question types.
  4. Enhance Articulation: Practice speaking, enunciating words, and using proper grammar to express your thoughts accurately.
  5. Master Question Types: Familiarize yourself with various question types, such as open-ended, multiple-choice, and opinion-based, to prepare well-crafted responses.
  6. Seek Feedback: Engage in conversations, debates, or presentations, and ask for constructive feedback to identify areas for improvement.
  7. Practice Regularly: Engage in verbal exercises, engage in discussions, participate in public speaking events, and practice answering questions to build confidence and fluency.

Common Do’s & Don’ts in the GMAT exam

Here’s a table highlighting common mistakes to avoid and do’s to keep in mind in the GMAT exam:

Understand the exam format and question types.Neglect to familiarize yourself with the exam structure.
Practice time management to answer all questions.Spend too much time on a single question.
Read the question carefully before answering.Rush through the question without fully understanding it.
Use scratch paper to organize your thoughts.Solve problems mentally without writing down the steps.
Eliminate wrong answer choices to narrow down options.Guess answers without eliminating unlikely choices.
Use the process of elimination for quantitative questions.Make careless calculation errors.
Review your answers before submitting.Leave questions unanswered due to time constraints.
Keep calm and maintain focus during the exam.Panic or get overwhelmed by difficult questions.

By following these do’s and avoiding the don’ts, you can improve your performance on the GMAT exam and increase your chances of achieving a better score. Remember to practice consistently and seek additional resources and guidance to strengthen your skills in the areas where you face challenges.

It’s a wrap!

Good to have you, finally, on this other side! Looking forward to getting admission to an esteemed business school of global repute? Hope we’ve been able to help you with most of the knowledge that you were asking for. We’ve just finished presenting to you all the details of the GMAT exam pattern for MBA & other Master’s courses, every question type of the GMAT subjects, and specific details about every topic covered in the GMAT exam pattern. Nevertheless, do you need some handholding to get you through this? How about a discussion with our expert career counsellors to study abroad with decades of experience concerning education in this field?

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  7. Looking For an MBA (Finance)
  8. Graduate Managment Admission Test
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What is the GMAT exam pattern?

The GMAT exam consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Quantitative Reasoning (QR), and Verbal Reasoning (VR). The AWA section involves writing an essay, while the IR section assesses data interpretation and analysis skills. The QR section tests quantitative problem-solving abilities, and the VR section evaluates reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction skills.

How many questions are there in each section of the GMAT exam?

The AWA section consists of one essay prompt, the IR section has 12 questions, the QR section has 31 questions, and the VR section has 36 questions.

Are there any breaks during the GMAT exam?

Yes, there are optional breaks available during the GMAT exam. You can take two 8-minute breaks, one after the Quantitative Reasoning section and one after the Verbal Reasoning section.

How is the GMAT exam scored?

The GMAT exam is scored on a scale of 200 to 800. The scores for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections range from 0 to 60, and the total score is a combination of these two sections.

Can I choose the order of sections in the GMAT exam?

Yes, you have the flexibility to choose the order of sections in the GMAT exam. You can select from three options: AWA first, followed by IR, QR, and VR; or, VR first, followed by QR, IR, and AWA; or, you can choose to begin with the QR section, followed by VR, IR, and AWA.

2 thoughts on “GMAT Exam Paper Pattern: A Guide to Help You Crack the Exam!”

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