How is the GMAT Exam Structured?

Candidates interested in applying to graduate level programs in business- particularly MBA programs- will need to submit scores from the GMAT Exam. The GMAT is divided into four main sections: analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning. While the exam tests a candidate’s verbal, writing, reading, analytical, and quantitative abilities, it does not test knowledge specifically related to business.

The following is a brief overview of each of the four major sections of the exam:

Analytical Writing

Test takers have 30 minutes to complete the analytical writing portion of the GMAT. This part of the test requires candidates to analyze an argument. Test takers are given a written argument on a particular subject and are required to write a critique of the argument. The analytical writing section is graded using a system of 1 to 6. This part of the test is graded with two different rating methods: one is given by an automated computer evaluation and the other is given by a GMAC grader. If the ratings given by the computer and the reader differ by more than one point, a third score is given by a second expert reader.

Integrated Reasoning

The integrated reasoning section has only been part of the GMAT since 2012. This section of the test is meant to gauge test takers’ ability to handle data that comes from numerous sources and is given in numerous formats. The integrated reasoning section was added due to recommendations from a survey of 740 faculty members teaching management.

There are 12 questions in the integrated reasoning section of the test. These questions deal with graphics interpretation, table analysis, two-part analysis, and multi-source reasoning. A test taker’s score on the integrated reasoning section will range between 1 and 8.

Quantitative Reasoning

Test takers demonstrate their abilities to use quantitative reasoning, interpret graphics, and put information to use to solve problems in the quantitative reasoning section. Test takers must complete this section of the test without using calculators, but they are given laminated graph paper and wet erase pens at the testing center to use for calculations. Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry is important for the quantitative section of the GMAT. Questions in this section of the test will fall into one of two categories: problem solving questions and data sufficiency questions. Scores from this section will range between 0 and 60.

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal section of the GMAT includes questions covering reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction skills. Questions in this section also evaluate a test taker’s ability to understand written material and to correctly write and organize arguments in written English. Like the quantitative score, the verbal reasoning score of the GMAT ranges between 0 and 60.

The overall score on the GMAT will range between 200 and 800, however it will not include results from the analytical writing and integrated reasoning sections. Test takers receive scores in increments of 10. The more selective a business school is, the higher the school’s expectations in terms of the GMAT scores of its applicants. Preparing for every section of the GMAT Exam is an important step in seeking admission to a graduate program in management.