GMAT syllabus 2021: Test pattern, section wise details and tips!

GMAT syllabus

For a dynamic career in management, the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is your best bet. The scores of this entrance test are widely accepted by the top ranked business schools across the globe. A complete and detailed understanding of GMAT syllabus along with the breakdown of the exam pattern can increase your chances of earning a high score. 

An MBA degree offers the most promising career after technology and medicine. Management studies have an ample scope abroad due to the presence of a robust job market and education system. Pursuing an MBA from abroad opens opportunities for international students and they also get a chance to find permanent residency in countries like Australia, Canada and the United States of America. The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a very exciting field and the top-ranked B-schools, because of their tie-ups with renowned corporations, conglomerates, global tech giants, pharmaceutical companies and globally recognized multinationals, guarantee 100% placement. However, the admission criteria in these reputed and globally ranked universities can be intimidating. To get admission to an MBA program, international students need to crack GMAT with a good score. 

GMAT score is accepted by top IIMs, high ranked B-schools in Canada, the USA, Australia, and Europe. The test scores are accepted by 2300 colleges that offer around 7000 MBA programs. For MBA, Canada and the USA are the two most favored foreign countries, simply because they house top-ranked B-schools, which accept GMAT scores. Graduate students from management fields or any other field can get into MBA programs with the help of a good GMAT score. GMAT syllabus comprises four different areas—analytical writing examination, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning and verbal reasoning

The GMAT exam pattern consists of analytical writing, problem-solving abilities, critical reasoning, data sufficiency and logic as these are the skills that are required for a successful career in management. GMAT score ranges from minimum 200 to maximum 800. This score determines how well prepared a student is in terms of taking up management studies. The test duration is 3 hours and 7 minutes, and the score is valid for five years. The medium of the exam is English, and it can be taken in both offline and online modes. The most reputed management institutions across the world accept GMAT scores and this makes the admission process easier for meritorious students. The top universities accept usually students with a GMAT score of 690+. Though the examination is considered tough, an in-depth understanding of the pattern and GMAT exam syllabus, along with regular practice, can pave way for a high score.

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GMAT exam pattern

Name of examination

GMAT

Hours

3 hours 7 minutes
Mode

Online and offline

Medium

English
Score

200-800

Purpose

MBA

Sections

  • Analytical Writing
  • Integrated Reasoning
  • Quantitative Aptitude Section
  • Verbal Reasoning Section

Eligibility

Graduate
Attempts

Multiple times

The GMAT exam pattern and syllabus are quite simple to understand. It is a 3-hour 7-minute-long examination and consists of Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs). GMAT is a prerequisite test for getting admission to the top MBA colleges globally. There are four sections, and there is no negative marking, and the cut-off varies from college to college. A score above 690 is considered good. 

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Questions per section and time allotted to each 

Section

Number of questions Score range Duration

Analytical writing examination

1 topic 

Essay

0-6

30 minutes

Verbal

36 questions 6-51 65 minutes

Integrated Reasoning

12 questions 1-8 30 minutes

Quantitative

31 questions 6-51

62 minutes

Total duration: 

3 hours 7 minutes

Some changes have been introduced in the pattern for the 2021 GMAT examination, and here they are:

1. The mathematics section will be purely based on reasoning questions. 

2. Coordinate geometry will be present in the GMAT syllabus. 

3. Additional options for the MCQs will be ‘both’, and ‘neither’. 

4. There will be conversion questions.

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Syllabus of GMAT for the year 2021

1. Analytical writing examination

Analytical writing segment is purely based on brainstorming ideas and writing an essay. A passage along with questions can also be the pattern. It is the very first section and it is compulsory to attempt it. There will be only one topic, and the score ranges from 0-6, and the time allotted is 30 minutes. The syllabus is vast and can be anything under the sun. The topic can be anything based on science, management, events, sports or any other subject. You will not be singularly marked on your opinion or thought process, but it is your writing style that will fetch you a good score. Go for a balanced opinion and focus on your writing style, tone, and structure of the write-up. A student can score high in this section by following the below-given strategies: 

a) Brainstorming

b) Drafting a strong introduction

c) Penning well-structured paragraphs

d) A thought-provoking conclusion for the essay

There are two types of essays in the GMAT syllabus:

i) Argument-based essays: The viewpoint or reason needs to be analyzed and then a justified argument needs to be written for this type of essay. 

ii) Issue-based essays: An issue or problem will be given. GMAT aspirants will need to write an essay based on the issue. An individual opinion is welcome too. The length of the essay should be around 600 words and not more than that. 

2. Integrated reasoning

It is a new section that has been added to the syllabus of GMAT. It is a reasoning section where data will be given in various forms. The students need to analyze and evaluate the data presented in the form of graphs or in a simple table format. This section will have 12 questions in total, and the duration is 30 minutes, where the score is between 1-8. It is a scoring section and students need to practice a lot to ace this section. The questions given can belong to any of the following categories: 

a) Graphical interpretation: The data will be represented in the form of a pie chart, bar graph, histogram, curve or a graphical image. It will measure the ability of the students to analyze and interpret the data from the graphical representations. The information presented in these forms needs to be interpreted in simple language or mathematical form. The interpretation should justify the relationship between the data and state the right conclusion. 

b) Table analysis: It will be a table formulation with all the data and information provided. A spreadsheet, for example, is a table formulation and the students need to sort, interpret and analyze the data and information provided in the table. It will help in determining the relationship between data, relevant information and certain conditions. 

c) Two-part analysis: This part will mainly assess the students’ ability to solve complex problems. This section needs a lot of practice, and the students need to time themselves to complete this section. There will be trade-offs, equations, and relationships between factors and two entities. It will be a tricky part and students will need good reasoning skills to solve these questions. 

d) Multi-source: There won’t be just one source of data, but various sources like passages, tables, graphical representations, or a combination of all of them. The students need to analyze each of the data sources very carefully. The questions will be based on finding inferences and finding the relevance of data. There will also be some tricky questions, where the students need to find discrepancies among various data sources. 

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3. Quantitative reasoning:

The quantitative reasoning section is the highest scoring section. It has a total of 31 questions, and the duration is 62 minutes. The GMAT quant syllabus comprises two parts-data sufficiency and problem-solving. The trick to cracking this section is practicing and doing the calculations without any scientific calculator. There will be 18 questions on data sufficiency and 18 under the problem-solving part. The questions in quantitative reasoning are completely objective and MCQ-based. There will be no negative marking for the wrong answer, so answer everything. 

a) Problem-solving: This part will focus on the problem-solving ability of the students. It will test the analytical reasoning and logical reasoning abilities of the students. 

b) Data sufficiency: Here the students need to examine, understand the problem and then identify the importance of data. After understanding which data is important, they need to understand the point at which there is maximum data to solve a particular problem. 

The topics that need to be studied for quantitative reasoning are:

i) Geometry

ii) Arithmetic

iii) Elementary algebra

iv) Properties of Integers

v) Ratio Proportion

vi) Exponents

vii) Linear equation

viii)Permutations and Combinations

4. Verbal reasoning:

The verbal reasoning section has 36 questions, and the duration is 65 minutes. This section checks the ability of the students to read and interpret the passage to give suitable answers. The idea is to check the applicant’s English proficiency. There are mainly three types of questions under this section: 

a) Reading comprehension: Based on the passage, there will be multiple-choice questions. The students need to read the entire passage and then answer the questions. The answers will be checked for the following skills-application, inferences, ideas, style and structure. 

b) Critical reasoning: This part will be based on analyzing the argument. There will be few argument-based questions. The students need to analyze them, support or go against the argument with a valid reason. There will be eight different types of critical reasoning questions and every question will judge a student on reasoning, argumentation, finding a solution or evaluation of a plan. 

c) Sentence correction: A certain part of the sentence will be underlined. The students need to rectify issues or problems with it. The grammatical errors, if any, need to be corrected. 

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How to apply for GMAT 2021? 

1. Log on to mba.com and click ‘sign up’ located in the top right corner. 

2. Candidates applying for the GMAT examination need to fill up the GMAT 2021 registration form by visiting the website. The registration will be done for online mode of the exam. 

3. Candidates need to fill up all the information as required by the portal. If any information is missed out, the application form will be rejected. 

4. During registration, students need to mention their contact number and email address. All the important notifications and alerts will be communicated via these two mediums. So, do cross-check before you submit the form. 

5. Candidates will also have to choose test dates as per the available slot. 

6. Candidates can choose up to three location preferences for the examination. Only pick the location that can be accessed on the date of examination. 

7. Upload a passport-size photograph along with your digital signature. The size will be mentioned on the online portal. 

8. Once all the details are filled in, submit the registration form. The details will be sent to the registered mobile number and email address. Keep a printout of the form for future reference. 

Exam tips for GMAT candidates:

1. Develop a plan to cover the entire GMAT syllabus

2. Do not get stuck on one question. 

3. Time yourself for each section and practice.

4. Devote maximum hours of study to preparation. 

5. Pick up the right study materials. 

6. Take coaching classes, if needed. 

7. Be patient and practice more. 

To get admission in a reputed B-school abroad, students need to know the GMAT exam pattern and syllabus. The GMAT test is a globally accepted examination for MBA aspirants. It is a popular test that helps meritorious students get admission in their dream B-schools and grow with global exposure.

For the latest GMAT exam syllabus, dates, important notifications and exam tips get in touch with upGrad Abroad.

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GMAT: FAQs

Q1. What is the difference between CAT and GMAT syllabus?

GMAT syllabus includes verbal reasoning, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing assessment, whereas for CAT the topics are quantitative aptitude, verbal ability, data interpretation and logical reasoning and reading comprehension. The syllabus is very different, but the difficulty level is almost the same for both.

Q2. How is the GMAT test score calculated?

GMAT does not have any passing or failing marks. It is a compilation of four different sections and offers five scores. One score each is given from the four sections and the fifth score is calculated from verbal and quantitative sections in a combined manner.

Q3. How to get a perfect GMAT score?

A perfect GMAT score is certainly possible. It can be attained if the students are very clear with the basics, reasoning and logic. Practice is the key to the quantitative and reasoning sections.

Q4. Which countries accept GMAT scores?

GMAT is a widely accepted examination for MBA aspirants. It is accepted in public and private universities in India, Australia, the United States of America, Canada, Europe, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and Germany. Students can seek admission in globally reputed universities and B-schools with a good GMAT score.

Q5. What is a good GMAT score?

A good GMAT score is 690 and above. The maximum score is 800, and the top 10 ranked B-schools set a cut-off of 720+.

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