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GMAT Exam Pattern: What is the Pattern of the GMAT Online Test

Updated on 13 April, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

gmat exam pattern

The Graduate Management Admission Test or the GMAT exam pattern has four sections with different time limits. The exam structure covers four parts – quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, analytical writing assessment (AWA), and integrated reasoning. The AWA section of the GMAT exam structure contains an optional descriptive question. The remaining sections have MCQs (multiple choice questions).


GMAT exam format

The GMAT exam format includes the following parts:

1. GMAT Verbal Reasoning – 36 questions in 65 minutes

2. GMAT Quantitative Reasoning – 31 questions in 62 minutes

3. GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment – 1 Topic in 30 minutes

4. GMAT Integrated Reasoning – 12 questions in 30 minutes

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) tracks the ability of aspirants in terms of critical thinking, writing skills, and communication. Integrated Reasoning is about the abilities of aspirants to analyze data and evaluate data in various formats. Verbal Reasoning is about measuring the ability to evaluate and absorb content and arguments. Students will score higher with better abilities to correct data and to achieve a standard level of English.

Quantitative Reasoning tracks data analysis skills and the ability to offer conclusions based on reasoning. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) came up with Select Section Order in July 2017 giving students more flexibility in customizing their examinations. Students can choose their preferred section order. 

The available choices for GMAT exam structure include the following:

1. Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning

2. Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment

3. Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment

Another aspect to remember is that GMAT is a CAT (Computer Adaptive Test) and testing software will keep adapting to your examination performance. Hence, performance on every question will influence the difficulty threshold of the upcoming questions in the test. The score calculation accounts for the capability level and the difficulty of questions that you have correctly solved. It is not only the number of questions that you have correctly answered.

It applies only to the Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections. AWA and IR are not adaptive sections. The initial questions in every section have medium-level difficulty for aspirants. Based on responses, you will start getting either easy or difficult questions. The composite result will account for difficulty levels of every question that you answered correctly/incorrectly. You can only view one question at a time. Hence, you must review your response before submitting it.


GMAT Exam Pattern- Duration & Score 

Here’s a brief look at the GMAT exam format, duration, type of questions, and the score threshold.

SectionDuration/Number of QuestionsType of QuestionDesired Score Range
Analytical Writing Assessment1 Topic (30 minutes)Analysis of an Argument0-6 (0.5-point increments)
Integrated Reasoning12 questions (30 minutes)Multi-Source Reasoning,1-8 (1-point increments)
Graphics Interpretation,
Two-Part Analysis,
Table Analysis
Quantitative31 questions (62 minutes)Data Sufficiency,6-51 (1-point increments)
Problem Solving
Verbal36 questions (65 minutes)Reading Comprehension,6-51 (1-point increments)
Critical Reasoning,
Sentence Correction
Total Duration of Examination  3 hours 7 minutes

Check the GMAT exam pattern carefully before you start preparing to take the test. A little research will go a long way towards helping you perform better in this crucial examination. 


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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.