GMAT is a standardized test which means it tests your academic potential, not your knowledge of specific subjects. The GMAT test consists of four separately timed sections. Starting of the test is with one 30-minute Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) question that requires you to type using the computer keyboard. The writing section is followed by two 75-minute, multiple-choice sections: the Quantitative and Verbal sections of the test. Then, there is Integrated Reasoning section of 30 minutes.

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Four Sections of GMAT

1. Writing Ability

You type an original analytical writing sample during the GMAT. The test gives you 30 minutes to compose and type an essay that analyzes an argument. You are expected to write this essay in standard written English.

2. Integrated Reasoning Skills

The section is a 30-minute integrated reasoning test that examines your ability to read and evaluate charts, graphs, and other forms of presenting data. You will examine a variety of data representation and answer 12 questions based on the information.

The GMAT categorizes the four basic question types in this section as graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning.

3. Quantitative Skills

The quantitative section is a 37-question section that tests your your knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data interpretation with standard problem-solving questions. You will have to solve problems and choose the correct answer from five possible choices.

Additionally, GMAT data sufficiency questions present you with two statements and ask you to decide whether the problem can be solved by using the information provided by the first statement only, the second statement only, both statements, or neither statement.

4. Verbal Skills

The GMAT verbal section consists of 41 questions of three general types: reading comprehension problems, sentence correction questions, and critical reasoning questions. Reading comprehension requires you to answer questions about written passages on a number of different subjects. Sentence correction questions test your ability to spot and correct writing errors. Critical reasoning questions require you to analyze logical arguments and understand how to strengthen or weaken those arguments.

GMAT Computer Adaptive Test

The quantitative and verbal sections on the computerized GMAT are in computer-adaptive test (CAT) format. The CAT adapts to your ability level by presenting you with questions of various difficulty, depending on how you answer previous questions. If you are answering many questions correctly, the computer gives you harder questions. If many of your answers are wrong, the computer will present you with easier questions.

So, the computer constantly gauges how well you are doing on the test and presents with questions that are appropriate to the ability level. These questions are drawn from a huge pool of possible test questions.

With the CAT format, your score isn’t based solely on how many questions you get right and wrong but rather on the average difficulty of the questions you answer correctly. Theoretically, you could miss several questions and still get a very high score, so long as the questions you missed were among the most difficult available in the question bank. At the end of each section, the computer scores you based on your level of ability.

How It Works

On the CAT, the first ten questions of the test are pre-selected for you, and the order of subsequent questions depends on how well you have answered the previous questions. So if you do well on the first ten questions, question 11 will reflect your success by being more challenging. If you do poorly on the initial questions, you will get an easier question 11. The program continues to take all previous questions into account as it feeds you question after question.

Because each question is based on your answers to previous questions, you can’t go back to any question. You must answer each question as it comes. After you confirm your answer, it is final.

When you complete each section, the computer will have an accurate assessment of your ability. As each question is presented on the basis of your answers to all previous questions, you must answer each question as it appears. You can not skip, return to, or change your responses to previous questions.

Non-CAT Sections

The analytical writing assessment is not in CAT format as it is not a multiple-choice test. The integrated reasoning section also is not a CAT section. You receive questions in a pre-ordained order and that order doesn’t change based on your answer selections. However, after you have submitted an answer to a question, you cannot change your answer.

Time Limits

Both the verbal and quantitative sections have a 75-minute time limit. Because the quantitative section has 37 questions, you have about two minutes to answer each question. The verbal section has 41 questions, so you have a little less time, about a minute and three-quarters per question. The integrated reasoning section is shorter; you have 30 minutes to answer 12 questions, or about two and a half minutes per question. For analytical writing section, you have to write the essay within 30 minutes.