GMAT Format and Sections

Test Structure and Overview

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) consists of four separately timed sections.

Format and Timing

The GMAT exam consists of three main parts, the Analytical Writing Assessment, the Quantitative section, and the Verbal section.

You have three and a half hours in which to take the GMAT exam, but plan for a total time of approximately four hours.

GMAT - Preparation

Analytical Writing Assessment

The GMAT exam begins with the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). The AWA consists of two separate writing tasks—Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument. You are allowed 30 minutes to complete each one. 
Analysis of an Issue     Analysis of an Argument

Analysis of an Issue

For the Analysis of an Issue section, you will need to analyze the issue presented and explain your point of view on the subject. There is no correct answer. Instead, you should consider various perspectives. Use relevant reasons or examples drawn from your experience, observations, or reading to develop your own position on the issue.

What Is Measured

The Analysis of an Issue tests your ability to explore the complexities of an issue or opinion and, if appropriate, to take a position that is informed by your understanding.

Sample Question

For an example of this type of question and directions for answering, go to the Sample Analysis of an Issue Question.

Analysis of an Argument

For the Analysis of an Argument section, you will need to analyze the reasoning behind a given argument and write a critique of that argument. You are not being asked to present your own views on the subject.

Consider the following when developing your essay:

  • What questionable assumptions underlie the thinking behind the argument?
  • What alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion?
  • What sort of evidence could help strengthen or refute the argument?

What Is Measured

The Analysis of an Argument section tests your ability to formulate an appropriate and constructive critique of a specific conclusion based on a specific line of thinking.

Current Topics

You may download the complete list of current Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)Analysis of an Argument Topics and Analysis of an Issue Topics used during the administration of the GMAT exam.

Quantitative Section

Following an optional break, you then begin with the Quantitative Section of the GMAT exam. This section contains 37 multiple-choice questions of two question types—Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving. You are allowed a maximum of 75 minutes to complete the entire section.

Verbal Section

After completion of the Quantitative Section (following an optional break), you begin the Verbal Section of the GMAT exam. This section contains 41 multiple choice questions of three question types—Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. You are allowed a maximum of 75 minutes to complete the entire section.