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GMAT Overview

What does the GMAT test?

Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning (IR), and Analytical Writing are the four parts of the GMAT (AWA). The most important parts of the GMAT for getting into an MBA or graduate school are the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections.


The Quantitative Reasoning section has 31 questions, three of which are experimental and don’t count toward your overall score. There are two kinds of questions in the GMAT quant section: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency.

GMAT Problem Solving questions are like the multiple-choice math questions on other standardized tests. Students have to solve a problem and pick one of five possible answers.

On the other hand, GMAT Data Sufficiency questions ask students to decide if two statements are enough to answer a question on their own or together.

The math ideas used in the GMAT quant section are the same ones taught in high school. This doesn’t mean the test is easy, though. GMAT quant questions may not require calculus or trigonometry. Still, they often require a creative approach you need help finding in a textbook. To do well on the GMAT quant section, students need to be good at basic math and have an open mind that lets them deal with problems that come up out of the blue.

Some of the most common math questions on the GMAT quant section are listed below:

Math Rates, Algebra, Probability, Combinatorics, and Geometry, Factors Statistics, Percentages, Number Properties, Ratios


There are 36 questions in the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section, but six tests don’t count toward your overall score.

In the GMAT verbal section, there are three types of questions:

1) Understanding what you read (RC). The 13 RC questions are based on four passages that appear in different places on the exam. There are usually 3–4 questions after each passage. These questions are generally about something like economics, science, art, or history.

The point of these GMAT Reading Comprehension passages is not to see how much you know about a specific subject. Instead, they test how well you can read and understand written material, even if it’s about something you don’t know much about. Test-takers are often asked to do the following on RC questions:

Find out the main point and main ideas.

Draw your own conclusions

Discern the logical structure

Pay attention to style and tone.

Check out this article on how to study for the GMAT Reading Comprehension test for more information.

2) Use of Critical Thinking (CR). There are also 10–11 CR questions in the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section. These questions come after a short piece of writing that makes an argument. After reading this argument, which is usually less than 100 words long, GMAT test-takers have to do things like:

Make the argument stronger.

Make the case less intense.

Find out what the different parts of the argument are for.

Find the assumptions that led to a conclusion.

Resolve an apparent paradox or discrepancy

Draw a conclusion from the facts that have been given.

Check out this article about preparing for the GMAT Critical Reasoning section for more information.

3) Correct this sentence (SC). You can expect 12-13 SC questions on your GMAT exam. These questions give you five different ways to say the same sentence. You have to use both grammar and logic to choose the best answer. Most of the time, people who do well on the GMAT don’t pay attention to how a sentence “sounds” but instead focus on what it says.

The following grammar ideas show up often on GMAT SC questions:

Nouns and Pronouns (they, that, those, etc.)

Modifiers (such as “that,” “which,” “-ing,” “-ed,” etc.)

Parallelism, including unique triggers for parallelism (both/and, either/or, not/but),

Simple comparisons, especially those that use the words “like,” “unlike,” or “as,”

Subject-verb agreement

Verb tenses, but especially past perfect tense

A few other minor but specific topics are semicolons, “due to,” and the difference between countable and non-countable modifiers.

Please read our beginner’s guide to GMAT sentence correction if you want to get better at these questions and do them faster.


The GMAT also has a section called Integrated Reasoning (IR). As the name suggests, this test section requires test-takers to use math and language skills to answer difficult questions. In the IR section, students are often given irrelevant information to test their ability to sort through it and find what’s essential.

Even though the GMAT Integrated Reasoning section can throw you a lot of different kinds of questions, there are a few that you can expect to see a lot of:

Graphical explanation

Tables are used to organize and sort information.

Questions that seem a lot like quant questions

Questions that seem a lot like verbal questions

Questions that look like they could be both math and English

The Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT has 12 questions, and you have 30 minutes to answer them. Since it is not part of your overall GMAT score, the IR section is usually much less critical for getting into an MBA program than the quant and verbal sections.


Lastly, the GMAT has a 30-minute test of analytical writing (AWA). In this part of the test, first, test-takers are given an argument. Then you have to write an essay that evaluates that argument and shows how well you can communicate and think critically.

Since it is not part of your overall GMAT score, the AWA section, like IR, is much less important for getting into an MBA program than the math and writing sections.


Here are a few essential things to keep in mind as you start to study for the GMAT:

The GMAT is primarily a test of how you think. Focus on developing an open mind and a flexible way of doing things.

The most important parts of the MBA test are the math and English sections. For MBA and other graduate programs, the most important thing is your GMAT score as a whole. It is made up of all of these scores. Spend the most time studying these two parts.


Check FQA for information.

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