The GMAT Exam is one of the most pivotal for students who are looking at reaching some of the most revered Business Schools in the world. The universal nature of the GMAT Exam means that the competition is also quite high. The relatively high GMAT Exam fee means that the candidates who do appear for the GMAT Exam are relatively well prepared.

In order to crack the GMAT Exam, it is essential for the candidates to be well prepared. The first stage of the candidate's preparation consists of gathering all the relevant information so that the GMAT Preparation plan can be properly set.

Some of the basic information that all the candidates have to look at are:

  • GMAT Syllabus
  • GMAT Exam Pattern
  • GMAT Exam Dates

Using this basic information, it is possible for the candidate to create a GMAT Preparation Plan complete with milestones to track progress.

GMAT Exam Syllabus

While there is no predefined syllabus for the GMAT Exam, there are some things which can be interpreted from the structure of the GMAT Exam.

The GMAT Exam consists of 4 sections namely:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
  • Integrated Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Verbal Reasoning

The AWA section consists of one question which consists of a short paragraph containing an argument. The candidate is expected to analyze the argument and mention the shortcomings in the form of an article. This section tests the critical reasoning ability of the candidate along with their ability to communicate clearly in writing. The integrated reasoning section consists of questions based on graphs, charts and word problems which require the candidate to interpret them and answer the questions given. There are 4 types of questions in this section, namely, Multi-Source Reasoning, Table Analysis, Graphics Interpretation and Two-Part Analysis. This section assesses the candidate's ability to synthesize large amounts of data to solve problems.

The quantitative reasoning section consists of the data sufficiency type questions as well as problems. This section tests the mathematical ability of the candidate along with the reasoning ability. The Verbal Reasoning section consists of Reading Comprehension, Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning types of questions. This section tests the candidate's command over the English language.

For a more in-depth look at the GMAT Syllabus, please visit this page.

GMAT Exam Dates

One of the more unique things about the GMAT Exam is that it allows the candidate to select the time and date of the GMAT Exam. The list of cities in which GMAT centers are available is given here.

After creating a profile for the GMAT Exam on the official site, the GMAT Exam dates can be selected. The city in which the GMAT Exam Center is located has to be filled in first. Following this, the candidate can have a look at the different dates available for separate centers in the city.

This allows the candidate to book a slot for the GMAT Exam according to their convenience. It is also possible for the candidate to reschedule a GMAT slot however that would depend upon the availability and only part of the scheduling fee would be refunded before paying for the following slot.

More information about the GMAT Exam Date is given here.

GMAT Exam Pattern

As mentioned above, the GMAT Exam consists of 4 sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning. The GMAT Exam Pattern is quite different from the Exam Pattern of various other MBA Entrance Exams. Some of the highlights of the GMAT Exam are given below:

  • GMAT is comprised of 80 questions and has a time frame of 3 hours 7 minutes. The exam has no defined syllabus and consists of questions focused on testing analytical and reasoning skills.
  • Each section of GMAT exam has a time limit, and the time limit varies according to the sections.
  • Candidates are given the option of choosing amongst three combinations of the order in which they can attempt the GMAT Exam.
  • The sections for Integrated Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning are computer adaptive, i.e., the questions cannot be skipped, the page cannot be returned, and the answers once marked cannot be changed.
  • Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections consists of multiple-choice questions.
  • Analytical Writing Assessment consists of an essay question.
  • Integrated Reasoning consists of non-MCQs.
  • There is no negative marking in the GMAT Exam
  • There are 8 minute optional breaks given between the exam, the timing of whom has to be selected when selecting the order.

The table below gives some more details about the GMAT Exam and the GMAT Exam Pattern.

Name Of The Exam Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)
Official GMAT Website
Exam Organizer Graduate Management Admission Council
Section Division 4
Total Number of Questions 80
Score Range 200-800
Average score range 556
Language Medium English
Mode of Examination Computer Based
Negative Marking None
Exam Duration 3 hours 7 minutes

The GMAT Exam Pattern mentioned above covers most of the superficial details. The table below mentions the GMAT Exam Pattern in terms of the sections:

Section Number of Questions Time Limit (min)
Analytical Writing Assessment 1 30
Integrated Reasoning 12 30
Quantitative Reasoning 31 62
Verbal Reasoning 36 65
Total 80 187

GMAT Exam Pattern: Marking Scheme

The marking scheme of the GMAT Exam Pattern is quite complicated. The different sections are marked as given below:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) - Between 0 and 6
  • Integrated Reasoning - Between 1 and 8
  • Quantitative Reasoning - Between 6 and 51
  • Verbal Reasoning - Between 6 and 51

One common question that most people have is," How is the GMAT Score calculated?" The answer to this question is slightly complicated. The candidate's score in the Quantitative Reasoning and the Verbal Reasoning section are counted. These scores are then compared to the score of other test takers and based on the relative performance, the candidate is assigned a GMAT Score in the range of 200 and 800. The scores are assigned on the intervals of 10. In terms of the GMAT Exam Pattern, the test is computer adaptive. What this means is that the computer will determine the difficulty of the next question based on the responses of the previous questions. While this is not adhered to all the time, most of the time a correct response leads to a tougher question in the next round.

Conversely, a wrong response leads to an easier question in the following round. There are instances when the question difficulty is randomly assigned due to which the candidate should feel disheartened if they find an easier question in the next round. The higher the number of correct responses, the higher is the GMAT Score. The sectional scores are calculated as a combination of the number of correct responses along with the difficulty of the questions answered. The candidate's GMAT Score is negatively affected if they fail to complete the section.

GMAT Scores Percentile Comparison

The GMAT Score determines the percentile. While the percentile is not as critical in the GMAT Exam as compared to the CAT Exam or other MBA entrance exams in India, it is still a useful piece of information to have.

  • Any GMAT Score of above 760 represents the 99%ile. Even a 800 score is considered to be 99%ile rather than a 100%ile.
  • A score of 730 is considered to be around 96%ile. This is the average GMAT score for most of the top tier Business Schools and represents the goal for several candidates. A GMAT score of 720 would net a percentile of 94%ile
  • A score of 700 represents a percentile of around 88. While this might not seem too impressive for CAT Aspirants, the aspirants in GMAT are far more serious, owing to the high entry fee, due to which it is considered to be a good score.
  • A score of 670 represents the 81%ile which also represents the GMAT score required for most of the decent business schools.

The GMAT Score gives you something to aim for and the after studying the GMAT Exam Pattern, the candidate should be able to devise an action plan for the GMAT Preparation such that they can achieve their goal.


The GMAT Exam Pattern is rather unique in the fact for both the marking scheme as well as the nature of it. It does not appear to be a truly speed based test rather relying on the candidate to use their analytical and reasoning skills to solve the GMAT Exam.

The GMAT Exam Pattern along with the GMAT Syllabus is the first cog in the wheel to start the GMAT Preparation. Knowing what format the Exam is in and the limit to which the candidate will be tested allows them to identify the areas where they need to work to achieve their goal.

Get free GMAT study material