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GMAT Syllabus: Every effort counts!

The Graduate Management Admission Test is a computer adaptive test which is utilized as a resource to analyze a candidate’s analytical and quantitative credibility along with language proficiency. It caters to the candidates who are looking to associate with the leading B-Schools of the world, as management graduates (MBA). The acceptability of GMAT scores is way more prevalent than any other aptitude test, in over 2300 colleges and for 7000 programs. The GMAT syllabus can be found as under per the latest updated exam pattern:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Integrated Reasoning Section
  • Quantitative Section
  • Verbal Section

The GMAT score is used as a key prerequisite for seeking admission in graduate management and business programs like the MBA Before we look at the GMAT Syllabus, it is advisable to check out the GMAT Exam Pattern to get some context at the time of examining the GMAT Syllabus.

GMAT Exam Pattern

The GMAT Exam is a 3 hours and 7 minutes long online test. It consists of 4 broad sections namely:

Sections Number of Questions Time Limit (mins.)
Analytical Writing 1 question (01 essay) 30
Integrated Reasoning 12 questions  30
Quantitative 31 questions 62
Verbal 36 questions 65
Total 80 questions  187

The maximum marks which can be attained are 800 and although there are 4 sections, the marks are calculated based on only 2 sections, the Quantitative Section and the Verbal Section. The marks of the other sections are considered separately.

For a quick overview of the GMAT Exam Pattern, check the following video:

For a more detailed look at the GMAT Exam Pattern, please click on this page

GMAT Syllabus

The GMAT Exam consists of 4 sections as mentioned above and before the candidate can start his/her preparation, they need to closely examine the GMAT Syllabus

The GMAT Syllabus is given in broad terms on the official GMAC website. In this article, we will talk about the overall GMAT Syllabus according to the different sections.

GMAT syllabus: Verbal Ability (VA):

For the verbal section, a candidate has about 65 minutes of time to complete the section. The section would cater to three different types of questions namely, critical reasoning, sentence correction and reading comprehension.

  • Reading Comprehension: In this section, you have to read unseen passages which are of 350 words approximately and answer multiple choice questions whilst taking an unbiased decision. You need not have intricate information regarding the topic. Rather you should only be able to set your concepts right and understand the relation between various entities involved.

GMAT Reading Comprehension: Categorizing RC questions

Categorizing RC questions would proliferate your ability to interpret GMAT Verbal Ability as a whole section. This means, you would be able to enhance your ability to comprehend what sort of questions are being asked in the GMAT verbal section and what It takes for a test taker to perform that on-spot mental exercise. You will also be able to analyze the questions to identify essential bonds and the unsaid repercussions directing towards the continuation of the excerpt. Here are some of the most prominent type of RC questions asked in GMAT:

  • Main idea question: Main idea questions are one of the most common types of questions in the GMAT reading comprehension section. You’ll find at least one main idea question in all the passages. In these questions, you need to identify the answer choice that matches the scope of the entire passage. The key here is to think of the big picture and not get distracted by the individual elements. Put all the pieces together and try to figure out what is the essential purpose of the passage.
  • Supporting detail/ substantial idea question: These questions are trickier than the central idea questions. Often by skimming the passage, you’ll be able to answer the main idea questions easily. Supporting detail/ substantial idea questions, on the other hand require a more thorough reading on your part. These questions may ask about facts or specific arguments that are explicitly cited in the passage. Often these facts support the main idea that the passage talks about.
  • Assumption/ inference: Assumption/ inference types questions are more advanced than the other two and would need critical thinking abilities to solve. Unlike the supporting idea questions which ask about plain facts, the inference-based problems talk about arguments and ideas that are implied by the author and are not mentioned explicitly in the passage. To answer these questions, you need to think logically and make some calculated assumptions about the author’s intentions.
  • Out of framework: Out of framework or out of context questions are as their name suggests, not related to the passage directly. These questions ask you to absorb the information present in the passage and apply in an out of context situation. These questions may ask you about the author’s views regarding a matter that is completely unrelated to the passage. Here too, you need to take the similar approach as in inference type questions. However, you need to take a much farther logical leap than before. These questions primarily test your understanding of the main idea of the passage and your ability to apply it elsewhere.
  • Coherent logical structure: These kinds of questions ask about the overall structure of the passage. You’ll be asked what the author is accomplishing by the passage. For example, a question might have the following wordings, “Does the passage refute an idea”? or “Is the author contrasting two ideas?” and similar questions. Sometimes there can also be a question which asks about the suitable title for the passage. Coherent logical structure problems test your ability to understand the structural flow of the passage.
  • Author's style and tenor: Finally, there are style and tone questions which test your ability to identify the tone of the passage. You may be asked to identify the ideas in the passage and the tone used by the passage to express those ideas. Generally, the most common type of question will ask you to describe the style and tone of the passage using a single word or a phrase. For example, critical, enthusiastic, optimistic, objective etc. are the frequent choices in those problems.

GMAT Reading Comprehension: Crucial Components of RC Passage

Don’t lose focus of the topic or bring in your own ideas: Do not bring any worldly knowledge into the passage. It would differ from the actual content of the passage. Here are some crucial components that you need to identify for finding out the correct answers.

  • Topic- what is the passage about?
  • Scope-what aspect of the topic does the passage focus on?
  • Purpose-why did the author write the passage?
  • What notes would you jot down on your note board?

Preparation Strategy for Reading Comprehension for GMAT

Your GMAT Verbal Ability score largely depends on Reading Comprehension. Here are some fool proof ways to structure and time your preparation for GMAT Reading Comprehension:

  • Skim the passage [ 1 minute] : Skimming the passage refers to a quick reading of the passage being given. It is slightly different from scanning where you are looking for a fact or a piece of information that is explicitly mentioned. Whereas skimming requires a quick reading of the entire passage to get the general idea being portrayed. Here the goal is not to look for details but to get the overall tone and idea of the passage.
  • Read the questions  [1 minute] : After skimming, you should give a quick glance to the problems that are related to the passage. Read the questions carefully and identify the type of questions they are. The type of questions is mentioned above for your reference. Mark each of the questions according to their type and take a specific approach to each of them.
  • Read the Passage in detail [2 minutes]: After going through the questions, come back to the passage and read it thoroughly. Unlike skimming where you skipped over minute details, here you need to be focused and look for tiny intricacies and specific facts that are mentioned. However, as GMAT is a timed exam, you shouldn’t spend too much time on this step. Look for the information that is specifically asked in the questions and ignore the irrelevant stuff.
  • Answer questions [ 1 minute]: After the thorough reading, now it is the time to answer the questions finally. You should begin with the main idea questions at first as they require relatively less mental effort. Then, you should build on that by answering the supporting idea questions after looking up the explicit facts mentioned. Ideally, you should proceed in the order mentioned above, but after answering these two types of questions in the beginning, you can move in any order of your preference.
  • Identify the outliers [ 0.25 minutes]: Outliers are those answer choices that are not mentioned in the passage explicitly but resonate with the question. You need to have a sharp eye for these answer choices and your understanding of the main idea of the passage should be well inculcated in you. Then only you’ll be able to identify these outliers and use them to your advantage.

2. Critical Reasoning: In this section, students need to perform an analysis based on the given argument and mark the right answer as a test taker. Also, you need to extract the relevant data which would either back or oppose the given argument and select the best possible option.

How to Prepare for GMAT Critical Reasoning

Here is how you can effectively prepare for Critical Reasoning in GMAT:

  • Follow the “map that leads to you”: You need to get into terms with the topic of critical reasoning. The GMAT critical reasoning questions have been deliberately built analytically and confusingly, where the usage of "Jargon” is encouraged and sentences appear to be in harmony with themselves rather than being helpful to the student. A candidate should deviate from incessant reading and read about how to decode controversial theories in general to dig out evidentiary cues and deshell the question.
  • Believe that Slow and steady wins the race: Being ambitious means being slow and steady towards your ambition. Speed reading can only help you get so far. For every noteworthy entrance examination in the world, speed reading will only exhibit only your learning ability. You need to interpret what's going on in the question which means that it would help you understand the given data and the data that needs to be assumed. Breaking the question down sentence wise will help you mindfully assess the situation presented in the question. As much as this question is subjective to an individual candidate’s own prepping strategy, this is also a quandary which states that you need to be smart, rather than being hard on yourself.
  • Get a "reason" to start over new: It is not advisable for you to be wishy-washy with a critical reasoning question. You should align the question around your own analytical reasoning capabilities and then draw necessary conclusions.  Identify the dominating and the weakening part of the sentence and practice the technique of gathering information with respect to the contextual meaning of the question. Learning Reasoning helps you to examine the dense usage of what’s written in the paragraph and about the historically, geographically and socially related theme of the question which can help you assume or predict the solution for a given question.
  • Steer ahead of the conventional reading practices: Don’t just read, understand, summarize and formulate a derived context with related comments. It is all about throwing yourself open to challenges and successfully testing your power to extract the correct meaning from complex written information. This is also the “main idea” behind the birth of the critical reasoning (CR) questions.

3. Sentence Correction: In these set of questions, you would basically be provided with a sentence with a partially highlighted part of it which needs to be assessed by the candidate. As there would be multiple options provided which you can mark as the right answer, you need to make sure that the construction of the sentence is appropriate and that the original meaning has not been rubbed off while correcting it. Also, you need to consider your writing skills and acknowledge the rules of English grammar.

How to prepare for GMAT Sentence Correction

Here is how you can tackle the sentence correction questions:

  • Read the entire statement carefully.
  • Review grammatical build, punctuation build and spelling build of the sentence.
  • Be attentive to the non-highlighted sentence part as it may contain clues to the right answer.
  • Eliminate distortions and long answer options. Remember, distortions exist to break the fluidity of your performance.
  • Scrutinize the modifiers and their location in the question. Many times, the modifiers in the question are jumbled to confuse the candidate. Choose the answer option that relates all the events occurring in the sentence in the most sensible way and eliminate redundancy from the question.
  • Look out for wrong synonyms used in the sentence which are not congruous to the overall meaning of the sentence. Also establish the correct relation between various juxtapositions or comparisons occurring in the sentence.
  • Establish the correct subject verb agreement and eliminate options which do not adhere to the same.
  • Identify the correct subject for the correct predicate. Make sure the sentence does not lose its meaning midway.
  • Do not worry about the disposition of certain words. As long as the number agreement, tenses, modifiers and auxiliary verbs are in line with the subject, you are good to go!

GMAT Verbal / Grammar Syllabus

Following are some of the topics you can expect in the GMAT verbal section. They generally revolve around basic grammar rules.

  • Basic Sentence structure: Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives
  • Verb Tense
  • Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
  • Pronoun Agreement
  • Subject Verb Agreement
  • Modifiers
  • Parallelism
  • Phrases and Clauses
  • Articles
  • Parts of speech
  • Direct and Indirect
  • Active to Passive

You can also refer the following articles in order to widen your horizon for GMAT Verbal:

GMAT syllabus: Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA):

The analytical writing section consists of topics based on which a candidate will have to write and passages that might be given for a candidate to read and answer questions based on it. It analyzes your critical reasoning skills, communication skills and your grammatical skills. Candidates should be attentive towards proper usage of vocabulary and try to avoid grammatical errors. The duration of the section is 30 minutes and the score ranges from o-6, in half point increments. The essay will have a topic which could be of any domain.

The test is mainly designed to assess your writing skills, let alone your opinions and judgements. So, it is safe to stick to a neutral opinion while framing your answer. There can be two types of essay related questions in the AWA section:

  • Argument essay: In this section, the reasoning in the given argument must be analyzed by the candidate and all the underlying assumptions are to be considered before the conclusion of whether the argument is logically sound or not has to be made. Another thing that must be kept in mind is that no assumptions are to be made by the candidate. The candidate must look at the statement and argument in isolation and dispassionately dissect it without prior biases. At the same time, it is necessary for a candidate to carve out a response conducive to the evidence based on the argument and introduce proper diction, syntax and academy grammar to support or stand against the critique presented in the question.
  • Issue essay - In this section, you would have to present a dissertation on the issue given to you. The word limit is around 600. The opinions you put forward can be supportive of the given issue or you can structure the article based on your own stance. But you need to formulate a biased approach and either stand by or against the presented issue. You can also brainstorm examples clued up from various prompts or entities presented in the main issue itself. Present unique content and style of writing while dealing with this type of question in the AWA section.

Know all about AWA through the following video:

Your gmat score largely depends on what sort of GMAT coaching you choose. Learn the correct way of selecting GMAT coaching by clicking here

GMAT Syllabus: Integrated Reasoning (IR)

Integrated Reasoning is a 30-minute no breather section that has been recently introduced in GMAT. It is a single section consisting of data interpretation questions. The Integrated Reasoning Questions in the GMAT Syllabus consists of the data present in the form of graphs, passages, tables or a combination of the three. Based on the data provided, four types of questions are asked:

  • Table Analysis: These questions are relatively straightforward and basically require analysis of data given in the form of a table. Ratios, Statistics, Probabilities, etc. are generally used in these types of questions
  • Two-Part Analysis: There are the most flexible types of questions as they can be numerical, verbal or a combination of the two. It expects students to analyze complex relationships between objects and can be used to evaluate questions on trade-offs, simultaneous equations, and other types of questions.
  • Multi-source Reasoning: These types of questions contain data in form of tables, graphics or charts and the candidate is expected to collate the data and interpret it. Based on this data, questions will be asked of the candidate regarding the given data in an MCQ format.
  • Graphics Interpretation: It measures a candidate's ability to interpret the information through pictorial representation or graphs (scatter plot, line plot, Area under curve, box plot, Probability Frequency Distribution Cumulative Frequency Distribution, confidence level graph, x/y graph, bar chart, pie chart, or statistical curve distribution) and fill in the statements to draw inferences and describe correlations.

Tips to prepare for the IR section of GMAT

To master the IR section of GMAT, you need to certify your prudence in the following ways:

  • Establish familiarity with set-based reasoning questions, mostly related with maxima and minima values.
  • Practice questions related to networking and logical connectives
  • Bolster the concepts of Vedic Maths at optimum level. Most of Integrated Reasoning is shear calculations.
  • Do not kill your time by frantically moving from one set to another. Choose an easy set first and solve it by taking a concept test. As you regain familiarity, build up on your knowledge by stepping to difficult questions.
  • Read all the answer choices thoroughly and adapt the “process of elimination strategy” to accurate your solution from all ends.
  • Develop your analytical ability to find out variance to the sub questions present.

This is one of the most unique parts of the GMAT Syllabus and covers a vast range of topics. It is somewhat like DILR in the CAT exam but also includes the Critical Reasoning type of questions. One additional difficulty in these types of questions is that there may be more than one answer. Therefore, unless the candidate can identify all the correct options, it will be counted as an incorrect response.

Also Explore: GMAT vs CAT - Which is better?

GMAT Syllabus: Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

  • Data Sufficiency: These types of questions are consisting of a problem statement followed by two factual statements. The candidate must decide whether the statements given would be sufficient to answer the question in the problem statement. The options, in this type of questions, are generally:
    • Statement 1 individually is sufficient but Statement 2 individually is not sufficient.
    • Statement 2 individually is sufficient but Statement 1 individually is not sufficient.
    • Both Statements combined are sufficient but not individually.
    • Each Statement individually is sufficient
    • Both Statements combined is not sufficient
  • Problem solving: Problem solving comprises roughly 50% of the total questions in the GMAT Quantitative section. Reviewing conceptual math problems and solving them on an everyday note can help you perfect your GMAT canvas. GMAT problem solving basically consists of statement-based math problems based on fundamental mathematical concepts listed below.

The topics are further split into the following topics which a candidate can expect:

  • Arithmetic: Real numbers, decimals, fractions, square root, percentages, Factors and multiples, Averages discrete probability, Arithmetic Progression, Geometric Progression, Harmonic Progression Decimals,
  • Elementary Algebra: Linear equations, absolute value, exponents and functions, Special Equations, Linear Programming, Quadratic Equation, Binomial Theorem, Surds and Indices etc.
  • Geometry Concepts: Coordinate geometry, angles, circles, polygons, coordinate geometry etc.
  • Mensuration: Areas and Volumes, chords, cylinders, Triangles, length of a string, cuboid,Sphere and hemisphere, pentagons, circles, cross sections of spheres etc.
  • Word problems: Simple and compound interest, data interpretation and measurement problems, profit and loss, discounts, clocks and calendars, Pipes and cisterns etc.
  • Statistics: Descriptive, Inferential, Inductive and Applied
  • Venn Diagrams, Set Theory, Probability

Also Read: Can you score 750+ on GMAT?

Check out this informative video to understand how to scale up your GMAT quant preparation :


The GMAT Syllabus can be a bit extensive but the true GMAT Preparation time required is very limited. The AWA Section and the IR section is not concept intensive but rather requires practice. Thus, the GMAT Concept Preparation must be concentrated on the Verbal Section and the Quantitative Section.

The GMAT Syllabus is a good place to start with when you are initially planning your GMAT Preparation Strategy. You can gear up for GMAT in just a span of one month, although it requires extreme devotion and honesty that you showcase towards the prepping strategy you have built and consistency towards the same.

It is also important to prepare for GMAT Video Interview alongside preparing for the examination. This will help rebuild the lost confidence in you and strengthen your verbal skills manifold.

Useful links for GMAT preparation

This is where you can find useful links regarding GMAT. Just click on them and know more about the chosen topic or an GMAT exam. It is not by any-means exhaustive nor particularly selective, although, we have tried to limit it to the most related searches for GMAT preparation.

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