Written by Zoltán Szekerczés

What is the GMAT ?

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is an entrance exam used worldwide by the best MBA programs. However, the GMAT is also preferred by many highly ranked MSc in Finance, MSc in Management, and MSc in Data Science programs. The exam score is valid for five years, and you can get your score sent to your target universities anytime within these five years.

The exam is a computer adaptive test during which you will see only one question at a time on the computer screen. If you give the right answer to a question, the next question will become harder, whereas a wrong answer will result in an easier next question. Clearly, your goal is to give the right answer, but doing so will have a serious consequence.

Soon you will get questions so difficult that answering them will require very intensive thinking at the highest level of your intellectual capability. In short, the exam can be very difficult, even if you are very well prepared. Missing a question will punish you twice. You will have fewer right answers, and while the question after the missed one will be easier, that easier question can’t raise your score as high as a harder question could raise.

The final difficulty and the time constraint make it almost impossible for you to give the right answer to every question, so you should aim at correctly answering as many questions as you can, while trying to avoid any mistakes on the easier ones.

The GMAT can be taken at authorized test centers on most weekdays, or you can choose to take the GMAT Online at home almost anytime. There are authorized test centers in the largest cities of most countries, while the GMAT Online is remotely proctored by real people. You can manage the date and location of your exam at mba.com.

What are the sections of the GMAT ?

The exam has three sections, with optional 8-minute breaks between them.

  • During the Quantitative Reasoning, without a calculator, you will have to answer 31 questions in 62 minutes. Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency multiple-choice questions will appear in mixed order. PS questions require conventional solutions, while DS questions usually do not. In every DS question, considering some additional statements, you have to answer only whether the question is uniquely solvable. Some DS questions are designed to be unsolvable uniquely even if you try using all information, but realizing this fact may not be easy within a few minutes.
  • During the Verbal Reasoning, you will have to answer 36 questions in 65 minutes. Three types of multiple-choice questions will appear in mixed order. Reading Comprehension questions require that you answer them in connection with 4 passages of different topics. Critical Reasoning questions require that you be able to analyze a short argument by using your logical thinking skill. Finally, Sentence Correction questions test your knowledge of written English and force you to consider not only grammar, but also meaning.
  • During the Integrated Reasoning, you will have to answer 12 questions in 30 minutes and in connection with a mini case study, chart, graph, or data table. During the Analytical Writing Assessment, you will have to write an essay in 30 minutes. The IR and AWA each are evaluated and scored independently from the Quant and Verbal sections, and thus the IR and AWA don’t have any impact on your main GMAT score.

The Quant and Verbal sections together will determine your most important score, the GMAT score, with a maximum possible value of 800 points. The score is associated with a percentile value, which expresses your score relative to the results of all other examinees in the last few years.

Where can you try the GMAT ?

At mba.com, you can access the online tool GMAT Official Practice, which contains 90 free practice questions and 2 free practice exams and provides an experience very similar to that on the real exam. However, I recommend that you first try the practice questions only and that you take the practice exams in a later phase of your preparation, because, including the free ones, only 6 official practice exams are available.