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About the GMAT Test

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is required by most business schools in North America for admission to MBA programs. Increasingly, the GMAT test is being required by schools in Europe and Asia as well. Most GMAT test takers start preparing 3-6 months before the actual test date.

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The GMAT exam is changing in 2023.

The GMAT Test, Summarized.

The GMAT tests you on basic verbal, math, and analytical abilities.

The GMAT test currently consists of four sections, of which you may choose the order (you have only one minute to choose the order).

  • Analytical Writing - one essay question, 30 minutes (this section is discontinued in the new GMAT Focus Edition, rolling out in 2023.)
  • Integrated Reasoning - 12 questions, 30 minutes
  • Quantitative - 31 multiple choice questions, 62 minutes
  • Verbal - 36 multiple choice questions, 65 minutes

Taken in person at a test center, the GMAT takes 2 hours and 42 minutes, not including two optional 8 minute breaks and 15-30 minutes to check in. All told, plan for about 3 hours & 8-23 minutes for the GMAT Online, and 3 hours & 53 minutes at the test center.

Transitioning to the New GMAT Focus Edition

The new GMAT exam is two hours and 15 minutes long, with three 45-minute sections; the AWA is being dropped. Read about what we know and don't know about the radical new changes to the GMAT.

Registration for GMAT Focus Edition opens in the third quarter of 2023 and the new exam becomes available to take in the fourth quarter. The current version of the GMAT will be discontinued in early 2024.

You may take the GMAT only five times in one year (12 months) and only eight times in your lifetime. You may only take the GMAT Online exam twice in all.

The GMAT test is computer adaptive, meaning that it adjusts to your individual ability level. At the start of the GMAT math and GMAT verbal sections, you are typically presented a question of medium difficulty. However, you should not count on the first question being a medium-difficulty question: on occasion, the GMAT has been known to start off the test with a 700-800 level question. If you correctly answer a question, the GMAT test will increase the difficulty of the next question. If you answer incorrectly, you will be given a less difficult question. This process continues until you complete the section.

Only one question at a time is presented. Because the computer scores each question before selecting the next one, you may not skip, return to or change your responses to previous questions.

Understanding the GMAT Score.

The GMAT score report consists of five scores:

  • Total GMAT score, combining the quant and verbal scores, range 200~800
  • Quantitative score, range 0~60
  • Verbal score, range 0~60
  • Analytical Writing Assessment score, range 1~6, which does not contribute to your Total GMAT score
  • Integrated Reasoning score, range 1~8, which does not contribute to your Total GMAT score

Your GMAT scores for the GMAT math and verbal sections are determined by how many questions you answered, how many you answered correctly, and how difficult the questions were. Of U.S. test-takers, less than 15% reach a 700+ total GMAT score.

Along with your GMAT score, you will also be given a percentile ranking, meaning, the percentage of test-takers over whom you performed better on the exam. This percentile ranking includes all test-takers worldwide for the past three years, and is recalculated each year.

Your GMAT score is valid for five years.

Planning Ahead to Take the Exam.

You will need to register in advance to take the GMAT. It can be taken at any time of the year, subject to certain restrictions such as holidays and seat availability.

GMAT Online exam explained

Read about taking the GMAT Online exam; there are several differences between the test center and online experiences.

Watch the video below to learn about the GMAT test center experience. To find a test center, register for the GMAT test in Austin, or find out more, visit

You will not be allowed to use a calculator during the test.

Whether you are in the test center or taking the exam online, you may not touch your smartphone or other electronics, even during the optional breaks. GMAT test-takers have been removed from the test center for checking texts and emails on smartphones, and online proctors have ended the exam. Do not try to sneak a peek at your phone.

You will be asked to show your ID and scan your hand at the test center front desk both at check-in and at the optional breaks when you return to the testing area. When you take a break during the online exam, you have to be checked in again by the proctor. Be aware that this takes time, especially if there are other test-takers before you. In other words, each break must be super-short.

Previewing Your GMAT Score.

You can preview your unofficial GMAT score before deciding to accept or cancel the score. If you accept, you have the option at that time to have the GMAT score sent to business schools.

When you take the GMAT exam, you will see your unofficial score – Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal, and Total – and at the test center, you have two minutes to decide whether to accept the score. If you do not make a choice, your score will be canceled, and that score and its cancellation will not appear on your record.

Whether you decide to accept or decline your GMAT score, you still have 72 hours to change your mind. You may cancel/reinstate your score online (for a small fee). If you change your mind about canceling a score, you have the option to reinstate it up to four years and 11 months after the test date (for another fee).

Getting Familiar with the GMAT Test Format.

We recommend that you take advantage of GMAC's practice tests: In addition to practicing question types, take a few full practice exams, recreating the test day conditions as closely as possible (no snacks, for example). In the meantime, review the Interactive Exam Tutorial on

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