Everything you need to know about GMAT Exam Pattern – Syllabus & Preparation Tips
Are you planning to enrol yourself into a b-school program? Then appearing for the GMAT becomes one of the prerequisites of your application. As you may already know, GMAT scores are required to take admission into MBA, MFin, MiM, and MSc programs.
Moreover, GMAC conducts GMAT for b-schools, making it one of the most trusted exams for gauging a candidate’s ability. The GMAT easily assesses a candidate’s academic success rate. It increases its credibility to a double fold.
From now on, read along to get a piece of detailed knowledge about everything you need to know about the GMAT Exam Pattern – Syllabus & Preparation Tips.
Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT is a computer-adaptive test. That said, B-schools accept its scores to admit a candidate into their program. To be specific, the test is taken in the English language.
Divided into four different sections, the test gauges the aspirant’s skills in multiple disciples such as verbal, analytical, waiting and quant. In recent years, the Graduate Management Admission Council, the conducting body of GMAT, has introduced multiple changes in the exam.
GMAT scores are no doubt important. However, these are not the only thing considered by AdComs. Apart from these scores, multiple other factors are considered for admitting a candidate. In summary, these include academic record, extra-curricular activities, work experience, projects undertaken, and social work done.
Nonetheless, GMAT scores hold a weightage of about 20% in your MBA admission application. So, scoring more than 740 will surely boost your chance of getting admission.
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GMAT’s Computer Adaptive Test? How does it work?
GMAT is known for analysing a candidate’s ability. With this in mind, GMAT uses software that adapts itself according to the candidate’s ability. In simple words, if you perform better in the first few questions, then GMAT’s analytics will pose you with difficult questions.
Note – The GMAT analytics works only over its Quant and Verbal sections. For this reason, it will not work over the AWA and IR sections.
Moreover, as GMAT is an ability analysing test, it does not consider the candidate’s accuracy level. Rather, it focuses more on the candidate’s ability’s level.
For instance –
Suppose a candidate answers the first few questions correctly.
In such cases, GMAT’s analytics will consider that the candidate has a high ability. Consequently, it will pose difficult questions to the candidate.
Comparatively, suppose another candidate answers the first few questions wrongfully.
In such cases, GMAT’s analytics will consider that the candidate does not have the high ability. Thus, the analytics will pose them with easy questions. In these cases, even if both candidates have almost similar accuracy levels, their test rank will have vast differences. Resultantly, your GMAT score depends upon the total number of correct answers you give to difficult questions.
1. Analytical Writing Assessment
The section solely focuses on analysing the candidate’s writing skills. For this purpose, it asks 1 question, that is graded using the computer’s grading system.
The section primarily looks out for your capability to analyse an argument. A candidate who communicates his idea well can easily go through this section.
The test’s duration is 30 minutes and analyses you in four sections. They include
- Your ability to analyse an issue.
- Ability to support and present your ideas
- Language control
- Organising and presenting your ideas
2. Integrated Reasoning
The section contains multiple graphs, passages, tables or a combination of all three. To be specific, four types of questions are asked in this section. In short, its sections include two-part analysis, graphic interpretation, reasoning (multi-source), table analysis.
It primarily focuses on accessing your ability to analyse information that is presented in multiple formats.
To sum up, about 12 multiple-choice questions are asked within 30 minutes.
Quantitative aptitude primarily tests your knowledge of basic mathematical concepts such as geometry, arithmetic, and geometry.
At last, the section includes 31 MCQs, which are to be completed within 62 minutes. Hence, the questions asked are related to:
- Data sufficiency
4. Verbal Section
The section tests your English language skills. Actually, it gauges your ability to analyse arguments and critical reading.
For this purpose, 36 MCQs are asked to be done within 65 minutes. For this purpose, three types of questions are asked:
- Reading comprehension
- Critical reasoning
- Sentence correction
What is the section’s order?
Since 2017, GMAT aspirants can choose from three different formats while appearing for the exam. From here on, you can opt for two different breaks in between different sections. Conversely, these break sessions are of 8 minutes.
Nevertheless, these break sessions are not mandatory. If one does not need a break, then they can continue with their exam.
Order of break:
- Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) – Integrated Reasoning (IR) – BREAK – Quantitative Reasoning – BREAK – Verbal Reasoning.
- Verbal Reasoning – BREAK – Quantitative Reasoning – BREAK – Integrated Reasoning (IR) – Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA).
- Quantitative Reasoning – BREAK – Verbal Reasoning – BREAK – Integrated Reasoning (IR) – Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA).
Presently, GMAT score ranges between the score of 200 to 800. Additionally, there is an increment of 10 points between each score, such as 600, 610, 620, 630.
All in all, about 70% of the GMAT aspirants scores between 400 to 600 marks.
Both AWA and IR sections are not factored in the GMAT’s total score.
GMAT Eligibility Criteria – 2021
GMAC has not set any specific eligibility criteria while appearing for the GMAT. Even so, candidates must fulfil the eligibility requirements set by the school they intend to enrol in.
Following factors should be considered while pursuing GMAT:
Candidates who are 13+ years of age can appear for this exam.
- A candidate between the age of 13 to 18 must take parental permission before appearing for the exam. A parental consent form can be downloaded and signed by your parents or legal guardians. Once signed, the document is to be emailed at GMATParentalConsent@Pearson.com.
- If you are 18+, then you can appear for the exam without anyone’s prior permission.
- Additionally, the exam does not have an upper age limit.
2. Educational qualification
There are no maximum or minimum academic qualifications needed for taking the GMAT exam. Mostly, the exam is taken by either recent college grads or professionals. Therefore, you must prepare for the exam accordingly.
There is no nationality-based restriction in this exam. In addition, all rules and regulations set by GMAC are equal for candidates from all nationalities.
An interesting fact to note here is that one needs to show their ID proof at the test centre. For this purpose, in April 2021, GMAC has given equal validity to the Aadhar card as ID proof for Indian candidates.
4. Work experience
Importantly, your work experience does not matter for your GMAT exam. Even if you are an experienced professional or fresh out of college, you can give the GMAT.
However, work experience may play an important role in enhancing your profile. Moreover, multiple programs require a set amount of work experience.
Therefore, before applying for a program, it’s essential to check its admission requirement thoroughly.
5. Academic scores
GMAT scores don’t require any fixed cut off marks. However, all b-schools admit candidates with a minimum required GMAT marks. To repeat, you must make sure to practice hard and score beyond the required minimum marks.
6. Undergraduate program
Graduates from recognized universities can pursue this exam. Thus, there is no field restriction for the exam. Besides, even high school students are eligible for giving the exam.
7. Medium of instruction
GMAT is generally conducted in the English language. However, your medium of instruction during your high school or graduation does not matter. There are thousands of students from a non-English background who have aced the exam.
8. Total number of attempts
When it comes to attempts, several factors come into play. Some of these are;
- Per year, a person can take up to five attempts.
- Up to 8 attempts are available during your whole lifetime.
- At length, you can retake the GMAT after every 16 calendar days.
- If you have scored 800, the perfect score, then you should wait for at least five years for your next attempt.
Online GMAT exam?
Candidates who are not able to go to GMAT’s exam center can opt for its online variant. Conversely, the variant is known as the GMAT online exam. Hence, the exam can be taken at the comfort of your home.
Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, GMAC decided to bring out an alternate online GMAT exam for aspirants.
An online whiteboard facility is provided to GMAT aspirants during the exam. However, with high demand, GMAC has started allowing the use of the physical whiteboard. Now students pursuing GMAT online can use whiteboard while taking tests.
At length, the physical whiteboard is an addition to the already existing online whiteboard for taking notes and making calculations.
- Whiteboard (erasable). Board must not be bigger than 12×20 inches.
- Dry marker (erasable)
- Eraser (for rubbing off the dry marker).
Items not allowed
- Permanent marker
- Napkins, Tissues
- Writing Tablets
- Boogie boards
- Paper in clear slide
As a consequence, candidates may start using physical whiteboards in the online GMAT exam on 11th June 2020.
GMAT preparation at-home
It is completely possible to prepare for GMAT at home if you create a plan that suits your study habits and exam requirements. From here on, you can find some tips that can be used for enhancing your GMAT prep at home.
1. Make a designated study place –
Deciding on a fixed place of studying enables you to focus well. Hence, deciding on a fixed place of studying is equally important for better concentration.
As a result, follow these steps to find an idle place to study:
- Find a quiet place, away from all sorts of distractions such as living room, TV room, traffic noise, and construction areas.
- Low lights strain your eyes and reduce your learning efficiency. Thus, your study spot must be well-lit. It must get abundant natural light during the daytime. Further, it must also be well lit during nighttime.
- At last, the lesser the distraction, the better will be your preparation. Cluttered areas also distract your mind. The study area must be clean with only essential items to write and study.
2. Make sure not to get distracted –
Distractions are the worst possible enemies for students. The key to your successful study preparation lies in focused GMAT preparation. A few tips to stay distraction-free during your GMAT preparation are:
- Either switch off your mobile phone or keep your mobile on “Do not Disturb” mode.
- However, if you are preparing using online resources, close all irrelevant tabs and blogs.
- Always start studying after having a balanced yet nutritious breakfast, lunch or dinner. Low sugar levels can reduce your efficiency.
- On the other hand, it is recommended that you buy good quality, noise-cancelling earphones or headphones for yourself.
- Finally, keep a check on your preparation level by preparing a to-do list. This list must be completed by the end of your day.
3. Take fixed time breaks –
Fixed breaks during your study time enable you to replenish your energy levels. This ultimately increases your overall efficiency. Here are a few benefits of taking constructive breaks:
- Regularly reward yourself whenever you achieve your targets or score your desired marks in mock tests.
- Take short study breaks in between your studies. Long breaks can distract you; thus, avoid those.
- Refrain from using social media during your breaks.
- Stretch your body after a long study session. Physical activities allow your body to stay active. Thus, reducing the chances of procrastination during your preparation time.
- Once your break time is over, move on to the study area and start studying.
Want to enhance your GMAT preparation? Here is a five steps GMAT study plan for a perfect GMAT score.
Books for GMAT preparation
Books are very important for your GMAT preparation. In fact, you can find some books which can be read for your GMAT preparation down below.
a. GMAT Official Guide 2021
The book is often called one of the best guides out there for GMAT preparation. It contains multiple levels of difficulty, such as easy, medium, and hard, to assist various levels of students preparation.
Because of this, GMAT OG or Official Guide is an e-book that can add a unique streak to your GMAT preparation.
Difference between GMAT OG 2020 & GMAT OG 2021
- GMAT OG 2021 has 92++ questions than its previous counterpart.
- Introduced the concept of flashcards.
- Its online question bank had more than 174+ questions.
b. Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guide Set
The book consists of a set of 8 guides or ten books that separately focuses on separate GMAT sections. Even so, there is no need for you to buy these books in bulk. Alternatively, you can either buy them individually or in a bundle.
Apart from the book’s hard copy, one will also receive one year of access to online mock tests and web materials. Conversely, the books assist you in overall strengthening your skills. Thus, allowing you to clear the exam with flying colours.
Note – The book’s verbal test is much simpler than the original test. Thus, one should refer to several other resources for completing your preparation.
c. Veritas Prep Complete GMAT Course
The set of 12 different books provides an in-depth overview of all GMAT sections and subjects. Compared to the Manhattan GMAT prep, this book offers more GMAT topics.
Nevertheless, it lacks explanation to these answers. Thus, one can use it in the form of a practice book rather than an explanatory material.
The book’s questions are unique and challenging, thus, making it a good alternative to other practice books.
PowerScore verbal trilogy Bible
This pack of 3 GMAT verbal books contains a detailed guide of the GMAT’s verbal sections. Apart from explanations, it contains detailed methodology, thus, enhancing the candidate’s overall efficiency.
The book does not contain practice questions. The trilogy can be brought both individually as well as a single pack.
Test’s time duration
The test goes on for about 3 hours and 7 minutes. Moreover, a student can take two optional breaks of 8 minutes in between the exam.
In India, the registration fees for the test is $250. For some countries, the test costs more than $250. Moreover, it would be best to understand that several other costs are associated with the exam apart from the registration fee.
Some of them are:
- Preparation cost
- Reschedule fees
- Cancellation fee
- Report of additional score
- AWA essay rescoring
- Score cancellation fees
- Score reinstatement
Average GMAT Cost (In India)
|GMAT Registration fees||$250|
|Additional Score Report||$35 each|
|Enhanced Score Report||$35|
|AWA Essay Rescoring||$45|
|60+ days before the original appointment||$100 refund amount ( $150 deducted)|
|15 to 60 days before the original appointment||$75 refund ( $175 deducted)|
|14 days or less before the original appointment||$50 refund ($200 deducted)|
|60+ days before the original appointment||$50|
|15 to 60 days before the original appointment||$100|
|14 days or less before the original appointment||$150|
Average GMAT Cost (In UK)
|GMAT Registration fees||£225|
|Report for Additional Score||£35 each|
|Enhanced Score Report||£35|
|Rescoring AWA Essay||£50|
|60+ days before the original appointment||£85 refund amount ( $140 deducted)|
|15 to 60 days before the original appointment||£70 refund ( £155 deducted)|
|14 days or less before the original appointment||£45 refund ($180 deducted)|
|Minimum 60+ days before the original appointment||£45|
|About 15 to 60 days before the original appointment||£85|
|At least 14 days or less before the original appointment||£125|
Average GMAT Cost (In US)
|GMAT Registration fees||$275|
|Additional Score Report||$35 each|
|Enhanced Score Report||$35|
|AWA Essay Rescoring||$45|
|60+ days before the original appointment||$100 refund amount ( $175 deducted)|
|15 to 60 days before the original appointment||$75 refund ( $200 deducted)|
|14 days or less before the original appointment||$50 refund ($180 deducted)|
|Minimum 60+ days before the original appointment||£50|
|About 15 to 60 days before the original appointment||£100|
|At least 14 days or less before the original appointment||£150|
Is there any way to take the test for free?
GMAC offers an option to reduce or waive off GMAT’s registration fees. Any applicant can receive a GMAT waiver. However, an applicant cannot directly apply for it. Instead, the respective business school requests a waiver on your behalf.
Besides, a waiver is given based on the candidate’s financial needs. So, GMAC gives the decision power to B-schools to establish a criterion of what constitutes financial needs.
Importance of GMAT Score
B-schools are known to trust and use GMAT score for making admission-related decisions. Hence, your GMAT scores play a vital role in determining your eligibility for admission. As GMAT scores gauge a candidate’s ability, b-schools use them to indicate the candidate’s success.
However, contrary to popular belief, 9 out of 10 admission decisions are made based on GMAT scores.
What is a good GMAT score?
In simple words, a good GMAT score helps strengthen your profile. Additionally, it must enable you to secure admission into your dream school. All in all, a good GMAT score is something that depends upon your preferences and future goals.
To find your preferred score, please follow the steps mentioned below:
1st step – Self-assessment
2nd step – Identify and create a list of target b-schools
3rd step – Research about the school
4th step – Refine and finalise your list of the target school
5th step – Pick an average score required for these schools
Average GMAT score?
- On average, top US b-schools lookout for candidates who have scored between 635 to 735.
- Comparatively, top European b-schools seek candidates who have scored between 638 to 710.
- Canadian schools admit candidates with an average score of 620.
- Top 5 Australian schools admit candidates with an average score of 660 or more.
What is the scope of the GMAT in India?
With increasing popularity worldwide, GMAT’s popularity in India is also increasing. Several Indian b-schools have also started accepting GMAT scores. Although most Indian b-schools accept CAT scores, however, with time, there are high chances that most Indian b-schools will start accepting GMAT scores.
Indian B-schools widely accept CAT. However, GMAT scores are accepted worldwide. Check out the major differences between GMAT & CAT.
Benefits of GMAT
Why should I take the GMAT test?
You should pursue the GMAT because:
- A good score will provide you with an opportunity to enter a b-school of your choice.
- Demonstrate your ability and commitment towards your goal.
- Admit to a good b-school will increase your earnings.
- It opens up the door to a lot of job opportunities.
- Helps in winning scholarships.
- As all top b-schools accept it, it boosts your chances of getting into your dream schools.
Don’t have a GMAT score? Yes? Then fret not, for here is a list of MSc schools that don’t require a GMAT.
Role of GMAT in scholarships?
A high GMAT score can be your gateway to winning scholarships. Although, scholarship committees require no fixed score. However, a high score will surely increase your chances a hundred folds.
GMAT Preparation: Tips
How hard is it to score on GMAT?
GMAT focuses on the candidate’s reasoning skills—the better the reasoning skills, the better a candidate’s score. Worldwide, the test is taken by more than 300,000 candidates. Comparatively, only 6% or 7% of candidates score more than 720.
Thus, raising the competition bar to greater heights. Some other reasons which make this exam tough are:
- Computer adaptive test
- Time duration
How can I score high on GMAT?
- Attend professional strategy sessions.
- Decide on a target score.
- Pre-decide your target quant & verbal score.
- Create a proper study timetable. Follow your hour durations.
- Access your preparation and improvement rate.
- Take timely mock tests.
- Practice, Practice & Practice!
You can follow these seven steps to score more than 700 on your GMAT exam.
a. Consistent Practice
After learning a concept, remember to practice them consistently. Practising helps your mind in retaining difficult concepts. Thus, increasing your confidence while appearing for the real-life exam.
b. Maintaining a study journal
Prepare a journal and jot down the exam’s syllabus section-wise. Start by preparing each section one by one. Once done with a topic, mark it. By using this method, one can keep track of their preparation. Moreover, you can also write other important information such as questions, practice tests, important dates.
Thus, keeping everything in one single place.
c. Slow but steady increase in study time
GMAT is known for its adaptive style. To cope with this, you must try practising questions of different levels. Furthermore, increase your study time as the date of the exam comes close.
Try to complete as much syllabus as you can.
d. Prepare section-wise
One of the biggest mistakes GMAT aspirants make is to focus extensively on one section. Undoubtedly, thoroughly preparing one section can be helpful to increase your knowledge. However, it won’t help if you want to achieve a high GMAT score. Hence, the best option would be to balance every section.
e. Opt for mock tests
Evaluating your skills is part and parcel of your exam preparation. You can do it by participating in a GMAT practice test series. These practice tests will help you recognise your strong and weak areas.
Moreover, the mock tests series copies the format and time conditions of the original test. Thus, giving you an illustration of what you can expect during the exam.
f. Set time targets to solve different sections
Being an exam with specific time limits for every section becomes imperative for aspirants to practice within the limit. You can do so by practising a set number of questions within the given limit.
To adapt yourself to the same, first, practise with lenient time limits. At length, constantly decrease the limit and improve your performance.
g. Performance analysis
Analysing your performance is very important for gauging your preparation level. To determine the same, you should first appear for a test. Once done, look back and check your answer sheet.
The main aim of taking these test series is to analyse your performance. With this in mind, carefully analyse where you went wrong with your answer. Try to find out the reason behind why you were unable to solve any question. Once done, put special emphasis on the difficult parts.
h. Consult with specialists
If you are unable to analyse your skills, then contact a GMAT specialist or consultant. These persons are particularly knowledgeable about the field. Thus, they can assist you with your preparation.
On the other hand, these specialists have already assisted multiple GMAT aspirants. Hence, providing you with valuable insights regarding the exam.
1. What is the GMAT online exam?
With the ongoing pandemic, GMAC has introduced the concept of an online GMAT exam. Thus, enabling candidates to give the exam from their home.
2. The facility of the online GMAT exam is available for students from which geographies?
Candidates hailing from outside of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Slovenia and mainland China can give this exam.
3. Can I utilise both online and offline Whiteboards during the online GMAT exam?
Yes, both types of boards are available for GMAT candidates.
4. What is the size requirement of a physical whiteboard?
An erasable board of 12 inches x 20 inches (30 cm x 50 cm) is required.
5. What is the cost of pursuing the GMAT?
GMAT costs about $250 in India, costing $275 in the US and £225 in the UK.
6. Can I use my GMAT score for taking admission in Indian b-schools?
Yes, apart from 6 IIMs, certain other Indian b-schools allow candidates to take admission using GMAT scores.
7. Can GMAT be retaken?
Yes, you can retake the exam five times a year. However, there must be a gap of 16 days between each attempt.
8. When should I register myself for the GMAT exam?
GMAT registration is available throughout the year. So, you can register yourself for the exam anytime.
9. Is the GMAT Official Guide (OG) enough for my GMAT preparation?
No. Although, GMAT OG is a comprehensive book for GMAT preparation. However, one should not limit themselves to a single study resource.
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The Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT is a standardized test that is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council. This test will determine your quantitative and verbal reasoning skills in English….