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GMAT Guide for Beginners – Learn About GMAT format, structure, duration, syllabus, and more

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Written by  Harminder Singh, MBA

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava, MBA - Marketing and HR

Published on Tue, May 2, 2023 7:00 AM   Updated on Mon, July 10, 2023 12:41 AM   13 mins read

Individuals all around the globe who seek to pursue MBA are known to take the popular GMAT entrance exam. Around 250K candidates, from economically active young individuals to graduates, take this entrance test globally. The test helps them to find the B-school of their dreams.

GMAT is an abbreviation of the Graduate Management Admission Test. The GMAT or Graduate Management Admission Council is known to conduct this test which helps determine an individual’s skill set for management education. 

It is a CAT (computer-adaptive testing) that aids in analysing the credibility of an aspirant quantitatively and analytically. Moreover, the entrance exam also tests an individual’s language skills. Finally, it measures how an individual performs in a managerial or decision-making position. 

This article aims to inform you about everything regarding the GMAT format, syllabus, structure, pattern, and more. 

The Syllabus Of The GMAT Exam

GMAT format and Syllabus
Source: Canva

An individual’s GMAT score is a core requirement when looking forward to entering a graduate program in business and management. The GMAT score dominates every existing aptitude test and is acceptable in more than 2300 colleges and 7000 programs. 

The syllabus of the GMAT structure comprises 4 sections. Therefore, to successfully prepare for the exam, it is vital to be thorough with the GMAT syllabus. 

  1. Quantitative Reasoning: 

The quant section comprises your high school maths. You must have clarity in basic concepts and their application. This section features two question types, including-

  • Data Sufficiency 
  • Problem-Solving

To solve these questions, you must have arithmetic knowledge and know basic geometric concepts and elementary algebra. 

  1. Verbal Ability: 

Three question categories feature in this section. These are-

  • Reading comprehension
  • Sentence Correction
  • Critical Reasoning

Sub-types are present for critical reasoning and comprehension reading to determine an individual’s verbal proficiency. The questions in this section do not require special subject knowledge. 

  1. Integrated Reasoning Or IR

The section for integrated Reasoning consists of four question categories, these are-

  • Table Analysis
  • Multi-Source Reasoning
  • Two-Part Analysis
  • Graphic Interpretation

The reasoning for these questions is verbal and quantitative. The questions can be of individual reasoning nature or consist of a combination of both. The unique characteristics of this section include the requirement of multiple responses for a single question and accessibility to a basic online calculator for solving questions.

Your responses must be correct, as the purpose of the questions is to determine an individual’s data integration capability for solving complicated problems. 

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment Or AWA

Lastly, the AWA section features one question and offers students 30 minutes maximum to solve the problem. In this section, an individual examines the reasoning line and employs the evidence an argument features. It is to help them argue whether a given argument is well-grounded or not. 

It is essential to assess the given argument and plan before you give your answer. Ensure your idea has a proper structure and is well-rounded. A machine algorithm and human raters determine the score of your AWA essay. 

Current Exam Structure of the GMAT 

GMAT structure
Source: Canva

Although we have discussed this above, let us look at the GMAT structure again:

  • The exam duration is 3 hours and 7 minutes. The individuals have the option to take two 8-minute-long breaks in between. 
  • There will be a total of 4 sections in the exam.
  • The test overall comprises 80 questions.
  • The mode for the GMAT entrance test is online. The appearing candidates can take the test from a test centre or home. 
  • The entrance test has no negative marking.
  • The students can score a maximum of 800 points to a minimum of 200 points. 

The Exam Format and Pattern of GMAT

GMAT format and Pattern
Source: Canva

You now know that the GMAT test features four sections. These sections check an individual’s proficiency in quant, Reasoning, verbal, and writing. These sections consist of subjection as well as the objective type of questions. Let us take a look at the GMAT structure:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment: Candidates get one topic question and an essay. In this section, get 30 minutes to get through the section. The score range falls between 0 to 6 points. 
  2. Quantitative: The section consists of 31 questions, and you get 62 minutes to solve this section. Therefore, the score ranges between 6 to 51 for this section. 
  3. Integrated Reasoning: You get 30 minutes to solve this section with 12 questions. The score range for this section is 1 to 8 points. 
  4. Verbal: This section has the maximum number of questions, a total of 36 questions. The candidates get 65 minutes to answer all these questions. The score range for this section is the same as for quantitative, i.e., 6 to 51 points. 

How to Prepare for GMAT Examination?

What is GMAT
Source: Canva

While researching for the top B-schools, you by now may know the essential requirement of a GMAT score for admission. A high score on this entrance test helps demonstrate your unique skills and makes you shine brighter than your peers. 

Additionally, a good GMAT score may open a window to scholarship and aid in covering your degree cost. So, studying and preparing for the GMAT score can seem as challenging as summiting a mountain. However, nothing is impossible. All you need is a good plan, an efficient preparation strategy, and a few steps discussed in this section. 

1. Determine Your Learning Capability

Firstly, you must understand your learning needs. Understand your structure requirements. Check if, other than practice tests, you require a private tutor, in-person coaching, or online courses. 

2. Create a Study Plan

You do not want to go from preparing for your GMAT exam within a limited timeline while managing other application requisites. Therefore, start creating a study plan beforehand. 

3. Determine Your Study Strategy

You must determine how you plan to study. Do you prefer self-studying? Would you want to attend a face-to-face class or join a course online? Stay tuned to your progress and check how you prefer studying. Then, select the said options to prepare yourself best. 

4. Understand and Incorporate Test Sections

You must familiarise yourself with the GMAT exam structure. Understand the test’s four sections: verbal, quantitative, IR, and AWA. These have been mentioned earlier. Ensure to create a study plan based on the structure. 

5. Carefully Choose Prep Resources

Not every resource or material you find for preparation is equal. Therefore, it is essential to be wise and only pick the best materials. For effective preparation, you must rely on official GMAT preparation resources. These materials consist of genuine entrance exam scoring algorithms with real questions. You may even prep with the GMATwebsite’s practice tests. 

6. Determine the Time you Need to Prepare

Different students have different needs for the time when preparing for an examination. On average, 2 to 3 months seems to be a good preparation time. Your quantitative background and how accustomed you are to the exam’s principles will determine your needed time. 

7. Determine the Studying Time

Carving time out of your schedule to prepare for the exam is essential. Some students prefer studying early in the morning, while others find night-time a better option. You must also check which day and week works best for you. If you have lunch breaks or commuting time, you can also use them to study. Additionally, check how well the in-person or online classes fit your schedule. 

8. Identify Your Weak Points

The main idea of your preparation strategy is to understand the areas where you are short and work on them. An official GMAT series is accessible to measure where you stand and notice your weaknesses. Once you assess your weak points, develop a tailored study plan that targets these areas and helps you furnish your abilities.

9. Pace Yourself

It is essential to check your speed as you only have a limited time to finish the test. Make sure to hone the skills you find challenging for the best execution. After practising, track your time to finish the test and train to solve the problems efficiently. 

What Topics to Cover the Most?

GMAT structure and formats
Source: Canva

Of course, the only secret to scoring well in your GMAT format is a great study plan. You must invest significant time in studying and practising for all the sections. However, the vast syllabus can get overwhelming, and you would first want to keep your focus on essential topics. 

In this part, we will list all the topics for different topics that you must pay the most attention to. 


  • Misplaced Modifiers
  • Parallelism
  • Sentence Structure
  • Find The Primary Purpose 
  • Comparisons
  • Subject-Verb Agreement 
  • Reading Unseen Passage
  • Application 
  • Critical Reasoning 
  • Sentence Correction

Analytical Writing Assessment:

  • Argument Essay 
  • Issue Essay 

Integrated Reasoning:

  • Table analysis- statistics, probabilities, ratios, etc.
  • Two-part Analysis – simultaneous equations, trade-offs, etc. 
  • Multi-source- graphics, charts, tables, etc.
  • Graphics interpretation- pictorial representation, line plot, box plot, confidence level graph, pie chart, scatter plot, etc. 

Effective Tips for Beginners to Ace the Exam with Confidence

Tips for Beginners
Source: Canva

To help you prepare effectively for the GMAT structure, here are a few tips you must consider.

  1. Start with using the official guide for GMAT prep comprising real questions, explanations, and answers. 
  2. Enrol yourself in an online GMAT course to clearly understand the concepts. The course design guides candidates through the prep process and helps structure your study plan.
  3. Appear for mock tests to determine your shortcomings, create a study plan, and practice accordingly. 
  4. Make a GMAT score your target and prepare to reach the desired goal. It will depend on the B-school you want to get into. 650 is a minimum score if you plan to get into a top B-school. 
  5. Do not try to study for all the sections together. Try to give each section enough time to prep.

Subject-Wise Preparation Tips

Subject-Wise Preparation GMAT Tips
Source: Canva

Now that you have the essential tips, let us review each section’s preparation tips. 


  • When you prepare for the quant section, give it 1 to 2 hours daily.
  • View the preparation video series to have a clear understanding of concepts.
  • Examine fundamental arithmetic skills. 
  • Solve multiple questions and problems after every concept.
  • As you learn the concepts, create notes for revising later. 
  • Practise simple match calculations daily for better pacing. 
  • Revise concepts every week. 

Verbal Ability:

  • To study the fundamental concepts, watch the necessary videos for various verbal reasoning topics. 
  • For comprehension skills, daily give 1 hour to reading all kinds of articles online. Start with what you like and later read other diverse topics. 
  • For poor vocab, spend some time every day. However, reading will help with your vocabulary. 
  • After basic concepts, shit to regularly practise critical Reasoning, reading comprehension, and sentence correction. 
  • Spend 1 to 2 hours working on verbal Reasoning. 

Analytical Writing Assessment:

  • Learn how to structure your essay. Make sure your paragraphs transition seamlessly. Try to work on writing logically and intelligibly. 
  • Work on pacing yourself to have enough time to analyse and write. Also, prepare well so you have enough time to revise your response. 
  • The more you practise, the better when preparing for AWA. There is an official GMAT option to practise your AWA skills. It is a tool to practise essay writing and work on your score. 
  • Evaluation and planning are indispensable before writing. Learn to structure your thoughts. 

Integrated Reasoning:

  • Train yourself for logical and networking questions.
  • Make yourself known to reasonable questions that are based on the set. Most of these concern minimum and maximum values. 
  • Move from an easier to a complicated set. Take concept tests to master more complex concepts. 
  • Brush up your Vedic maths, as integrated Reasoning is mostly calculations. 
  • Use the elimination strategy to find the answer accurately. 
  • Work on analytical ability. 

Wrapping Up

What is GMAT
Source: Canva

The GMAT, or Graduate Management Admission Test, is a crucial entrance exam every MBA aspirant must prepare for to get into a top-level university. If you want to be noticed, it is necessary to get a high score. 

The syllabus of the GMAT is quite broad. It includes four sections, AWA, integrated reasoning, verbal, and quantitative. You will need at least 2 to 3 months to prepare for this exam. After determining the syllabus and creating a strategic study plan, you must start by preparing

Along with GMAT test preparation, remember to prepare for the video interview. Doing so will help you boost your verbal proficiency and build confidence.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the format of the GMAT exam?

The GMAT exam consists of four sections: the Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning.

How long does the GMAT exam take?

The GMAT exam takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete.

What topics are covered on the GMAT exam?

The GMAT exam covers topics such as algebra, geometry, data analysis, critical reasoning, and reading comprehension.

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GMAT Guide

About the Author & Expert


Harminder Singh

Author • MBA • 10+ Years

Harminder Singh is the Assistant Manager - Visa at AdmitKard. He comes with overall 10 years experience in study abroad and the Visa industry. With his cross-functional expertise, he has worked in a variety of roles, including Senior GTE Compliance & Visa Services Officer, Senior Counsellor, and Manager, at organizations such as, Global Opportunities Pvt Ltd, LandMark Immigration, and Davesar Consultants.


Priyanka Bhargava

Expert • MBA - Marketing and HR • 13+ Years

Priyanka possesses more than 13 years of extensive experience. Having pursued a Master's in International Business from a reputed university abroad, she has first-hand insight into the entire gamut of the study abroad admissions process. She has collaborated extensively with all categories of study abroad aspirants be it for Undergrad, Master’s (technical and non-technical), MBA, MPH and PhD. She boasts of an impeccable university placement record, including top-notch global universities such as Stanford, UPenn, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UCSD, Cambridge, and several others. She has an overall perspective of the admissions process of countries such as the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, European Union.

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