The GMAT is split into three sections
It always starts with two 30-minute essays, and the essays always consist of an "analysis of an issues" and an "analysis of an argument." For the "issue" your task is to choose one side of a topic and write an essay that explains why you believe that side if the correct one.
The analysis of an argument essay is usually the more difficult of the two, mostly because test takers don't understand what they're supposed to do. You're supposed to analyze the logic of the argument that appears as a prompt. Instead, most test takers choose a side of the issue and write an essay that advocates that side. That's a mistake and it will cost you points.
The essays are followed by a 10-minute break.
Is That the Actual Number of Questions I'll See?
Yes. Okay, you may see a little variation, but you will usually see 37 math questions and 41 verbal questions. Not all of them will count, however, toward your final score because some are experimental. Again there is a little variation, but the best estimate is that 9 math questions and 11 verbal questions will be excluded when calculating your score.
You may already know that these experimental questions are being tested on your exam to make sure they "profile" correctly. If they do, they will appear on later exams (and they'll count). If they don't, they'll be tossed.
After the essays, the next section is always math and it lasts 75 minutes. You will start with a "medium-difficulty" questions, and the difficulty level will adjust based on whether you get questions right or wrong. Nothing on the GMAT is considered higher-level math, but test takers miss questions because they're tricky. Don't study trigonometry or calculus to improve your score. Those subjects don't appear on the GMAT.
The GMAT always ends with the verbal section and, like the math section, the question difficulty level will adjust based on your performance. Get questions right and you'll see tougher ones. Miss questions and the difficulty level will fall.
Can I Figure Out Which Questions Are Experimental?
On the pencil-and-paper GMAT there was a way to figure out which section was experimental. And, of course, I always taught that little trick to my students. On the computer adaptive test, however, it's very hard to determine which questions are experimental, and I don't suggest that you try. I can occasionally spot them because I know the curriculum so well that anything new stands out as a concept ETS is probably experimenting with. But unless you have studied this test for many years, it's probably best that you just focus on answering the questions.Next: GMAT Strategy >
75 minutes of math; 75 minutes of verbal; 2 essays
That's all that stands between you and 21 months in Palo Alto.
- GMAT Homepage
- 20 Questions About the GMAT
- GMAT Strategy
- GMAT Structure
- Sentence Correction
- Critical Reasoning
- Reading Comprehension
- Problem Solving
- Data Sufficiency
- GMAT Non-Standard Test Accommodations
Links to the official GMAT Web site.
First download the GMAT Information Bulletin, then schedule your exam.
Some Advice: OK, I'm clearly biased because I teach the GMAT exam, but take a GMAT prep class. If nothing else, sitting in a classroom with other test takers will motivate you to study harder.