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The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) originated in 1953 when a consortium of nine business schools chose to develop a special admissions exam for graduate business and management programs.[1][2] The council formed by these schools to develop the exam, now named the Graduate Management Admission Council, is a non profit organization which continues to maintain the GMAT exam. As of 2012, approximately 5,500 programs worldwide were using the GMAT.[1]

The original GMAT exam contained verbal and quantitative skill sections. In 1994, an Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section was added,[3] and in 1998, the verbal and quantitative sections of the examination were converted to a computer adaptive test in 1997.[4] In 2012, an Integrated Reasoning section was added to the GMAT, but the length of the AWA section was reduced to preserve the length of the exam.[2]

Function of the Test

GMAT Study Guide

The GMAT is an admissions test for graduate-level academic programs in business and management. GMAC reports that over 6,000 programs at 1,700 universities and organization accept the GMAT examination as part of their admissions process.[5]

In testing year 2012-2013, 238,356 GMAT exams were administered around the world, of which 90,541 were administered in the United States. The global mean total score was 546, whereas the mean total score in the United States was 532.[6]

Test Administration

GMAT Flashcards

The GMAT is administered worldwide. The primary exam service provider is Pearson VUE,[7] but a variety of other testing sites are available, such as at certain universities. The exam is offered year-round on almost any day of the year.[7] Although the GMAT is administered globally, it appears that the exam fee is always US $250.[8]

The GMAT is only administered by computer. The essay in the Analytical Writing Assessment is typed into the computer. The Quantitative and Verbal sections of the exam are adaptive, which generally means that answering questions correctly will yield harder and harder questions, while answering questions incorrectly will yield easier and easier questions.[7] Because of this, candidates may not skip questions or return to them later.[7]

Candidates who wish to retake the examination must wait at least 31 days between examination appointments, and no candidate may take the exam more than five times within a twelve-month period.[7]

Students with disabilities who wish to request a special accommodation may complete a GMAT Exam Accommodation Request Form and send the form along with medical/clinical documentation to Pearson VUE. GMAC encourages candidates to submit requests for accommodation as early as possible before the intended testing date because it may take up to 25 days for the accommodation to be approved or denied.[9]

Test Format

Test Structure

The GMAT is made out of four test sections: Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. It consists of 90 questions as well as one writing prompt. Integrated Reasoning questions test candidates' knowledge in multi-source reasoning, graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, and table analysis. The Quantitative section contains 37 questions over Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving. The last section, Verbal, contains 41 questions on Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. All four sections combined allow three and a half hours to complete the entire exam. [10]

Test Environment

For admission, candidates must bring a valid form of government issued photo identification. A military ID, a driver's licence, a national identity card, a passport, or a green card are all acceptable. The only items allowed in the testing room is identification, eyeglasses, a sweater/jacket, and comfort items such as tissues or cough drops. Everything else must be stored in a locker supplied by the testing center. Water and food are allowed during the breaks. [11]

Sample Questions

More free GMAT help.


The GMAT comprises four sections:

Distribution of questions on the GMAT exam[7]
Section # of
Score range Time limit
Analytical Writing
1 0-6 30
Integrated Reasoning 12 1-8 30
Quantitative 37 0-60 75
Verbal 41 0-60 75

The Analytical Writing Assessment score is determined by averaging the scores assigned by two raters, one of which may be an automated essay-scoring engine.[12] In the Integrated Reasoning section, questions are typically divided into multiple subquestions, and candidates must answer all of a question's subquestions correctly to receive credit for that question.[12] The Quantitative and Verbal sections each yield a standardized scaled score between 0 and 60.[12]

A "Total Score" between 200 and 800 is also assigned based on the candidate's combined Quantitative and Verbal scores. GMAC does not appear to disclose exactly how the Total Score is calculated, but they do report that the AWA and IR sections do not factor into the Total Score.[12] GMAC reports that two-thirds of test takers score between 400 and 600.[12] In 2012-2013, the global mean total score was 546.[6]

Guessing is not specifically penalized on the GMAT, but because the Verbal and Quantitative sections are adaptive, answering an easy question incorrectly is sometimes more harmful that not answering it at all.[13]

Because the GMAT is an admissions exam, there is no single "passing score." Each business program is free to determine its own minimum acceptable score or otherwise determine how heavily GMAT scores are weighted in admissions decisions.

Related Tests


  1. ^ a b GMAC: Our Code of Ethical Behavior November 23 2014
  2. ^ a b GMAC: Next Generation GMAT Exam November 23 2014
  3. ^ GMAC: Assessing the Reliability of GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment November 23 2014
  4. ^ Businessweek: Straight Talk about the Computerized GMAT November 23 2014
  5. ^ GMAC: GMAT Accepting Programs Around the World November 23 2014
  6. ^ a b GMAC: The Profile of Graduate Management Admission Test Candidates, 2012-2013 November 23 2014
  7. ^ a b c d e f GMAC: GMAT Handbook November 23 2014
  8. ^ GMAC: Paying for the GMAT Exam November 23 2014
  9. ^ GMAC: GMAT Handbook - Supplement for Test Takers with Disabilities November 23 2014
  10. ^ GMAT Format and Timing 17 November 2014
  11. ^ GMAT Test Day] 17 November 2014
  12. ^ a b c d e GMAC: Understand your GMAT Score Report November 23 2014
  13. ^ GMAC: Tactics and Guessing November 23 2014