Without being too dramatic, the GMAT is a beast of a test. I have actually seen students become enraged while taking it. Scoring well on the GMAT is important if you plan on pursuing a Deferred MBA program. Whether you’re seeking a deferred MBA or a regular MBA, the GMAT is one of the factors contributing to admission. Before diving into tips or helpful study habits, we should take a minute to understand the structure of the GMAT.
Before you begin diving into test preparation, it is crucial that you understand the structure of the test. Taking the GMAT is not like other tests. This monster of a test is adaptive, which means each question’s difficulty is based on whether or not you got the previous question right. For example, if you get the first question right, then the second question will be harder. In addition to being adaptive, the GMAT consists of four timed sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and the Analytical Writing Assessment.
In this section, there are 31 questions with a 62-minute time limit, which means you have exactly 2 minutes per problem. The Quantitative Reasoning section exhibits two problem types: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency.
Problem Solving questions are just what you think they are. You will be presented with a certain scenario and will be given five answer choices. An example of a problem might be something like the following:
A certain manager bought 6 tickets to see a movie at the theatre. She wants to reward 3 men and 3 women who work at her office. If there are 6 men in the office and 5 women in the office, how many possible ways could the tickets be given out?
In this case, the answer would be D. There are 20 ways to give three tickets to 3 men out of 6, and there are 10 ways to give out 3 tickets to 3 women out of 5. Since we are going to be giving tickets to both 3 men and 3 women, the answer is 20 x 10.
Data Sufficiency questions are usually new to most students. With this question type, you will be given some information that is impossible to solve on its own. You will then be given two additional statements, and your job is to decide whether or not you can solve the question with the additional information. You don’t actually have to solve it: you only have to know if you actually could. Stopping once you can answer yes or no to that question is a great way to save time!
The answer choices are the following:
a. Statement 1 alone is sufficient
b. Statement 2 alone is sufficient
c. Both statements together are sufficient
d. Either statement alone is sufficient
e. Both statements together are not sufficient
A good example of this question type could be the following:
If A + B + C = 15, then what is C?
Statement 1: A = 2
Statement 2: B = 7
The correct answer here is C. Statement 1 alone is not sufficient because this only tells you that B and C together must equal 13. So answer choice A is not correct. Answer choice B is not correct for the same reason. Answer choice C is the correct answer because if A equals 2 and B equals 7, then C has to be 6.
This question type is new to many students, and certainly one that should be practiced heavily before arriving on test day!
In this section, you will have 36 questions with 65 minutes, which is about 1 minute and 48 seconds per question.
The Verbal Reasoning section consists of three distinct question types. The first is Sentence Correction. You will be given a sentence with either a portion or the entire sentence underlined. The question will then have five options for you to select from. You need to decide which of the five options is correct grammatically when you insert the answer choice in for the underlined portion.
The second type is Critical Reasoning. This question type will ask you to read a scenario and decide which of five options either strengthens, weakens, or completes the argument given in the passage.
The third and final type is reading comprehension. These questions will have a long passage for you to read with 2-6 questions about the passage.
This portion of the test doesn’t actually impact your final score. As you consider different schools, you should ask them if they look at the score of this section. Your overall GMAT score comes from the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections only. The Integrated Reasoning section has 12 questions with a 30-minute limit.
Many people who know that their school doesn’t check for this section completely skip this portion of the test. These questions require a lot of practice!
The final section of the test is a one question essay prompt with a 30-minute limit. This section also does not impact your final score, but many schools still like to see a high score on this section. Again, be sure to check with your desired school to know whether or not they will be looking at this section.
When you arrive on test day, you actually have the option to choose the order in which you take the sections. You will have the following options:
Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal
Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
In between each section, you will be allowed to take an 8-minute break. I recommend taking them! Your final score, which is based on the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections, is out of 800. The average test score test score tends to be in the mid-high 500s, although top deferred MBA programs averages track over 700.
Scoring well on the GMAT is all about being prepared! By knowing the structure of the GMAT you are just one step closer! I would recommend buying the Official GMAT Guide for 2022, which has hundreds of practice problems that have actually appeared on past exams! You can also go to mba.com to take 2 free practice exams that are as close to the real experience as possible.