Exam Prep

Test Breakdown: What to Expect

GMAT Total time: 3 hours, 30 min


  • Analytical Writing: 30 min (1 essay)
  • Integrated Reasoning: 30 min (12 questions)
  • Quantitative Reasoning: 75 min (37 questions)
  • Verbal Reasoning: 75 min (41 questions)

The GMAT is offered in four sections. You can expect to be seated at a computer workstation. You will be provided with a bound booklet of 5 sheets of legal sized paper. This yellow graph paper will be laminated and you’ll be provided with a special marker to write on it. Any personal belongings, such as writing utensils, books, purses, cell phones or calculators, must be stored in a locker outside of the testing area.

Test Breakdown

  Analytical Writing Integrated Reasoning Quantitative Verbal
Skills Analysis Analysis of Argument Reasoning, Graphics Interpretation, Table Analysis Data Sufficiency, Problem-Solving Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning
Number of Questions 1 Task 12 Questions 37 Questions 41 Questions
Time Allotted 30 Minutes 30 Minutes 75 Minutes 75 Minutes
Scoring Scale 0-6 1-8 0-60 0-60
Study Resource GMAT Write
Sample Question
Sample Questions
IR Prep Tool
Sample Problem Solving Question
Sample Data Sufficiency Question
Sample Reading Question
Sample Reasoning Question

Sample Questions

Analytical Writing: The analytical writing portion of the exam measures a student’s ability to think critically and analyze the validity of an argument. This thirty-minute assessment comes with one writing task or prompt like this:

In this section, you will be asked to write a critique of the argument presented. You are NOT being asked to present your own views on the subject.

The following appeared in the editorial section of a monthly business news magazine: “Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer: they could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money.”

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence from the in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion.

You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.

Find out what a high-scoring response to this prompt looks like from an actual exam essay from GMAT.

Source: MBA GMAT Prep – Analytical Writing Analysis

Integrated Reasoning: These questions assess a student’s logical thinking and critical reading skills. Most questions come with a short excerpt or passage and then ask students to analyze conclusions, assumptions or any other evidence given by the author. Often, many of the answer choices may seem ‘somewhat’ correct, but there will always be one best answer. For example:

Read the argument and answer the question below:

“The oldest parts of Tlingit art found in the Pacific Northwest of North America date from about 2,500 years ago. However, a 4,000-year-old longboat was recently found in this region. This longboat resembles the Tlingit’s distinctive fishing vessels. Moreover, this longboat has features that have never been observed in the vessels of any other culture known to have inhabited North America. Therefore, the Tlingit almost certainly began to reside in the Pacific Northwest at least 4,000 years ago.”

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?

  1. Sometimes, cultures which enter an area adopt a distinctive style of boat construction from former cultures which they assimilate or replace.
  2. The Tlingit maintain a rich oral history of their people, but this history contains no information about the date of the tribe’s immigration to the Pacific Northwest.
  3. The Tlingit constructed their longboats primarily for the purpose of fishing; little artwork is found in their boats.
  4. Fish play a major role in the artwork of the Tlingit, and the longboat itself is thought to be the origin of a distinctive symbol in this art.
  5. Archaeological analysis of former settlements in the Pacific Northwest suggests that fishing took place in this region 4,000 years ago.


We are asked to weaken the author’s argument. The author’s argument assumes that the 4,000-year-old longboat can be attributed to Tlingit living in the Pacific Northwest. The answer should provide reason to doubt this assumption. Choice A states that when new cultures replace or absorb previous cultures in a region, they sometimes absorb the previous culture’s style of boat building. If this is true, then the Tlingit have acquired their distinctive longboats from an older Pacific Northwest culture that has since disappeared. This precious culture could’ve created the 4,000-year old longboat, undermining the author’s assumption that the Tlingit did so.

Source: Knewton GMAT Prep – Integrated Reasoning

Quantitative: Quantitative reasoning questions on the GMAT measure a test-takers ability to understand and apply multiple mathematical concepts at once. The most difficult questions in this section require high-level quantitative reasoning skills. Here’s an example:

Choose the true statement based on the stipulations below:

If a sandbox in the shape of a right triangle has a hypotenuse of h feet, an area of square feet, and one leg of a length of x feet, which of the following must be true?




The answer is C, so C is correct.

Source: Knewton GMAT Prep – Quantitative

Verbal: The verbal sections of the GMAT assess correct and effective expression and interpretation of language. You’ll encounter sentence correction, completion and interpretation questions. For example:

Choose the sentence that best expresses the idea or relationship described in the statement below.

Democritus’ theory of there being a set of indivisible particles making up all matter bears a striking resemblance to modern atomic theory.

  1. Of there being a set of indivisible particles making up all matter bears a striking resemblance to modern atomic theory.
  2. Of a set of indivisible particles that makes up all matter bears a striking resemblance to modern atomic theory.
  3. That a set of indivisible particles makes up all matter bears a striking resemblance to modern atomic theory.
  4. Which is that there is a set of indivisible particles making up all matter bears a striking resemblance to modern atomic theory.
  5. Which bears a striking resemblance to modern atomic theory is that there is a set of indivisible particles making up all matter.


Choices B and C each eliminate “being” and transform “making” into “makes” so both B) and C) are immediately appealing. Which is better? The difference is somewhat subtle: choice B) describes a theory of a set of particles while choice C) describes a theory that a set of individual particles make up matter. Choice C) more directly introduces the substance of the theory and therefore more effectively conveys the meaning of this sentence.

Source: Knewton GMAT Prep – Verbal


You will receive five scores after you take the GMAT: an overall “Total score” and one score for each of the four sections of the exam. Each of your scores will come with a percentile rank. This number represents the percentage of test takers that you scored equal or higher to. Data is collected from the past three years and updated automatically to the latest year’s percentiles.

  1. Total Score: Total scores can range from 200-800 and are calculated from Verbal and Quantitative sections only. Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning scores do not factor into this composite score. Two-thirds of all test-takers score between 400-600 on their total score.
  2. Verbal Reasoning: The verbal reasoning section tests reading comprehension levels, critical reasoning and knowledge of grammar. Forty-one questions are scored from 0 to 60.
  3. Quantitative Reasoning: The quantitative section asks you to use deductive reasoning skills to analyze data sets. Thirty-seven questions are scored from 0 to 60.
  4. Analytical Writing Assessment: The essay portion is graded on a scale from 0 to 6. Each essay is assessed by two independent graders and the score they assign are averaged, so scores can come in 0.5 intervals. You will be scored on the quality of your analysis, your ability to organize and express ideas, the relevance of supporting data and your mastery of written English.
  5. Integrated Reasoning: Integrated Reasoning, the second section of the exam, requires you to analyze complex data. You will be scored on your ability to synthesize information from multiple data sources, evaluate their relevancy, organize data to illustrate relationships and manipulate it to arrive at multiple solutions. Each of 12 questions will be scored from 1 to 8.

More than the scores themselves, score percentiles give you a better idea of how you performed on each section compared to other would-be b school applicants. For instance, with a Total score of 690, you’ve scored above 87% of all test-takers. In additional to your total score, your score report will include a breakdown of your performance by section. Review the latest scores and corresponding percentiles from GMAC.

GMAT 2014 Total Score Rankings


Note: Percentiles are recalculated every year to reflect the most recent pool of test-takers; while your scores will never change, your percentile rankings may.