GMAT 101: An Introduction to the Graduate Management Admission Test


For 60 years, schools have relied on the GMAT exam to help them recruit the students most likely to succeed in their programs. Here’s a basic breakdown of what the exam entails.

GMAT basics

The GMAT exam is a standardized computer-based exam adminis­tered in English. Two sections of the exam are computer-adaptive, which means questions are chosen for you based on how you answered previ­ous questions. Your score is based on the difficulty of the questions answered and the number of correct responses.

Testing is available around the world in specially designed facilities. The GMAT exam is $250 USD globally, and taxes may be incurred for exams administered in some countries. The test fee can be paid through credit card, debit card, or voucher.

GMAT sections

The sections—Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), Integrated Reasoning (IR), Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning—take about four hours to complete. The Total score is reported on a scale of 200-800 and is based on performance on the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections.

GMAT sections

Score reports

Unofficial score reports are available immediately following the exam at the test center. As a test taker, you are given the option of reporting or canceling your scores immediately after taking the test and before leaving the test center. Under a new process, you will see your unofficial scores—Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal, and Total—and will be given two minutes to decide whether to accept them. If you do not make a choice, your scores will be canceled. Official score reports include Quantitative, Verbal Reasoning, AWA, and IR scores and are available within 20 days of the exam. Your GMAT score is valid for five years.

GMAT by the numbers (as of August 2013)

  • Schools that use the GMAT exam: 2,197
  • Programs that use the GMAT exam: 6,098
  • Countries that receive score reports: 110
  • Test centers around the world: 601

When to take the test

Studies show that business and nonbusiness majors perform well on the GMAT with the right preparation. If you are a current college junior or senior, take the GMAT now while you’re still in “study mode.” Your scores are good for five years, so you can save them until you’re ready to apply to schools.

Content provided by the Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®), makers of the GMAT® exam. Learn more about graduate management education, business school, the GMAT, test prep, and GMAT accepting universities and schools on



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