Home >> Preparation Advice >> About the GMAT

About the GMAT

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is administered online and in test centers worldwide. More than 5,000 graduate school programs worldwide use the GMAT in their admissions process. The GMAT is given only in English.

The GMAT is 2 hours 25 minutes long, including one optional 10-minute break but excluding the initial tutorial screens and the ending score reporting screens. The default GMAT format is shown below. More information about the questions is given on our Question Types pages.

Section Time Limit Number of Qs Score Range
  • Problem Solving (PS)
45 min 21 60 – 90
Break - Option #1 10 min or none
  • Critical Reasoning (CR)
  • Reading Comprehension (RC)
45 min 23 60 – 90
Break - Option #2 10 min if not already taken
Data Insights
  • Data Sufficiency (DS)
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR)
    • Two-Part Analysis (TPA)
    • Graphics Interpretation (GI)
    • Table Analysis (TA)
    • Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR)
45 min 20 60 – 90

GMAT Section Order

The GMAT has a Select Section Order feature, which allows you to take the GMAT sections in any order. The timing for each section and the question types in each section remain unchanged. You choose the section order on the computer immediately prior to the start of your exam. If you do not select within one minute, the system proceeds with Option 1.

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Quantitative Verbal Data Insights
Verbal Data Insights Verbal
Data Insights Quantitative Quantitative

Option 4 Option 5 Option 6
Quantitative Verbal Data Insights
Data Insights Quantitative Quantitative
Verbal Data Insights Verbal

Optional Break

You receive one optional 10-minute break, either after the first section or after the second section. You choose whether or not to take the break after the first section; you do not have to select a break option in advance. Only if you do not take a break after the first section, you can take a break after the second section. Unless approved for accommodations, you cannot take two breaks.

The break time includes time to re-check into the exam with the Test Administrator or the Online Proctor. The timer for the next section starts after 10 minutes, even if you are not ready. For online exams, your camera must remain on during the break. For online exams, you must completely erase your whiteboard and show it to the camera before starting your break, and you must leave the whiteboard by your computer.

Break Option #1 Time Limit
First section 45 min
Break 10 min
Second section 45 min
Third section 45 min

Break Option #2 Time Limit
First section 45 min
Second section 45 min
Break 10 min
Third section 45 min

Computer Adaptive Test

The GMAT is computer-based, not paper-based
The GMAT is a computer adaptive test (CAT). You take the online GMAT on your own Mac or Windows computer. You take the in-person GMAT on a Windows-based desktop computer (with basic, non-ergonomic keyboard and mouse) provided at the Pearson VUE test center. You see your scores on-screen immediately upon conclusion of your test.

All three sections are adaptive, meaning that question difficulty varies based on your prior performance. The GMAT does not give all test takers the same questions. Associated with each question is a scoring characteristic curve, which is somewhat analogous to a difficulty level. The first question in a section is of medium difficulty. A correct answer leads to a harder question, whereas an incorrect answer leads to an easier question.

As you proceed through the section, the change in question difficulty gets incrementally smaller. The GMAT is trying to narrow-in on a theoretical difficulty level at which you answer correctly, but would answer incorrectly at a slightly harder level. To ensure fairness and consistency, the test also presents a predetermined balance of concept and question types. Your score for the section is determined by the number, difficulty, and statistical characteristics of the questions you answer correctly and incorrectly. This process starts anew for each section.

GMAT Question Review and Edit

You must answer questions in the order presented, without skipping any question, but you can bookmark questions for later review. Once you answer all questions within a section, you proceed to the Question Review & Edit screen. Here, you can review any questions within that section, whether bookmarked or not. You can edit up to three answers within each section.

The Question Review & Edit process is subject to time availability. Any question review or answer editing must be completed within the 45 minutes allotted to the section. If you do not complete all the questions in the section within 45 minutes, you will not have the chance to review or edit any questions.