Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)


What is GMAT?

Any student planning to pursue an MBA abroad (and more recently, certain management or finance, related fields) has to take the GMAT - Graduate Management Admission TestBusiness schools use the test as a criterion for admission into a wide range of graduate management programs, including MBA, Master of Accountancy, and Master of Finance programs. It is a standardized computer adaptive test which means the difficulty of your next question will depend on the answer of your current question.

Example: Suppose the first GMAT question is of moderate level. You answer it correctly; the next question will be a little difficult as compared to the previous one and so on. As soon as you get an answer wrong, the next question will be relatively simpler.

Note: If you answer a difficult question correctly, your score shoots up by a good margin and if a simple question is answered incorrectly, you lose out by an equal margin.

Warning: Don’t get an answer wrong intentionally so that the next question becomes easier.

Why? This is because you don’t get as many points for answering a simple question, as you may lose by wrongly answering the previous one. Hence, the loss is more than the gain.

Myth: You should solve the first few questions (the first 8-9 questions) taking as much time as required and get them right. This is not true. It depends on the level of questions. You should not blindly follow this logic and lose too much time so that you do not have enough time in the end to solve the remaining questions which may turn out to be easier. It's “suicide”.

Must do: You SHOULD attempt all the questions even though you might have to mark an answer without spending enough time on it because an incomplete paper can cost you a loss of significant points.



Structure of the GMAT :

GMAT is a computer-based test, composed of 4 sections in the following order:

  • Verbal Reasoning (English)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (Math)
  • Analytical Writing Assessment  - AWA (Essays)
  • Integrated Reasoning (IR) - Started from June 2012

Test Pattern :

The total score ranges from 200 to 800 and measures performance on the quantitative and verbal sections only (performance on the AWA and IR sections do not count towards the total score)





AWA - Argument Essay* - 30 minutes
Quantitative - Data Sufficiency
- Data Interpretation & Statistics
- Problem Solving
- Approx. 35 Questions
- 45 minutes
Verbal Reading Comprehension
- Sentence Correction
- Critical Reasoning
- Approx. 42 Questions
- 45 minutes
Integrated Reasoning - Table Analysis
- Graphics Interpretation
- Multi-Source Reasoning**
- Two Part Analaysis***

- 12 Questions
- 30 minutes

Test Format - Computer Adaptive Test
- Skipping Questions NOT Permitted
Scoring Scale - 200 to 800 with 10 point increment
- AWA is calculated on the scale of 0 to 6
- Integrated Reasoning is calculated on the scale of 1 to 8
Score reporting to University 5 Years Validity

*Argument Essay does not present a choice of topics; instead, one topic will be presented. In this type of essay, you should disagree with the author. As the name suggests, you should argue with the author’s views.

**Multi-Source Reasoning questions are accompanied by two to three sources of information presented on tabbed pages. Test takers click on the tabs and examine all the relevant information, which may be a combination of text, charts, and tables to answer either traditional multiple-choice or opposite-answer (e.g., yes/no, true/false) questions.

***Two-Part Analysis questions involve two components for a solution. Possible answers are given in a table format with a column for each component and rows with possible options. Test takers have to choose one response per column.

NOTE: The sections will appear in the prescribed format mentioned above i.e. AWA - Quants - Verbal - Integrated Reasoning.



The best way to prepare for GMAT would be to stock up with as many mock tests as possible, and start practicing from Day One. The Official GMAT Guide gives you a good idea of the level, but your real practice starts with Manhattan Books for GMAT, Kaplan GMAT Test, TestPrep, etc. Joining classes isn’t a must, but as is the case with every exam, it helps. There are many sample tests which are available online for free. About 2-3 months should be enough preparation time for GMAT, but this is provided you’re able to solve at least one section test a day.

Unlike the old GRE pattern which many of us are familiar with, the GMAT does not place tremendous stress on vocabulary (though it doesn’t hurt to have a good command over word usage). What is far more important, is your grammar. Make sure you are comfortable constructing long sentences which are grammatically correct, and reading through passages which are highly dull and monotonous. 

Anyways, we at stupidsid, made sure that a systematic and weekly plan should be put up for a top GMAT score.  

Suggested 2-month plan of study:


As for AWA, you NEED to figure out the flow of your essay well before your test date. Enough stress is levied by the universities on your AWA when it comes to GMAT. Unlike GRE, a stereotype 3.0 is not very much recommended. Even though admissions are based on complete profile, a score of 4.0 or above is what universities LOVE to see. 

Start reading essays from day one. For those who are accustomed to satisfactory reading (comprehension passages), drafting an essay might turn out to be a cakewalk. Since the type of essay is Argumentative, it is better to read various editorial columns, alongwith watching debates on curent topics. It will help you create a counterview on any essay topic which is what you're supposed to do in AWA (Analytical Writing Assessment).

Week one...

Brush up all your quant basics. Sit with a CAT funda book (borrowed from a friend, of course), and go through all the formula and fundae. Start reading a newspaper like Economic Times so that you're used to staying awake while reading long, boring, unimportant and seemingly incomprehensible passages.

Weeks 2-3...

Pick up one question type at a time, and try mastering it. There is more than enough GMAT practice material available online for free, so you don't need to waste any money on it. While you should undoubtedly spend more time on verbal, DON'T forget that you have to practice quant as well.

Weeks 4-6...

Continue the practice, but concentrate on complete sections now. Your aim should be to complete at least one verbal and one quant section every day, along with 3-4 question-type sample / practice tests.

Weeks 7-8...

By now you should have collected more than enough GMAT full length practice tests, and ideally solved a couple as well. Review all the mistakes you have made previously, and try correcting them during your full length tests. One a day is more than enough; more would just burn you out.  

In a nutshell, all you need is regular and uncompromising practice to crack GMAT.

Just a pointer – don’t take the quant section lightly, even if you’re an engineer who has been topping the CAT for years. There’s every chance that it would throw up a couple of surprises. 

Expert advice..

  • Vocabulary if strong, better are the chances to get an excellent score.
  • Revising the Quant formulae.
  • Read Newspaper for an hour everyday to stay in touch with long Reading Comprehensions (RC).
  • Keep your cool. It’s a test of nerves more than anything.



Q. What is the cost/registration fee for GMAT?

A. The registration fee for taking GRE is USD 250 which includes reporting your GMAT scores to 4 universities of your choice.

Q. How do I register for the GMAT?

A. You can register online or by phone or by mail. The detailed information about registering for the GMAT can be found at

Q. How many times can I take GMAT?

A. GMAT can be taken unlimited number of times with a gap of a minimum of 31 calendar days between 2 tests. (It is highly advisable not to appear for it too many times as it may affect the applicant’s candidature). However, one can take the test only 5 times in a calendar year.

Q. If I take GMAT more than once, which score will be considered by the universities?

A. The best score is taken into account by most of the universities. A few, though, consider the average.

Q. What is the validity of the GMAT exam?

A. Your GMAT score will be valid for 5 years after from the date the test was taken, but most universities do not accept scores which are older than three years.

Q. Does admission to universities depend only on GMAT scores?

A. Not at all. The GMAT score only ‘makes you worthy of a second glance’. There on, it’s all down to your profile.

Q. How do I pass on my score to the colleges where I want to apply to?

A. The universities only accept official scores sent directly by Scores to four colleges can be sent free of cost while taking the exam. Subsequently, for each score report sent to a college, you would have to pay USD 28.

Q. What is an ideal GMAT score?

A. Well the ideal score, of course, is 800. As a rule, though, anything over 700 is considered good. 750 is brilliant, and anything over that is a bonus.

Q. Do universities consider photocopies of the GMAT scorecard?

A. You do not receive an official printed scorecard anymore. You do receive a PDF file, but it cannot be used instead of the official report sent my

Q. Is GMAT mandatory for applying to MBA and PhD programs outside India?

A. Most universities nowadays (and certainly all the best ones) need GMAT scores for their MBA programs, and will accept GMAT scores for certain Masters and PhD programs which are in some way related to management or finance.

Q. How important is the GMAT score in helping secure scholarships for graduate studies?

A. Quite unhelpful, to be honest.  

Structure of the GRE :

The computer-based General Test is composed of 3 sections:

  1. Verbal Reasoning (English)
  2. Quantitative Reasoning (Math)
  3. Analytical Writing sections (Essays)
Test Pattern :
Section Revised Pattern Changes from previous pattern
Quantitative - Data Sufficiency
- Data Interpretation & Statistics
- Problem Solving
- 2 Sections (20 Q's/35 Minutes per section)
- Calculator Allowed
- No Choice for Problem Solving
- Statistics part of new pattern
- 2 Sections instead of 1 but less time
Verbal - Reading Comprehension
- Sentence Correction
- 2 Sections (20 Q's/30 Minutes per section)
- Stress on Comprehension and Less on Etymology
- 2 Sections instead of 1
- Less Questions but more time as it involves RC
AWA - Issue essay - 30 minutes*
- Argument Essay - 30 Minutes**
Time reduced for Issue essay by 15 minutes rest is all the same
Test Format - No Computer Adaptive Test
- Skipping Questions Permitted
- Skipping questions are NOW ALLOWED.
- Scores not based on Solving the first few questions Correctly.
Scoring Scale 130 -170 with 1 point Increment.  
Score reporting to University 5 Years Validity  

FromAugust 2011, the GRE structure has changed completely.

The AWA section is always first, followed by two Verbal sections and two Quantitative sections, in any order. Basically, you will have two verbal sections and two quantitative sections and will contribute towards your final score.

Note: You will not be informed prior to or during the exam about which section will be taken into account and hence you must give cent percent effort in all the sections.

* For the Issue task, two essay topics will be presented and you will choose one. In this type of essay, you usually agree and disagree with the author. There is no need to take a stand. You can state the pros and cons of the topic.

** The Argument task does not present a choice of topics; instead, one topic will be presented. In this type of essay, you should disagree with the author. As the name suggests, you should argue with the author’s views.

After all the verbal and quant sections, a research section follows. This section is like essay writing on a topic presented to you. However, it IS NOT evaluated towards the final score. Hence, a lot of people skip this section and proceed to the last part of checking their score.