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Engaging in comprehensive GMAT preparation and earning a high test score will significantly improve your chances of acceptance into your desired graduate school program.

Succeeding on the GMAT involves learning and mastering a number of tools, strategies and techniques, as similar question types tend to show up repeatedly on each test.

ESM mentors can help you spot opportunities and traps before you face them, enabling you to simplify and streamline your study process.

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GMAT Basics


The GMAT is a computer–adaptive test (CAT) required by most graduate business programs. It is 3 hours and 7 minutes in length, plus two optional 8-minute breaks. It features four sections: Quantitative Reasoning (31 questions, 62 minutes); Verbal Reasoning (36 questions, 65 minutes); Integrative Reasoning (12 questions, 30 minutes), and Analytical Writing (1 essay, 30 minutes).


3 hrs
23 mins

including breaks





Highest Score


Average Score


Quantitative Reasoning
Verbal Reasoning
Integrated Reasoning
Analytical Writing

Scheduling Your Test Date

Because the GMAT is offered year-round in most of its locations worldwide, you will have flexibility when solidifying your test date. However, plan to do most of your studying after you have registered for the exam, as finalizing a date and time will lend much needed structure to your study process. In all cases, take the GMAT early enough to ensure your scores are available before your application deadlines. You can register to take the GMAT here.

Studying for the GMAT generally takes between 100 to 150 hours, so if you set your test date 12 weeks in advance, you can expect to study approximately 8 to 12 hours per week.

Common Questions

How do I know if my score is good enough to get me into my dream school?

The average GMAT scores for the top 50 business school programs in the US are listed here. They range from 634 to 734, but plenty of other quality graduate programs have lower average scores. Your GMAT score is one of four parts of your graduate school application: your undergraduate experience (school, concentration, GPA), work experience, GMAT score, and application essays. A strong performance on the GMAT can provide a substantial boost to the quality of your application, signaling to graduate schools that you are able to handle the rigor of a graduate program.

How do I register for the GMAT?

Pearson VUE testing centers administer the GMAT all across the globe. Walk-in GMAT registration at test centers is not accepted. You must register in advance by phone or email. Visit or call 800–717–GMAT to register. Registration costs $275.

The GMAT is currently offered online, so it can be taken at home until at least July 17, 2020. Students can only take the online GMAT one time. The analytical writing assessment is not offered on the online exam, shortening total test-taking time by 30 minutes. Because the global status of COVID-19 continues to evolve, this end date may be extended.

How is the GMAT scored?

A GMAT score is made up of multiple components. The most familiar number is your composite GMAT score, which ranges from 200 to 800 and is measured in 10-point increments. It is determined by the combination of your Quantitative and Verbal section scores. Your composite score is the component most heavily considered by graduate academic programs. As the GMAT is a computer-based test (CAT), it’s designed so that correct answers are followed by increasingly difficult questions. Incorrect answers will lead to easier questions, dropping your potential score range in the process.

Your Quantitative and Verbal sections are graded separately before being combined. You will receive a score ranging from 0 to 60 for each section. Scores below 8 and above 51 are rare. Because the test is adaptive, the GMAC is not able to release a clear, defined algorithm for calculating your composite score. In general, however, students are penalized more heavily for missing questions early in each of these two sections.

Your Integrated Reasoning (IR) section is scored from 1 to 8 in one-point increments. Questions involve reading short paragraphs, analyzing charts and diagrams, and doing basic arithmetic in order to arrive at an answer. The IR score is not included in the composite score.

Your Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section is graded on a scale of 0 to 6 and evaluated by two readers (one human and one computer). GMAC averages the two grades for the essay and rounds to the nearest 1/2 point. Your AWA score also does not count towards your composite score.

As soon as you complete your GMAT, your score will be displayed on your computer screen. You will have the option to cancel or accept your score. If you change your mind regarding whether to cancel, you can reverse your decision within 2-3 days for a small fee. If you accept, your GMAT score remains valid for five years. If you have taken it several times, the GMAC will report all accepted GMAT scores from the previous five years.

What is on the GMAT?

The GMAT consists of four sections: Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment. On exam day, students are able to determine the order in which they take each section. The three order choices are:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal
  2. Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
  3. Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

Options #2 or #3 are the most popular because they involve starting the test with the two most important sections of the GMAT, so you can tackle high priority questions when you have the most energy.


Find out which test is right for you.

More than 1,200 MBA programs now accept scores from the GMAT or GRE for business school admissions, and that means more options for you. Before you decide which test to take, research the business schools you're interested in and find out if they will accept GRE scores instead of GMAT scores. Compare the differences between the GMAT and the GRE exam content and structure below.


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