What you need to know about the GMAT, GMAT scores, GMAT test availability, and the GMAT sections


The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is an important part of the business school application process. The GMAT is a multiple-choice, computer-based, and computer-adaptive standardized exam that is often required for admission to graduate business programs (MBA) globally.
The GMAT is developed and administered by testmaker GMAC (Graduate Management Admissions Council) to provide business schools with common measures of applicants’ level. Business school admission committees look at your GMAT score, along with work experience and your file in general, to assess your readiness for the rigors of an MBA program.
What’s the takeaway? A high score on the GMAT will have a direct, positive impact on your business school application.


The GMAT exam measures your command of basic arithmetic, algebra, multi-source data analysis, and understanding of written English. More importantly, it measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material, think critically, and solve problems. The GMAT is first and foremost a test of your critical thinking skills. Knowing how to reason through and analyze information is the key to a great GMAT score.


The new GMAT test format – the GMAT Focus Edition – contains three distinct section types. You will need to use the critical thinking and analysis skills throughout the test, just like you will during your MBA coursework.
The sections are scored separately, and then your composite score for the entire test is generated. These sections are:

  • Quantitative Reasoning (QR)
  • Verbal Reasoning (VR)
  • Data Insights (DI)

GMAT test takers are able to choose the order in which they take GMAT sections, at the test center following the computer tutorial and just before they begin your test.

DurationQuestionsScore range
Quantitative Reasoning45 min2160…90
Verbal Reasoning45 min2360…90
Data Insights45 min2060…90
Optional break in between any two sections10 min
Total2 h 15 min or
2 h 25 min
64205…805 (“Composite Score”)
DurationQuestionsScore range
45 min2160…90
45 min2360…90
Data Insights45 min2060…90
Optional break
in between
any two
10 min
Total2 h 15 min
2 h 25 min

Here is more information on each GMAT section.


Question typesDurationQuestionsScore range
Problem Solving45 min2160…90
Question typesProblem Solving
Duration45 min
Score range60…90

The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GMAT Focus Edition is designed to test your content and analytical knowledge of basic math concepts, including arithmetic and algebra. The section features just one question type:

Problem Solving
Problem Solving is a classic standardized test question type. You’ll be presented with a question and five possible answer choices. Problem Solving questions use high school level math up to algebra and coordinate plane geometry to test your critical thinking skills.


Question typesDurationQuestionsScore range
Reading Comprehension
Critical Reasoning
45 min2360…90
Question typesReading Comprehension
Critical Reasoning
Duration45 min
Score range60…90

The GMAT VR section is designed to test your understanding of standard written English, your skill in analyzing arguments, and your ability to read critically. You will see two question types in this section:

Critical Reasoning
Critical Reasoning questions test the skills involved in making and evaluating arguments, as well as formulating a plan of action. You will be presented with a short argument or a series of statements and a question relating to it. Succeeding on Critical Reasoning questions requires understanding the structure of arguments and rigorous logical analysis of the connections between evidence and conclusions.

Reading Comprehension
These questions test your critical reading skills – more specifically, your ability to summarize the main idea, differentiate between ideas stated specifically and those implied by the author, make inferences based on information in a text, analyze the logical structure of a passage, and deduce the author’s tone and attitude about a topic. You will be presented with an academic reading passage on a topic related to business, social science, biological science, or physical science and asked 3 to 4 questions about that text.


Question typesDurationQuestionsScore range
Data Sufficiency
Multi-Source Reasoning
Graphics Interpretation
Two-Part Analysis
Table Analysis
45 min2060…90
Question typesData Sufficiency
Multi-Source Reasoning
Graphics Interpretation
Two-Part Analysis
Table Analysis
Duration45 min
Score range60…90

The Data Insights section measures how well you can analyze and interpret data of various types to solve complex problems. The questions involve both quantitative and verbal reasoning, separately or in combination: as all the GMAT questions, they test above all your ability to reason logically. Unlike on the other GMAT sections, many DI questions will require more than one response, and you will be able to use a built-in calculator to analyze data. The five question types on the DI section are:

Data Sufficiency
Data Sufficiency questions consist of a question and two statements of data. Your task is to determine whether the statements provide sufficient data to answer the question. This question type requires you to quickly identify what information you would need to solve the problem and to efficiently eliminate wrong answer choices.

Multi-Source Reasoning
Data will be given in several formats: text passages, tables, graphics, or a combination of the three. You will be asked to draw conclusions, detect data discrepancies, or evaluate data’s relevance.

Table Analysis
This question type is very similar to working with a spreadsheet. You will have to sort the data and draw inferences from it in order to answer questions.

Graphics Interpretation
You will be presented with a graph or similar image and asked to determine relationships between various variables.

Two-Part Analysis
You will be presented with a text problem, the answer choices to which will be given in a table in forms of radio buttons. You are to give two answers, one per column, corresponding to the correct line (=answer choice).


The GMAT is a Computer-Adaptive Test, or CAT. On the GMAT’s Verbal and Quantitative sections, the CAT actually adapts to your performance as you’re taking the test.
When you begin the GMAT, the computer assumes you have an average score and gives you a question of medium difficulty. As you answer questions correctly, the computer serves up more difficult questions and increases its estimate of your ability. And vice versa, as you answer incorrectly, the computer serves up easier questions and decreases its estimate of your ability. Your score is determined by an algorithm that calculates your ability level based not only on what you got right or wrong but also on the difficulty level of the questions you answered.
GMAC’s algorithm that determines your 205-to-805 score is often misunderstood, and there are many myths surrounding “cracking” the algorithm. The best way to “beat” the algorithm is to be prepared. In addition, because the adaptive nature of the test doesn’t allow for “skipping” questions, you will need to pace yourself and strike a balance between spending valuable time answering difficult questions correctly and possibly running out of time before you finished the test. There are significant penalties for leaving questions unanswered at the end of the exam.
On the GMAT Focus Edition, you have a possibility of marking certain of your questions for review. At the end of each section, if you have time left, you will be able to return to the questions marked for review and change up to 3 of your answers.
You will receive your unofficial GMAT score immediately following the test, and you will have the option to keep or cancel that score.


When considering your GMAT score goal, it’s always a good idea to look at the mean or average GMAT score of admitted applicants to the MBA programs you’re considering applying to. This will give you a good baseline.
Note that it is difficult to compare the scores of GMAT Focus Edition (introduced in late 2023 – early 2024) reported on a 205-805 scale with the historic version of the GMAT (phased out around the first quarter of 2024) reported on a 200-800 scale.
The mean score obtained by all GMAT Focus Edition test takers is 546.01.
You can use the table below to see the relationship between scaled scores and the percentage of test-takers achieving them:



Students admitted to the most competitive MBA programs have average scores in the 655 range, putting them in the 93th percentile or higher. If you’re considering applying to one of these programs, you’ll need to target 655 or higher on the GMAT to be a strong applicant.


There are several aspects of the GMAT that make it a tough test. First, the unique computer-adaptive format of the GMAT means that you will not be able to skip a hard question and come back to it later: you must pick an answer and move on. At the same time, you’re rewarded not only for correct answers but also for correct answers to high-level questions. All this means that you have to both answer difficult questions and do it quickly. In addition, you’ll see question types and formats that you’ve likely never seen in your academic career.
The GMAT is a challenging exam, but it’s a skills-based test, and that’s very good news. Why? Because the skills tested on the GMAT are skills you can (and will) learn.


The GMAT is administered year-round at Pearson VUE centers. You can see the full list of testing centers and seat availability on the GMAT official site here.
It is highly recommended that you register for your preferred GMAT test date early so you can select a test date that will allow enough time for processing your scores and sending them to the MBA programs you’ll be applying to. The GMAT can also be taken online.
You can take the GMAT once every 16 days, up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period (365 days) and up to 8 total times.


Because MBA and other business programs have a wide range of application deadlines, you’ll want to research your programs of interest ahead of time and ensure that your GMAT score can be reported in time for your earliest deadline. Your GMAT score is good for five years.
Keep in mind that many MBA programs accept applications in “rounds” that can end as early as September for Round 1 at highly competitive programs and can go as late as the following April or May for Round 3 or even Round 4.
You’ll want to devote 1 to 3 months to studying for the GMAT. GMAT test takers who score in the 90th percentile or higher typically spend more than 120 hours preparing for the exam.


The cost to take the GMAT is $275 at a test center or $300 for the online session and includes sending score reports to up to five programs of your choice. For details, please visit the official website of the GMAT. It’s important that you choose the right time to take the GMAT—and the right test prep—for you, so you don’t have to pay the fee more than once.