What is GMAT? How to Prepare for GMAT Exam?

Did your college ask you for your GMAT scores? Are you not sure what it is? Don’t worry, help is at hand. Even if you are completely blank on the topic, it's not a big deal. 

Today, I will explain to you about GMAT, its exam structure, and guide your preparation. Also, read till the end because I have a few tips for you so you can score better. Let’s begin by knowing what this exam is all about.

What is GMAT? How to prepare for GMAT?

What is GMAT Exam?: So, GMAT is short for the “Graduate Management Admission Test”. It is taken by students who want to graduate as business professionals. This exam will measure your problem-solving, critical thinking, and data analyzing abilities. It is mostly needed when you are applying for a business and management course outside India.

Reason to Take This Exam: GMAT exams are specially designed for business schools, unlike GRE. The scores you get here are accepted by over 2100 institutions and universities worldwide. If you can bag good GMAT scores you’ll have an edge over other applicants. This is because  9 out of 10 new MBA enrollments are made using these scores. 

Exam Structure (Offline Exam): You have a total of 3.5 hours for the exam and it will be divided into four main sections. Your  GMAT scores can range between 200 – 800. So, 800 is the highest one can possibly score. The four sections are: 

Analytical Writing Analysis (AWA) 

  • 30 minutes
  • 1 question- essay

Integrated reasoning(IR)

  • 30 minutes 
  • 12 questions 


  • 62 minutes
  • 31 questions


  • 65 minutes
  • 36 questions

You’ll also get two breaks in between, 8 minutes each.  In total, you will have 187 minutes for 80 questions. Earlier there was a fixed sequence in which you had to answer but now, you have the pleasure of three sequence variations to choose from.

Also read: Things You Should Know To Prepare for GMAT Test

How to Prepare for GMAT?

The first step for preparation should be going through sample official exam questions. This will give you an idea of what kind of questions you can expect and what is expected from you.

1. Analytical writing section – 30 minutes

Analytical writing

There’s just one task to complete here, but it’s an essay. You have to prove your critical thinking as well as communication skills in this section. 

You have to analyze an argument and write an objective criticism for the same. An objective criticism is an unbiased feedback based on facts and not upon emotions or personal preferences. THEY ARE NOT LOOKING FOR YOUR OPINION.

  • You must follow an easy structure in your essays. Start with an introduction. It should summarize the main argument and also highlight the flaws which you will describe further in the essay.
  • The main body should have three or four paragraphs in which you describe each flaw in a separate paragraph. For each part, you can start by first stating the flaw, then explaining why it is a flaw and then finally highlighting how the given argument could have been made more successfully. 
  • Finally, write the conclusion in which you concisely restate your flaws and analysis.
  • Practice organizing your thoughts in the first few minutes. You can do this by making a mind map or taking notes on your erasable note board. Understand the question, think of examples to support your statement, and know exactly what your task is.
  • Try to find and remember the common flaws stated in AWA. If you go through previous year's questions or official sets you’ll realize that there are a few flaws that constantly reappear. Examples of these are Inappropriate comparisons, Error of casualty, sampling problems, and overconfident conclusions.

2. Integrated reasoning section (IR)- 30 minutes

Integrated reasoning

In this section, your scores will be judged upon your analytics, graph interpretation, data organizing, and reading skills.

You have to answer 12 questions in 30 minutes. Most of these have 2-3 sub-questions within them. To get credits for a question you have to get every part right. No partial credits are given.

You have to answer four types of questions

  1. Multi-source reasoning
  2. Table Analysis
  3. Two-part analysis
  4. Graphic interpretation
  • You will have already acquired some skills required for IR while practicing for verbal and quantitative sections. But, you have to combine many skills while answering here. For e.g you might need to use mathematical formulas, decision making, organizing, and estimating in one question. So prepare accordingly.
  • Get familiar with the types of questions asked ( above mentioned four-types). This will help you understand the given task and alert your brain as to what skill set is demanded. You can save the time consumed for interpreting and familiarizing yourself with questions.
  • In the beginning, devote equal time to all four types of questions. Students usually skip a deal of practice on graphic interpretation and table-analysis questions. This is because they are familiar with concepts and want to invest more time in newer concepts like the two-part analysis.
  • Develop an IR strategy that will save your time. Graphic questions take a comparatively lesser amount of time so you can solve it in say 1 minute and save the remaining time for complex questions. 
  • Practice in the real world by interpreting graphs and data from sources like New York Times, Wall street journal, The Economist, etc. This will help you get steady practice and the practical experience you need while solving IR questions.

3. Verbal Section- 65 minutes

Verbal Section

You have 65 minutes to complete 36 questions in this section. Your questions will be divided into three categories.

  1. Reading comprehension
  2. Critical reasoning 
  3. Sentence correction
  • Before the exam, inculcate the reading habit. When you read  English books, newspapers, magazines across various genres and fields it helps you internalize the language.  Pay attention to the writing style, vocabulary and idioms used as you read. This might seem a lengthy way but it works.
  • Try understanding the meaning of words in a context. After you complete reading an article try to learn something new from it rather than chasing the meaning of words. 
  • Make a list of concepts that must be known for a GMAT exam. For example; parallel markers, subjunctive mode words and parallel idioms. Keep this list handy so you can read and recap within a few minutes. 
  • Focus and work on each section separately. Give a sufficient amount of time to each section so you can master and improve your skills. This will also help you with quick recognition of type in exams.

4. Quantitative Section- 62 minutes

Quantitative Section

You have to answer 31 questions in the time frame of 62 minutes. There are two kinds of questions here

  1. Problem-solving 
  2. Data sufficiency

The entire section is based upon Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, and word problems.

1. Problem Solving

  • Pick up those old-school textbooks and start reviewing the basics of mathematics. Most of the GMAT study guides have a section for you to review your concepts. Make sure you read and relearn them properly.
  • Take practice tests on the quantitative section along with a timer. Analyze your test and find out your greatest weakness of yours. Work on these weaknesses thoroughly and take another test to analyze and summarize your progress. Plan on taking at least six tests before you appear for the exam with a pace of one test per week.
  • There are 62 minutes which means you get 2 minutes for each question. But every question demands the same time. So, when you appear for the exam you should know the amount of time you will spend on each question. If you need three minutes for a word problem then you save that time from other questions.

2. Data sufficiency

  • Into the data sufficiency questions, you are being asked to analyze a problem, acknowledge the data which is relevant, and determine the stage where you have enough data to solve a problem.
  • Data sufficiency questions are one of the most difficult aspects of the GMAT. But, practice can make it easier for you. 
  • Answers to all these questions are the same. Memorize them so on exam day you can save your time by skipping to read the answers. 
  • Check one statement at a time. If the first is sufficient then you can skip reading the third, fourth, and fifth questions. 
  • You don’t have to look for the actual answer. Just find the sufficiency. Even though your instincts are based on finding the answer, that is not what you are supposed to do. 

Also read: Top 20 Colleges in India with Rank, Fees, Placement

Tips to boost your GMAT score

1. Prepare an error log 

Error logs are sometimes known as mistake journals. This is an absolutely great way to review, note and re-do your problems. All you have to do is create an excel sheet or a chart where you make four columns.

In these you describe the question, The reason you got it wrong, what you learned from it, and the next date when you’ll solve it again.

When you make an error log the column of what you learned is very important. It will help you remember the reason for your errors. So, when you solve it again the same mistake won’t be repeated. Solve it again after a time gap of four to five days and make sure you don’t miss this appointment with your problem.

2. Interleaving method of studying

There are two ways in which you can study. One is “Interleaving” and the other is “blocking”. In the blocking method, you study one single topic so much that you go through all of your study materials and are confident about the topic.

It contradicts the interleaving method. Here, you choose to study just a part of the topic every day for a week. You also study other topics in the same short sessions. With this, You master a small bit every day.

Even though the blocking method seems satisfying, you tend to forget the learning easily. Whereas with the interleaving method chances are high that you’ll remember it for a long time. This is because of two reasons are; the variety that your brain gets and relearning concepts every day.

Also read: Online MBA Courses in India


Simply working hard is not always sufficient. You need to work smart. There are many tips, tricks, and hacks for you to excel in this exam. Visit the official website of GMAC and also it's partner websites to get complete guidance for your big day.

The partner sites are

  1. https://callingalloptimists.com/
  2. https://www.mba.com/
  3. https://thembatour.com/
  4. https://www.businessbecause.com/

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