GMAT 2020 – A Complete Study Guide to know GMAT Inside Out


Success comes to those who have patience and perseverance. There is no shortcut to your goals, but there are certain ways that can help you build a promising career. The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a global level exam which can open up the gates of the top business schools in the world for you. Pursuing an MBA degree is every Indian student’s dream, as it is a globally recognized program designed to develop business and management skills. Qualifying GMAT makes you eligible for pursuing MBA in different parts of the world. If you are someone aspiring to pursue an MBA abroad, then this article can help you in acing your GMAT and helping you in successfully landing at your dream business school. 

Why is GMAT Important?

GMAT aspirants often ask questions like, “what is the importance of GMAT?” or “ How can the GMAT help in my career growth?”. The importance of GMAT is not just limited to MBA admissions. Taking a GMAT can help you prepare for the upcoming challenges in your future. More than 500 business and management institutions in the world accept GMAT scores for their admission process. This is because it comprises of several skills that are needed in most business schools. It is one of the most influential exams that can shape your career in a better way. 

Pattern and Structure of GMAT

It is a three and a half-hour long exam. Each section on the examination is specially designed to test your skills. The paper pattern comprises of the following sections:

Analytical Writing Assessment

This section is designed to test your communication skills. The questions measure your ability to think critically and communicate your ideas well. Questions are generally based on certain situations that you have to solve with appropriate reasoning. This section comprises of only one topic and needs to be attempted in 30 minutes.

Quantitative Reasoning

This section comprises of 31 questions on problem-solving and data sufficiency. This section measures your ability to analyse data and draw conclusions by using mathematical reasoning. The level of mathematics that is needed to attempt this section is not more than high school mathematics. The questions in this section need to be attempted in 62 minutes.

Integrated Reasoning

The integrated reasoning on the examination contains 12 questions that measure your ability to evaluate information based on multiple situations. The questions consist of multiple sources such as reading, interpreting different graphic images, table analysis, etc. The questions in this section are to be completed in 30 minutes.

Verbal Reasoning

This is the longest section consisting of 36 questions that measure your ability to read, write, construct and correct sentences. The questions are comprised of critical reasoning, reading comprehension and sentence correction. This section needs to be attempted in 65 minutes. 

Also read: GMAT Paper Pattern

Eligibility for GMAT

There is a certain eligibility criteria to be fulfilled by applicants when applying for the entrance examination: 

  • Nationality

It is a global level examination which is available for students from all across the world. There are no restrictions regarding the nationality of the applicants. 

  • Age Limit

Candidates applying for the examination are required to be at least 18 years old. In case a candidate’s age varies between 15-17, they have to provide written proof of their guardian’s consent before taking the GMAT exam.

  • Academic Qualification

Candidates are required to have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university. 

  • Number of Attempts

Candidates are allowed to take the exam 5 times in a year.

  • Retaking the GMAT exam

Candidates are required to wait for a minimum of 16 days before taking the exam again.

Score Validity of GMAT

Being aware of your GMAT score is very important. The score is valid for up to 5 years from the exact date that the exam was taken. For example, if you took the GMAT in April 2019, your score will be valid until April 2024. GMAT score validity helps you in various ways. For example, if you prepared for an MBA and couldn’t get through for some reason, you can use the score you secured five years ago and pursue an MBA from your dream university.

Syllabus for GMAT

It is a computer-based test that measures an applicant’s ability on various parameters. The questions are categorised into four sections, these are: 

Analytical Writing Assessment

This section is designed to test your ability to analyse different arguments. You are required to:

  • Examine and analyse the given argument.
  • Explain the reason behind it and describe a critique for the same.
  • Use a methodological approach to explain your answer.
  • Explain your answer with various examples. 
  • Be sure of the grammar usage while writing your answers.

Integrated Reasoning 

This section is designed to test your analytical skills to solve complicated problems. The section contains 4 types of questions:

  • Table Analysis

In this section, questions are provided in a tabular form, from which you have to pick answers in the form of yes/no. Select true or false from the given multiple situations.

  • Graphics Interpretation 

In this section, you are given a graphical image or a graph. You are expected to interpret the graphs and answer the questions.

  • Multi-Source Reasoning

In this section, the questions are provided in tabular forms from which you have to answer in the form of true or false, yes/no or in the form of multiple-choice options.

  • Two-part Analysis

In this section, questions are provided in the form of multiple-choice situations from which you have to analyse two similar situations and answer the given questions. You have to answer in such a way that the options given complete the sentence in the question.

Quantitative Section

This is the third section and comprises of various arithmetic questions to test your mathematical abilities. The questions consist of multiple-choice questions in two categories:

  • Data Sufficiency Questions

This section measures your ability to systematically arrange different data. In this section, questions are provided with certain statements and five multiple-choice answers. The answer choices always remain the same. This section needs strong quantitative knowledge combined with analytical skills. 

  • Problem Solving Questions

This section is designed to test your ability to solve problems using various mathematical concepts. Problem-solving questions contain different probability questions to test your analytical skills, where you are given certain situations in which you have to find out the probability of a situation likely to happen most or least. This is one of the most difficult parts of the GMAT as the questions are tricky and puzzling. 

Want to ace the quantitative section, also read:  

Verbal Reasoning

This section is the longest section comprising of 36 questions to test your ability to read, write and construct sentences. The section is divided into 3 sub-sections:

  • Reading Comprehension

In this section, you are provided with a passage and multiple-choice questions on the same. You have to closely analyse the passage and provide the correct answer.

  • Critical Reasoning

This section contains arguments with five answer choices. You have to clear out the useful content from the irrelevant matter. Identify the key points that strengthen your argument, analyse the argument logically and choose the correct option.

  • Sentence Correction

In this section, you will be provided with sentences underlined with five answer choices. You have to analyse the answers and tick the right one. You have to make sure that the answer is grammatically correct. 

If you are confused about sentence correction questions, here are a few articles which can help you:

How to Reschedule GMAT?

There can be various reasons as to why you need to reschedule your GMAT. There are certain provisions under which you can reschedule GMAT exam before its actual date. You can choose a feasible date to get sufficient time to prepare for the exam and appear for it. 

Rules for Rescheduling GMAT

The exam can be rescheduled or even cancelled. But there are certain rules that need to be followed in both cases:

  • For rescheduling the exam, candidates are required to submit a rescheduling fee of Rs. 17,705 seven days before the exam. This includes charges for the changes in the time slot of the exam, date, and location of the exam. 
  • If a candidate has submitted the fees precisely 7 days before the exam, a refunded amount of Rs. 3,541 takes place. If a candidate has not been able to reschedule the exam and is late, then no refund is initiated for the rescheduling. You have to be very careful with the rescheduling process.
  • The rescheduling process can be done at the online portal or via phone call. If the candidate needs to reschedule the location of the exam, it needs to be done through a phone call. The fee for rescheduling to another location is $10 (Rs. 713 approximately).

Tips and Tricks for GMAT 

The only trick to ace your GMAT is by improving your fundamental skills that could increase your GMAT score exponentially, here are a few general tips that could help you prepare for the GMAT exam better:

  • Practice on a Computer

The exam is purely computer-based. It’s a 3-hour long test which requires full concentration. There are some people who can not pull the mental fatigue of sitting in front of a computer for a long time. Make sure you are prepared to do that. There are several online GMAT preparatory tests which are designed for practicing. These practice tests are easily available online and they cost nothing. You can easily practice and develop your skills which could help you in improving your skills.

  • Track your Time

Every section on the GMAT comes with a specific time duration. You need to answer every question in a given time period. It is important that you build a habit of answering fast and efficiently. Start this exercise of tracking yourself with a timer when you practice for the exam. This exercise can help you keep track of your abilities to answer quickly. 

  • Feed the Brain

Having a good memory always adds more points to your abilities to solve questions. Grasp everything you find valuable around you. Start by solving sample papers, mark your incorrect questions and redo them until they’re perfect. Talk to those who have already taken the exam. Keep adding things in your bucket that could help you prepare better. Keep practicing.

  • Find your Forte

It’s impossible to be perfect at everything. There will be some sections on the GMAT exam which will take you longer to grasp and you will spend a long time practicing them. But there will be some sections which won’t take you long to ace. You have to pick those particular sections and balance them with other sections. This way you can secure a good GMAT score.

  • Keep an Eye for Mistakes

It is always easy to point out wrong answers. Make a habit of identifying mistakes and work on them effectively.  This can only be possible by practicing regularly. Keep a track of your mistakes and improve them. If you get stuck on a question, eliminate the process of guessing and answering incorrectly. Take your time and fill the answer which completes the sentence.

If you’re looking for some more help on how to prepare for the exam, here is an article that might help you with the grammar section: 50 Difficult Words (with Meanings).

FAQs about GMAT 2020

How is the GMAT scored? 

The GMAT scorecard comprises a fixed scale that appears on the official GMAT Score Report which is useful for both candidates as well as their chosen institute. Here are the 4 sections of the exam and their prospective GMAT scores: 

  • Integrated Reasoning: 1-8
  • Verbal and Quantitative (Cumulative)- Between 200-800 and an important component
  • Verbal and Quantitative (Separate)- 0-60 
  • Analytical Writing Assessment- 0-6

These scoring areas assist the admission committee by providing them with an insight into the candidate’s proficiency in varied aspects. The aggregate GMAT score is the total of your quantitative and verbal scaled scores. Also, it should be noted that the number of questions, as well as the difficulty level of these sections, can also impact your GMAT score. 

Is there any way to predict your actual GMAT score? 

The answer to this question is fairly difficult as predicting the actual GMAT score is no easy feat. However, one of the best ways to predict the actual GMAT score is to take the free test offered by the GMAC. For the best possible estimation of your GMAT score, make use of this particular exam and the different practise materials available online as well as in preparatory books.

However, variation in practise test scores are normal and expected. Due to multiple factors, the predicted scores are affected and therefore spending time trying to estimate your probable score is not easy either. It is advisable that the practise tests should only be a part of simulating the test and not as a way of predicting one’s GMAT score. 

How much should one score on the GMAT to get into the world’s top business schools?

To get into the top B-Schools, it is important to be aware of the average GMAT scores accepted in the previous years. Here is a list of the average GMAT scores of some of the world’s top Business Schools and their MBA programs: 

MBA Programs2018 Score2017 Score2016 Score
Harvard Business School729729729
MIT Sloan School of Management 728722724
Columbia Business School732724720
Yale School of Management 724727725
Cornell (Johnson)699700700
UCLA (Anderson)719716715

Comparing these scores will give you a better idea about how you can better your performance. 

What is the average GMAT Score for different B-Schools in the USA? 

In recent years, it has been observed that the average score around the world is around 551.94. However, this score is applicable for anyone attempting the GMAT exam, including those who do not go ahead and apply for an institution. For those wanting to pursue their MBA from the US, you should be aware of the average GMAT scores of the different B-Schools in the country. Here is a list of some of the average scores accepted by the B-Schools in the USA: 

Business SchoolGMAT Score 
Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania732
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University 724
Yale School of Management721
NYU Stern School of Business720

What is the average GMAT Score for different B-Schools in Europe?

Those who get successfully selected at the European Business Schools are known for their exceptional performances in the GMAT exam and the GMAC report published proves that the mean GMAT score has risen up 6 points since 2016. Keeping this data in mind, let us have a look at some of the European B-Schools and the average GMAT score required by them: 

Business Schools Average 2018 GMAT ScoreAverage 2017 GMAT Score
London Business School707708
INSEAD711 712
Cambridge Judge Business School 693695
IESE Business School686690
HEC Paris691691

What is the syllabus of GMAT?

Ans. There are four sections in the GMAT paper and comprise of numerous concepts and topics. Below we have mentioned some of the major topics covered under each section of the GMAT syllabus:

Integrated Reasoning: Comprising of passages, graphs, tables or a combination of all three, this section is mainly based on: 

  • Graphics Interpretation
  • Two-part analysis
  • Table analysis 
  • Multi-Source Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning: The three kinds of questions under Verbal Reasoning include: 

  • Critical Reasoning 
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Sentence Correction 

Analytical Writing: This section is designed to test the candidate’s written communication skills as well as critical thinking. The syllabus for analytical writing can range over numerous topics from business-related to general awareness. 

Quantitative Reasoning: This section consists of two kinds of questions: 

  • Problem Solving 
  • Data Sufficiency

How long does it take to prepare for GMAT?

The GMAT preparation demands a serious commitment from the candidates and can span over two to three months or even more. The first and foremost things you need to do is to create a study schedule depending upon various factors, such as the time you have as well as the sections you need to cover. Make sure that you allocate specific hours in your study schedule for each section or the concepts you are working on. However, the study schedule and the hours devoted depends on the individual’s capacity. For instance, an average 120 hours of studying divided into ten weeks of studying will give you approximately 12 hours a week and will include tutoring sessions as well as class sessions. It is advisable to spread these hours evenly and start your preparation at the earliest. 

How is GMAT different from GRE?

GMAT is an international-level entrance exam that one needs to qualify in order to apply for Business and Management courses like MBA or leadership programs in top-ranked B-schools and management institutions.

There are various aspects that differentiate GMAT and GRE. The most significant difference between the two is that the GRE is for those wanting to apply for a wide variety of graduate school programs, while the GMAT is only for admission into business schools. Here are some of the major differences of the GMAT vs GRE:

  • The Quantitative section of the GMAT is usually more difficult than the GRE.
  • The Verbal section of the GMAT is easier than the GRE. It includes general English which focuses on grammar and reasoning whereas the GRE’s verbal section aims to test the candidate’s vocabulary.

How Important is GMAT?

Along with the other aspects of your application for an MBA program, the GMAT score plays an incremental role in getting you successfully shortlisted. As it is an international level exam, GMAT scores are accepted worldwide and it possesses the potential to highlight your application from the pile of others.

Who can give the GMAT?

Conducted on a global level, the GMAT has become an increasingly demanded entrance exam that one needs to qualify in order to take admission into the top business and management schools. For those planning to appear for this exam, here are the eligibility requirements you must keep in mind:

  • Applicants are required to qualify a bachelor’s degree from a recognised university.
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old. In case, a candidate’s age varies between 13-17 years, then he/she has to provide a consent proof of their guardian(s). 
  • Students from all across the world can appear for the GMAT exam; there is no restriction regarding the nationality of the applicant.
  • Candidates can appear for the GMAT exam for a maximum of 5 times in a year.
  • Candidates are required to wait for a minimum of 16 days before appearing the exam again.

How many times can you give the GMAT exam? 

For those who couldn’t crack this exam in the first attempt, the best part is that a candidate can retake the exam up to 5 times in a year. To reappear for the exam, candidates have to submit a written request to the GMAC. Candidates have to keep in mind that you have to wait for a minimum of 16 days before appearing for the retest. 

For how long is the GMAT score valid?

While the GMAT scores are only a single aspect of your MBA application, there might be other situations where you may not get shortlisted into your dream school. But you needn’t worry as the GMAT score is valid up to 5 years from the exact date the candidate appeared for the exam. For example, if the GMAT exam was given in April 2019, then the GMAT score validity lasts up to April 2024. So, if you couldn’t get through at first, you can apply for your chosen MBA degree again in the next year with the same GMAT score.

What is the format of the GMAT?

The following table enlists the GMAT paper pattern and structure:

Section of the GMATNumber of QuestionsType of QuestionsTime Limit
Analytical Writing Assessment 1 EssayArgument analysis30 minutes
Integrated Reasoning12 MCQsMulti-source Reasoning, Graphics, and Table Interpretation 30 minutes
Quantitative 31 MCQsData sufficiency and problem-solving 62 minutes
Verbal 36 MCQsReading Comprehension, Sentence Correction, and Critical Reasoning65 minutes
Total1 essay, 90 MCQs
3 hours, 7 minutes

What are the latest changes in the GMAT format? How can it impact your score?

In April 2018, the GMAC made some changes in the exam pattern and sections. The total number of questions was reduced under the quantitative and verbal section of the GMAT. The changes were minimal and did not affect the structure at large. Here’s what you need to know about the latest modifications in the GMAT structure. 

Before April 2018:

SectionNumber of QuestionsTime
Quantitative3775 minutes
Verbal4175 minutes

After April 2018:

Section Number of QuestionsTime 
Quantitative 3162 minutes
Verbal 3665 minutes 

GMAT is a prestigious and crucial exam which can help you enter the corporate industry. We hope that this extensive article on GMAT helped in clearing some of your confusions related to the preparation for the exam. If you’re planning to appear for the GMAT and need further assistance, Leverage Edu experts can guide you on how to strategize better so that you can ace the GMAT and soar towards your dream college.

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