Ultimate Guide to the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

Suppose you already have an undergraduate degree and have set your sights on a Master of Business Administration (MBA). In that case, you will want to stand out from other applicants applying for the same program. This is especially true as an international student. One of the best ways to do this is to take the GMAT and get a high score. This score, along with your previous academic performance, work experience, and other supporting materials, will be used to determine whether you can handle the requirements of an MBA.

What Is the GMAT?

GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission Test. Recognized globally, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) developed and administered the test globally. It is also the test that any student, domestic or international, must take as part of the application process for an MBA program at any university in the U.S.

How Is the GMAT Structured?

The GMAT tests an applicant’s critical thinking skills, including analyzing and evaluating qualitative and quantitative material and logical problem-solving within time constraints. To accomplish this, the GMAT exam is divided into four sections:

The total test time is about three hours, not including two optional eight-minute breaks. Test takers must also check in 30 minutes before the start of the test.

Let’s take a look at the sections of the GMAT exam in more detail.


You have 62 minutes to complete his section of the GMAT. There are 31 questions divided into problem-solving and data sufficiency. This section evaluates the applicant’s ability to analyze data and use reasoning skills to interpret and draw conclusions from the data.


This section of the GMAT is the longest at 65 minutes and includes 36 questions covering:

Integrated Reasoning

You will have 30 minutes to complete this section of 12 questions covering:

This section assesses the applicant’s ability to process and evaluate information from different sources and formats.

Analytical Writing Assessment

You will have 30 minutes to complete this section of a single topic for which the applicant must provide an analysis of an argument. The goal is to determine the applicant’s ability to apply critical thinking to problems and communicate ideas effectively.

GMAT Scoring

Each section of the GMAT is given its score, and the scores for each section are added together for a total test score. Thus, you can expect five scores. The scoring for each section is summarized below:

The total score for the GMAT exam is given in 10-point increments on a scale from 200 to 800. This overall score is based on both the accuracy of the answers and the difficulty of the questions selected by the applicant.

You should aim for a score of at least 710. The top MBA programs in the U.S. typically look for scores between 710 and 740. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Even though the test is challenging, most test takers only answer 50% to 70% of the questions and still score in the low 700s.

You will be able to see your unofficial score as soon as you have finished the test. Your official score will be available as an official score report accessed through your mba.com account within 7 to 20 business days. Your score on the test is valid for five years, and you can send your official score report to five separate programs at no extra cost. If you took the test online, you can send the official score report within 48 hours of receiving it.


The cost of the GMAT varies based on country. In North America, the exam costs US$275. However, there are additional fees to take into consideration. These include:

How to Take the GMAT Exam

You can take the GMAT at an official test center or have a reliable and fast-wired internet connection.

If you take the GMAT at one of their test centers, you will be supplied with the space and tools you need to take the test. This includes:

If you choose to take the test at home, you will have to meet specific requirements in terms of technology and environment. You will need:

You will need to take photos or a video of your test area before you start the test to prove you don’t have any books around or any other material within reach. You must also have your photo ID on hand to prove your identity.

You must also ensure that the environment in which you take the GMAT is private and quiet. Your computer must be on a table or desk, and you should be seated in a chair. You must dress appropriately without a watch, jewelry, head coverings (unless previously approved), purses, bags, or other technology. There is no eating or drinking during the test, and you should not have books, notepads, or writing implements nearby.

If you want something for scratching notes on, you can use a physical or virtual whiteboard. The virtual whiteboard is accessible through the testing platform and will have unlimited workspace.

If you use a physical whiteboard, ensure you have it in time for the test. It must be no bigger than 12 inches by 20 inches (30 cm by 50 cm), and you can have two dry-erase markers and one dry-erase whiteboard eraser. The whiteboard must be completely clean before you start the test, and you will have to show both sides of the board before the exam starts, before you take a break, and before the end of the exam.

There are two optional eight-minute breaks during the test. If you choose to take these breaks, you must follow the online instructions. If you leave your desk during your break, you must leave the camera running; if you are using a physical whiteboard, you must leave it at your desk. If you are not back at your desk when your break time is up, the extra time you are gone will be deducted from your test time.

If you do not obtain your desired score on the GMAT the first time, you can retake it in 16 days, up to five times in 12 months, and up to eight times over your lifetime. 

Canceling or Rescheduling the GMAT Exam

If you want to cancel your GMAT exam registration, you can get a portion of your fees back. In the U.S., the refund breakdown is as follows:

You must pay a fee if you wish to reschedule your GMAT exam. These fees are as follows:

GMAT Preparation

It is recommended that you begin test preparation at least four weeks before the date of your GMAT exam. You can visit the mba.com website to access any official test preparation materials for the exam. There is a free practice book you can download, practice tests available, and resources for further preparation. In addition, here are some tips and strategies to help you prepare for and take the GMAT:

Final Word on the GMAT 

Your education is one of the most important things in your life. It represents your future, and taking the GMAT will get you one step closer to getting that education at the university of your dreams. And that is only the beginning.

For more information on taking the GMAT, visit eduPASS today.