GMAT 2020: Syllabus and Section Wise Details

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    GMAT is a computer adaptive test that evaluates the candidate on the basis of logical reasoning, analytical writing, quantitative and verbal and reading skills. Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) conducts this exam every year to choose the brightest minds required in the global business scenario. GMAT is considered as the most significant examination for admission to all MBA programs across the globe. It not only tests your skill based on GMAT Syllabus but also the mental adaptation to each and every problem. Many students, who get a good GMAT Score, take admission in the Ivy-League B-Schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, Yale University, Harvard University, and Columbia University.

    GMAT Score is also the front door entry to other management programs like for Master in Management programs, Master's programs in business analytics, information systems, or technology management.

    Since this acts as a gateway to many of the top Universities, candidates come across competition like no other examination. So for admission to top Universities abroad, average cut off ranges from 650 to 750. For example, the average GMAT score for admission in The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is 770, Stanford University is 740 and for Harvard University, the GMAT cut off Score is 730.

    With the amount of competition that is there, it is prudent to have a structural approach which would include sitting down and understanding the complete GMAT Syllabus as well as theGMAT Exam Pattern. Experts suggest that there is a high correlation between a high GMAT exam score and taking admission in the business school of own choice because the acceptance rate of top universities is directly proportional to the GMAT Score.


    GMAT Syllabus 2020: Highlights

    SectionsNumber of QuestionsDuration
    Analytical WritingAnalysis of Argument30 minutes
    Integrated Reasoning Section12 questions30 minutes
    Optional Break10 minutes
    Quantitative Section37 questions (15 questions in Data Sufficiency and 22 in Problem Solving)75 minutes
    Optional Break10 minutes
    Verbal Section41 MCQs (12 Critical Reasoning, 14 Reading Comprehension, 15 Sentence Correction)75 minutes

    GMAT Syllabus 2020 as prescribed by GMAC

    GMAT Syllabus consists of four individual subjects namely Analytical Writing which will access your ability to think critically, Integrated Reasoning – It aims to evaluate your analytical skills to solve a complicated problem, Quantitative Reasoning - mathematical in nature to check your ability to asses the given data systematically and Verbal Reasoning having questions based on reading comprehension and critical reasoning.

    Before we look at the syllabus in detail, let us have look at a few specifics related to GMAT:

    • Ordering of sections: You will have the 3 options of choosing the order to attempt these sections in. While the exam initially lasted longer, right now, the total time for the GMAT exam is clocked at 3 hours and 30 minutes, including the test instructions and breaks. They are as follows:
      1. Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning – 8-minute optional break – Quantitative Reasoning – 8-minute optional break – Verbal Reasoning (Default option)
      2. Verbal Reasoning – 8-minute optional break – Quantitative Reasoning – 8-minute optional break - Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning
      3. Quantitative Reasoning – 8-minute optional break – Verbal Reasoning – 8-minute optional break - Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning
    Exam Pattern

    GMAT Exam Pattern 2020

    The Verbal Reasoning has 36 questions, clocked at 65 minutes each whereas and Quantitative Reasoning section has 31 questions, clocked at 62 minutes. Talking about the Analytical Writing section and Integrated Reasoning section, they are timed at 30 minutes each. Analytical Reasoning requires you to write an essay while the Integrated Reasoning section has a total of 12 questions. Thus, there are a total of 80 questions asked in the examination and the total duration of the test is 3 hours and 7 minutes.

    • GMAT Score: The GMAT Score Report comprises of the Quantitative Score (0 – 51), Verbal Score (0 – 51), AWA Score (half-integers from 0 to 6), Integrated Reasoning score (integer from 1 to 8) and Total GMAT Score (200 – 800). There is also a percentile assigned with all of these sections, indicating your performance compared to other candidates taking the test.
    • Validity of your GMAT Score: GMAT score is valid for a period of 5 years.
    • Attempt Limit: Candidates can attempt the GMAT exam to a maximum of 8 times in their lifetime and 5 times a year. However, experts suggest not attempting GMAT more than 3 times as every re-take of GMAT reduces the chance of getting the top University.
    • Score Report: You will receive the complete GMAT Score Report within 20 days of giving the test including the AWA Score on your registered E-mail ID.
    Quantitative Reasoning

    GMAT Quantitative Reasoning

    GMAT Quantitative Section consists of two sections, Problem Solving with approximately 18-20 questions and Data Sufficiency with approximately 11-13 questions. GMAT quant is automatically considered as very tough as the competition from across the globe, or maybe you yourself tried encountered a few questions yourself which were tough, however, GMAT does not ask any concept beyond high-school level math.

    GMAC knows that there are thousands of humanities majors who may not have thought about calculus integrals in years. Instead, GMAT tests quantitative reasoning by piling relatively simple concepts on top of each other to create multi-level problems. Sound like a feature a good manager should have?

    Important topics included in GMAT Quant Section are as follows 

    • Arithmetic
    • Geometry
    • Number properties
    • Pre-algebra
    • Algebra
    • Permutation and combinations
    • Exponents and roots

    However, the best way to prepare for GMAT Quant is to spend the majority of your time focusing on practice problems and practice tests.

    Problem-Solving questions in GMAT measure skills that how well the test takers solve any critical situation with rational approaches. 

    GMAT Data Sufficiency questions, not only focuses on solving the problem, but also about analyzing the question, further evaluating two statements and deciding if either, both, or neither is sufficient to answer the question. These questions test the same types of skills the GMAT looks at in IR.

    One cannot use a calculator on this section of the test, thus, it is very important to do a brush up on your number sense particularly if it’s been some time since you worked with numbers.

    For Data Sufficiency, following set of tricks are enough to get you going:

    • Elimination Method: Do it strategically and you can eliminate up to three answers at a time with Data Sufficiency!
    • Solving the Purpose: Don’t solve the problem (unless you really absolutely 100% have to). No, really. Focus on the statements and the idea of sufficiency. Don’t lose sight of the purpose of these questions.
    • Individual Sufficiency: Think about each statement separately before considering them together. If you consider them together first, it’ll be harder to see if one is actually sufficient on its own.
    Verbal Reasoning

    GMAT Verbal Reasoning

    GMAT Verbal Section measures the ability of the test takers to interpret and read the given excerpt to answer the given questions. This section is required to check the probable usage of efficient English as required. Well if you want to become successful in the contemporary business world, multiple skills are important, but undeniably, verbal skills will put right on the top. All of business dealings involve selling which requires presenting words and interpreting words. It is equally important for both the seller and the buyer need to have sophisticated verbal skills to negotiate the finer points of selling at almost any level.

    Verbal Reasoning section of GMAT consists of three types of questions: Reading Comprehension (RC); (2) Critical Reasoning; and (3) Sentence Correction. It will test the ability to comprehend the written material, read and understand the logical relationship between the points mentioned in the passage and concepts. 

    Reading Comprehension questions give you a short (200-300 words) or long (300-400 words) passage, and then based on the inferences, answer three or four multiple-choice questions, respectively. You would be tested on the following reading skills: inference, application, main idea, supporting the idea, logical structure, and style.

    Critical Reasoning questions set forth an argument that you then analyze which measures your skill to make arguments, evaluate arguments, and formulate or evaluate a plan of action. There are eight different types of CR questions, all of which are multiple choices.

    Sentence Correction problems present you with a sentence. Part of this sentence is underlined, and you have to decide if there’s a grammatical problem. If so, you choose from one of four alternatives to the underlined portion.

    Topics that will be covered in the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section are as follows: 

    • Critical reasoning
    • Rhetorical construction of the sentences
    • Sentence correction including finding error or omission
    • Reading unseen passages
    • Subject-verb agreement
    • Misplace modifiers
    • Countable Vs Uncountable
    • Parallelism

    The best strategy to follow for this section is to read and read as much as possible. What this will do is that you would then be immersed in words that would also include words that you had never heard or read before. 

    It is advised to read at least 40-50 pages per day or approximately 1-2 hours. You can help yourself by reading a mixture of books, articles, magazines, newspapers, fiction, and non-fiction. The most important thing is to interpret the meaning of the author’s text. You can even think of the author’s thoughts in your own words. 

    Integrated Reasoning

    GMAT Integrated Reasoning

    GMAT tests your higher-order reasoning through the Integrative Reasoning section which includes questions about the integration of information (organizing, synthesizing), evaluating information (tradeoffs and benefits of different actions), making inferences from data (and predictions), relating information to other data, and strategizing based on data provided.

    This section has the following topics included in it:

    • Table Analysis (TA)
    • Two-Part Analysis (2PA)
    • Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR)
    • Graphics Interpretation (GI)

    Table Analysis measures your ability to sort and analyze a table comprising data, like a spreadsheet, to determine the significant information or the one that meets certain conditions.

    Two-Part Analysis will measure your skill to solve complex problems including verbal, quantitative, or a combination of both. The two-part analysis measures your ability to solve simultaneous equations, evaluate trade-offs, and discern relationships between two entities.

    Multi-Source Reasoning requires examining the data from multiple sources tables, graphics, text passages, or a combination of all the three and analyze each source of data carefully to answer multiple questions. Thus, the candidates will be asked to draw inferences and others may require you to determine whether data is important. 

    Graphics Interpretation requires you to interpret the information presented in a graph or graphical image (scatter plot, x/y graph, bar chart, pie chart, or statistical curve distribution) to find out relationships and make inferences that will eventually help you in analyzing the business performance.

    Writing Assessment

    GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment

    The AWA in GMAT tests you on the basis of the essay written by you based on the argument provided in the exam. You’ll write a response, typically 4 to 6 paragraphs, in which you evaluate the argument. The logic over here is to check your ability to think critically about opinions presented to you. Analyzing the information as well to determine what information might help you further evaluate the argument in more depth.

    The following are useful in the Analytical Writing Assessment section of GMAT:

    • Brainstorming
    • Writing an introduction
    • Writing body paragraphs
    • Concluding your essay

    There are two types of essays that can be asked in GMAT: Argument essay and Issue essay.

    In an argument essay, you have to analyze the reasoning and then present your argument. It will all depend on how well reasoned your argument is.

    In the Issue essay section, you have to write an essay on the issue given to you. It should have around 600 words and the opinion can be supportive of the given statement or candidates can give their own opinion

    However, it is obviously best to practice this section as well, but since this is not going to make your GMAT Score, thus, it is important to keep it at the lowest priority.


    GMAT Syllabus FAQs

    Ques. Can I Skip any of the sections?

    Ans. No, you cannot skip any of the GMAT sections.

    Ques. What topics are included in Parallel Construction?

    Ans. It includes: Parallel Construction, Verb, Tenses, Subject/Verb Agreement, Noun Agreement, Comparison Words, Quantity Words, Redundancy, Subjunctive Mood, Indirect and Direct Speech, Active and Passive Voice, Sentence Structure, Punctuation

    Ques. What is the difference between the CAT and GMAT syllabus?

    Ans. CAT syllabus comprises of topics like Quantitative, Logical and Verbal Reasoning, under the sections - Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC).

    GMAT syllabus comprises of topics like Quantitative, Logical and Verbal Reasoning under sections - Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Integrated Reasoning.

    GMAT exam also includes the Analytical Writing Assessment section which is not presented in CAT Exam. Also, there is no descriptive question in CAT exam.

    1. Does the Verbal section only measure my understanding of grammar?
    2. The Verbal section is a test of understanding and logic presented in the question rather than just grammar.

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College


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