What is the GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is a standardized test used for graduate business school admissions. Some business schools will accept either the GMAT or GRE.


See information on our test prep tutors for the GMAT.


This 3½-hour test consists of one 30-minute essay (which you type on the computer) plus multiple-choice questions:

  • Analytical Writing: one 30-minute essay
    • Analysis of an argument essay
  • Integrated Reasoning section: 12 questions in 30 minutes
    • Graphics interpretation
    • Two-part analysis
    • Table analysis
    • Multi-source reasoning
  • Quantitative section: 37 questions in 75 minutes
    • Data sufficiency
    • Problem-solving
  • Verbal section: 41 questions in 75 minutes
    • Reading comprehension
    • Sentence correction
    • Critical reasoning

Since October 1997, the GMAT has been administered exclusively as a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) in special testing centers in the USA and around the world. A CAT test is one in which the multiple-choice questions are dynamically selected as you take the test; the questions will adjust to your ability level, and your test will be unique. For each multiple-choice section of the GMAT exam, there is a large pool of potential questions ranging from a low to high level of difficulty. Each section of the test starts with a question of moderate difficulty. If you answer the first question correctly, the computer will usually give you a harder question. If you answer the first question incorrectly, your next question will be easier. This process will continue until you complete the section, at which point the computer will have an accurate assessment of your ability level in that subject area. In a CAT, only one question at a time is presented. Because the computer scores each question before selecting the next one, you may not skip, return to, or change your responses to previous questions.


The GMAT score report includes five scores within these ranges:

  • Quantitative score: 0-60
  • Verbal score: 0-60
  • Overall scaled score: 200-800 (based on Quantitative and Verbal scores)
  • Analytical Writing score: 1-6
  • Integrated Reasoning score: 1-8

The overall scaled score is the most important of the four scores. The table below lists the average GMAT scores for the top 29 graduate business schools as ranked by US News & World Report in 2012:

Graduate School of Business Average 
Harvard University 724
Stanford University 730
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 718
M.I.T. (Sloan)  710
Northwestern University (Kellogg) 712
University of Chicago (Booth) 719
University of California--Berkeley (Haas) 715
Columbia University 716
Dartmouth College (Tuck) 718
Yale University 719
New York University (Stern) 719
Duke University (Fuqua) 689
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor (Ross) 703
University of Virginia (Darden) 701
University of California--Los Angeles (Anderson) 704
Cornell University (Johnson) 691
University of Texas--Austin (McCombs) 692
Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) 686
Emory University (Goizueta) 681
University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) 689
University of Southern California (Marshall) 687
Washington University in St. Louis (Olin) 696
Indiana University--Bloomington (Kelley) 670
Georgetown University (McDonough) 686
Ohio State University (Fisher) 674
Rice University (Jones) 673
University of Notre Dame (Mendoza) 692
University of Wisconsin--Madison 680
Vanderbilt University (Owen) 695

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