GMAT Exam Pattern: What To Know & How To Prepare

gmat exam pattern
gmat exam pattern

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is an essential part of the business school application process. The GMAT is a multiple-choice, computer-based, and computer-adaptive standardized exam that is often a prerequisite for admission to graduate business programs (MBA) globally.

Therefore, if the WILL to take the test is there, the DESIRE and DRIVE to pass the exam shouldn’t be lacking. So, this article will show you the GMAT exam patterns and how best to prepare for GMAT.

GMAT is developed and administered by test maker GMAC to access business school applicants’ level of preparedness for graduate-level academic work. Business school admission committees study your GMAT score, along with work experience, academic record, and supporting materials, to evaluate your readiness for the rigors of an MBA program.

I’m sure you don’t want anything short of success in this exam. Therefore, you have to utilize our detailed GMAT exam pattern and success tips in other to excel.

Why Students Fail GMAT

The issue with the whole idea of sitting for exams is that no matter how tough or simple it seems, people will always pass or fail the exam. This assertion is no different from GMAT. No matter how difficult or easy it is said to be, you’ll find candidates with sad faces. So, the question now is why do students fail GMAT?

Over time, we have monitored students’ performance closely and noticed that students who perform poorly have certain traits in common. so, in this piece, we’ll be stating common errors that students make while preparing for the GMAT.

READ MORE: How Long Should I Study for the GRE? Best Answers

1: Poor Study Schedule

Ideally, studying for an exam is one of the surest hacks to passing the exam. Most times, students prefer cutting corners over working through the process of consistent conscious study. At times you get to hear questions like, Why can’t I just cram it? Obviously, that won’t help you.

It is true that he who fails to plan plans to fail. It is also true that there are two dimensions to planning. You can be planning to study for two weeks for the GMAT exam so that the knowledge will be fresh, Come on! that’s amiss. Who knows, you might be lucky, but, generally, the ideal thing to do is map out a step-by-step procedural study plan, in line with the GMAT exam pattern. Therefore, it is advised you consciously set a long-term study guide, this will even give you time to look into the various sections of the test and even take mock tests.

The more you are immersed in the skills and ideas required of you to perform on the test the more you will be able to learn and use them when the time comes. By limiting your study time, you will hold yourself back from making the most of that effort. Consistent study efforts mean you will hold onto more of what you need to know; that helps you improve faster and makes those skills easier to call on when you really need them.

Remember, studying for the GMAT takes time. Plan to spend about two to three months and 100–120 hours reviewing material and practicing regularly. 

2. Focusing on only one section

One other mistake students make is focusing on just one section. At times, students who end up studying consistently choose to focus their strengths on one section, especially when they think they are okay in the other section.

But unless you already have consistent performance in other sections, this is a dangerous choice. If you happen to find yourself performing better in the verbal section, don’t you think if you channel that same amount of energy to the quantitative section there will be improvements? Of course, there will.

A balanced study will lead to overall improved performance. A one-sided approach to studying will not be all assuring. You’ll find yourself lacking in the other section.

3: Not debriefing after practice exams

Practice tests are much more than the amount you get at the end of them. Although they can be a helpful way to map your results, digging into the individual questions can tell you so much more about what you need to learn and what your challenges are.

A thorough assessment of practice exams allows you to start sifting your performance for patterns, weaknesses, and strengths, this will help you know where to channel your energy. These are opportunities that help measure your progress rate. Thus, designing the perfect study plan for you.

If you aren’t taking the time to analyze these results, you can read them every day but not actually focus on the work that will make the biggest impact on you.

It may seem to you that you are doing your best enough to improve — but because you are not measuring your performance, you might be channeling your energy to the wrong angle. So, reflecting on what you did and how you performed can teach you just as much about the test and how to approach studying for it.

So, it’s best to genuinely know your performance and how you got about a particular result. This will help you build confidence for the upcoming GMAT exam.

How To Pass GMAT

If you really want to improve and pass the GMAT, you need to start getting practical about how you are going to achieve that. There’s no shortcut to passing a GMAT. Conscious preparation is key. Therefore, don’t make the mistake of trying to practice two weeks before the exam or even think about cramming. So, sketch an outline and take it gradually.

See the step-by-step process to passing the GMAT.

#1 Learn the GMAT Exam Pattern

This entails that you have to understand and get familiar with the GMAT format. Though the exam is not different from the normal academic syllables, it is possible for you to be perfect in mathematics in high school and struggle with GMAT quantitative section. The GMAT tests skills in a distinct manner. So, it is important you understand the exam format and learn how to tackle it.

One way to do this is by taking online adaptive practice tests. You can get them on resources such as our GMAT Ebook.

#2 Practice with GMAT Questions

The best way to measure your progress is by practicing with real GMAT questions. This will give you a firsthand idea of what you’ll face. You can get access to them by purchasing our Ebook.

Using our updated GMAT questions to practice makes you conversant with the methodology and tactics of the exam. Ideally, GMAT questions don’t vary yearly in question pattern and what they test. Therefore, getting used to the pattern with our GMAT Ebook will be a great advantage.

#3 Review the basic skills

The GMAT tests for knowledge in Maths, Grammar, and Reading comprehension. Asides from practicing with the GMAT guide, you also need to check your knowledge level in the following section. Certain key topics and subject areas should be considered.

#4: Focus on Your Weaknesses

Once you’ve taken a practice test a couple of times, you should be able to identify your strengths and weakness. Having knowledge of the exam pattern won’t be enough if you don’t practice and access your performance.

Focusing on your weakness will give you the biggest boost in terms of performance. It will help you avoid repeating the same mistakes and improve your performance.

#5: Work On Your Timing

After familiarizing yourself with the GMAT exam pattern and methodology, you need to calculate how much you spend on each question and check if it tallies with the amount of time allotted to the GMAT. Also, bear in mind that you might have a course to spend a greater amount of time on a particular question. However, it will be ideal for you to be time conscious.

To improve your timing, we’ve made available an updated copy of our GMAT Ebook for practice. Set a particular goal for how many questions of a particular type you should be able to answer in a given time limit, and strive to come closer to it with each study session. Try to answer 20 questions in 20 minutes, for example, then 20 questions in 15 minutes on a different day.

#6: Avoid Careless Mistakes

Most errors that GMAT takes make most times are avoidable errors not as a result of lack of knowledge. Therefore, to avoid making such mistakes, endeavor to read passages and other exam instructions carefully.

It may seem obvious, but some students (often unconsciously) try to save time by skimming the question itself and skipping to the answer choices. It’s important not to do this, as the problems and passages (such as in problem-solving quant questions and critical reasoning passages in the verbal section) contain all the information you need to answer the question. The language in the question itself is also important, as you could easily miss the gist of the question or what it’s really asking you to find or do if you don’t read it thoroughly, word for word.

GMAT Exam Pattern

The GMAT exam has four sections:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment— measures your capacity to think critically and to communicate your ideas
  2. Integrated Reasoning— measures your ability to analyze data and assess information presented in multiple formats
  3. Quantitative Reasoning– measures your capacity to analyze data and draw conclusions using reasoning skills
  4. Verbal Reasoning— This section checks your ability to read and understand written material, to evaluate arguments, and correct written material to conform to standard written English.

In total, the test takes just under 3 1/2  hours to complete, including two optional breaks.


To cap it all, knowing the GMAT exam pattern and following the step-by-step processes to follow in order to pass the GMAT exam is a great step in the right direction. Cheers!

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