GMAT Syllabus

What's the GMAT exam syllabus and exam pattern? GMAT Sample Questions

The first question that anyone who is writing the GMAT wants to know – What’s the GMAT Syllabus? What is the GMAT exam pattern? In this page, we are going to strive to get all your questions on this topic answered.

Did the GMAT undergo a change in 2018? If so, what is the GMAT Syllabus 2019?

Yes, the GMAT underwent a change in the year 2018. The good news – the overall GMAT syllabus remains unchanged even after the GMAT pattern changed in 2018. What has changed is the duration of the overall test – which has come down from a little over 3.5 hours to just about 3 hours. How was the change implemented? Some of the questions in the GMAT Verbal and the GMAT Quant sections were removed. The total number of questions to be answered in the GMAT Maths section was brought down to 31 from the previous 37 questions and the total number of verbal questions was brought down to 36 from 41.

The average time per question and the syllabus that these questions are tested from remain mostly unchanged.

Here is a table that compares the new and the old GMAT exam patterns

GMAT Exam Section 2018-2019 Test Pattern Old Pattern
Number of Questions Total Time Number of Questions Total Time
Analytical Writing Assessment 1 30 min 1 30 min
Integrated Reasoning 12 30 min 12 30 min
Quantitative Aptitude 31 62 min 37 75 min
Verbal Reasoning 36 65 min 41 75 min
Total Exam Time 3 hours 7 min 3 hours 30 min

The test also allows you to take 2 optional breaks of 8 minutes between the sections. The time for the breaks and the time to read the instructions at the beginning of the test have not been included in the above table.

What is the GMAT Exam Syllabus for the different sections?

The GMAT exam has four sections – the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), the Integrated Reasoning (IR), the Quantitative Aptitude and the Verbal Aptitude sections.

Let us look at each of these sections and understand what the syllabus and the pattern is for each of these GMAT sections.


GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment Syllabus

What is the GMAT AWA syllabus? What kind of AWA essay topics are given in the test?

The GMAT AWA section does NOT test your real life knowledge – you are not going to be given a current affairs topic and be asked to express your opinion on that topic. The AWA essay topic in the GMAT is a paragraph long – yes, a whole paragraph! The author of the paragraph would have already formed an opinion and the question will ask you to analyse the logical credibility and validity of the paragraph. You would also be asked to discuss any logical flaws that may be there in the opinion formed by the author. Here is a sample AWA topic so that you can better understand the GMAT test pattern.

The following appeared in a memorandum issued by the Managing Director of a restaurant

One year ago, we partnered with a service provider who facilitates online food ordering and delivery. Since we signed up with them, close to 40% of our total sales during peak hours and 70% during non-peak hours are coming through the app rather than through people who are walking into our restaurants. Clearly, more and more people are preferring to have food delivered to their doorsteps and the cost of running and maintaining our restaurants is becoming unjustified. I recommend that we save costs by moving to a smaller space to accommodate just our kitchen and completely get rid of the seating space. We would therefore be able to benefit tremendously from the current trend and will be able to significantly increase our profits.

Directions: Evaluate the logical validity of the above argument. In your discussion, you may want to evaluate the assumptions made by the author and identify and discuss logical flaws. It may also be appropriate to discuss how you would strengthen the argument.

If you want to know about the GMAT AWA test pattern and if you want to understand the section you can check out the GMAT AWA free sample questions from the official GMAT website in this pdf file.You can download the document by clicking here.

How is the AWA in the GMAT scored?

The AWA score is on a scale of 0 to 6 and is not part of the 800 score in the GMAT. The score is not given right after the GMAT test is done because someone has to read and evaluate the essay. All other sections’ scores will be visible right after the GMAT test is completed because the answers are evaluated by the computer. The GMAT AWA score is given in 0.5 intervals and a score of 5 or more (5, 5.5, and 6) are generally considered good scores for the AWA in GMAT.


GMAT Integrated Reasoning Syllabus

What kind of questions are tested in GMAT IR? What is the exam pattern of the IR section in the GMAT?

The GMAT IR question types include

  1. Table Analysis: Read and understand the tabular information that is presented and then answer the questions that follow. The table acts like an excel sheet in the sense that you can reorder the information according to whichever column you want. So questions that ask you to classify the information or count the number of elements greater than or less than a value can be answered easily.
  2. Graphics Interpretation: Understand the graph or chart that is given and then answer the questions. Graphs that have been tested in the GMAT include line diagrams, bar diagrams, scatter diagrams, pie chart, flow charts. Questions test both understanding & interpretation of the graph and calculations based on the information given in the graph.
  3. Multi-source Reasoning: A combination of multiple sources of information – could be tables, graphs, or passages – would be presented and you have to process all sources of information together in order to answer the questions that are given.
  4. Two-part Analysis: Complex problems with two subdivisions within each question. A prompt will be given and the prompt will be followed by two questions. For the two questions, a common set of answer options will be given. One of the options from the set has to be picked for the first question and one for the second question. Concepts tested can not only be based on data interpretation from tables and graphs but also be ones learnt as part of GMAT Quant syllabus and from the GMAT verbal syllabus.

Here is a sample question that is representative of the GMAT IR test pattern. This is a graphics interpretation question.

Directions: Understand the graphical information to answer the question that follows

The percentage change in the exports of the country was the highest in the year ________ when it changed by approximately _____ over the previous year.

Correct Answer to the IR Sample Question

The percentage change in the exports of the country was the highest in the year 2015 when it changed by approximately 15% over the previous year.

 

How is the IR section in the GMAT scored?

The GMAT IR score is not part of the main 800 score either. The IR score is on a scale of 1 to 8, in 1 point intervals. A good score on the IR section is to have at least 6 (6, 7, or 8). Since the syllabus for the Integrated Reasoning section in the GMAT is a combination of the GMAT Quant syllabus and the GMAT verbal question types, preparing for the IR section in GMAT after preparing for the other two sections makes sense.


GMAT Quant Syllabus

What is tested in GMAT Quant? What is the Quantitative Aptitude syllabus?

The GMAT syllabus for Quant is, at its simplest, high school math. What maths did you learn in the first two years of high school? Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry right? Those are the very same topics that constitute the syllabus of the GMAT Quant section.

Here is a partial list of the topics that you will have GMAT Quant questions from

Arithmetic

Algebra

Geometry

What is the GMAT question pattern for the Quant section? What type of questions are tested in the Quant section of the GMAT?

Although the broad syllabus of the GMAT Quant section is high school maths, the way in which these topics are tested could be different from how students learnt these topics in high school. There are two kinds of questions that are asked in the GMAT Quant section

  • Problem Solving (PS) questions
  • Data Sufficiency (DS) questions
Problem Solving (PS) questions

GMAT PS questions are very similar to high school ‘statement problems’. You need to process the information given and find the value asked by the question. About 2/3rd of the GMAT Quant section would be problem solving questions. This means that out of the total 31 questions in the GMAT Quant section, you can expect 18 to 20 PS questions.

Here is a sample GMAT problem solving question

Question : 'x' is a positive number such that the result of tripling nine more than seven times x is the same as forty three more than five times x. What is the value of x?

  1. 3
  2. 1
  3. 1.5
  4. 12
  5. 16

If you want to solve more problem solving questions, you can check out our free GMAT quant practice questionbank by clicking here.

Data Sufficiency (DS) questions

GMAT DS questions are unlike maths question you would have done before. These questions test your understanding of fundamental maths concepts and your ability to determine how much information is needed to find the answer for any given mathematical construct. This GMAT question type constitutes about 1/3rd of the GMAT Quant section. So about 11 to 13 of the 31 questions in the Quant section would be DS questions

What exactly is a GMAT DS question? Let us see an example

This data sufficiency problem consists of a question and two statements, labeled (1) and (2), in which certain data are given. You have to decide whether the data given in the statements are sufficient for answering the question. Using the data given in the statements, plus your knowledge of mathematics and everyday facts (such as the number of days in a leap year or the meaning of the word counterclockwise), you must indicate whether -

  1. Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
  2. Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
  3. BOTH statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question asked, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked.
  4. EACH statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked.
  5. Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question asked, and additional data specific to the problem are needed.
Numbers

All numbers used are real numbers.

Figures

A figure accompanying a data sufficiency question will conform to the information given in the question but will not necessarily conform to the additional information given in statements (1) and (2)

Lines shown as straight can be assumed to be straight and lines that appear jagged can also be assumed to be straight

You may assume that the positions of points, angles, regions, etc. exist in the order shown and that angle measures are greater than zero.

All figures lie in a plane unless otherwise indicated.

Note

In data sufficiency problems that ask for the value of a quantity, the data given in the statement are sufficient only when it is possible to determine exactly one numerical value for the quantity.

Question: If y > 0, is y an integer?

  1. 2y is an integer
  2. y2 is an integer

To practice more GMAT data sufficiency questions, click here.

How is the Quant section in the GMAT scored?

There are two scores that you will get based on your performance in the GMAT Quant section. One is the sectional score and the other is the overall 800 score. The overall GMAT 800 score is calculated based on both the Quant and the Verbal sections.

The sectional score for the Quant section, for practical purposes, is on a scale of 0 to 51, which means the maximum score possible in the Quant section is a 51 (commonly referred to as Q51). This score is then scaled up to the 800 scale (equal weightage given to the Quant and the Verbal sections). A good score in the GMAT quant section would be anything upward of 49 (Q49, Q50, and Q51).


GMAT Verbal Section Syllabus

What is tested in GMAT Verbal? What is the Verbal Ability section syllabus?

There are three types of questions tested in the GMAT Verbal section. These three GMAT Verbal question types are

  1. Sentence Correction
  2. Reading Comprehension
  3. Critical Reasoning
Sentence Correction (SC)

Sentence Correction questions test your understanding of English Grammar rules. In 2019, if you write the GMAT., there will be about 11 to 13 questions from this question type out of the total 36 questions in the GMAT verbal section.

In GMAT SC, a sentence is given with a part of the sentence or the entire sentence underlined. From the options given, the best way to construct the underlined portion has to be chosen. When identifying the ‘best’ way to construct the underlined part, the rules of standard written English must be followed. The syllabus for GMAT SC includes such error types as

  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Modifiers
  • Parallelism
  • Idioms
  • Word Usage
  • Word Tenses
  • Pronoun Usage

Here is a sample GMAT SC question to help you better understand this question type

Directions: Choose the best way of constructing the underlined part of the sentence.

Despite the fact that the forces of nature are strong and by no means always peaceful, the destruction of the planet and many of its creatures has to be attributed for the natural predation of humankind.

  1. has to be attributed for the natural predation of humankind
  2. have to be attributed to the nature that is predatory in humankind
  3. have to be attributed for the predation in the nature of humankind
  4. has to be attributed to the predation to the nature by humankind
  5. has to be attributed to the predatory nature of humankind

If you wish to practice more GMAT Sample Questions in SC, click here

Reading Comprehension (RC)

In RC, GMAT gives you a passage and asks questions based on the passage. The GMAT RC section tests a student’s ability to understand and process the information that is presented in the passage. If you are writing the GMAT exam in 2019, it would mean about 11 – 13 questions out of the total 36 GMAT verbal questions will come from GMAT RC. When solving GMAT RC questions, the screen will be split into two, with the passage on the left half of the screen and the questions appearing on the right half of the screen.

Check out this passage to get an idea of the test pattern in GMAT RC. Note: Some of the actual passages in GMAT RC will be longer than this passage.

In everyday usage, it is very common to hear people say “I just had a thought”. This leaves us with the impression that thoughts are conscious. However, not everyone would agree. Some psychologists believe that while some kinds of thoughts can be conscious, most of our thoughts are actually not part of our conscious being.
When we have a train of thought that we are consciously following, when our ‘mind voice’ is having a conversation with ourselves or when we are creating a visual imagery for a sensory experience, we are having conscious thoughts. However, more abstract concepts such as attitudes, goals, decisions, intentions, and judgements are not tied to any sensory experience and are not a part of our working memory. Such thoughts cannot be called ‘conscious thoughts’
It can be inferred from the passage that they author considers a thought ‘conscious’ only when
A. It leads to the creation of visual imagery
B. It is not tied to a sensory experience
C. It is a part of our working memory
D. It is pronounced ‘I had a thought’
E. It is not a goal or decision

Having a regular reading habit is clearly important to answer GMAT RC questions well. In order to read more passages, you can check out our GMAT RC sample questions database here.

Critical Reasoning (CR)

For test-takers writing the GMAT exam in 2019, Critical Reasoning questions will account for about 8 to 10 questions in the GMAT Verbal section. The critical reasoning questions in the 2019 exam pattern test your ability to critically evaluate a paragraph that is presented to you. The question types that you need to prepare for in GMAT CR include

  • Identify the Assumption
  • Weaken the Argument
  • Strengthen the Argument
  • Resolve the Paradox
  • Bold-Face Reasoning

Let us present a sample bold-face reasoning CR question here.

Rural areas in the world that are still not connected to the Internet have been identified in a recently published report. Following the publication of the report, many leading companies have recognised the untapped potential and are investing billions of dollars in bringing infrastructure to all corners of the world. However, their strategy need not necessarily be effective in contributing to their long-term revenues. Most of the investment is being made to bring infrastructure to inaccessible regions and the cost of a smartphone or services is unaffordable to a large portion of the population living in the regions. Moreover, having no clue what the word ‘Internet’ means, the people in these areas would have to first be educated on the same.

The two sentences in bold-face perform which of these roles in the argument?

  1. The first presents a fact that the author is disputing and the second presents an opinion drawn based on that fact
  2. The first is a fact that the author implicitly agrees and the second is a statement that the author disagrees with
  3. The first is an opinion directly contrary to the author’s opinion and the second is the author’s opinion
  4. The first is a fact that has contributed to a decision and the second expresses the author’s disagreement with the decision
  5. The first is a fact supporting one point of view and the second is a fact supporting the contrary point of view.

To see more examples of all the GMAT CR question types, you can check out our CR question bank here.


What does it mean to say ‘The GMAT is a Computer Adaptive Test’?

The sections of the GMAT exam that contribute to the main 800 part of the total GMAT score – GMAT Quant and GMAT Verbal – are Computer Adaptive. A computer adaptive test (CAT) means that the test is evaluated by the computer. Not just is the computer determining whether you are marking the correct answer, it is also deciding what questions to give you based on how well you are answering the questions.

Imagine you are on the hot seat of some game similar to ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?” (Or “Kaun Banega Crorepati” if you insist on a desi example). You know how in such games, the first few questions are very straightforward? But then the rest of the questions do not stay simple! As the amount of money at stake increases, so does the level of difficulty of the questions that are asked. Well, that is a layperson analogy to help you understand what happens during the GMAT test.

Everyone begins the GMAT exam by answering questions of the same level of difficulty. If you keep answering questions correctly, then the computer starts generating questions of higher difficulty. These questions are worth more points to your score if you answer them correctly. On the other hand. if you make a mistake and answer questions incorrectly, the computer does not hand you a cheque and end the game; it simply starts generating easier questions that are worth fewer points. So your performance determines your chances to score more in the test. The computer adapts to your performance in the GMAT exam.

What does this mean for a test-taker?

  1. You cannot skip a question or mark them for later review.
  2. You cannot go back to a question already answered.
  3. You have to try and answer all the questions in the sections.
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