The basics
THE USA: Applying to University

GMAT: The pathway to Business School

What is the GMAT and what role does it play for admissions to Business School in America?



What is the GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test is a standardised test used by admissions staff at American Business Schools to judge students applying to study with them. In fact, over 2,000 institutions use the GMAT to help decide which applicants to nearly 6,000 programmes receive a place on their chosen course. Furthermore your GMAT scores are used by an institution to measure your potential


The GMAT is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council. Despite the GRE now being accepted by many Business Schools, the GMAT remains the most popular admissions test for those wishing to study Business at (post) graduate level in America.



GMAT structure

The GMAT is split into 4 sections and overall lasts 3 hours 30 mins:



1. Analytical Writing Assessment


Aim: To measure your ability to think critically and to communicate your ideas.


Task: Analysis of an argument (“Argument task”). You are presented with a piece of writing presenting a position on a topic. You must analyse the logic of the position given and write a critique of it, demonstrating flaws in the argument.


Example question:

"Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer: they could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money." 

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. 


Scored: On a scale of 0-6


Length: 30mins




2. Integrated Reasoning


Aim: To measure your ability to evaluate information presented in multiple formats from multiple sources.


Task: 12 questions involving the interpretation of graphs, tables and written text from several sources.


Scored: On a scale of 1-8


Example: See an example of an Integrated Reasoning question here


Length: 30mins




3. Quantitative Section


Aim: To measure your ability to analyse data and draw conclusions using reasoning skills


Task: 37 multiple choice questions. These are either Data Sufficiency (analyse a problem, recognise relevant info and decide what info can be used to assess the problem) or Problem Solving (basic understanding of mathematical concepts). While level of reasoning is quite high, the actual math should be within the grasp of an 11th grade student.



If u > t, r > q, s > t, and t > r, which of the following must be true? 

I. u > s 
II. s > q 
III. u > r

  • (A) I only 
  • (B) II only
  • (C) III only
  • (D) I and II
  • (E) II and III 


Length: 75mins




4. Verbal Reasoning


Aim: To measure your ability to read and understand written material, evaluate arguments and correct written material so it meets standard written English.


Task: 41 multiple choice questions: critical reasoning, reading comprehension and sentence correction.



Critical reasoning

The cost of producing radios in Country Q is ten percent less than the cost of producing radios in Country Y. Even after transportation fees and tariff charges are added, it is still cheaper for a company to import radios from Country Q to Country Y than to produce radios in Country Y.

The statements above, if true, best support which of the following assertions?

  • (A) Labour costs in Country Q are ten percent below those in Country Y.
  • (B) Importing radios from Country Q to Country Y will eliminate ten percent of the manufacturing jobs in Country Y.
  • (C) The tariff on a radio imported from Country Q to Country Y is less than ten percent of the cost of manufacturing the radio in Country Y.
  • (D) The fee for transporting a radio from Country Q to Country Y is more than ten percent of the cost of manufacturing the radio in Country Q.
  • (E) It takes ten percent less time to manufacture a radio in Country Q than it does in Country Y.


Reading comprehension

Schools expect textbooks to be a valuable source of information for students. My research suggests, however, that textbooks that address the place of Native Americans within the history of the United States distort history to suit a particular cultural value system. In some textbooks, for example, settlers are pictured as more humane, complex, skillful, and wise than Native Americans. In essence, textbooks stereotype and depreciate the numerous Native American cultures while reinforcing the attitude that the European conquest of the New World denotes the superiority of European cultures. Although textbooks evaluate Native American architecture, political systems, and homemaking, I contend that they do it from an ethnocentric, European perspective without recognizing that other perspectives are possible. 

One argument against my contention asserts that, by nature, textbooks are culturally biased and that I am simply underestimating children's ability to see through these biases. Some researchers even claim that by the time students are in high school, they know they cannot take textbooks literally. Yet substantial evidence exists to the contrary. Two researchers, for example, have conducted studies that suggest that children's attitudes about particular cultures are strongly influenced by the textbooks used in schools. Given this, an ongoing, careful review of how school textbooks depict Native Americans is certainly warranted.

Which of the following would most logically be the topic of the paragraph immediately following the passage?

  • (A) specific ways to evaluate the biases of United States history textbooks 
  • (B) the centrality of the teacher's role in United States history courses
  • (C) non-traditional methods of teaching United States history
  • (D) the contributions of European immigrants to the development of the United States
  • (E) ways in which parents influence children's political attitudes 


Sentence correction

While larger banks can afford to maintain their own data-processing operations, many smaller regional and community banks are finding that the cost associated with upgrading data-processing equipment and with the development and maintenance of new products and technical staff are prohibitive.

(A) cost associated with
(B) costs associated with
(C) costs arising from
(D) cost of
(E) costs of


Length: 75mins




See what a GMAT test centre is like in this video:



How is the GMAT scored?

You’ll receive 5 scores, one for each section and a total score. Within 20 days of your GMAT exam, you’ll receive an email with a link to your Official Score Report which you can send to institutions as part of your application to study with them. You can even preview your scores before you send them to an institution.



How much is the GMAT to take?

The GMAT costs $250 to take no matter where you take the test in the world. However there are additional charges for rescheduling your test, for additional score reports etc. You can learn more about these further charges here.



Where can I take the GMAT?

The GMAT exam is administered in test centres in 112 countries around the world all year round.



What now?

Find a test date now so you can start planning ahead for your test.

You should also read our guide to tips for the GMAT.



Read more:

Are you lucky enough to choose between the GMAT and the GRE? Not sure which test you should take? Read our comparison guide to help you decide which the best test is for you.

You can read more about the GMAT on the official GMAT site.


Search for a course

About Author


Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.


'Study in the USA' eBook

Enjoy what you’ve read? We’ve condensed the above popular topics about studying in the USA into one handy digital book.