All You Need to Know About the New GMAT Test Pattern of 2018

March 5th, 2019

| Last Updated on April 2, 2020

On 3rd, April 2018, GMAC announced some major changes to the GMAT test timing and to the number of questions you’re going to be having in both Quant and Verbal.

The new GMAT exam will be shorter by 30 minutes from April 16th, 2018.

In this article, we will answer all of these questions in detail:

  1. Why has GMAC made this change?
  2. Which questions have reduced in the Quant and/or Verbal sections?
  3. What is the best time strategy to use on the new GMAT test pattern?
  4. Should you change your GMAT test prep strategy for the new GMAT test pattern?
  5. Is the GMAT test pattern change good or bad for test-takers?

But first, here is a quick overview of the changes:

  1. The GMAT exam will now be 3.5 hours instead of 4 hours, including breaks and instructions.
  2. The 4 sections (IR, AWA, Verbal & Quant) remain the same.
  3. The section selection order continues to be there.
  4. The GMAT quant questions have been reduced from 37 to 31 and the time allocated to the Quant section been reduced from 75 minutes to 62 minutes. You get 2 minutes per question.
  5. The GMAT verbal questions have been reduced from 41 to 36 and the time allocated has been reduced from 75 minutes to 65 minutes. In terms of the timing, you still have the same 108 seconds per question.

In total, you have barely 127 minutes to complete both sections, Quant as well as Verbal, while you would’ve had 150 minutes for the same earlier.

1. Why has GMAC made this change?

You probably already know that the old GMAT Verbal section had 11 experimental questions out of a total of 41 questions. In the new GMAT test pattern, the verbal section only has 6 experimental questions instead of 11.

Similarly, in the GMAT Quant section, the number of experimental questions has been reduced from 9 to 3.

So, the total number of questions that are counted in the calculation of your actual GMAT score remains the same. The only actual change is in the total number of questions you have to answer, including the experimental questions.

We think there could be a couple of reasons behind the reduction of experimental questions in the GMAT:

  1. Reduced Attention Span of Test Takers
    The GMAT is a rigorous and mentally taxing test. A lot of test-takers find it very hard to maintain consistent levels of attention throughout the test.

    The average attention span of younger generations is also consistently dropping, which essentially means that even the smartest minds taking the GMAT are likely to get fatigued faster. A fatigued mind is unlikely to perform at its best.

    So, we believe that the GMAC may have decided to reduce the number of questions and the time taken to complete the test in an attempt to help test-takers fight mental fatigue and to do their best.

    If you compare the GMAT test pattern to the GRE test pattern, the time taken per section is the most obvious difference that stands out.

    You would take 30-35 minutes to solve each section on the GRE. So, even though there are more sections on the GRE, you can keep the fatigue at bay by taking breaks between sections. On the GMAT, however, you only have two sections which took 70-75 minutes earlier but will take 60-65 minutes due to this GMAT test pattern change.


  3. Better calibration of GMAT algorithm
    The GMAC has been conducting the GMAT for many years now, which means they must have HUGE data sets regarding solving patterns.

    The point of experimental questions is to identify where the test-taker stands and to determine the difficulty level of the questions that come after experimental questions. Since the GMAC already has a large amount of data that can help the algorithm figure out the test-taker’s aptitude, there’s a chance that they no longer need to have so many experimental questions.

    This basically means that the GMAT scoring algorithm has also gotten smarter, and hence, requires fewer experimental questions than before.

2. What types of questions have reduced in the new GMAT test pattern?

As mentioned before, the total number of questions on each section of the GMAT will be reduced according to the new pattern in both the Quant as well as Verbal sections. 

Even though the number of experimental questions will be reduced, in the Quant section, the ratio of problem-solving and data sufficiency questions would probably still be equal.

In the GMAT Verbal section, we believe the total of 36 questions is going to be there will be a split of 12 questions in sentence correction, 12 in critical reasoning and 12 in reading comprehension.

Instead of conventional 4 Reading comprehension passages, you’re probably going to get three reading comprehension passages. Which is one lesser RC passage to read!


3. What is the best time strategy to use on the new GMAT test pattern?

Well for Quant, instead if trying to manage the whole 62 minutes,

Try to break it into 4 parts:

So allocate 17 minutes for the first part and the subsequent 15 minutes each for the next 3 parts.

So basically you should be looking at solving 7 questions in the first 17 minutes and solve 8 questions each in the subsequent 15 minutes chunk.

Now for verbal, they way we suggest you split is 17 minutes for the first quarter, 16 minutes for the second, 16 minutes for the third and 16 minutes for the fourth

In the each of these quarters we recommend you solve at least nine questions each.

So 9 +9 + 9 + 9 = 36 questions & you are done with Verbal.

If you see the strategy is based on you spending slightly more time in the first quarter. Just because we feel that when you’re starting your test – there is going to be a little bit of inertia.

This strategy will give you that extra one or two minutes initially as opposed to the second, third and fourth quarter.


4. Should you change your prep strategy for the new GMAT test pattern?

There isn’t any change in the GMAT question format or content.

The only change is that the section time and the number of questions have been reduced proportionally while the average time per question still remains the same.

So there wouldn’t really be a need to make any specific changes to your GMAT test preparation strategy as exam content, average time per question, and scoring methodology remains the same.


5. Is the change in GMAT format good or bad for test-takers?

This is great news because now you don’t need to spend 75 minutes in verbal and 75 minutes in Quant.

There is a reduction.

Anyone who has taken the full-length test will know that your actual concentration starts dropping somewhere after the first hour.

So if the test itself is going to be of one hour.

Then you don’t really have to be worried about that part. So this is definitely good news for GMAT test takers.

If you have any questions then do let us know in the comment section.