What is the GMAT Syllabus?

The GMAT is a three and a half hour test carrying a maximum score of 800 points. The GMAT syllabus is divided into four broad sections:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
  2. Integrated Reasoning (IR)
  3. Quant
  4. Verbal

NOTE: We have updated this blog based on the announcement by GMAC on some major changes in the GMAT test timing and 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.
Cick here to know all about the shorter GMAT pattern starting April 16th 2018

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

This is the first section of the GMAT and test takers need to finish this section in 30 minutes. This is an essay section in which an argument is presented to the test taker, and the test taker needs to write an analysis of the argument. As a test taker, you need to analyse the presented argument without providing your own views on the topic.
In the AWA section, the GMAT looks for:

  • Your writing skills and abilities
  • Clarity and logic in your argument
  • Overall relevance of your essay with respect to the given topic

AWA is not counted towards the overall 200–800 score. Instead, the score range for AWA ranges from 0–6, with increments of 0.5.
0: Unscorable. An essay that is totally irrelevant or makes absolutely no sense.
1: Fundamentally deficient. An essay that shows little to no reasoning and has numerous errors in language, grammar, and spelling.
2: Seriously flawed. An essay that shows poor reasoning skills, does not develop ideas, is disorganized and has frequent problems in language, grammar, and spelling.
3: Limited. An essay that shows some level of analysis but misses most important points, and has some language, grammar and spelling errors.
4: Adequate. An acceptable analysis of the argument but contains a few language, grammar or spelling errors.
5: Strong. A well-reasoned, well-organized critique of the argument with only minor writing flaws.
6: Outstanding. An excellent, well-articulated analysis that has few or no writing flaws.
Check out our guide to write the GMAT AWA essay


Integrated Reasoning (IR)

Test takers are given 30 minutes to finish the IR section of the GMAT. This section was added to the GMAT in June 2012. It requires a combination of both Verbal and Quant skills and is similar to the Data Interpretation (DI) section in the CAT.
The IR section consists of 12 questions of four types:

  • Multi source reasoning
  • Graphics interpretation
  • Table analysis
  • Two-part analysis

In the IR section, the GMAT looks for skills related to the following:

  • Deciphering relevant information presented in text, numbers, and graphics
  • Assessing appropriate information from different sources
  • Combining and arranging information to observe relationships among them and solving complex problems to arrive at a correct interpretation

Just like AWA, IR is not counted towards the overall 200–800 score and is evaluated on a range of 1 to 8.
*Neither AWA nor IR will make a big impact in your overall application and our advice is not to worry too much about these sections 🙂
Check out our Guide to Integrated Reasoning



The Quant section tests your data analysis and quantitative reasoning skills. Candidates often worry about the extent of Math they need to know. Don’t worry! The Math you need is what you learned in high school!
In this section, you will be provided with 31 quant questions which need to be solved in 62 minutes.
Question types are based on:

  • Problem solving (PS):  Questions given, for which you need to calculate the answer.
  • Data Sufficiency (DS):  You need to interpret whether the given data is enough to solve a particular question.



You must be strong in your Arithmetic fundamentals. The topics covered include:

  • Number Systems and Number Theory
  • Multiples and factors
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Percentages
  • Averages
  • Powers and roots
  • Profit and Loss
  • Simple and Compound Interest
  • Speed, Time, and Distance
  • Pipes, Cisterns, and Work Time
  • Ratio and Proportion
  • Mixtures and Alligations
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Sets
  • Probability



Brush up on your high school Algebra concepts. The topics include:

  • Permutation and Combination
  • Monomials, polynomials
  • Algebraic expressions and equations
  • Functions
  • Exponents
  • Arithmetic and Geometric Progression
  • Quadratic Equations
  • Inequalities and Basic statistics



The Geometry concepts covered in the GMAT include:

  • Lines and angles
  • Triangles
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Circles
  • Rectangular solids and Cylinders
  • Coordinate geometry

Check out our Ultimate guide to GMAT Inequalities
Check out our guide to GMAT Geometry



This is the third section on the GMAT. The test takers will be provided with 36 verbal questions which need to be solved in 65 minutes.
In the Verbal section of the GMAT, the test takers are assessed on:

  • Reading and understanding the written material
  • Reasoning and appraising the arguments
  • Rectifying the written material in accordance with standard written English

Question types are based on:

  • Reading Comprehension (RC):  You will be given a passage and you need to answer questions related to it.
  • Critical Reasoning (CR):  A short passage is given. You need to find the premise, conclusion, assumption, etc.
  • Sentence Correction (SC):  A part of the sentence is underlined, and five options are provided. You need to spot the error, and mark the right option.

Read these articles for more help on GMAT Verbal:
 — How to score well on the GMAT Reading Comprehension
 —  How to Solve Fully Underlined Sentence Correction Questions
 —  Building Your Strength in Reading Comprehension
 —  Reverse Causation in GMAT Critical Reasoning
 —  8 Tips to Tackle GMAT Sentence Correction
 —  Tackling the To-verb/Verb-ing Dilemma in GMAT SC
 — ‘Because’ Versus ‘Due to’


What is the order in which the sections appear on the test?

You can choose the order in which you want to take up the sections before starting the sections. This is a recent change to the GMAT test structure. It was introduced in July 2017. We have done a detailed analysis of what this means to an Indian GMAT test-taker in this blog:
GMAT Section Selection – Everything you need to know
We hope this article was useful, and it helped you understand the GMAT syllabus. Good luck!
Read these articles for more help on your GMAT preparation:
 —  5 Changes in the GMAT exam that you need to be aware of
 —  The 3 Mistakes Indian Aspirants Make on the GMAT
 —  Has Verbal Become Tougher and Quant Become Easier on the GMAT?
 —  5 Ways to Make Your GMAT Preparation More Effective

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