GMAT Syllabus: Verbal, Quant, AWA & IR Latest Updates 2021

You must have heard the term ‘GMAT’ quite a lot of times by now. You might also be aware that you need to get a good GMAT score to apply to top MBA programs in India and abroad. But right now, all you want to know is the GMAT syllabus 2021, and that is precisely what you will learn from this article.

The GMAT syllabus is divided into four broad sections:

1. Quantitative Reasoning (Quant)

2. Verbal Reasoning (Verbal)

3. Integrated Reasoning (IR), and,

4. Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)

The GMAT syllabus comprises these four sections which are further divided into more than 50 topics.

GMAT Exam SectionTypes of Questions
Quantitative ReasoningProblem Solving,
Data Sufficiency
Verbal ReasoningReading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction
Integrated ReasoningMulti-source Reasoning, Graphics Interpretation, Two-part Analysis, Table Analysis
Analytical Writing AssessmentAnalysis of an Argument

Quick facts!

In a GMAT exam, you will have to attempt 80 questions including an essay question. And you have 3.5 hours to complete the exam.

1. What is the GMAT Quantitative Reasoning (Quant) Syllabus?

There are 31 multiple choice questions in the GMAT Quant section, and you have 62 minutes to complete this section on the GMAT. This means that you have 2 minutes to answer each question.

So, there are two types of questions that you will find in the GMAT Quant section:

1. Problem Solving (PS): Standard questions for which you need to calculate answers.

2. Data Sufficiency (DS): Questions for which you don’t have to solve anything. All you need to do is interpret whether the given data is enough to answer the question.

These two question types are further divided into four areas of Math.

Let us look at them and the sub-topics covered under each of the Quant areas in detail.

a) Arithmetic in GMAT Quant

Arithmetic is one of the four areas in the GMAT Quant syllabus. These questions test you on your understanding of the properties of the traditional operations in Mathematics.

Here are the sub-topics tested in Arithmetic based on the GMAT syllabus:

Number Systems and Number Theory

A number system is a system that is used to express numbers. There are various types of number systems in Mathematics, including binary and decimal. Number theory is a branch of pure mathematics and is a study of the properties of natural numbers and integers. The number theory helps discover interesting relationships between different sorts of numbers and to prove that they are true.

Multiples and factors

A multiple is a number that is the product of a given number and some other natural number. A number is said to be the factor of a second number only if the former can divide the latter without leaving any remainder.

Fractions

The fractions are one of the most frequently asked questions on the GMAT after integers. A fraction is a visual representation of a number divided by another number.

Decimals

Similar to fractions, decimals are also one of most frequently asked questions on the GMAT. Decimals are just fractions expressed in a different format. When we convert a decimal into a fraction, the denominator will be a power of ten.

Percentages

The word “percent” means “out of 100” or “per 100.” The word “per” can be thought of as denoting the bar of a fraction. A percentage is a number or ratio expressed as a fraction of 100.

Averages

No GMAT question will ever refer to simply an “average.” If a question concerns the arithmetic mean, it will generally use the phrase “average.” The average is the arithmetic mean. This average is the sum of all values divided by the number of values

Powers and roots

When we wish to multiply a number by itself, we use powers. If the power of a number is 2, the same number is multiplied to it once.

The reverse of this process is called the roots. The square root of 2X2 is 2. You have cube roots and higher roots as well.

Profit and Loss

Profit and loss, as in real life, is calculated considering the selling price and the cost price. If the selling price is higher than the cost price, there will be a profit and if the cost price is higher than the selling price, there will be a loss. On GMAT questions, you will even have to calculate the values in percentages.

Simple and Compound Interest

Simple interest is the value that you get when calculated on the principal, or original, amount of a loan. Compound interest is calculated on the principal amount and also on the accumulated interest of previous periods Thus, it can be regarded as “interest on interest.”

Speed, Time, and Distance

The speed-time-distance problems on the GMAT fall under the “GMAT motion problems” category. All the problems in this section will be based around the formula, Speed = Distance/Time or Distance = Speed x Time.

Pipes, Cisterns, and Work Time

Problems on pipes and cisterns are similar to problems on work time. They can be approached in a similar manner as well.

Ratio and Proportion

The relative size of two quantities expressed as the quotient of one divided by the other; the ratio of a to b is written as a:b or a/b. On the other hand, an equality between two ratios is called proportion.

Even if you don’t recognize some or most of these terms, you would have definitely solved them before. They aren’t really difficult.

Let’s examine Algebra next.

b) Algebra in GMAT Quant

Algebra is one of the areas in Quant in which you have to deal with mathematical symbols.

You can check out the sub-topics in Algebra based on the GMAT syllabus below:

Monomials, polynomials

A monomial is an expression in algebra that contains one term. Ex.: 3xy. Monomials include numbers, whole numbers and variables that are multiplied together, and variables that are multiplied together. A polynomial is a sum of monomials where each monomial is called a term.

Algebraic expressions and equations

An algebraic equation contains two algebraic expressions which are separated by an equal sign (=) in between. The main purpose of solving algebraic equations is to find the unknown variable in the given expressions.

Functions

A function is a rule that relates how one quantity depends on other quantities. It is more like an input-output operator.

Exponents

Exponents are one of the more frequently tested concepts on the GMAT. An exponent indicates how many times a given number should be multiplied by itself.

Arithmetic and Geometric Progression

An arithmetic progression is a sequence of numbers such that the difference of any two successive members is a constant. Whereas, a geometric progression is a sequence in which each term is derived by multiplying or dividing the preceding term by a fixed number called the common ratio.

Quadratic Equations

A quadratic equation in algebra is one that can be rearranged in standard form. In it, ‘x’ will represent the unknown number whereas ‘a’ and ‘b’ will be known numbers. In quadratic equations, ‘a’ will not be equal to 0.

Inequalities and Basic statistics

Equations and inequalities are both mathematical sentences formed by relating two expressions to each other. In an equation, the two expressions are deemed equal which is shown by the symbol “=”. Whereas in inequality, the two expressions are not necessarily equal – this is indicated by the symbols: >, <, ≤ or ≥.

Also Read: The Ultimate Guide to GMAT Inequalities

This probably sounds scarier than it really is. Next up, Modern Math!

c) Modern Math in GMAT Quant

Modern Math is not about mugging up formulae and using them to solve questions. Most of the questions in this area just require you to know basic concepts and their applications.

Here are the Modern Math topics covered in the GMAT syllabus:

Mixtures and Alligations

Mixture problems show up very frequently on the GMAT. The questions look to find answers to two main problems: proportions in mixture problems and combining different mixtures.

Alligation is a rule that enables us to find the ratio in which two or more ingredients at the given price must be mixed to produce a mixture of the desired price.

Permutations and Combinations

Permutations and combinations refer to the various ways in which objects from a set may be selected to form subsets. When the order of selection is a factor, this selection of subsets is called permutation. When the order of selection is not a factor, it is called combination.

Descriptive statistics

A descriptive statistic is a summary statistic that quantitatively describes or summarizes features from a collection of information while descriptive statistics is the process of using and analysing those statistics.

Sets

On the GMAT, sets typically consist of numbers, either enumerated within the curly brackets { } or described in words. A mathematical set is a collection of numbers or objects, called elements. Two sets are identical if they contain the exact same values, just with different frequencies. There is no order in a set, and duplicates are not counted.

Probability

Probability is stated as a percent less than 100 or a fraction less than 1; it is found by dividing the number of desired outcomes by the number of possible outcomes. A great example is the coin flip and its probable outcomes.

Sequences and Series

Like the word suggests, a sequence is a list of objects or events that have been listed in a sequential fashion. Whereas, series is the sum of a sequence of terms, They are a list of numbers which can be added.

Let’s look at Geometry now.

d) Geometry in GMAT Quant

The Geometry concepts covered in the GMAT syllabus include:

Lines and angles

Lines and angles are an important part of the Geometry section in Quant. You might already be familiar with what they are. The questions on lines and angles will require the test taker to find the value of angles.

Triangles

Questions on triangles in GMAT Quant will require the test taker to probably find the area of the triangle or find the height of it. These are just examples of what you might have to work on.

Quadrilaterals

Quadrilaterals, like other shapes in Geometry, usually appear in Geometry questions that involve basic properties of quadrilaterals, perimeter, or area. A quadrilateral, by definition, is a polygon with four sides created by four straight lines. Some common quadrilaterals are: a square, a rectangle, a parallelogram, and a trapezoid.

Circles

A circle is the set of all points that are at an equal distance from a center point. The distance between any of the points and the center is the radius r. The radius is the defining property of a circle.

Rectangular solids and Cylinders

This is a part of three-dimensional geometry. In questions that include these geometrical figures, the test taker may have to find the values associated with them. In some cases, even the length of the edge of the rectangular solid!

Coordinate geometry

This is a type of geometry that is based on using a coordinate system. The coordinate system, like the graphs in school, have x-axis and y-axis. The application of these are used in physics, aviation and engineering.

Did you feel that the GMAT Quant Geometry section might be difficult?

You just need practice, that’s all! Check out our guide to GMAT Geometry if you think you need some direction.

Also Read: 8 Solid Ways To Get A 50-51 Raw Score In GMAT Quant

That’s all there is to the GMAT Quant section.

With this, let’s move on to the GMAT syllabus for the Verbal Reasoning section.

2. What is the GMAT Verbal Reasoning (Verbal) Syllabus?

Some of you might be comfortable with the Quant section on the GMAT. Whereas, the others might find the GMAT syllabus for the Verbal section easy and interesting. Let’s see how you like the Verbal section now.

The Verbal section has 36 multiple choice questions that you need to solve in 65 minutes.

And here are the question types in the Verbal section based on the GMAT syllabus:

1. Reading Comprehension (RC)

In the reading comprehension section, as the section name suggests, you will have to read and comprehend what you read. You will be given a passage to read and you will have to answer the questions based on what you understood from the passage. There will usually be four RC passages. It could go up or down by one passage.

2. Critical Reasoning (CR)

You will be given a short passage/prompt and you will have to find the premise, conclusion, assumption and so on. The prompt will present you with some sort of an argument. While you do have to read the prompt, the GMAT CR tests your critical thinking and logical sense more than anything else. In your GMAT exam, you can expect to encounter 10-13 CR questions.

3. Sentence Correction (SC)

In the sentence correction question, a part of the sentence will be underlined, and five options are provided. You need to spot the error and mark the right option. In the Verbal section, you can expect anything between 11-16 SC questions.

Out of the above-mentioned three question types, you will find 13 sub-topics for Sentence Correction and Critical Reasoning.

Check out the sub-topics for the two Verbal sections below:

a) Critical Reasoning in GMAT Verbal

The GMAT tests your critical thinking ability and logical sense with this question type.

Here are the sub-topics that fall under the Verbal section based on the GMAT syllabus:

Assumptions

There will be a premise and a conclusion. You need to figure out what the assumption is so that you can link them. Basically, you need to think and find out the missing information.

Evaluate

This might be one of the toughest question types in GMAT Critical Reasoning. But to put it simply, you need to find the answer choice that affects the conclusion differently if you answer it with a “Yes” and a “No”.

Inference

You cannot guess the answer to an Inference question. You need to go by the evidence that has been provided to get the right answer.

Bold Face

Bold Face questions require you to understand the role played by the bolded statements in an argument. That’s what will give you the right answer.

Paradox

A Paradox question will have a statement that might not, at least in the first glance, make sense. In GMAT Critical Reasoning, the statements will mostly be from the real world or the world of science.

Strengthen and Weaken

Like the name suggests, in this question type, you will have to find a new piece of information that if added to the existing information, will make the conclusion less likely to be true.

Now that we have looked at the six sub-topics in the GMAT Critical Reasoning section, let us move on to the Sentence Correction section.

b) Sentence Correction in GMAT Verbal

Sentence Correction questions on the GMAT requires you to understand the errors in the underlined part.

Usually, you will find 0-2 errors in the underlined part of the sentence. Rarely, you may find an entire sentence underlined.

Let’s look at what you need to learn to solve the GMAT Sentence Correction questions.

Pronoun

As you might know, pronouns always refer to a noun. But, when you are attempting the GMAT Sentence Correction questions, you need to keep in mind that one exemption – In the case of possessive pronouns, a possessive noun can be used as a referent.

Subject-Verb Agreement

A sentence should contain a subject and a verb. If it does not, it is considered an incorrect sentence. Moreover, the verb should be in agreement with the subject of the sentence. For instance, the subject cannot be plural with a singular verb.

Modifiers

Modifiers, as the name suggests, are words or groups of words that describe other entities in a sentence. They can act as adjectives, adverbs or even pronouns.

Idioms

Idioms are unique combinations of words. In these questions, you will have to identify the incorrect usage of an idiom in the given sentence and then identify the right idiom from the answer options.

Parallelism

Parallelism depends not only on grammar but also logic. If you are to correct parallelism, you need to make sure that two phrases or clauses match in their grammatical form and serve the same logical role in the sentence.

Comparison

You can compare only similar items. And you need to be able to identify what is being compared in a sentence in order to get the answer to the Comparison questions on the GMAT.

Verb Tenses

Official GMAT questions do not test you on all verb tenses. You need to choose the answer option that has the right verb tense if it replaces the underlined part of the sentence.

Once you answer these questions on GMAT Verbal, here’s how they will assess your responses:

1. Reading and understanding the written material
2. Reasoning and appraising the arguments
3. Rectifying the written material in accordance with standard written English

Also read: How to score well on GMAT Reading Comprehension

Also read: Reverse Causation in GMAT CR

Also read: How to Solve Fully Underlined Sentence Correction Questions

That is all there is to know about the GMAT Verbal syllabus.

Once you start your GMAT preparation, you will get to know how you can easily get to the right answers. But, ensure that you get your basics right before you go ahead and attempt difficult questions.

If your GMAT tutor is experienced and knows what you need to focus on, they will guide you the right way. All you need to make sure is that you choose the right GMAT course for you!

Note: Since IR and AWA are quite different, in terms of what they expect from you, we’ll take them as separate sections here.

3. What is the GMAT Integrated Reasoning (IR) Syllabus?

Here’s something you need to know about this GMAT section:

This section requires both Verbal and Quant skills, and for those familiar with the CAT syllabus, this section is similar to the Data Interpretation (DI) section on the CAT.

The Integrated Reasoning will require you to answer 12 multiple choice questions in 30 minutes.

Based on the GMAT syllabus for the Integrated Reasoning section, the questions can be divided into four types:

Multi-Source Reasoning

In this type of question, you will receive three pieces of information on tabbed pages. It could be charts, articles, data, or even emails. While you will get a lot of information from these, you might not have to use all of them to answer the questions.

Graphics Interpretation

In Graphical interpretation questions, you will be given graphs or graphical images. You need to analyze and understand what they represent. These questions test your ability to interpret and analyze data.

Table Analysis

You must have seen spreadsheets, right? You will be presented with a similar, sortable table. All you need to do is to analyze and interpret the information provided on the table.

Two-Part Analysis

These questions may test your quantitative or verbal skills. Two-Part Analysis questions will give you a few lines of text and instructions. These instructions are to help you select choices on a table based on the information provided.

Your IR score doesn’t affect your total GMAT score because it doesn’t count towards that. The IR scores are given on a scale of 1 to 8.

Also read: A Guide to Integrated Reasoning

Here are the skills this section is designed to test:

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

Let us look at the last section on the GMAT Syllabus now.

4. What is the GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) syllabus?

As the name suggests, this section assesses your writing skills.

The AWA is an essay section on the GMAT in which you’re presented with an argument.

You are expected to write an analysis of the given statement. The twist here is that you’re not supposed to provide your views on the topic in your analysis. So, what is it that the GMAT looks for in your essay?

Here’s what the GMAT looks at while assessing your AWA section performance:

1. Your writing skills and abilities
2. Clarity and logic in your argument
3. The overall relevance of your essay to the given topic

Interestingly, your AWA score, just like your IR score, does not affect your total GMAT score. That’s because AWA and IR scores aren’t counted towards your GMAT composite score.

But unlike the IR section, the score range for AWA is from 0–6, with increments of 0.5 points.

Here’s what AWA scores mean:

0: Irrelevant

The essay is irrelevant or makes absolutely no sense.

1: Fundamentally deficient

The essay shows little to no reasoning and has numerous errors in language, grammar, and spelling.

2: Seriously flawed

The essay shows poor reasoning skills, does not develop ideas, is disorganized, and has frequent language, grammar, and spelling problems.

3: Limited

The essay shows some analysis level but misses the most critical points and has some language, grammar, and spelling errors.

4: Adequate

The essay contains an acceptable analysis of the argument but includes a few linguistic, grammatical, 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.

Also read: How to write your GMAT AWA Essay [Effectively]

Writing a good AWA essay is not very difficult, but it does take practice. Take a look at our guide on how to write GMAT AWA essays to go about it the right way.

Though AWA and IR are part of the GMAT syllabus, they will not have much of an impact on your MBA application. So, our advice is, don’t worry too much about both these sections.

Do you feel that you are a lot more aware of the GMAT syllabus now?

We are sure that you are now all set to start your GMAT preparation and MBA journey.

Now that you know what is in the GMAT syllabus and what the exam tests, do you wish to follow a structured approach for your GMAT prep? All you need to do is to reach out to our experts and they will help you with a personalized study plan.

And if you have any queries about your GMAT preparation and MBA journey, click the image below, and we will reach out to you in no time.

All the best with your GMAT preparation!

FAQs on GMAT Exam Fees, Prep time, and more

How much does GMAT cost in India?

The fees for the online and the test centre GMAT exam is the same – $250. The difference is that you need to get to the test centre to take the offline exam while you can take the online exam from the comfort of your home! There are always options to reschedule and cancel your exam. It is just that you might have to do it within a given time frame and may even incur a small fee.

Can I take the GMAT exam online?

Yes. You can take the GMAT online exam. The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) recently announced that the GMAT online exam will coexist with the test center GMAT exam. You can read more about the GMAT online exam.

When can I take the GMAT?

Unlike CAT and many other competitive exams, GMAT is not conducted worldwide on a specific date. You can book the exam slot and take the GMAT when you know you are ready.

How will I know if I am ready to take the GMAT?

Once you start your GMAT prep, you will need to take official mock tests. These tests will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses and prepare accordingly. Once you get, let’s say, 740+ in your mock tests, you can take the GMAT. There will always be a +-40 points difference between the mock test scores and the actual GMAT scores.

What are materials that I require to prepare for the GMAT?

You don’t have to utilize a lot of materials to prepare for the GMAT. In fact, DO NOT use a lot of materials. You will require the GMAT Official Guide to understand concepts and practice questions. If you want to know about the other GMAT prep materials you can utilize, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. Our experts will suggest the perfect resources for you.