The 4 Sections of the GMAT Practice Test
August 12, 2014
If you’re thinking of going to business school but haven’t yet looked into GMAT test dates or taken a GMAT practice test, not to fear! You’ve come to the right place to learn about the format, timing, and scoring of the GMAT test and GMAT practice test, the latter of which we offer free on our website year-round.
The CAT (computer adaptive test) and GMAT scoring
Understanding how the CAT works and approaching GMAT practice questions with a few targeted strategies will help you get in fighting form for your GMAT test date.
A CAT is more than just a digital version of a written exam. It actually adapts to your performance as you’re taking the test. When you begin each category, the computer assumes you have an average score and gives you a question of medium difficulty. As you answer correctly, the computer generates more difficult questions. As you answer incorrectly, it serves up the easier variety. The algorithm calculates your score based not just on what you got right or wrong, but also on the difficulty level of the questions.
Because each answer directly affects the next question, the CAT does not allow you to go back to questions you’ve already answered. Once you’ve confirmed your answer, that’s it.
GMAT format and timing
The test consists of four sections that are scored separately. Quantitative and Verbal are scored between 200 and 800. The Integrated Reasoning section is scored on a scale of 1-8. The analytical writing section is hand-graded on a scale of 0-6 in .5 increments.
The Quantitative Section
The GMAT Quantitative Section tests your knowledge of basic math concepts, including arithmetic, algebra, and geometry, as well as your analytical abilities (read: there’s a strong logic element in GMAT math). The quantitative section consists of two question types: Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving.
The Data Sufficiency section consists of questions that come with two statements of data, and it’s your job to determine whether the statements provide sufficient data to answer the question. This question type requires you to quickly identify pertinent information and efficiently eliminate answer choices.
If you’re familiar with standardized tests, this should be familiar terrain. In the Problem Solving section, you’ll be presented with a question and five possible answer choices that test your high-school-level math skills. Simple, right? Depends; if you haven’t looked at high-school math in awhile, you’ll want to brush up. The key here is to clearly understand the questions and avoid answer traps.
The Verbal Section
The GMAT Verbal Section tests your command of standard written English, your skill in analyzing arguments, and your ability to read critically. The section consists of three question types: Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction, and Reading Comprehension.
Critical Reasoning asks you to break down a short argument into pieces and answer questions related to it. It examines your argument skills: how to make them, evaluate them, and formulate a plan of action. This section is notorious for its tricky wording, so read carefully. It will test your ability to:
Understand the argument’s structure
Identify the conclusion
Determine what evidence exists to support the conclusion
Determine what assumptions are made to jump from evidence to conclusion
GMAT Verbal Reading Comprehension
Again, you’ve seen this before. These questions present scholarly passages in the topics of business or science (social, biological, physical), and then ask three or four questions about each passage, testing your critical reading skills and your ability to:
Summarize the main idea
Differentiate between ideas stated specifically and those implied by the author
Make inferences based on information in a text
Analyze the logical structure of a passage
Deduce the author’s tone and attitude about a topic
The Integrated Reasoning Section
In 2012, the GMAT added a new Integrated Reasoning (IR) section. It includes four new, multi-step question types that measure your ability to evaluate information presented from multiple sources in different formats.
Kaplan courses now include a dedicated IR section, and all nine CATs in the Kaplan GMAT program—including the Official Test Day Experience—contain a full-length, scored IR section.
The Analytical Writing Assessment Section
This section presents a brief argument similar to a statement you would find in a verbal critical reasoning question. Your task is to write an essay that critiques the structure of the argument and explains how persuasive you find it. Don’t try to present your own point of view on the topic; instead, present a critique of the author’s approach, considering the following:
What’s the conclusion?
What evidence is used to support the conclusion?
What assumptions does the writer make in moving from evidence to conclusion?
Is the argument persuasive?
What would make it stronger? Weaker?
Another great thing about the GMAT practice test is you can go back, check your work, and see real evidence of your progress before you schedule your GMAT test date and dive into the real thing. Schedule a date for your free GMAT practice test now and begin on the path to business school and learning your MBA. It’s all part of unlocking the good life.
Leave your questions and comments below, and good luck on your practice test!