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GMAT Exam Overview: What's on the GMAT Exam?

Are you looking for a simple and easy-to-follow overview of what concepts are covered on the GMAT, what key GMAT test-taking strategies you need to know, and how to register for the GMAT exam? In the following article, we'll discuss the logistics for both the online and in-person GMAT test-taking processes in the post covid era. You can either read this article or watch our GMAT exam overview video on YouTube. To make things easier to digest, we've broken the content of the video up into two parts. In this post, we'll cover the differences between the online and in-person GMAT administrations. In part two, we'll cover the test-taking strategies you can glean from the structure of the exam. 

GMAT Exam Structure and Policies

The GMAT is approximately 3.5 hours long and consists of four flexible sections: Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment. You'll have two optional 8-minute breaks after approximately 60-minute pods of testing.

An unofficial score preview will be provided immediately upon your completion of the exam, while the official score will be provided approximately seven days after completion. The delay accounts for the need to make sure there were no irregularities in your administration and to provide enough time to score your essay.

Your scores will remain valid for up to five years after your test date. You have a maximum of five GMAT attempts in any rotating 12-month period, and eight lifetime attempts. The online or in-person exam can be taken once every 16 days.

To stay up to date on the latest GMAT policies, be sure to visit MBA’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

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Online GMAT Exam

The online GMAT is remotely proctored through Pearson VUE, which is the same company that administers most in-person GMAT exams as well. Both the online and in-person exams consist of the same sections in the same order. For the online exam, you can use a digital whiteboard and/or a physical one (which you must provide, and must be roughly 30 by 50 centimeters or 18 by 12 inches). The online digital whiteboard is useful for taking notes in the verbal section because it may be faster to type your notes rather than write them out physically. It does, however, have some limitations when it comes to manually processing some of the math required for the quantitative section.

Although these policies and procedures are always subject to change, remember that while your score for the in-person exam can be canceled, it cannot be for the online exam. You will, however, have a score preview function that is available before you select whether or not you want to send it to schools.

Finally, there is only a single retest allowed for the online exam. After your second online exam, you will have to take your remaining tests in person. 

Test Center GMAT Exam

For the in-person exam, you'll have a five-page, dry-erase laminated notepad available for your scratch work instead of the digital and physical erasable whiteboard available for the online exam. Because you can’t actually erase your work on the laminated notepad, you may need to ask for another one during the test. With this in mind, you would be well advised to strategically increase the size of your writing at certain times so that you can request a new notepad in between sections of the exam. 

The test center exam features an enhanced score report that gives a much more detailed analysis of your results. With feedback catered to each content area and question type, the report serves as an incredibly useful resource to anyone trying to improve their previous score.

Unlike the online exam, the test center exam can be canceled within 72 hours. Additionally, whereas you must wait 16 days between online exams, this limit does not apply if you want to take a test center exam immediately after finishing an online exam.  


We hope this overview was helpful! To learn more about the strategic implications of the exam's structure, please see part 2 of our GMAT Exam Overview.

To see all of our GMAT videos, please check out our YouTube playlist. For further information about MyGuru's proven GMAT tutoring approach, visit the GMAT prep page on our website. To learn more about the GMAT and grad school admissions in general, visit our GMAT admissions blog. Happy studying.

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