GMAT CAT Test Structure

The Random Nature of the GMAT CAT Test

By its very nature, the GMAT test is inherently random. It selects questions for you to answer from a large database, based on whether or not you answered the previous questions correctly. It does this to determine the degree of difficulty within which you will be most challenged.

The GMAT test also relies on a complex algorithm to determine which type of question to ask next. For example, on the quantitative section of the test, you might be asked a problem solving question, followed by a data sufficiency problem, followed by two more problem solving questions. You can count on seeing groups of questions randomly interspersed within each test section.

The Structure of the GMAT Test

Here is what you can expect to see when you take the test.

  1. The Introductory Computer Tutorial (untimed – you go through it at your own pace)
  2. Analytical Writing Assessment (60 minutes)
    1. Analysis of an Argument (30 minutes)
    2. Analysis of an Issue (30 minutes)
  3. Optional 5 Minute Break
  4. Quantitative Section (75 minutes)
    1. Problem Solving (23 to 24 questions)
    2. Data Sufficiency (13 to 14 questions)
  5. Optional 5 Minute Break
  6. Verbal Section (75 minutes)
    1. Critical Reasoning (14 to 15 questions)
    2. Reading Comprehension (4 passages with 12 to 14 questions)
    3. Sentence Correction (14 to 15 questions)

The total maximum testing time allowed for the GMAT is 3 hours and 40 minutes.

The two Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) analyses are presented to test takers in random order. You might see either the analysis of an argument or the analysis of an issue question first.

As we mentioned above, you can also expect the types of questions asked in the quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT test to show up in a random order. That said, these questions do tend to appear on the exams in short bunches – you are not likely to find yourself bounced back and forth between them. Reading comprehension questions in particular will be grouped together, in bunches immediately following the relevant passages.

Because the test makers claim the right to change the format at any time, we cannot tell you with certainty the order in which the AWA, quantitative and verbal sections will appear on your test. That said, there is a very strong chance, based on the GMAT CAT’s history, that you will see the AWA first, followed by either the quantitative or verbal section.