GMAT Syllabus 2021

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What does the GMAT measure?

The Graduate Management Admission Test is a computer adaptive test conducted at authorised test centres across the world. The test writers do not give a ‘syllabus’ that a student can work through to prepare for the test. The GMAT is neither a test of academic excellence, nor a test of intelligence or aptitude. However, analysing each section and its question types will give an insight into the content and skills tested on the GMAT.

The GMAT test is mainly divided into 4 sections and each section has fixed question types. The following chart will help you understand the sections.

Quantitative Problem Solving

Data Sufficiency

31 questions 62 minutes
Verbal Sentence Correction
Critical Reasoning
Reading Comprehension
36 questions 65 minutes
Integrated Reasoning Table Analysis

Graphics Interpretation
Multi-Source Reasoning
Two-Part Analysis

12 items 30 minutes
Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) Analysis of Argument 1 topic 30 minutes


Quantitative Section

The quant section has 31 questions. The two question types tested in the quantitative section are:

  1. Data Sufficiency– a unique question type where a test-taker needs to evaluate whether the given data is sufficient or not to answer a question – mostly there is no need to solve these questions entirely to choose the answer.
  2. Problem Solving– as the name suggests test-takers need to ‘solve’ these questions to get the answers. Approximately 17 to 18 problem-solving questions come on the test.

In terms of content, the questions can be categorised as under:


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


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


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


Verbal Section

The verbal section has 36 questions. The three question types tested in the verbal section are as follows:

Sentence Correction: Identification of error in a given sentence and selection of the correct answer out of five given options. The errors are based on grammar rules, meaning, and concision. Approximately 13 to 14 questions on sentence correction can be seen on the test. Common grammar topics tested are

  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Verb tense
  • Pronouns
  • Parallelism/Comparison
  • Idioms
  • Misplaced Modifiers

Critical Reasoning: Critical reasoning questions measure reasoning skills to evaluate arguments. Approximately 9 to 10 questions on critical reasoning can be seen on the test. The major question types tested are:

  • Assumption
  • Strengthen/Weaken
  • Evaluate
  • Identify the Reasoning
  • Flaw
  • Inference
  • Resolve /Explain

Reading Comprehension: Long and short passages followed by questions. Correct answers are supported by the information given in the passage. Questions can be based on the entire passage or specific parts of the passage. Approximately 13 to 14 questions on reading comprehension can be seen on the test.


Integrated Reasoning (IR)

The IR section measures the candidate’s ability to evaluate information presented in multiple formats and from multiple sources – such as text, charts, graphs, tables, etc. An on-screen calculator is provided only for this section of the test. The section consists of 12 items and each item may have 1 or more questions. One needs to get all the questions under an item right to get a point. The scoring for each item is all or nothing. The 4 types of integrated reasoning questions are as under:

  • Table Analysis – A table is provided and you are required to analyse it. The option of sorting is also available with these types of questions.
  • Graphics Interpretation – Information is provided in the form of a graph. You are required to interpret the graph and answer the questions with statements given in a drop-down format.
  • Multi-Source Reasoning – These questions can include either two or three tabs with the information presented as graphs, tables, or text. The questions asked may come in two flavours – Yes/No or statement style multiple choice question.
  • Two-Part Analysis – For these questions, you pick two answers based on a similar situation. The first two columns are for selecting the answers for the two questions asked and the third column has the answer choices.


The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section:

The AWA section tests a candidate’s ability to analyse a given argument, identify the inherent flaws in it, and provide logical and reasonable solutions in the form of an essay. The clarity in reasoning and coherence of thought are major assessment criteria for the AWA. The essay also needs to conform to elements of standard written English.

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