There are four GMAT sections – Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning – but that will soon change. The classic GMAT will be shortened to only three GMAT sections for future test dates. Despite this change, we’ll still review the four classic GMAT sections and take you through what skills they test, how many questions and sub-sections are in each, and what you need to get an above-average GMAT score

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11 min read

GMAT Sections: What are the GMAT Sections? GMAT Sections: Why is the GMAT Changing? GMAT Sections: Quantitative Reasoning GMAT Sections: Verbal Reasoning GMAT Sections: Integrated Reasoning GMAT Sections: Analytical Writing Assessment FAQs

GMAT Sections: What are the GMAT Sections?

The classic GMAT sections are Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing, and Verbal Reasoning. Each of these GMAT sections has a different score range, a different number of GMAT questions, and various sub-sections, which include the following:

  • Quantitative Reasoning - Data Sufficiency; Problem-Solving
  • Integrated Reasoning - Multi-Source Reasoning; Table Analysis; Graphics Interpretation; Two-Part Analysis
  • Verbal Reasoning - Reading Comprehension; Critical Reasoning; Sentence Correction
  • Analytical Writing – Analysis of an Argument

The GMAT sections with the most questions are Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning, which both have around 35 questions each; you’ll also have the most time to complete QR and VR – 60-65 minutes. Integrated Reasoning has the least number of questions, but the greatest number of sub-sections, which means you have different question types for each section, which can be a bit confusing, but we’ll talk about what you can do to prepare. Thankfully, the Analytical Writing section only features a single section, which is Analyze an Argument. By contrast, there is a GRE section that makes you write two essays based on Analyzing an Argument, and Analyzing an Issue. However, the Analytical Writing portion of the GMAT will be eliminated from future tests, as will the Analyze an Issue portion of the GRE.

Along with having different sub-sections and question types, each GMAT section is also scored differently.

GMAT Sections: Score Ranges

  • Quantitative Reasoning: 6-51
  • Verbal Reasoning: 6-51
  • Integrated Reasoning: 1-8
  • Analytical Writing: 0-6
  • Total GMAT Score Range: 200-800

Each GMAT section also takes a specific amount of time to complete, and the entire GMAT takes about three hours to complete. The VR and QR sections are the longest in terms of questions, and they are also the longest in terms of time you have to complete them, as they take about an hour to complete.

The classic GMAT also had a unique feature that will no longer be used for the new GMAT. Previously, you had to choose the order by which you would complete the test and there were three different pathways:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning
  2. Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
  3. Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

This feature meant that you could choose the GMAT section that was easiest or hardest for you, so you could start strong on the test and become more relaxed as you wrote the test. This feature is also being removed from the new GMAT test where you can complete the GMAT sections you want in whatever order you want.

But the shorter sections only take 30 minutes each to complete. The new GMAT – the GMAT Focus – will take much less time to complete at only two hours. The new GMAT has only three sections, and each section will take only 45 minutes each. In the old format, you could only spend about 2-3 minutes on each question. But the new format – with fewer questions and fewer GMAT sections – lets you spend more time on each question, which is an attempt by the Graduate Management Admissions Council to make the GMAT more responsive to test-takers needs.

GMAT Sections: Why is the GMAT Changing?

The GMAT is changing because the number of test-takers has been declining over the years. The decline has been brought on by the fact that many MBA programs have decided to go test-optional or use the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) instead of the GMAT. The GMAT vs. GRE debate has led to both exams changing their formats by eliminating some sections and shortening the time it takes to complete the test.

But changes unique to the GMAT include:

  • The ability to go back and review and change answers
  • A new scoring scale
  • More time to complete each question
  • You can complete the sections in any order

However, the GMAT is not going away that easily. It is still a central part of the MBA requirements for many of the best MBA programs in the US and the best MBA programs in the world, but to maintain its relevance to MBA programs, the Graduate Management Admissions Council has decided to shorten the test to make it easier to take, although the GMAT will remain a computer-adaptive test so the difficulty of the test will remain unchanged.

The format of the new GMAT Focus Exam is:

  • Quantitative Reasoning: Problem-Solving (Data Sufficiency is being incorporated into the Data Insights section) - 21 questions
  • Verbal Reasoning: Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning (Sentence Correction will be removed) - 21 questions
  • Data Insights: Data Sufficiency; Multi-source Reasoning; Table Analysis; Graphics Interpretation; Two-Part Analysis – 20 questions

The question formats will still remain multiple-choice, but each section will have different question types and styles, which will review as we take a closer look at each individual section and compare how the section is different in the new GMAT Focus exam.

GMAT Sections: Quantitative Reasoning

Skills Tested: Ability to reason mathematically, solve quantitative problems, and interpret graphic data.

The Quantitative Reasoning GMAT section is crucial in both versions of the exam. Being involved in an MBA, and then later, in a business venture as a possible executive or manager, means that you have to have significant mathematical and problem-solving skills, which will then translate into your real-world experiences. The Quantitative Reasoning section covers various mathematical topics such as:

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Data interpretation

Despite the focus on calculations and arithmetic, many of the questions within the QR section use words and logic problems as their stimuli, so they are not all formulas or have numerical values. The two sub-sections within QR are Problem Solving (PS) and Data Sufficiency (DS). The PS section is straightforward; you are given a problem, a statement about the problem and then you must choose from five multiple choice answers that apply to the statement.

The DS section is unique and has a different format altogether. DS questions focus on determining the sufficiency of provided data rather than solving the problem directly, so you basically try to determine whether the given stimuli (Statement 1 and Statement 2) of the question is enough to solve a problem or not. These questions require you have a specific set of skills, namely, critical thinking and analysis rather than pure calculation.

The answer options are also different than the other GMAT sections. In the DS section, you choose from one of the following statements based on the presented stimuli as the correct answer:

  1. (A) Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but Statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the question.
  2. (B) Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but Statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the question.
  3. (C) BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.
  4. (D) EACH statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question.
  5. (E) Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question.

This unconventional format means that you should read over practice questions not to memorize, but to understand. You must be able to understand what each statement is saying and how they relate to each other, but before that you should know what the answer options mean, so you can eliminate them from consideration as soon as you finish reading them. For either QR sub-section, you need to develop good time management skills, as this section demands both accuracy and efficiency.

Sample Problem-Solving Question

Sample Data Sufficiency Question

GMAT Sections: Verbal Reasoning

Skills Tested: the ability to understand and logically work through concepts and problems expressed in words.

In the Verbal Reasoning section of the GMAT, your critical thinking and reading comprehension skills are put to the test through a series of questions designed to assess your ability to understand and analyze written material. The section consists of three main question types: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction, but the new version will not have the Sentence Correction section.

Reading Comprehension

This GMAT section evaluates your ability to understand, interpret, and draw conclusion from various texts. You’ll be given passages from a range of topics (but mostly business-related), and questions may focus on the main idea, supporting details, assumptions, and the author’s tone or purpose, and viewpoint. This section is found across many other standardized tests and is also an LSAT section. The best way to answer these questions is to build-up efficient reading and comprehension skills, so you can navigate through complex information in the text to select the correct answers.

Critical Reasoning

In this GMAT section, your logical and analytical reasoning skills are assessed. You’ll be presented with arguments on various subjects and topics with your task being to identify assumptions, draw conclusions, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the reasoning. Your ability to think critically and make sound judgments based on provided information is crucial for success in this question type.

Sentence Correction

This section assesses your proficiency in English grammar and sentence structure. You’ll encounter sentences with portions underlined, and your task is to identify the grammatically correct or most effective version among the given choices. To prepare for this section, you need to build-up your grammar and sentence construction skills by reading over various types of documents (scholarly articles, technical manuals, long-form journalism) to help you identify crucial words and phrases that alter the text’s meaning and structure.

Throughout each of the Verbal Reasoning section, time management is vital. You’ll need to efficiently read, analyze, and respond to questions within the allocated time, which you can do in your GMAT prep – create a timeline for how long you should spend on each question in each GMAT section. The more you practice close-reading, the more familiar you will become with the question format. But you can also refine your logical reasoning abilities by reading logic games from other tests, such as LSAT logic games.

Sample Reading Comprehension Question


The shift towards remote work has become a prevalent trend in the modern workforce. Proponents argue that it enhances flexibility and work-life balance, while skeptics point to potential drawbacks such as reduced collaboration. What is clear, however, is that this shift has implications for organizational dynamics and the nature of traditional office spaces.

Sample Critical Reasoning Question


Recent studies indicate a correlation between regular exercise and improved cognitive function. Therefore, incorporating physical activity into daily routines is essential for maintaining optimal brain health and cognitive abilities.


Sample Sentence Correction Question

Original Sentence:

Despite of the challenges faced; the team successfully completed the project ahead of schedule.


GMAT Sections: Integrated Reasoning


Skills Tested: your ability to discern essential details from various formats, whether they are textual, graphical, or tabular; your capacity to integrate information and derive meaningful insights for decision-making.

In the Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT, your analytical prowess is put in the spotlight, as you must find a way through a variety of question types designed to evaluate your ability to synthesize information from multiple sources. This section consists of four types of tasks that gauge your skills in interpreting data and making informed decisions, which are bedrock skills to have in any business or management capacity.

Graphical Interpretation

This GMAT sections requires you to analyze charts, graphs, and other visual data representations; you’ll see these appear on your exam, and then you’ll be tasked with interpreting the information presented and answering questions that assess your ability to draw insights from these graphical elements.

Multi-Source Reasoning

In this GMAT section, you’ll have to analyze and distill information from different sources, such as text passages, tables, and graphs, as you would in a business or for-profit organization. The challenge here is to discern relevant details, identify relationships, and draw conclusions based on the amalgamation of diverse information, which will be a part of picking the correct answer.

Table Analysis

Here you’ll be tested on your ability to sort and analyze data presented in tables. You encounter a set of questions related to the tabular data, requiring you to make accurate calculations and strategic data interpretations.

Two-Part Analysis

In this final task, you’ll be presented with a question accompanied by two potential solutions. Your task is to evaluate the viability of each solution independently and then determine the relationship between the two. If you’ve not familiar with data and data representations written either in formulas or presented in a pie chart or line-graph, you should read over these types of information presentations to familiarize yourself with them during your GMAT prep

Sample Multi-Source Reasoning Question

Sample Two-Part Analysis Question

GMAT Sections: Analytical Writing Assessment

Skills Tested: your ability to communicate clearly, analyze arguments, and present well-reasoned viewpoints.

In this GMAT section, you are presented with a short argument that you need to assess. You are then given a set of instructions that try to guide your writing and organizing – the set of instructions is the same for each prompt:

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.

Your goal is to identify the reasoning employed, evaluate the evidence provided, and identify any logical fallacies. Additionally, you must construct a well-organized essay that highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of the given argument. This task measures your capacity for critical thinking and your ability to present a coherent analysis within a time limit.

Sample Analytical Writing Assessment

Sample Prompt:

The following appeared as part of a column in a popular entertainment magazine:

“The producers of the forthcoming movie 3003 will be most likely to maximize their profits if they are willing to pay Robin Good several million dollars to star in it—even though that amount is far more than any other person involved with the movie will make. After all, Robin has in the past been paid a similar amount to work in several films that were very financially successful.”

Sample Essay Response:

In the given argument, the claim posits that the producers of the upcoming movie "3003" should pay Robin Good several million dollars to star in it, based on the premise that Robin has been remunerated a comparable amount for past films that achieved considerable financial success. While the argument appears coherent at first glance, a closer examination reveals critical flaws in both its line of reasoning and its use of evidence.

Firstly, the argument hinges on the assumption that Robin Good's previous films' financial success can be solely attributed to his involvement, and that replicating this formula will guarantee the success of "3003". However, this oversimplification neglects the multitude of factors that contribute to a movie's success, including script quality, direction, supporting cast, marketing strategies, and audience preferences. Without a comprehensive analysis of these variables, the argument lacks the depth required to establish a causal relationship between Robin Good's compensation and a film's financial success.

Secondly, the argument relies on a comparison between Robin Good's past earnings and the potential success of "3003". While it mentions that Robin has been paid a similar amount for several financially successful films, it fails to provide specific details about the correlation between his compensation and the movie’s profitability. Without concrete evidence showcasing a direct connection between the actor's payment and the film’s box office performance, the argument remains speculative and fails to establish a convincing case.

In conclusion, the argument advocating for the substantial payment of Robin Good for the movie "3003" is weakened by its oversimplified assumption that past success can be replicated without a nuanced understanding of the myriad factors influencing a film's performance. A more rigorous analysis that considers the multifaceted nature of the film industry and provides concrete evidence supporting the claim would strengthen the argument's persuasiveness.


1. How many GMAT sections are there?

The classic GMAT has four sections – Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning; the new GMAT Focus has only three sections – Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Data Insights. 

2. What are the skills/knowledge GMAT sections tests?

Each GMAT section tests something different. The two “reasoning” sections – Quantitative and Verbal – test your ability to reason through verbal and numerical problems. The Integrated Reasoning section tests your ability to analyze different data streams and make decisions based on given information. 

3. Which is the hardest GMAT section?

How hard is the GMAT? The hardest GMAT section is relative; the fact that the test is timed is the most challenging part of the test, but depending on your abilities and learning style every section has a challenge, so you may struggle with the Integrated Reasoning section, while others excel. But many people have also said the Analytical Writing section is the most difficult since everyone has trouble writing excellent essays. 

4. How many questions are there in each GMAT section?

The classic GMAT section has four different sections and has around 30 questions for the QR and VR sections; 12 questions in Integrated Reasoning. The new GMAT Focus has three sections and 30 questions per section. 

5. What is a good GMAT score?

The best scores to have depends on the MBA program you want to get into and what they expect of their applicants, but if you manage to score at the average GMAT score (582) or higher, that is a good GMAT score. 

6. How can I prepare for the GMAT?

You can prepare for the GMAT by taking practice tests, examining each section and sub-section in-depth so you know what they are trying to say and what they’re looking for; and timing your responses or creating a timetable so you consistently answer each question within a specific timeframe. 

7. How long does the GMAT take?

How long is the GMAT? The classic GMAT test takes about three hours. But the new GMAT Focus is supposed to take about two hours. 

8. Should I take the GMAT?

You should take the GMAT if your preferred program requires it and won’t accept the GRE, but if your program is test-optional or you want to get another degree after your MBA, taking the GRE is more universal, as it has a broader scope. But if you are dedicated only to excelling in business, then the GMAT is good preparation not only for your MBA but for the rest of your career as well. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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