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GMAT Test Content Overview

By Peterson's Staff updated on Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) measures basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills learned in school. It does not measure job skills, knowledge of business, specific classroom content, or subjective qualities like creativity or leadership skills. The GMAT test is broken up into three sections.

Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
The AWA measures your ability to think about and communicate ideas in essay format. The ideas found in this section are on topics of general interest, and don't require knowledge or expertise in specific subjects. Keep this in mind when going through your GMAT review to get ready for the exam.

The AWA includes two writing tasks: Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument. In the Analysis of an Issue task, you will analyze an issue and write an essay explaining your views. In the Analysis of an Argument task, you must analyze the reasoning behind an argument, and write a critical essay. Your personal views are not a consideration.

Verbal Section
The verbal section of the GMAT test includes three different types of questions: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction.

For the Reading Comprehension part, you will be asked to read passages of up to 350 words. Accompanying questions test your ability to interpret, apply, and infer information from the texts. Specifically, you will be asked to define words and phrases in context, determine the strong and weak parts of an argument, and draw inferences. Use your GMAT prep to help you get ready for these question types.

Critical Reasoning questions are based on very short (two-to-three sentence) arguments. To do well, you must recognize the structure of an argument, including assumptions, evidence, and conclusion; recognize parallels between similar arguments; determine factors that would strengthen or weaken an argument; determine any flaws; and recognize the effectiveness of a plan of action given in an argument.

For Sentence Corrections, you will be given a sentence and must determine its flaws. The sentences could have problems with grammar or style conventions. To identify errors, check for sound grammar (noun-verb agreement, pronoun use, verb tense) and sentence structure (improper modifiers, expressions that aren't idiomatic, problems with parallel construction). Also make sure that the sentence clearly and concisely expresses ideas. GMAT practice can assist you in preparing for these questions.

Quantitative Section
The quantitative (math) section contains questions which measure basic math skills, understanding of elementary concepts, and the ability to reason quantitatively. The questions cover three basic areas, arithmetic, algebra, and geometry, so be sure to review these topics in your GMAT preparation. There are two types of questions on the quantitative section: problem solving and data sufficiency.

Problem Solving questions assess basic mathematical skills and understanding, and basic reasoning skills. Some of the questions are word problems, in which you must reason with a common scenario.

Data Sufficiency questions assess your ability to analyze a quantitative problem, and determine which information is relevant and sufficient to finding a solution.

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