The GMAT, or Graduate Management Admission Test, is a computer-based standardised test, which is the part of the MBA application process, and is sat by over 240,000 graduates every year. Global business schools refer to GMAT Exam scores in their admission processes , and it is possible to sit the GMAT Exam in over 100 countries.

The GMAT, or Graduate Management Admission Test, changed format on 7 November 2023. The GMAT Focus test has been introduced to meet the needs of the business community at a time when new technology, Big Data and AI have expanded the range of tools available to management. The GMAT Focus exam thus replaces the old version, and concentrates on assessing skills essential to success in an increasingly competitive and globalized market. The GMAT is the gold standard for admission to MBA courses all across the world.

 You can take the GMAT up to eight times, and five times within a single year – as long as there is a 16-day break between attempts.

While the old exam’s results remain valid for five years, candidates who wish to enter a business school for postgraduate studies now have to sit the new version: the GMAT Focus Exam. There are a number of significant differences between the old and new exams, although it needs to be emphasised that the level of difficulty remains the same.

Instead of sitting four papers, the GMAT Focus requires you to sit three, namely:

Paper Old GMAT GMAT Focus
Quantitative Reasoning Yes Yes
Verbal Reasoning Yes Yes
Integrated Reasoning Yes No
Data Insights N/A NEW section
Analytical Writing Yes REMOVED

The length of the exam and the number of questions you will have to answer in the GMAT Focus has also changed, see below

GMAT Focus Section Number of questions Time allocated Content
Quantitative Reasoning 21 45 minutes Statistics, algebra, numerical skills, fractions, percentages, ratios, problem-solving  etc.
Verbal Reasoning 23 45 minutes Comprehension, critical and analytical thinking
Data Insights 20 45 minutes Data analysis skills; logical thinking; quantitative skills; applied not pure maths  embedded in real-word settings; trends and inferences

Content changes:

  • Data sufficiency problems will now focus on applied scenarios rather than pure maths.
  • There is no essay section, all questions and answers are now multiple-choice.
  • Sentence correction has been removed from the Verbal Reasoning paper.

Scoring changes:

In the old GMAT the final score was calculated by using the scores  taken from the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative sections, rather than all three papers.

In GMAT Focus, all three sections have equal weight when calculating your score. Each individual section is now scored from 60 to 90.

GMAT Focus scoring runs from 205-805, while the old format was 200-800. It is not possible to simply  translate old scores into new ones, since both tests have a different score scale distribution.

Remember that your percentile ranking is as important as your GMAT Focus score. The following table gives an idea of the differences between the old and new GMAT scores:

Old GMAT Score GMAT Focus score Percentile ranking
770 735-755 99.7
760 715-735 99.4
700 645 89
660 615 78.3
490 475 22.4

Since the GMAT Focus is a new exam, percentiles are fluid and subject to change, in line with the scores of each cohort.

You will be able to choose which score to send to  up to five recipients on completing the exam, and can decide where the scores should go at the end of the papers, rather than when you are registering for the GMAT Focus.

Scores are valid for five years and are usually released between 3-5 days after you have sat the GMAT Focus. You can sit the exam five times in 12 months, or eight times over a lifetime.

Other changes to the GMAT format

Candidates can use the new bookmark feature and mark an unlimited number of questions to return to and review;  you will also be allowed to change up to three answers in each section.

You can choose the order in which you tackle the three sections of the GMAT Focus. Formerly, the GMAT had to follow a pattern: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing. All three sections now have equal weighting, and experts believe that it is wise to start with the strongest paper, to keep your confidence intact!

You will be offered the option of taking a ten-minute break.

The GMAT Exam - The GMAT FOCUS papers

Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning is based on defining a problem in mathematical terms and using mathematical and logical principles to find a real world application and solution. The level of mathematics needed to do well in this section of the test is high-school maths, and you will not find any questions which involve trigonometry, calculus or geometry.

One example of the type of question you may encounter is:

“Jane sets off to walk 45 kilometres from X to Y, and walks at 3km an hour. Her friend, Susan, leaves from Y, to walk to X, along the same road, but walks faster, at 4km an hour. How many kilometers will Susan have walked when she meets Jane?”

This question has five possible answers: 24, 23, 22, 21 and 19.5, and you are expected to turn the facts into an algebraic formula to find the correct number.

Similarly, you might find an algebraic question phrased slightly differently, namely :

“ If a wheel turns at x revolutions a minute, how many revolutions will the wheel make in k seconds?”

Before sitting the Quantitative Reasoning paper, you  would be well-advised to revise a number of areas, including:

  • Integers and non-integers
  • Venn diagrams
  • Sequences
  • Prime numbers
  • Terminating and non-terminating decimals
  • Rates and proportions
  • Quadratic and simultaneous equations
  • Rates and ratios

Preliminary findings suggest that a score of 88 in Quantitative Reasoning will put you in the 95 percentile ranking, while 85 places you in the 89 percentile category, and 80 leaves you in the 66 percentile ranking. Admissions boards favour candidates who are in the 90 percentile ranking – or even higher. Revision and trying past papers are the key to success.

NB: You will not be permitted to use a calculator in this part of the test, so hone your mental arithmetic.

The GMAT Exam - Verbal Reasoning Paper

This section assesses your comprehension skills and your ability to use critical thinking to  evaluate and dissect arguments and statements, and discover the assumptions underlying both. The passages can vary from 50 to over 300 words, and you are not expected to have any specific knowledge of the subject matter. This can be taken from books or journals, and cover music, anthropology, social sciences, natural sciences, philosophy, psychology, astrology, politics, history etc.

The first step in answering the questions is to read through the passage carefully, while remaining keenly aware of time. Many websites recommend looking for keywords and skimming the text, but this is not an advisable approach. You must then examine the question, since the way in which it is phrased determines what you  are being asked.

The basic structure of these types of passages requires you to

  • Identify the key element of the argument
  • Find the assumptions which are at the core of the argument
  • Examine its strengths and weaknesses
  • Look at the evidence which is being presented
  • Reach a conclusion based on the evidence

Verbal reasoning questions will ask you to: find points which either weaken or strengthen the argument; identify the author’s assumptions; harness inference to select an answer which must be true, based on the information contained in the passage; apply the information you have been given in a different context; describe the author’s tone or opinion.

It is worth bearing in mind that :

  • A premise is a statement of fact
  • An assumption is not found in the passage but has to be true for the argument to work
  • A conclusion is a statement which is supported by the premises of the argument (do not expect the conclusion to come in the last paragraph – it could be anywhere in the text).

If you score 81 in this section, you are in the 70th percentile, while 83 puts you in the 86th percentile , and 85 places you in the 96th percentile.

The GMAT Exam - Data Insights

Data Insights tests whether you can assess data from a broad range of sources and from different formats and find a relationship between data and text. Each question may incorporate a number of sub-questions and you may be presented with a graph or table, multi-source, or two-part analysis. You could be offered a number of yes/no and true/false choices, or have to fill in blanks by using a pull-down menu.  Multi-source reasoning is presented on tabs, which could include texts, charts, or tables.

You will have access to an on-screen calculator in this part of the GMAT Focus. The questions can be subdivided into five categories:

• Data sufficiency
• Multiple-source reasoning
• Two-part analysis
• Graphic interpretation
• Table analysis

These are fairly self-explanatory kinds of questions, but there are a few points to bear in mind.
1. Do not rely on geometric figures to find an answer because these are not always drawn to scale.

2. When you are assessing a graphic interpretation question, make sure that the units mentioned in the text are the same as those you see on the graphic axis scales, labels and values. You may be asked to evaluate a pie chart, statistical curve distribution, a bar graph, a scatter plot etc.

3. The multiple-source reasoning questions may ask you to highlight discrepancies or inferences or determine which of the data sources is relevant.

The aim of this part of the GMAT Focus is to discover how well you can analyse and interpret data and apply it to real-world business settings by testing your digital and data literacy. The test uses a wide range of sources, which can be verbal, numeric or graphic, to see how they can be integrated to inform decision-making.
Unlike the old GMAT, the GMAT Focus edition uses the scores from this section to calculate your overall score.

The GMAT Exam - Registering to sit the GMAT Focus

The test can be taken online or at one of over 600 test centres located across 114 countries. GMAC ,the Graduate Management Admission Council which runs the GMAT Focus exam,  has an official admission portal,, which is visited by over seven million people every year.

Once you have registered for an account you can choose a test centre/opt for the online exam,  pick a date for sitting the exam, and pay the fee. The cost of sitting the GMAT Focus varies slightly according to whether you decide to do it online or at a test centre, with $300 being the average fee.

You must make sure that you have valid ID and be prepared to sign a non-disclosure agreement and accept the rules and regulations.

Sitting the GMAT Focus at a test centre- practical information

Arrive in good time because you will need to have a digital photo taken, sign the rules and regulations and provide a palm-vein pattern, as well as showing your ID.

Do not bring any personal items, devices or aids. Personal items include coats, hairclips, bags etc., some of which can be stored in a locker if one is available. Among the aids you are not allowed to bring into the test centre are pens, paper, pencils, pamphlets, ruler, calculator, earphones, ear plugs, watches and a mobile phone.

If you wear prescription glasses these will be examined but can be taken into the centre. You may  have a light sweater or a jacket with you, and expect your pockets to be searched.

No food, drink, lip balm, sweets or chewing gum can enter the test room.

If you leave the room at any point, you will be asked for another vein-pattern scan on re-entering.

You will be provided with an eraser and notepads, which will have to be handed in on finishing the test.

Sitting the GMAT Focus at home -practical information

All glass walls, doors and windows must be covered when you prepare the workspace. You will be requested to scan the room and to take and submit a digital photo before starting, show your ID  and provide a telephone number so a technician can contact you if you run into problems with your computer.

All the items listed in the test centre overview are banned. You may, however, bring in a bottle of water with no label.

You cannot use a touchscreen monitor or an ultrawide monitor.

You cannot leave the room without asking for, and getting, permission.

Whiteboards must meet size specification and be blank on every surface. You may use a dry eraser.

Submitting or cancelling scores

If you wish to cancel or reinstate your score, reschedule your test date or time, or otherwise revise your scheduled test, a number of fees apply -check on

The non-disclosure agreement you sign covers discussing the questions once the test is over, both informally and through emails or on social media. Failure to comply can annul your results.

GMAT Focus resources and materials:

It has been estimated that you should start revising for the test approximately six months before you sit it. Contact Elab for details of resources and references to help you get ready to ace the GMAT Focus.

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