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GMAT Structure—The Format of the Exam and How to Approach It

The beginning stages of GMAT preparation can be intimidating. The GMAT exam syllabus can be overwhelming for a newcomer, and fitting in study around an otherwise full schedule is no mean feat.

The last thing you should have to worry about is finding comprehensive, reliable, and up-to-date information on the structure of the GMAT Focus Edition.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the current GMAT exam pattern and format.

The GMAT Focus Edition is designed to test important skills for successful MBA graduates, including the ability to analyze data presented to you in a case study

GMAT Focus Edition

The GMAT Focus Edition is a condensed version of the former GMAT exam, totaling 2 hours and 15 minutes, compared to the current version’s 3 hours and 7 minutes. 

The GMAT Focus Edition syllabus will still evaluate candidates’ Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning abilities, but it will place greater emphasis on higher-order reasoning skills—especially within the Verbal Reasoning section.

SectionTimeNumber of questionsPurpose
Quantitative Reasoning45 minutes21 questionsEvaluates problem solving skills
Verbal Reasoning45 minutes23 questionsAssesses critical reasoning and reading comprehension
Data Insights45 minutes20 questionsAssesses data literacy

GMAT Focus Edition Structure

The primary difference between the traditional GMAT exam format and the Focus Edition is the elimination of the Analytical Writing Assessment section.

However, although the GMAT Focus Edition won’t include the Analytical Writing Assessment, Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections will continue to test an MBA applicant’s aptitude and readiness for a graduate business education.

These changes to the exam mirror the evolving requirements of business schools and employers, who seek candidates with advanced critical thinking and data literacy abilities. 

In addition, the GMAT Focus edition will introduce an innovative Data Insights section. This component is designed to assess candidates’ competence in data analysis and interpretation.

This change is a sensible one, considering how relevant this skill is in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. It combines Integrated Reasoning and Data Sufficiency question formats to gauge an applicant’s digital and data literacy.

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Data Insights section

Comprising 20 questions, the Data Insights section requires applicants to evaluate and synthesize information presented in different formats—such as visuals, numerical data, and text—in order to make well-informed decisions.

Some of these questions might involve mathematical calculations, data analysis, verbal reasoning, or a combination of these elements. For this section only, an on-screen calculator is available.

There are fives types of questions in the Data Insights section:

GMAT Focus Edition vs Traditional GMAT Structure—at a glance

Compare the GMAT Focus Edition with the traditional GMAT exam format.

 GMAT Focus Edition GMAT
Exam Duration2 hours 15 minutes3 hours 7 minutes
SectionsQuantitative Reasoning (45 mins)
Verbal Reasoning (45 mins)
Data Insights (45 mins)
Quantitative Reasoning (62 mins)
Verbal Reasoning (65 mins)
Integrated Reasoning (30 mins)
Analytical Writing Assessment (30 mins)
Section orderQuestion types could appear in any orderQuestion types will appear in one of three orders:
Order 1: AWA and IR – QR – VR
Order 2: VR – QR – IR and AWA
Order 3: QR – VR – IR and AWA
FlexibilityBookmark and review as many questions as you like
Change up to 3 answers per section
No option to bookmark, edit, or review questions
Score SendingSend scores to 5 schools for free
You can review your score before sending it to your schools
Send scores to 5 schools for free
You cannot review your score before sending it to your schools
Performance InsightsImproved Official Score Report with detailed insights into your performanceAdditional insights available by purchasing the Enhanced Score Report


The structure of the GMAT Focus Edition is less complicated than you might imagine. In the Focus Edition, there are three sections:

The total exam takes 2 hours and 15 minutes, although each section of the GMAT is afforded a different amount of time.

To get a sense for what score to target, you can start by reviewing the Average GMAT Scores of Top MBA programs

You can also prepare for the GMAT by taking a look at our GMAT Study Plan, which we’ve specifically designed to help you prepare for the exam in only 10 weeks.

Master the current GMAT exam pattern and format with our comprehensive GMAT prep courses designed for success.

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