How Long is the GMAT? – Overview + Tips to Optimize Your Time Management

by Emmanuel Carita
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How Long is the GMAT - Tips to Optimize Your Time Management

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a computer adaptive test that is designed to help you gauge your ability to succeed in an MBA program, which means it’s not just a test of your knowledge, but also of how well you can apply that knowledge. In order to be successful on your exam, you need to know how long the GMAT is and how to use the available time efficiently.

How Long is the GMAT?

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized test given to prospective MBA applicants. The total exam time is 3 hours and 7 minutes. This does not yet include the two optional 8-minute breaks. The time you have to complete the exam is spread across the following four sections:

  • An Analytical Writing Assessment section: This section evaluates one’s level of critical thinking as well as their ability to communicate effectively in 30 minutes to answer 1 essay-style question.
  • An Integrated Reasoning section which evaluates students based on how effectively they can interpret information presented in a variety of formats and analyze data. This section also lasts 30 minutes but comprises 12 questions.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: Students’ mathematical abilities and their level of numerical literacy are evaluated based on their performance in a quantitative reasoning component of the test. This section lasts 62 minutes for 31 questions.
  • Verbal Reasoning: Reading comprehension, editing skills, and the ability to understand written arguments are some of the skills that are evaluated during the verbal reasoning portion of the test. Students have to answer 36 questions in 65 minutes in this section.
Exam SectionTime LimitNumber Of QuestionsScore Range
Integrated Thinking30 Minutes12 Questions1-8
Verbal Reasoning65 Minutes36 Questions6-51
Analytical Writing30 Minutes1 Question0-6
Quantitative Reasoning62 Minutes31 Questions6-51
Total3 hours, 7 minutes80 Questions200-800

Tips to Optimize Your GMAT Time Management

You will have a set amount of time for each segment during GMAT. In the quantitative portion of the test, you will get 62 minutes to work through 31 questions, while the verbal portion will give you 65 minutes to work through 36 questions.

You will have around 2 minutes to solve each quantitative issue, and slightly less than 2 minutes to solve each verbal problem, on average. However, those are just the averages; in reality, you may expect to spend anywhere from one minute to three minutes solving the majority of the problems you encounter.

There are certain measures you can take to control how much time you spend on a single question to optimize your overall time management on the GMAT. For instance, when you encounter a problem that is a significant weakness of yours, you are going to make an educated assumption almost instantly; more specifically, as soon as you understand that this challenge is not a good one for you. And the reality is that the average exam taker will make an educated guess on approximately two to four issues in each segment (Quantitative, Verbal, and IR). One of the things you should do in advance is to develop a list of the things that you detest, tend to answer poorly, or take too much time to perform. This will allow you to make a quick decision using executive thinking to leave early and go on to the next thing.

On the other hand, in terms of how much time you spend on each question, you should try to avoid spending more than around three minutes on any one quantitative or verbal question because your chances of getting it right have decreased significantly. It’s simple logic: There is a solution that will take less time, but you have no idea what it is because you’ve already spent more than three minutes on it. Choose an answer, and don’t look back.

How can you strike a balance between all of those things such that you end up with an average of two minutes by the time you’ve finished the section? You are going to make use of the scratch paper that you have available to assist you in keeping track.

Here are some of the best time management strategies that can help you to use your time on the various GMAT sections efficiently.

Your GMAT Mantra Is to Accelerate As You Go

Spending the same amount of time on each question is not the most effective overall technique due to the adaptive algorithm of the GMAT. Essentially, if you spent the same amount of time on each question, you’d be paying too much attention to questions near the end of the section and too little attention to questions near the beginning, which have a higher impact on your score.

Moving some time from the section’s end to the beginning is the better course of action. Or, increase your speed as you go. Plan to spend roughly 25 minutes on the first ten questions in total. That should still give you enough time left for the questions at the end of the section, so you have enough time to work more attentively, such as by reading the question again before choosing your response.

5-Question Check-Ins

It’s important to prepare ahead in order to keep track of how much time is remaining in the segment. However, you shouldn’t check the time on the screen after each question.

Make it a habit to check the time remaining after every fifth question on practice exams. Then, contrast the time you actually spent with the time you had planned to. Slow down if you are running more than a minute ahead of schedule! If you are running over by more than a minute, pick up the pace.

The One-Minute Rule (And Its Corollary: Use All Your Time)

It should go without saying that test takers should utilize the full amount of time provided for each segment. You do not receive extra points for completing the exam more quickly. By ending with five or ten minutes left to go, you’re really more likely to lower your score.

Applying the one-minute rule will help you avoid wrapping up too soon. In the event that you have an immediate response to a question, carefully consider your choice of response by reading the question again. Examine your calculations. The likelihood that the test authors have created one or more incorrect answers is increased in direct proportion to more difficult the question is, given the potential for misreading. You can prevent trap replies by reading the question again.

Attempt to Answer Every Question

You are responsible for responding to each question in each segment, as you are aware. You can’t skip or go back to any questions, and you’ll only see one question at a time.

You can see the question you are on while you take the test. For instance, you’ll see that you’re working on 1/37 on the first question in the math section. While you have an average of two minutes per question, it might not always be a good idea to divide your time equally.

You might read a passage in the verbal section of the test proportionally longer than you answer the pertinent questions. Furthermore, these reading comprehension problems could take you longer than sentence repairs, particularly if you are quick to spot and correct grammar mistakes.

You should keep track of how much time you typically spend on each sort of question when you take practice exams. The more you test yourself and practice, the more clarity you’ll have about how to allocate your time.

When taking the GMAT, if a question is taking too much of your time, just guess as best you can and move on. It’s preferable to make an educated guess than to run out of time and not finish a section of questions.

Don’t Stress About Your Performance

The following questions in the quantitative and verbal portions are adaptive, meaning they are determined by how well you answered the previous ones. One error test-takers frequently commit is trying to evaluate their performance in these parts. They assume that if a question feels simpler, they answered the preceding one incorrectly.

Avoid doing this! First off, attempting to gauge the complexity of the questions is a waste of time. The degree of difficulty could be arbitrary. You may think a question is simpler because you fully understand a certain topic, not because the test creators believe it to be simpler.

If you begin to worry that you’re performing poorly, you can become overwhelmed and end up making things worse. While stress can to some degree help you perform, it can also become a major obstacle, so try to leave it behind! In addition, just because a question is simpler doesn’t necessarily mean that the others were incorrect. There are a few experimental questions strewn about the exam that are intended to test out information for subsequent exams and won’t affect your grades.

Try not to focus on your performance at all while taking the GMAT. Keep it out of your brain if you have to guess the answer to a question that stumps you. Put all of your mental efforts into answering the question that is currently in front of you and disregard the previous ones. Your test results will be available soon enough.

Utilize the Timer to Your Advantage

While you are not allowed to bring a calculator to the GMAT, you are given one very helpful tool: a timer. The timer will show you how much time is remaining in each area as you take the GMAT. When there are five minutes left, the timer changes to a blinking display.

Make sure you don’t spend too much time on a question by using the timer to help you stay on track. On the other side, you know you can take your time answering if you have ten minutes left and there are just two questions in a section left (which shouldn’t happen if you follow all of our tips in this guide).

You can conceal the timer if it is too distracting. Most users find the timer helpful since it allows them to maintain the pace they established on GMAT practice exams.

Make the Best Out of Your Breaks

Despite the temptation to rush through each portion in one go, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of pausing. The breaks offer a great chance to unwind, refocus, and move on to the next segment.

Take a break from looking at the computer screen by getting up and moving around. For additional energy during pauses, you can consume food or water.

Furthermore, if you don’t take a break, you can find yourself becoming sidetracked by test-room visitors. Eight minutes of disorganized test-taking could be a significant disadvantage on the GMAT with its severe time limits.

Make the most of your eight-minute breaks by arriving at the testing facility equipped with water and nutritious snacks. You’ll be able to maintain your stamina throughout this prolonged exam if you have the chance to walk around and re-energize yourself.


Now that you have an idea of what you can do to enhance your time management, let’s go over the main points you need to keep in mind about the format and duration of the GMAT.

You will spend more than three hours in front of a computer taking the test on the long-awaited GMAT test day. The Quantitative and Verbal sections each last just over an hour, while the Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning sections each last 30 minutes. This is a challenge, definitely.

While it may seem impossible to complete the exam with an average of two minutes per question, you can improve your performance by taking timed practice exams while you study. In those practice exams, try to implement all of the above time management strategies such that they feel totally natural on your test day.

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