GMAT Exam Duration 2023: Section-wise Breakdown of GMAT

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Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Feb 03, 2023 10:23 AM IST

GMAT exam duration refers to the maximum time available to the test takers for attempting the exam. The overall time duration is divided into parts as per the different GMAT sections. 

Additionally, two optional breaks have been scheduled during the GMAT exam to allow test takers to keep their thoughts fresh and concentrated. As a result, the GMAT exam is scheduled to last 3 hours and 7 minutes (excluding the two optional 8-minute breaks).

Test takers can read on further to know about the overall GMAT exam duration, exam orders available, the effect of exam order on GMAT time duration, duration of breaks, placement of breaks, and effect of breaks on overall GMAT exam duration.

Overview and Structure of GMAT Exam Duration 2023

Here are the highlights of GMAT exam duration:

Parameters

Description

Overall GMAT exam duration

3 hrs 30 minutes (including two optional 8-minute breaks)

Number of Sections in GMAT Exam

4

Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment

Number of Exam Orders Available

3

Number of Breaks Available

2

Length of One Break in GMAT

8 minutes

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GMAT Section Order

GMAT section order refers to the sequence of the sections including Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). Find the three different GMAT section orders below:

Exam Order 1: AWA – Integrated Reasoning – Quantitative Reasoning – Verbal Reasoning

Exam Order 2: Verbal Reasoning – Quantitative Reasoning – Integrated Reasoning – AWA

Exam Order 3: Quantitative Reasoning – Verbal Reasoning  Integrated Reasoning – AWA

Each section has a different time duration allotted to it on the basis of the time required to solve the questions. This time has been worked out according to GMAT overall exam duration. 

However, since there are multiple exam orders available to attempt GMAT sections, the time distribution during the test may differ. Hence, test takers must decide upon the order, number of breaks, and placing of breaks carefully to ensure they ace the test. The number of questions asked in each section and time allotted are as follows:

GMAT Exam Section

Number of Questions Asked

Time Allotted

Integrated Reasoning

12

30 min

Quantitative Reasoning

31

62 min

Verbal Reasoning

36

65 min

AWA

1

30 min

Breaks in GMAT Exam Duration

There are two breaks available in GMAT exam duration. Each break is eight minutes long, both of which are optional. Hence, test takers can choose to take one break, both breaks, or none at all. The number of breaks and effect on overall exam duration are given below:

Number of Breaks Taken

Time Added 

Overall GMAT Exam Duration

0

-

3 hrs 7 min

1

8 min

3 hrs 15 min

2

16 min

3 hrs 31 min

 The first break can be taken after attempting the first section of the test, irrespective of the exam order. Further, the second break can be taken after completing the section before which the first break was taken. For example, if the first break was taken after attempting two sections, then the second break can be taken after the completion of third section.

Effect of Exam Order 1 on GMAT Exam Duration

Exam Order 1 requires test takers to attempt GMAT exam sections in the following order:

Although the overall exam duration will remain the same, test takers can expect the flow of examination to differ according to the breaks taken. 

The possibilities of GMAT exam flow in Exam order 1 are:

Exam Order Possibilities

Distribution of GMAT Exam Duration

Recommeded (Low, Moderate, High)

AWA – IR – QR – VR

30 + 30 + 62 + 65

Low

AWA – Break – IR – QR – VR

30 + (8) + 30 + 62 + 65

Low

AWA – IR – Break – QR – VR

30 + 30 + (8) + 62 + 65

Moderate

AWA – IR – QR – Break – VR

30 + 30 + 62 + (8) + 65

Moderate

AWA – Break – IR – Break – QR – VR

30 + (8) + 30 + (8) + 62 + 65

Low

AWA – Break – IR – QR – Break – VR

30 + (8) + 30 + 62 + (8) + 65

Low

AWA – IR – Break – QR – Break – VR

30 + 30 + (8) + 62 + (8) + 65

High (Best Option in Exam Order 1)

Effect of Exam Order 2 on GMAT Exam Duration

Exam order 2 expects test takers to attempt GMAT exam in the following order:

  • Verbal Reasoning (VR)

  • Quantitative Reasoning (QR)

  • Integrated Reasoning (IR)

  • AWA

Time distribution possibilities for Exam order 2 are: 

Exam Order Possibilities

Distribution of GMAT Exam Duration

Recommeded (Low, Moderate, High)

VR – QR – IR – AWA

65 + 62 + 30 + 30

Low

VR – Break – QR – IR – AWA

65 + (8) + 62 + 30 + 30

Moderate

VR – QR – Break – IR – AWA

65 + 62 + (8) + 30 + 30

Low

VR – QR – IR – Break – AWA

65 + 62 + 30 + (8) + 30

Low

VR – Break – QR – Break – IR – AWA

65 + (8) + 62 + (8) + 30 + 30

High (Best Option in Exam Order 2)

VR – Break – QR – IR – Break – AWA

65 + (8) + 62 + 30 + (8) + 30

High

VR – QR – Break – IR – Break – AWA

65 + 62 + (8) + 30 + (8) + 30

Moderate

Effect of Exam Order 3 on GMAT Exam Duration

GMAT Exam order 3 is almost the same as GMAT Exam order 2 as they both have lengthier sections placed first. The only change is that the placements of QR and VR sections in Exam order 2 are interchanged in Exam order 3. Exam order 3 of GMAT exam can be attempted as follows:

Here are the possibility in which GMAT exam order 3 can flow:

Exam Order Possibilities

Distribution of GMAT Exam Duration (Break)

Recommeded (Low, Moderate, High)

QR – VR – IR – AWA

65 + 62 + 30 + 30

Low

QR – Break – VR – IR – AWA

65 + (8) + 62 + 30 + 30

Moderate

QR – VR – Break – IR – AWA

65 + 62 + (8)+ 30 + 30

Low

QR – VR – IR – Break – AWA

65 + 62 + 30 + (8) + 30

Low

QR – Break – VR – Break – IR – AWA

65 + (8) + 62 + (8) + 30 + 30

High (Best Option in Exam Order 3)

QR – Break – VR – IR – Break – AWA

65 + (8) + 62 + 30 + (8) + 30

High

QR – VR – Break – IR – Break – AWA

65 + 62 + (8) + 30 + (8) + 30

Moderate

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FAQs on GMAT Exam Duration

Does GMAT exam duration differ from the GMAT online exam?

No, the GMAT exam duration is not different from the GMAT online exam. Both the formats of GMAT exam, offline and online follow the same exam duration. They also have the same number and options of exam order and breaks. Additionally, the breaks remain optional for both GMAT offline and GMAT online exams.

Can GMAT exam duration be extended?

No, the overall GMAT exam duration cannot be extended. However, the inclusion of breaks can have a significant impact on the total GMAT exam time. That said, they will have no effect on the time available to attempt the GMAT exam. It is fixed for three hours and seven minutes.

Are GMAT exam orders important to GMAT exam duration?

Yes, GMAT exam orders are important to GMAT exam duration. There are three exam orders available to attempt the four GMAT exam sections. Since the time allotted for each section is different, the chosen exam order can affect the exam-solving skills of the test taker. Test takers can choose the exam order according to their strengths and weaknesses.

Which is the best GMAT exam order?

There is no best GMAT exam order. Each order has been designed to help the test takers make decisions on the basis of their strengths and weaknesses. Since different test takers have different capabilities and choices, no single exam order can be recommended. However, it is noteworthy that exam order 2 and exam order 3 are almost identical. 

Are breaks advisable during GMAT exam?

Yes, breaks are advisable during GMAT exam. Both the breaks are optional in GMAT exam, however, taking them can help the test taker to rejuvenate themselves. Attempting a test of over three hours in a single sitting can also increase stress. Moreover, a bad performance in one section could affect the performance of the following sections as well.

How should breaks be managed during GMAT exam?

The breaks should be managed as per the exhaustion and pressure faced during the GMAT exam. Test takers are advised to plan beforehand about their GMAT exam flow. However, suppose during the test they feel exhausted early or their particular section’s performance is bad. In that case, they can choose to take a break immediately after that section, irrespective of their plan.

What can I do during GMAT exam break?

The availability of choices during the GMAT exam break is based on the format of GMAT exam. The GMAT offline exam breaks allow candidates to move within a restricted area for washroom breaks and/or water breaks. However, during GMAT online exam, breaks are allowed as far as test takers do not leave their desks. This means that GMAT Online will discontinue the test if the student takes a washroom break.

Which GMAT section requires a break the most?

There is no particular GMAT section that requires a break the most. The requirement for a break is dependent on the personal strengths and weaknesses of the test taker. However, the two sections of verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning are lengthy and may require breaks. Similarly, analytical writing assessment requires subjective writing and could need a break.

Is it important to prepare according to GMAT exam duration?

Yes, it is extremely important to prepare according to GMAT exam duration. The exam order, different times for each section, and two optional breaks mean that test takers have a lot of options, but also that their choice can severely affect their GMAT exam scores. Hence, practicing according to the different GMAT section orders is best to be well prepared for the exam. 

How can I ensure maximum time utilisation during GMAT exam?

You can ensure maximum time utilisation during GMAT exam by preparing yourself mentally for the upcoming sections, especially if they are those you are weak at. You can drink water and meditate to relax your mind. You must ensure to take back your form at least two minutes before the break ends as the timer will start automatically after eight minutes.  

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