GMAT Preparation for Indian Students

Updated on
May 6, 2020

GMAT Preparation for Indian Students

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a global MBA entrance exam that is designed to help B-schools evaluate a candidate’s ability to do well in an MBA program. Many Indian candidates aspire to ace this “computer adaptive test” to get admission into top global MBA and Masters in Management (MiM) degree from a leading Business School in the USA. Almost all Top 100 B-schools in India also accept GMAT scores, particularly for 1-year MBA programs. In this article we will cover in detail the exam structure, GMAT preparation strategy and useful sources to ace GMAT test in India.


The GMAT is administered by Pearson VUE under the guidance of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a US headquartered organization. Pearson VUE organizes the test in India throughout the year in 26 cities, spread across 29 test centers. 

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1. GMAT Exam Pattern & Sections
GMAT exam duration is 3 hours 7 minutes excluding two 8-minute breaks, both of which are optional. The exam has four sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing Assessment. Let’s understand more about each of them.


1.1 Quantitative Reasoning
The Quantitative Reasoning section of GMAT evaluates the candidates on foundational mathematical skills, basic knowledge of elementary concepts, and the capability to apply logic quantitatively, solve quantitative aptitude problems, and the ability to interpret graphical and tabular data. The main areas tested in this section are:


Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. These are the two basic varieties of questions, which the questions of this section may be categorized into. Both test the candidate on the following skills:

  • Arithmetic
  • Elementary algebra
  • Common concepts of geometry

Problem-Solving Questions
This variety is designed to test:

  • Foundational mathematical aptitude skills
  • Knowledge of basic mathematical concepts
  • The ability to apply logic to solve quantitative problems

Data-Sufficiency Questions
This variety is designed to evaluate the capability to:

  • Observe and analyze a quantitative aptitude problem
  • Identify what pieces of data are relevant and which ones aren’t
  • Find out the exact time to start solving, once it’s established that enough information is given

1.2 Verbal Reasoning
The Verbal section of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) evaluates the candidates on their ability to:

  • Read and try to make sense of the written material
  • Reason and evaluate the arguments provided in the problem
  • Properly edit the provided written material to adhere to standard English

The questions in this section may be categorized into the following: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. Here is a detailed description of each one of these:


Reading Comprehension Questions There are passages, which are typically 300-400 words in length. The topics range from economics, politics, philosophy, to knowledge-based ones like biological and material sciences, or even current affairs. Though, no special knowledge of the subject is required to solve the questions. The problems are typically inference based, and even test the application of the information provided in the passage, which is helped by candidate’s understanding of the writer. Sometimes, direct vocabulary-based questions are also presented. By understanding the statements of the passage, the test taker also becomes adept at answering questions which discuss about the strength and weakness of arguments presented.


Critical Reasoning Questions This category basically tests the ability to observe and evaluate and analyze the arguments presented, and subsequently come up with a suitable plan of action. Again, as is the case with Reading Comprehension type, no prior knowledge of any subject matter is required. This section evaluates the capability to reason effectively in the areas of:

  • Construction of Argument
  • Evaluation of Argument
  • Formulating and constructively measuring a plan of action.

Sentence Correction Questions This type typically asks the candidate to determine the choice, which best describes the main idea or the relationship. Knowledge of grammar is required intensely here. This section tests the two main areas of language proficiency: Correct expression and Effective expression.


1.3 Integrated Reasoning: This section is put there to assess the practical skillset that are required both by the B-schools and the working corporates. It comprises of data-based question sets, which ask the candidate to observe, critically analyze, and then interpret the data given in various forms like tables, bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts etc.


In a way, the knowledge gained while studying for VR and QR sections, is used to solve questions of this section. The test taker needs to develop the basic acumen to allow him to segregate necessary data from the not so necessary data. The answer choices are also different here, as in; they might have drop-down lists to choose from, or even have multiple correct answers.


There are four basic question types:

  • Two-part analysis: This type may have lengthy statements followed by small tables, and it asks the candidate to choose 2 options out of the given 5 or 6.
  • Multi-source critical reasoning: The data is provided in multiple tabs, usually three, which one may navigate among individually. A little quantitative knowledge may also be required to solve.
  • Graphical Interpretation: Various forms of graphs may be presented and one must be adept to analyze them, and then proceed to answer the two questions of which the choices are provided in a drop-down format.
  • Table analysis: Data in the tabular format is given, followed with 3 questions, with 2 answer options each. Sifting through the data is a skill required here.

1.4 Analytical Writing Assessment
The Analytical Writing Assessment of the GMAT evaluates the ability to “think critically and to communicate the thought process clearly”. It comprises of a 30-minute essay-writing task on Analysis of an Issue/Analysis of an Argument. Both the issue and the argument may be from topics of general interest, ranging from current affairs, business, to science or even sports. Please note no specific knowledge of any subject areas is required. This is only to evaluate the capability to critically analyze any given topic.


2. GMAT Vs CAT: Difficulty level, Pattern, Cost and more
CAT is a popular exam in India taken by almost all students who want to apply for MBA program in India. So, before you start your GMAT preparation, you may be wondering how do GMAT and CAT compare? While the two exams have similar sections, and a very similar syllabus, there are many differences in pattern, costing, and difficulty levels across sections. Let’s look at a detailed comparative analysis under the following few headers:


Difficulty Level: The overall difficulty level of the GMAT is lower than that of CAT. The first factor contributing to this difference is the syllabus. While the syllabus for CAT isn’t as properly defined as that of the GMAT, this makes the GMAT preparation much more comfortable for any test taker. The Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation (LRDI_ section of the CAT has been the toughest nut to crack over the past few years, while its counterpart in the GMAT, i.e. the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section is much simpler on logic. The Quantitative Ability (QA) section of CAT is way trickier than the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) section of the GMAT, as the questions in the latter are pretty straight forward, while the former tests not just the concept, but also the application. It is the area of Verbal Reasoning, which has always been the most difficult for the average Indian test taker in the GMAT, as it requires high vocabulary, and also tests the candidate’s grammar skills, unlike the CAT.


Exam Fee: GMAT exam is more expensive than CAT, XAT, SNAP, and NMAT taken together! GMAT exam fee is US $250, which is approximately Rs. 17,500. This is much above CAT (Rs 1,900) or XAT (Rs 1,700).


Computer-Adaptive exam Vs Computer-Based exam: The GMAT is a “question-adaptive” test. This is an indicator that the difficulty level of the candidate’s next question depends on the performance in the previous question. Thus, the GMAT is a test of capability as it continuously adapts and reviews the test to the candidate’s ability level. The test usually begins with a question of medium difficulty level, if one answers this question correctly; the next question is of a slightly higher difficulty level. Hence, there is no option to review or edit the answers or to skip a question. CAT, on the other hand, is a non-adaptive computer-based test and focuses on accuracy more than capability. Here, as percentile scores are reported, a candidate’s relative performance with respect to the other test takers is of value, rather than their own test score. Reviewing the answers before ending a section is possible. Also, an on-screen calculator is provided. There is also a one-fourth negative marking for wrong answers.


B-schools accepting GMAT vs CAT: Common Admission Test (CAT) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) are both entrance tests accepted by top business schools in India including IIMs. The basic difference between GMAT and CAT is that while CAT is a national level entrance exam, GMAT is a more widely present global exam accepted by over 2000+ business schools & 7000 management programs worldwide. 

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Here is a quick guide to help you select the right MBA Exam.

Your preferred MBA destination
Duration of MBA you prefer
The Right Exam
USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Singapore or other MBA Abroad destinations
1 Year or 2 Year
2 Year MBA from IIMs and all Top 100 B-schools, accept XLRI, NMIMS and Symbiosis

Difference in Exam Pattern between GMAT vs CAT:
The basic differences can be categorized as given in the following table:

4 Sections
  • Quantitative Reasoning,
  • Verbal Reasoning,
  • Integrated Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing
3 Sections
  • Verbal ability and reading comprehension (VARC)
  • Data Interpretation and logical reasoning (DILR)
  • Quantitative Ability (QA)
No. Of Questions/Time limit
80 Questions in total
·QR – 31 Questions / 62 Minutes
·VR – 36 Questions / 65 Minutes
·IR – 12 Questions / 30 Minutes
·AWA – 1 Question / 30 Minutes
100 Questions in total
·VARC – 34 Questions / 60 minutes
·DILR – 32 Questions / 60 minutes
·QA – 34 Questions / 60 minutes
Computer Adaptive
Computer Based
Score validity
5 years
1 year
No. Of Attempts
Maximum 5 attempts in a year (Minimum 16 days between consecutive attempts)
Lifetime Limit of 8 attempts overall
Can be attempted only once every year.
No limit on the number of attempts.

2. Study Plan
Before we talk about study plan and GMAT study material, you should be clear about what is your GMAT goal? A good GMAT score is 700+, from a total of 800. But if you want to get into IVY League B-schools like Harvard Business School, Chicago Booth, Wharton etc…then you must target 740+. You can achieve this with a 12-weeks of study plan. Check the GMAT preparation tips from experts and our suggested plan below:



  • The ‘What’: Make yourself familiar with the exam pattern and structure.
  • The ‘How’: Research about the exam from GMAT website Use the free GMAT Official Guide and the GMAT Official Starter Kit. Learn the basic GMAT preparation tips to prepare well, and ideally attempt one of the two free Practice Exams.

Weeks 2 and 3
This would be the time that the candidate should ideally devote to the initial foundational practice of the different topics across all sections.

  • The ‘What’: Practice more and accordingly revise the study plan.
  • The ‘How’: Solve and attempt the first 1/3 of the practice questions in every section of the Official Guide. Also, determine your strong and weak points and devise a strategy for the coming two weeks in detail. Involve yourself into engaging in the continuous process of betterment as far as question-solving approaches are concerned.

Weeks 4 and 5
You should dedicate Week 4 & 5 to a continuous review and evaluation of the progress made through study plans and also through test scores.

  • The ‘What’: Evaluate the progress, both individually and also preferably through your mentor.
  • The ‘How’: Create and manage question sets based on the particular category and level of difficulty and practice accordingly. Attempt the second free Practice Exam. Analyze the exam result and apply any necessary changes in the study plan accordingly.

Weeks 6 and 7
These weeks would be crucial to the overall score improvement as it is here that the candidate should finally start inculcating the ‘time factor’, while solving chapter-based questions, and also section-based questions.

  • The ‘What’: Time management is the key, so focus on the same.
  • The ‘How’: In order to fulfill the objective of this week, start using a timer while solving individual questions and also practice tests. Try and create your own version of practice tests from the GMAT Official Guide, and also time them properly.

Weeks 8 and 9
Now you should be dedicated ideally to evaluate the time constraint based solving of section-wise and test-wise questions, and hence reviewing the study plan accordingly, if necessary.

  • The ‘What’: Assess the progress, especially after the proposed time constraints.
  • The ‘How’: Continue testing yourself with the timed practice tests and start to focus the learning in the specific areas identified through the analysis of tests. Attempt one more mock exam, preferably the Practice exam-3 from the Official Kit, and then adjust the further 2-week plan accordingly.


  • The ‘What’: Start to build your confidence as you start to move towards the end of the preparation phase.
  • The ‘How’: Analyze the questions in the attempted practice tests, especially the wrongly attempted ones. Utilize the 90 practice questions available in the Official Starter Kit and extra questions as available in the Official Guide.


  • The ‘What’: Evaluate your preparation and readiness.
  • The ‘How’: It’s now time to attempt another practice test, preferably the Practice exam-4 of the Official Kit. Review and analyze the test to bring out the strength areas and the weak areas clearly. Go through the GMAT Handbook to know what to expect at the test center.


  • The ‘What’: Check your preparedness level for D-Day.
  • The ‘How’: Visit and review the difficult questions and their detailed answer explanations once again. Devise a final strategy that focuses more on strengths. Make sure that all necessary items are ready at least a day in advance and also take proper rest before the D-Day.

4. Best Books for GMAT Preparation
Different experts would recommend different material and reference books for the GMAT preparation 2020, so here’s a compiled list of the best GMAT preparation books which will guide you to the best possible scores, some are exam specific, while some others are section-specific:

  • The Official Guide to the GMAT Review, by GMAC (the 1680-page 2020 edition costs $54, which is close to INR 3800/-). This is the official GMAT preparation book
  • Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set, by Manhattan (the 7th edition of approx. 1200 pages costs about $145, which is close to INR 10,000/-)
  • GMAT Prep Plus 2019, by Kaplan (this book set has 6 full-length practice tests, and costs around $45, which is approx. INR 3200/-)
  • Cracking the GMAT Premium, by The Princeton Review (it costs around $32, which is close to INR 2250/-)
  • GMAT Math Prep Course, by Nova (Section-specific) -the nearly 500-page 2019 edition has close to 600+ math questions, and costs $38, which is nearly INR 2700/-
  • The PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible, by PowerScore (Section-specific) – it’s a 600+ pages 2019 edition with close to 600+ verbal questions, and costs around $62, which is roughly INR 4400/-

5. Best Websites for GMAT Preparation Online
Apart from you can follow these websites for GMAT preparation online:


This is the official website of the GMAT exam. That itself says enough about this website, as it gives access to all the official material, be it the Official Guide, or the Official kit which has the 2 free Practice exams, and 4 other Official Practice exams.

  • GMAT Club

GMAT Club has a unique format. Instead of just presenting a common structure and questions, they encourage aspirants to interact with former MBA students. They have Global Moderators (volunteers), Current Students, Alumni and GMAT Experts that can provide free help and advice to all members.

  • Manhattan Prep

They have on offer, a plethora of interactive video courses and also live classes conducted by GMAT instructors and an option of private tutoring if one desires for a one-on-one personalized attention

  • Beat the GMAT

This is more of a social media networking website of GMAT aspirants. It is used more as a forum where suggestions and pieces of advice by fellow applicants, admission officers at schools, faculty members and consultants.

  • Kaplan

This website thrives and markets itself as an in-person program provider, which in a way means that lecture delivery, doubt solving and all in class discussions happen live, and are conducted by Kaplan Certified Trainers at LogIQuest.


6. Best Recommended Coaching Institutions
Though it is not required to have any external coaching for GMAT preparation 2020 and to crack the GMAT, but still, if any aspirant feels the need, below is a list of the top educators across India (both offline and online) along with their approximate fees, which have been known to provide quality education with best GMAT preparation material and hence quality results over the years:

  • Jamboree

Online Intensive Course: 14,500/-

Comprehensive course: 20,999/-

  • TIME 

Course: 8,450/-

Superior Course: 16,950/-

Elite Course: 19,950/-

Correspondence Course :17, 950/-

  • IVY-GMAT  

     Classroom course:24,900/- 

     Online: 26,000/-

  • CL Educate Pvt. Ltd.

GMAT verbal: 50.000/-,

GMAT Test Prep: 45,000/-,

GMAT Bridge: 27,000/-

  • Princeton Review

Self-Paced Course: 27,213/-

Ultimate Live Online: 54,496/-

Workshop: 20,393/-

  • Veritas Prep

Self-Study: 52,775/-

Live Class: 1,09,476/-

  • Manhattan Prep

       Interact GMAT course: 41,453/-

Live GMAT course: 1,05,634/-


7. B-School wise GMAT Scores
So before you start working on GMAT prep, there is a guide to set your goals.


GMAT scores for Top 10 US MBA programs:

2019 GMAT
Penn (Wharton)
 Harvard Business School
 Stanford GSB
 Chicago (Booth)
 Northwestern (Kellogg)
 MIT (Sloan)
 Dartmouth (Tuck)
 UC-Berkeley (Haas)
 Yale SOM
720 (median)

GMAT Scores at Top One-Year MBA Programs in India:

 Average GMAT Score (Class 0f 2020)
ISB Hyderabad/Mohali
IIM Ahmedabad
PGPX-Post Graduate Programme in Management for Executives (PGPX): One Year Full Time Executive MBA
IIM Bangalore
Executive Post Graduate Programme (EPGP) - One Year Full Time Executive MBA
XLRI Jamshedpur
PGDM (General Management) - 15 Months Programme
PGPM - 15 Months Programme
Great Lakes Institute of Management Chennai
PGPM- 15 Months Programme

We hope this article on GMAT preparation was helpful. Read more about GMAT on these links: GMAT Exam

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