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the gmat will be 30 minutes shorter effective April 16

Get ready for the new GMAT format — 30 minutes shorter! — starting April 16, 2018

Good news, GMAT test takers! Effective April 16, 2018, the length of the GMAT exam will be shortened by 30 minutes. The total test time on the updated exam will now be 3.5 hours instead of 4 hours, including breaks and instructions.

Same GMAT exam, fewer questions

How was the GMAC able to accomplish this feat?

They reduced the number of unscored (research) questions in the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections of the exam, as well as streamlined the non-exam screens test-takers see at the test center (tutorials, instructions).

The Integrated Reasoning and Analytical Writing (AWA) sections remain unchanged.

The new exam structure for the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections is detailed in the table below.


Old Structure
(Before April 16, 2018)
New Structure
(After April 16, 2018)
Section # of questions Section time # of questions Section time
 Quantitative Reasoning 37 75 minutes 31 62 minutes
 Verbal Reasoning 41 75 minutes 36 65 minutes


We always knew there were a decent number of “experimental” questions on the GMAT. Now we have a better idea of how many, with the GMAC eliminating six quantitative questions and five verbal questions. There will still be a few unscored questions in each section — and as always, don’t try to figure out which ones they are. Just do your best on every question that pops up on your computer screen on test day and let the GMAT sort it all out in terms of your final score.

What does it mean for you?

So what does this change mean for you?

Essentially nothing from a substantive standpoint.

GMAT exam scoring will remain unaffected since the number of scored questions will not change. The Total Score and individual Quant and Verbal section scores will be comparable to the exams taken prior to April 16, 2018. Thus the quality of the exam will remain unchanged in terms of reliability, validity, security, and integrity.

In addition, the exam content, question types, and average time per question will not change. Specifically regarding the average time per question:

  • On the Quantitative Reasoning section you will still have approximately 2 minutes per question (31 questions in 62 minutes)
  • On the Verbal Reasoning section you will still have approximately 1 minute 45 seconds per question (36 questions in 65 minutes)

In other words, it’s the same GMAT exam – just shorter by a half hour.

Why the change?

There are two schools of thought for why the GMAC decided to shorten the GMAT exam by 30 minutes.

The GMAC’s official position, as stated by Vineet Chhabra, senior director of product management for GMAC, is that they are “always looking for ways to help build candidate confidence and streamline the test experience, all with one goal in mind — to help GMAT test-takers do their very best on exam day.” He added, “We believe candidates will have less anxiety and feel better prepared, which can contribute to a better reflection of their true performance on the exam.”

That sounds rosy, and there’s no reason to doubt their reasoning.

Personally, I think there’s also an element of the GMAC responding to the increasing acceptance of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) as an alternative to the GMAT in business school admissions. (Note: We also offer GRE prep courses if you’re considering the GRE). The GRE currently takes 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete, so the new version of the GMAT will be shorter by 15 minutes. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide. And who knows, perhaps a shorter exam will entice certain on-the-fence test takers to opt for the GMAT instead of the GRE. Who wants to be in the testing center any longer than necessary, after all?

Regardless of the reason, the benefit to you of this change is that you can get in and get out 30 minutes faster. The only thing left for you to decide is what to do with all your extra free time!

(Oh, yeah, and you may need to decide how you’re going to prepare for the GMAT exam in the first place. Consider one of our comprehensive GMAT prep courses if you haven’t already! We’ll get you prepared and ensure that you get accepted to the MBA program of your choice).