GMAT Computer Adaptive Testing

The GMAT is offered as a computer adaptive test (CAT), meaning that the testing software adapts to your performance as you progress through the exam.

The computer adaptive test is more than just a computerised version of a “paper-and-pencil” multiple-choice test. In the CAT format, the computer actually adapts to your performance as you take the test. Understanding how computer adaptive testing works, and learning the test-taking strategies appropriate to this particular format, can have a direct and positive impact on your score.

Does my score start at 0?

When you begin a section on the CAT, the computer assumes you have an average score (~500) and gives you a question of medium difficulty. If you answer the question correctly you will be given a more difficult question, which is worth more point. Answer it incorrectly and the next question you are given will be easier, worth fewer points, and thus will have a negative impact on your score.

Can I choose which test section I take first?

Yes! GMAC now allows students to choose the order in which they take the GMAT exam. At the start of the exam, you will be able to choose between three options:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal (this is the original section order)
  • Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

There is no “correct” or “recommended” section order. It is up to you which one to choose and just allows you to have more control and flexibility taking the GMAT based on your strengths and testing preferences so you can feel confident on test day.

You can learn more about the new section selection process at

Can I go back and check my answers?

Because each right or wrong answer you give directly affects the next question the test shows you, the CAT does not allow you to go back to questions you've already answered and check your work. The CAT will only show you one question at a time and does not allow you to see the next question until you've answered the current one. So double-check your answer choice before moving on. Once you've noted and confirmed your answer, that's it.

That being said, if you cannot answer a question, you should definitely guess. Guess intelligently and strategically—i.e. eliminate any answer choices that you know to be wrong and then guess from those remaining. You will be penalised for every question that you do not answer. If you only have a minute or two left and several questions remaining, you should guess at random rather than leave them unanswered.