GMAT Select Section Order

May 7, 2019 - Traci Hall, Marketing Manager: Kaplan GMAT

Selecting Your Section Order on the GMAT

The GMAT can already be a daunting exam, with many questions like: when should I take the GMAT?, how long should I study? and what GMAT score do I need? Now, another big question students are asking themselves is, in which order should I take the GMAT? As of July 2017, GMAC made it possible for students to choose the order in which they take the GMAT exam. This gives students more control over their testing experience - and possibly help with their score - but it also can add another level of confusion to an already complex test. Here are some frequently asked questions about the select section order process to help you navigate this new factor.

How does GMAT select section order work?

You will choose your section order on test day once you are at the testing centre. Right before the start of the exam, the computer will show you a “Select Section Order” screen, and you have two minutes to choose which section order you prefer. If you fail to pick an option during that time, the computer will default to the original option. Here are the three different section order options available to choose from:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal (original GMAT section order)
  2. Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
  3. Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

Which section order should I pick?

This is the big question that many students are asking - and the short answer is there is no “correct” or “recommended” section order. It is completely up to you which one to choose based on your areas of strength and testing preferences.

Many students want to sit their strongest section first and save their weaker sections for last. Others may want to get their harder section done right away. Is quant not your strongest area? You might want to take it first while you are still fresh, to get it out of the way and turn your focus to the other sections. Do you feel more confident in the verbal section? You might want to sit that first to warm up and save the more challenging sections for later. Not a native English speaker and find essays daunting? You might want to sit the Analytical Writing Assessment first to avoid being overwhelmed and running out of steam by the end of the exam.

We recommend you take a few GMAT practice tests to determine the areas where you feel stronger and decide which order works best for you. No matter which order you choose, it is imperative to know which option you will choose before test day. The point of the score selection is to give you more freedom and control over your score and to make sure students feel as confident as possible. It is important you go in feeling prepared and ready to take the GMAT in the order you prefer.

How will test breaks work with the new section orders?

You are still given two optional 8-minute breaks throughout the exam. Now that there are different orders, those breaks are based on the section order you choose.

Here is an overview of how the breaks are spaced with each section order selection:

Order #1

Analytical Writing Assessment

Integrated Reasoning

Optional 8-minute Break

Quantitative

Optional 8-minute Break

Verbal

Order #2

Verbal

Quantitative

Integrated Reasoning

Analytical Writing Assessment

Order #3

Quantitative

Verbal

Integrated Reasoning

Analytical Writing Assessment

If you do not wish to take a break, you can skip it and move on to the next section of the GMAT. We recommend you do take the breaks! The GMAT is as much a test of endurance as it is of knowledge, and you will need those breaks to avoid test burnout. Make sure you do not go over your 8 minutes though, as any overtime will be deducted from the allotted time for your next section.

Will the schools I send my score report to be able to see which section order I selected?

No, the section order will not appear on any unofficial or official score report, and schools will not be able to see which section order you picked.

Is Kaplan's practice test for the GMAT updated to reflect this change?

Yes, our GMAT computer-adaptive practice tests (CATs) allow you to select the section order, just like on the real GMAT. We frequently update our CATs to mirror the current GMAT test blueprint in structure and time, so you get the most realistic practice.

We have a library of free resources including free practice questions and a free practice tests available.

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