What is the CAT?

  • "Computer Adaptive Test"
  • Designed to get more accurate assessment of your skills
  • And to quickly determine your individual testing level

The CAT Principle

Two things are important to remember:

  • Your final score is most heavily influenced by the first ten questions
  • There is a large scoring penalty for failing to finish any section of the GMAT


  • Make sure you answer the first 10 questions verycarefully!
  • Make sure you answer all the questions
  • Take roughly 2 minutes for each math question and 1.75 minutes for each verbal question
  • If you cannot answer a question, do not waste too much time on it
  • Towards the end you should guess if you are running out of time

Because the GMAT is computer adaptive, you need to be most careful with the first questions because these are the ones that have the biggest influence on your final score. Below you can see a model showing the effect that correctly answered questions could have on your score at the beginning of the test. The model shows how earlier questions influence your score much more than later ones, thus highlighting the importance of taking great care with the first few questions.

It is therefore wise to spend a little more time than average on the first ten or so questions than on most of the rest. If your ability range is such that you are more likely to score below 650, you need to be more careful with the first questions because you are slightly more likely to make errors if you try to work fast. The last questions, on the other hand, have a minimal effect on the end result and you therefore do not need to be so careful with them. Thus we recommend spending less than the average amount of time on the last questions. See below for an overview.


For a score above 650

When starting question... ...there should be around
__ minutes left
10 55
20 35
30 15

For a score below 650

When starting question... ...there should be around
__ minutes left
10 53
20 33
30 14

General Tips for all sections

  • Read the questions very carefully
  • Eliminate the deliberately deceptive wrong choices
  • Avoid random guessing - do make educated guesses
  • Make good use of your noteboard or scrap paper.