July 25, 2019

What is the best GMAT section order?

The GMAT, like most other standardized tests had a particular order that it presented the test takers with different sections in. The first thing a test-taker faced was the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). A little dreadful isn’t it?

The Quant and Verbal sections wouldn’t appear even after that. There was a whole Integrated Reasoning (IR) section sandwiched between the AWA and Quant, and in the end somewhere, the Verbal section was present.

If you think carefully, this could be quite a burdensome arrangement of sections. The GMAT AWA will drain the test-taker before they can even begin to answer a question in the Quant or the Verbal section.

And this is a big problem as those are the two scores that matter the most. So, what did GMAC do to help with this?

What is the GMAT section order?

In July 2017, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) decided to allow the test-takers to choose the order in which they will attempt their GMAT.

This was seen as a huge step towards making the test more malleable and custom to each and every student. However, the order isn’t completely handed over to the test-taker yet. The GMAC allows the test-taker to select one of the three orders of sections mentioned below.

The OG order: AWA → IR → Quant → Verbal

Option 1: Verbal → Quant → IR → AWA

Option 2: Quant → Verbal → IR → AWA

Right after the instructions are shown to the test-taker, the option choices are presented with a two-minute time limit to select a preference. If left unselected, the test begins in the original order.

The test-takers are still offered their two optional 8-minute breaks. These breaks are given in between the Verbal, Quant, and AWA+IR sections. Thus, no matter which section order you select. You will get two optional breaks in between these three sets of sections.

How to decide what order to give the GMAT in?

Since a test-taker has been given such a chance, the way to use it must also be discussed.

Before we talk about which section order is the best for you, I must point out that the section order isn’t going to drastically change your marks. Your GMAT prep has prepared you to tackle every question on the test, and that should be the thing you rely on to ace it.

But since it is an option, there isn’t any harm in using it.

The choice of the section order is purely dependent on your preference. It will show up nowhere on your official GMAT score report and will not be shared with business schools.

Choosing a section order is a way for a test-taker to play on their strengths.

I’ll share my own example with you.

I am not a big Quant fan and like to deal with it with a fresh mind so that I don’t get distracted. On the other hand, I actually love me some Verbal problems. I also am of the belief that essays should always be attempted in the end so that they don’t drain you before finishing off a test.

Which section do you think I should pick?

Quiet clearly Option 2 is the perfect option choice for me.

Now what if instead of wanting to get Quant over with, I wanted to attempt the rest of the paper without freaking out about my performance in Quant? In this scenario I would have chosen Option number 1.

I didn’t choose the OG option purely because the Verbal score would carry much more weightage than the AWA and IR sections combined and thus performing well on that would be my first priority.

I believe you get the gist. Put yourself in these situations. Is there a section you want to get over with first? Or is there a section you want to avoid for as long as possible? Either way, you can make that choice now.

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