Which GMAT Sections Are Most Important?

When it comes to the GMAT it can be tough deciding how to allocate your study time since there are four separate sections on the exam.

Fortunately we do not have to form our own opinions about section importance because the admissions committees at MBA programs across the United States have already spoken.

1. Verbal/Quantitative (Tie)

The Verbal and Quantitative sections tie for first when it comes to section importance. Both of these sections contribute to your overall 800 score on the exam and the 800 score is what schools really care about. Currently, MBA programs do not report their average scores on the Analytical Writing Assessment or Integrated Reasoning sections.

Arguments can be made for either the verbal or quantitative section when it comes to selecting the single most important section but each is important for different reasons and some schools may care about quant more than others based on their predominant career placements.

If you want to go into finance or something more math heavy then being able to point to a strong quant score will be more important to you.


3. Integrated Reasoning

The Integrated Reasoning section comes in third place. This is the newest addition to the GMAT and is intended to test both verbal and quantitative skills in a more nuanced format. Schools are still figuring out exactly how they want to interpret Integrated Reasoning results but they still carry more weight then the Analytical Writing Assessment.

4. Analytical Writing Assessment

The Analytical Writing Assessment ranks last on the list. Unless you are new to the English language, this section should be a breeze. A simple 5-paragraph essay should be enough to earn you a 5 or a 6 on this section. As long as you don't completely screw the AWA up, the admissions committee will not spend any time on it.

Allocating Your Time

Now that you know which sections are most important you have to choose how much study time you want to spend on each of them. If you want a resource to help you plan your studies for each section I recommend the plan I used to get a 780 on the GMAT with just 45 hours of studying.