Not all questions count: About experimental questions on the GMAT
Updated: Apr 18, 2018
NEW! Updated for the changes to the GMAT format effective April 16, 2018.
There are 31 questions in quant, and 36 in verbal. You have 62 minutes for the quant section and 65 for the verbal. But did you know that not all of these 31 and 36 questions actually count towards your total score? That in each section, you are spending some of your precious time on questions that won’t impact your score at all?
That’s because the GMAT includes “pretest” or “experimental” questions in the question mix. These questions don't matter. It makes absolutely no difference whether you get them right or wrong. In fact, only 28 and 30 questions matter in quant and verbal respectively. The remaining 3 and 6 questions are experimental questions. Even the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section has 3 experimental questions (out of a total of 12). And no, the GMAT won't tell you which questions are experimental and which are operational.
So why does the GMAT put these questions in? Simply put, the GMAT is experimenting on you (and a few thousand other people). It wants to develop new questions to replace older ones and it needs data to figure out, among other things, the difficulty level of these new questions. By evaluating the responses to these questions, the creators of the test can use them in future GMATs.
So, there you have it. Experimental questions are an irritating, but essential part of the GMAT exam. Go through your exam with a timing strategy that you’re comfortable with, and put in your best without worrying about whether you're working on an experimental question or not.