GMAT is now available in an online, Taking the GMAT online exam

May 8, 2020, by

I took the GMAT online exam.  Here are my tips to help you prepare.

Due to the temporary closure of test centers in response to COVID-19, the GMAT is now available in an online format that can be taken at home. I took the exam myself last week to get a feel for what my students will experience. See below for critical test day recommendations, as well as important tips to prepare for this modified online test.


Test Day Procedures

  • On test day, log in to your account 20-30 minutes before your scheduled exam time.
  • During check-in, you will need your phone and a valid photo ID (passport or driver’s license will work).
  • You will have to take photos of your ID and your surroundings and upload them. The process is relatively straightforward. Make sure there is nothing next to your computer in your testing area (no paper, calculator, food/drink, watches, headphones, etc).
  • Once your photo ID and surroundings photos have been accepted, put your phone out of reach, complete the check-in, and wait for the proctor.
  • The proctor will give you instructions on how to begin the exam. If you have any questions during the exam, you can notify the proctor by pressing an icon on the screen.
  • During the exam, you will be live-monitored via webcam and microphone by a proctor, and the session will be recorded. There will also be an AI-driven monitoring system to identify you during the exam. All applications other than the test-taking software will be disabled. If you do not adhere to the exam policies and procedures, the exam will be terminated immediately.
  • On the online GMAT, you will not be able to use scratch paper. You are required to use an online whiteboard tool. It is cumbersome and you must practice and familiarize yourself with its functionality BEFORE test day.
  • You will not receive your scores immediately after completing the GMAT Online exam. Instead, you will receive a message saying your scores will be available in 1-2 weeks.

Logistics

To register for the GMAT Online Exam, you need to create an account on mba.com. The registration pages can be glitchy, so if you see an error message, keep trying (it took me four times to be able to log in). Exam times are taken quickly, so have your credit card ready. (Twice I selected an exam time, but by the time I had input payment information, the time I selected had been taken by someone else.) Once you are registered, you will receive an email asking you to read all GMAT Online Exam policies and FAQs and to run the System Test prior to your exam. Make sure to run it on the same network and computer you will use on exam day.

Online v. Computer Center

What are the differences between the GMAT Online Exam and the regular GMAT taken in a computer center? For me, the biggest issue was the online whiteboard. In a computer center, you get to use a dry erase laminated book. But at home, you are not allowed to write anything on paper or other laminated board during the exam. As a professional tutor who works with students remotely, I have hundreds of hours of experience writing out math equations on virtual whiteboards, yet I struggled with the GMAT Online’s whiteboard because you have to use your mouse to write on it (no stylus is allowed), which is difficult! Additionally, you access the online whiteboard by pressing an icon. Unfortunately, you have to close it to select an answer choice, so you constantly have to close and reopen it for each question.

If you are taking the GMAT Online, it is essential that you practice using the online whiteboard. I recommend practicing by solving GMAT questions (especially from the Quantitative section) using the online whiteboard to mimic how you will use it on test day. You may find that it slows you down. When I used the online whiteboard, I had trouble reading what I had written because I wasn’t used to writing with a mouse. I ended up making calculation errors because I was using the wrong numbers. If you are tempted to use a pen and paper because the whiteboard is so cumbersome, don’t! The GMAT states that you are being observed with the online proctoring. Students must take a photo of their testing environment before they begin and submit it online. Although most students use the whiteboard for the math portions of the test, many will also use it for the verbal section of the test to write out the letters of answers so that they can scratch them out as they eliminate them. Again, writing out the letters with the mouse is more cumbersome than writing on a physical whiteboard. So, make sure to practice!

Other than the online whiteboard issue, I didn’t have any problems. The format of the two tests—the timing and number of questions for the three sections—is the same except that the home version omits the Analytical Writing section (the essay). However, unlike the regular GMAT where you can select the order of the sections, for the GMAT Online you must follow the order of Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning. There is an optional 5-minute break following the Verbal section. The exam runs almost 2 hours 45 minutes, but you should allow a full 3 hours since it takes time to check-in. The format and question types mirror the practice exams in the GMAT Official Starter Kit and Practice Exams available at mba.com.


Format of the GMAT Online Exam:

Quantitative

32 Questions

62 minutes

Verbal

36 Questions

65 minutes

Integrated Reasoning

12 Questions

30 minutes


Should You Take the GMAT Online Now or Wait?

Given the issues with the online whiteboard, is it even worth taking the test at home? The answer to that question depends on your broader plan. If you are applying to a top tier business school and want to apply in Round One in early fall, taking the GMAT over the summer may require this at-home online format. If time is on your side and you can afford to wait to take the test, you may want to consider waiting until test centers reopen and you can take the regular GMAT using the laminated yellow book. The online whiteboard is the biggest drawback to taking the GMAT Online Exam. A couple of other things to consider—score cancellations and retakes are not available for the GMAT Online Exam. But, since you do not have to submit all of your scores to business schools to which you are applying, it might be worth taking the GMAT Online at home as a practice before taking it again at a computer center.

What about the GRE?

Given that business schools accept the GRE as well as the GMAT, business school applicants should also consider whether the GRE General Test at Home is a better choice for them at this time than the GMAT Online Exam. Marks Education has more information about the test-taking experience during the GRE General Test at Home here. 

Marks Education offers wide-ranging services in virtual counseling and tutoring for students seeking admission to high schools, colleges and graduate schools.

As always, if you have any questions about testing, please reach out to schedule a free consultation with a Marks Education GMAT tutor including Nitin SawhneyDan Bloss, Katharine Laco, and Michael Lawrence.

If you have questions about the graduate school application process or whether our counseling services might be right for you, please reach out to schedule a free consultation with Nisha Sardella.


 

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