The Online GMAT Experience-from preparation to post MBA 

by Apex GMAT

Contributor: Ilia Dobrev


Advancements in technology, combined with constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have prompted the GMAT world to adapt by shifting a large portion of the exam and preparation materials online. Both test takers and tutoring firms have seen positive outcomes from interactive learning aids, an abundance of resources, and easily accessible networks of people at different stages of the GMAT journey. However, the transition has also introduced some hazards concerning physical test endurance, focus, and anxiety. This article evaluates risks and challenges you may encounter taking the online exam and summarizes everything you need to know to be ready for your online GMAT experience.

The Online GMAT Exam

Since the onset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, the General Management Admissions Council (GMAC) has introduced an innovative, completely online version of the physical GMAT test. This allows test takers to maintain social distance by sitting for the exam from the comfort of home.

As of late July, 2020, at the time of writing, anyone can schedule an online exam before December 31, 2020. In order to accommodate candidates’ availability, appointments are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 24 hours before an available time slot. Note that the online GMAT exam is not available in Mainland China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Sudan due to local data privacy regulations.

Differences from the regular GMAT exam

  • The GMAC has determined that the Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning sections are the most relevant for graduate business education. Therefore, the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) has been excluded from the online GMAT test.
  • The duration of the online test is shorter–2 hours and 45 minutes compared to 3 hours and 23 minutes. This time frame includes a 15 to 30 minutes tutorial to  familiarize candidates with the online proctored platform and all its functions.
  • Online, you will not be able to choose the order of the sections. The sequence is fixed as follows: Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning.
  • You can use a physical whiteboard, the built-in online whiteboard, or both for note taking. 

If you’re planning to use a physical white board, there are several requirements it must fulfil: it should be no larger than 12×20 inches (30×50 centimeters), use up to 2 dry erase markers and 1 dry erase whiteboard eraser. Items such as whiteboards with grids, background colors, or other markings, paper, pen, pencil, permanent marker, tissues (paper towels, napkins), whiteboard spray, chalkboards, writing tablets, and others are not permitted.

During the online exam, test takers will be able to access an online board from the icon. It contains an endless canvas to take notes on, which eliminates the need to erase your work as you progress through the sections.

  • In contrast to the two optional breaks in the regular exam, the online GMAT allows candidates to opt for only one 5-minute break before the Integrated Reasoning section.
  • Official GMAT scores are available on within 7 business days of completing the exam.
  • Another perk of the online GMAT experience is that it allows applicants to send scores to an unlimited number of institutions free of charge.
  • The online GMAT fee is $200, compared to the original $250 cost for the physical exam.
  • The online test cannot be retaken for any reason except a verified technical issue or authorized retakes.

Similarities with the regular GMAT exam

  • The online GMAT consists of the same Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning sections. Despite excluding the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), each of the other three sections contains the same number of questions as before–31, 36, and 12 respectively. In terms of timing, there are no alterations–the sections take 62, 65, and 30 minutes.

online GMAT breakdown

  • To ensure that GMAT scores are compatible and comparable across the online and test center-based versions, the online version adopts the same scoring algorithm. This means that both exams are equally replaceable with one another. 
  • Validity remains the same – 5 years.

Online GMAT Preparation, Tips & Tricks

As the online exam practically covers the same content, regular GMAT preparation remains relevant. If you are trying to figure out which prep method (self, group, or one-on-one) suits you best, you can check out the Four Ps of the best GMAT Prep. Apex’s GMAT tutors and custom-made curriculum are tailored to meet the needs for an online learning environment by providing private GMAT tutoring and nurturing constant feedback.

From a technical viewpoint, it is important to get used to the online whiteboard tool. It is available in all of GMAC’s Official Practice Exams, where anyone can practice all its functions in a simulated, timed environment. Keep in mind that you are not permitted to use touchscreens, graphics tablets, or stylus pens. And lastly, before starting the online GMAT exam, you can do a system test before to ensure your computer meets the operational requirements.

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