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Scratch Paper on the GMAT

No. Yep, that’s a first for a blog post – beginning it with the word ‘no.’ But I want to be emphatic lest someone actually think they will have a blank piece of paper, with a finely sharpened of no.2 pencils. Simply put – there is NO scratch paper on the GMAT.

Don’t throw your hands up in the air – the absence of scratch paper does not mean you have to spend the next three months in a cave becoming Numbero, the mental math wizard.

You will be able to write out all your work. However, you will have to do so on a smudgy yellow-grid flip pad (think of it as a mini-white board.) You will have a clutch of dry erase markers that are blunted, dry, and reek of toxins (which will do wonders on your synapses come time for the long Reading Comprehension passage).  You will also have paper towels to wipe the board the clean – at least you weren’t forced to use your bare mitts.

But don’t gripe – this is the GMAT after all, a test of grit as much as it is mental agility. Still, prepare yourself for the inevitable and keep in mind the following tips.


Practice with markers

Wean yourself off of the comforts of a no. 2 pencil, or your lucky fountain pen. Go out, buy some dry erase markers (the skinny kind, not the fat ones, which will really eat up your precious brain cells), and take a MGMAT or GMAC mock test at home.


Buy MGMAT pad

The ever resourceful – of should I say resource-heavy – Manhattan GMAT has truly thought of it all to help you prepare for test day. Their yellow-grid flip pad is no exception. It is basically exactly what you will have to use test day, and I can think of no better simulation. Past students of mine who’ve practiced on one always say it makes test day a little less stressful.


Write less, think more

Another strategy is to simply write less and think more. This advice definitely pertains to math. Learn your squares up to 30, fraction conversions, division approximation, etc. And if you are prone to scribbling down notes for Reading Comprehension, try mentally summarizing (it is a much more effective technique). In essence think the way through questions using your brain, not the carcinogenic dry erase marker provided by the testing center.



The GMAT does NOT provide scratch paper. It does provide a flip-pad with dry erase pens. To prepare yourself for this potential inconvenience simply buy the MGMAT flip-pad, a faithful replica of what you’ll use test day.


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5 Responses to Scratch Paper on the GMAT

  1. Toby Okonkwo June 16, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve read some conflicting reports online about the Scratch pads. You mention in the post above, that you’re given wipes to erase, but I’ve also read other reports that say you aren’t allowed to. Do you know what the current situation is? I’m assuming the confusion is because there’s been some change. I’m asking because I want to practice/study under actual test conditions. I appreciate any help.

    Thank you.


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 18, 2016 at 3:14 am #

      Hi Toby,

      To the best of my knowledge, all test centers still us the bizarre laminated paper “white board” with smelly markers which you can erase. Manhattan still sells a simulation material for this purpose. I hope this helps! 🙂

    • Sher September 6, 2016 at 11:29 pm #


      Apparently, no, you are not allowed to erase the laminated pad. But if you need more pad, just raise your hand.

      Source: I just took the GMAT.

  2. Al August 17, 2015 at 10:42 am #

    Hey mate,

    A question regarding the flip pad: are you able to use it from the very start of the test, during the AWA and IR sections? I reason I ask is not because I think it would be very valuable for either, but because it helps me a lot on quant to grid off sections of the tablet for organization purposes, leaving a well-defined box for each question and writing in timing benchmarks. This takes me probably 30s to do cleanly, which I would much prefer to spend during the essay section, where I can more easily find a minute to spare than the white-knuckling quant portion. It would be nice to sit back down for quant after the break to an already-prepared scratch work template. Is this allowed?


    • Douglas September 2, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

      That sound like a good Idea! I will try it for the AWA and IR sections

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