GMAT Online is Here to Stay: What You Need to Know

GMAT online - image by Magoosh

Covid-19 shook up a lot of things, including the availability of the GMAT. While in-person test centers shuttered temporarily due to the pandemic, the GMAT Online option became available in April 2020. Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), the makers of the GMAT, was created in 1953. With internet becoming available in homes in the mid-1990s, that’s over 60 years of in-person examinations! As of May 2021, GMAC announced that the online version of the GMAT is now a permanent fixture.

Considering taking your exam in bunny slippers? Here’s what you need to know!

 

Table of Contents

 

GMAT Online As a Permanent Option: 2021 Updates

Prior to May 2021, it wasn’t clear whether or not GMAC considered the at-home GMAT temporary. The in-person and online versions had big differences, here’s what’s changed:

  1. The AWA is Back
    Yay…? In all seriousness, this is good news. Previously, the online GMAT didn’t have the AWA option which made potential GMAT-takers anxious that the online and in-person score results wouldn’t be considered comparable in the admissions process.
  2. Choose Your Own Adventure (Section Order)
    The exam order is now the same between the IRL and URL versions. Your options are:

    • Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal
    • Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
    • Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
  3. Two Optional 8-Minute Breaks
    Instead of the previous single, five-minute break, the online exam now gives you two eight-minute breaks. If you just want to power through, though, don’t worry—they’re both optional.
  4. See Your Unofficial Score Right Away
    This is a major bonus to the 2021 online exam. Now, just like in the test center, you’ll be able to get your unofficial GMAT scores (that is, your sectional and composite multiple-choice scores, including Verbal, Quant, and IR), as well as your percentiles immediately.

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Comparing the GMAT Online vs. GMAT in-person

The concept of the inverse relationship between anxiety and test performance isn’t necessarily new. This study conducted in 1980 documents that students who felt high anxiety prior to a test performed significantly worse than students who felt less. If you feel you’ll be more comfortable taking the exam from home, you should consider it.

Here are the pros and cons of either:

 GMAT OnlineOverlap between online and in-person GMATIn-person GMAT
Appointment availability24/77 days a week, but hours are reliant on the specific test center
Exam duration3 hours and 7 minutes
Exam structureChoose your own section order. Options include:
  1. Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal

  2. Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

  3. Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment
GMAT cancelation feesCosts $150 if canceling with over 60 days until exam day, $175 with 15-60 days until exam day, or $200 if 14 days or less remain before your appointment. Source.It depends on your country, but in the US, you'll get a $100 refund if canceling with over 60 days until exam day, $75 refund with 15-60 days until exam day, or $50 refund if canceling with 14 days or less before appointment. Source.
GMAT cost$250 USDDepends on your country, but $275 USD for many places. Check your costs with this tool.
GMAT rescheduling feesIt depends on the country, but US fees are $50 if rescheduling with over 60 days until exam day, $100 with 15-60 days until exam day, or $150 if 14 days or less remain before your appointment
GMAT retakesYou're allowed two GMAT online exam attempts, but 16 calendar days must elapse between GMAT online appointmentsOnline and in-person exams count towards your eight lifetime attempt limitYou're allowed five GMAT exam attempts within 12 months
Scores, sending, and validityFree unlimited report sending to schools of your choice, but any online score reports won't include any in-person exam resultsUnofficial score report shows up right after your exam. You'll get your official score report within seven business days and your score is valid for 5 years.Up to five schools, but you can purchase additional score reports
Scoring algorithmExact same scoring algorithm
Scratch paperBYOW (bring your own whiteboard), you'll get access to the online whiteboard as wellFive sheets of laminated paper and two dry erase markers are provided

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How does the GMAT online work?

Where can I take the at-home GMAT?

GMAC has released the online GMAT to any students who prefer this at-home option, with some regional exceptions. The exceptions are Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and mainland China due to IP and/or regulatory restrictions. With 242,714 GMAT test-takers in 2018, 29.5% of would-be test-takers are ineligible. It’s also important to note that the GMAT online exam is only available in English with English-speaking proctors for the time being.

Registration

The online GMAT exam has been available for registration since April 14, 2020, with test slots open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To register for the GMAT Online exam, visit the MBA.com site.

GMAT Online Pricing, Rescheduling, and Cancellation Fees

The online GMAT test costs $250 USD*.

If you’re not able to make your original test date, you can either change your GMAT test date or cancel. However, appointment rescheduling and exam cancellation fees are now reinstated (they were temporarily waived up until September 23rd):

  • Appointment rescheduling fee 60+ days in advance: $50
  • Appointment rescheduling fee 15-60 days in advance: $100
  • Appointment rescheduling fee 14 or fewer days in advance: $150
  • Appointment cancellation fee 60+ days in advance: $150
  • Appointment cancellation fee 15-60 days in advance: $175
  • Appointment cancellation fee 14 or fewer days in advance: $200

*Includes GST for test-takers in India.

Exam Structure

As if April 2021, the test has the Quant, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning and AWA sections (there was no AWA for the online test before April), with the same amount of questions and time available as the in-person exam. That is, there will still be:

  • 62 minutes for 31 Math (Quant) questions
  • 65 minutes for 35 Verbal questions
  • 30 minutes for 12 IR questions
  • 30 minutes for the AWA

The online test is expected to take approximately 3.5 hours, with 3 hours and 7 minutes of online test-taking time, not including breaks. Test-takers will receive 15 minutes to check into the online Pearson VUE proctored system and have two optional 8-minute breaks. Just like the in-person exam, interacting with the test proctor via Live Chat will not pause the clock ticking down.

Regarding check-in protocols, the GMAC has said, “The check-in and security protocols will be modified to accommodate online delivery and remote proctors will be used to manage test integrity.”

GMAT test-takers will have to pass a room scan in order to continue to the exam. You’ll have to take photos and videos of your desk area for a proctor’s review, ensuring that there are no pens, papers, books, in reach. Check out MBA.com’s article for specific info on prepping your test-taking environment.

Scoring

After you’ve completed your online GMAT exam, you’ll get your unofficial GMAT score report immediately, then receive your official score report within 7 days. Any schools you’ve selected to receive your scores will receive these also. However, the interim GMAT will allow test-takers to send their scores to additional schools for at no cost, where it usually costs $35 for each additional school.

  • Tip: Take the online GMAT, and if you’re happy with the score you received, send your score to desired schools for free!

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Other GMAT Online FAQs

 

What are the GMAT Online whiteboard options?

GMAC now allows test-takers to use either a physical whiteboard or online whiteboard for their GMAT online test.

Show more about GMAT whiteboard options

 

Physical Whiteboard

You won’t be able to use just any whiteboard for the online GMAT exam; anything that connects to the internet, like touchscreen tablets or additional laptops, are definitely prohibited. Here are the physical whiteboard requirements:

AllowedNot Allowed*

1 dry erase whiteboard, maximum size 12 in x 20 in (30 cm x 50 cm)
Paper and pencil
1 dry erase markerPermanent, non-erasable marker
1 dry marker eraserTissues, paper towels, or napkins for erasing
Whiteboard spray
Paper in a sheet protector (clear slide)
Writing tablets
Chalkboards
Boogie boards

*These are some of their examples of prohibited items, not a comprehensive list.

If you’re planning to order your whiteboard online, make sure you schedule your GMAT online test to allow adequate time for shipping.

Online Whiteboard

As for the online whiteboard option, MBA.com has released a version of the digital whiteboard for you to practice with. The whiteboard includes the following tools: a pen, eraser, shapes like rectangles, circles, free-form polygons, panning, color selection/eyedropper, undo/redo, zoom in and out. GMAC has clarified that the whiteboard can only be used with a mouse, no fingers, styluses, or writing pads will work.

  • Want to get our GMAT expert’s tips on how to use the GMAT online whiteboard? Then check out our free GMAT online whiteboard! Our engineering team has worked hard to replicate the digital whiteboard released by MBA.com, so you can easily use it with your Magoosh practice tests and GMAT prep.

Practice with the online whiteboard

Can you take the GMAT Online more than once?

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If your GMAT online exam didn’t go as well as you hoped it would, or you just want to retake it for a higher score, then you are in luck! Students are now allowed one retake of the GMAT online test. That means you can take the GMAT Online up to two times in total.

GMAT Online exams also count towards your overall 12-month and GMAT attempt lifetime limits (for those who took the test early on, don’t worry, any online GMAT exams that were taken before September 23, 2020 are exempt from this rule). Like the in-person GMAT, students are allowed to take the GMAT no more than 5 times in a 12-month period, with a lifetime availability of 8 total GMAT exams.

 

Will accommodations be available for the online GMAT exam?

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For students requesting accommodations, GMAC does offer accommodations for the online GMAT exam. Students may receive 50% to 100% more test-taking time depending on their accommodation.

 

What equipment do I need to take the exam at home?

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Unlike the GRE’s approach to at-home testing, GMAT test-takers will be allowed to use either a Windows PC or a Mac. If you decide that you’ll take the home-based GMAT, make sure to check the system requirements and run the On VUE system test.

 
We’ll update you as we learn more, so keep an eye on this blog. Will you be taking the GMAT exam online? What are your thoughts on the digital whiteboard? Let us know in the comments below.

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