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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  • Chris Lele

    Chris Lele is the Principal Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh. Chris graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology and has 20 years of experience in the test prep industry. He's been quoted as a subject expert in many publications, including US News, GMAC, and Business Because. In his time at Magoosh, Chris has taught countless students how to tackle the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, MCAT (CARS), and LSAT exams with confidence. Some of his students have even gone on to get near-perfect scores. You can find Chris on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!