The GMAT Online Exam is a timely intervention by the GMAC to help students take the GMAT® without Covid-19 lock down getting in the way of one’s business school application plans. In this blog post let’s do a deep dive into the pros and cons of opting for the Online version of the GMAT exam.
Under what circumstances should you go ahead with the online exam and for whom does it make sense to wait for test centers to become operational?
GMAT Online Exam – The Pros
01. Catch Application Deadlines
The online version ensures that you take the test and are able to catch application deadlines – especially for those of you who are applying in the fourth round. Also, a manna for those catching deadlines for MBA / MiM programs that start in January 2021. Your MBA plans need not be put off because GMAT test centers are either not operational in your country or because you would rather not take the risk of contracting the infection by traveling to a test center.
02. What if test centers remain closed long enough?
One is not sure about when test centers will resume normal operations. What if it is a little too late to catch application deadlines as and when they become operational?
If you have already prepared for the GMAT and had even booked an appointment to take the GMAT in April or May, why let your preparation cool off. Also, the lock down period might have given you enough time to ramp up your prep. If so, it just might make sense to take the GMAT and seal the deal.
03. You save some dollars. Why not?
The fees for the online GMAT exam is lesser than the regular version. It costs USD 200 instead of USD 250. Moreover, fee for sending Additional Score Reports (ASRs) has been waived for the online version of the GMAT exam. That is a reasonable savings especially with many currencies losing against the dollar in the aftermath of Covid19.
So, what could be the Cons?
01. No Scratch Paper
Yes! you heard it right. For the test administered online, you will not be able to use a scratch paper.
What is the alternative offered for scratch papers?
The testing browser will have an online white board. Cut to the chase – it is the equivalent of the notepad app in Windows systems. You will be able to type into it. That’s it.
It may not be a show stopper for the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section. However, it is likely to make a big difference to both the accuracy and the time taken to solve questions in the GMAT Quantitative Reasoning and GMAT Integrated Reasoning sections.
How does one do calculations without a pen and paper or a flip book and marker?
Think about framing two equations 3x + 17y = 29 and 4/3 x + 1/8y = 1/19 and solving them on a computer screen using keyboard as the only input device.
Or for that matter do a simple division: Divide 23164 by 194 and find the quotient and remainder.
The idea is just flummoxing.
Why will GMAT want to do something like this?
The answer lies in the fact that GMAT does not want its questions leaked by test takers by writing them down on papers. The entire credibility and integrity of the exam depends on the questions staying confidential. Therefore, no scratch papers.
Understandable. But, it certainly tips the scales in favor of the offline test center version.
02. No Score Preview. Also, you cannot cancel your scores
A slew of key features of the center based test administration are not available in the online GMAT exam.
1. You will not be able to preview your GMAT score after you complete the test.
2. You will also not be able to cancel the score of this test.
3. You will know your score only seven days after the test day.
If you ended with a score that does not meet your expectation, you have no recourse but to keep the score for the next 5 years. That might be a dampener because quite a few test takers want to project a clean slate about their GMAT performance to the schools.
Key Question: What should one do?
Take the Online GMAT Exam only if
You have an application deadline to catch. Alternatively, if you have a provisional admission and you have to produce a GMAT score to convert it into a final admit, you have little choice but to take the online exam.
Or, you foresee that you will not be as well prepared anytime in the near future after the lock down ends as you are right now, go ahead and take the test.
Prepare now; take test after centers reopen if
You are applying for Fall 2021 calendar. You are not in any time pressure right now. So, it does not make sense to take the test right away.
What if the lock down relaxation does not include reopening of test centers?
Of course one cannot rule out that possibility. In that eventuality, you will have no other option and will take the online exam then. So, wait and watch. Ideally, choose the online version either when it cannot be postponed any further or you have had adequate practice to do calculations using a keyboard on a simple text editor.
In either event, buying time is probably your best bet.