Question : When can I write the GMAT? What is the GMAT exam date this year?
The GMAT is an exam that is not offered on just a single date in the year. In most countries, the test is offered throughout the year. Yes, you read it right. The GMAT can be taken almost every single day of the year.
The GMAT is an adaptive test that has a lot of questions built into the computer database. All of these questions go through a rigorous process of evaluation and are even tested for a while on actual test-takers before being added to the database.
It means that the questions are standardised and allows the GMAT to ask different sets of questions to different test-takers, depending on whether the test-taker has answered the questions right. Test-takers sign a Non-disclosure agreement with the GMAT that prohibits them from coming out of the test and openly discussing the questions that they answered or ‘leaking’ the questions in any other form. This policy ensures that the test can be conducted throughout the year.
Test-takers can also write the test anytime. There is no good or bad time to write the GMAT. Some myths circulate on the Internet about how some months are ‘good’ months for writing the GMAT and others are more ‘difficult’ months for writing the GMAT. However these are just myths – the GMAT can be written any time and one month is not going to be easier than the rest.
Question: How should I decide when to write the GMAT?
There are two main factors that test-takers have to keep in mind before choosing a GMAT test date.
How well have I prepared for the GMAT? Am I ready to score my target score?
Because you can write the GMAT throughout the year, you have the flexibility of choosing to write when you have prepared well. Plan your preparation well – Check How to Prepare for the GMAT - A GMAT Study Plan to see how to go about your GMAT preparation.
Once you have learnt the concepts and established your basics, set a target score and take a GMAT mock test. See how close your mock GMAT score is to your target GMAT score. If there is a significant difference between the two (more than 30 points), then analyse your test, understand why you made the mistakes you did, revisit your lessons, practice a lot more questions and then take another mock. Keep repeating this process until your score in the mock GMAT tests is at least 10 to 20 points higher than your target score. We want that 20 point margin to allow for the test day pressures and nervousness. When your performance in your mock GMATs is consistently around your target score, you can go ahead and register to take the actual GMAT exam. Book a date not too far away in the future and get cracking!
A couple of things to keep in mind here
Make sure the mock GMATs that you are using to decide on the test date are official GMAT practice tests. You can register on mba.com and get access to 2 free and 4 paid full-length practice tests.
Many test-takers think “My GMAT is 1 week away, and I am scoring 640 in the mocks. I want a 700 in the actual test. I still have one week, I will get there”. More often than not, that does not happen. Your mock GMATs tend to be very representative of the actual score so if you want 700 and you can afford to wait, then prepare more and then book your GMAT test date rather than rushing to write it.
What are the application deadlines for my target business schools?
It is all well and good to wait till your preparation is at its best, but sometimes you may not have all the time in the world to do that preparation. What if your business school application deadlines are around the corner! It is therefore, also important to keep an eye on the application process. Know when the deadlines for applying to the top B schools are and then accordingly decide on the GMAT test date.
There are two types of score reports that you will get from the GMAT – the unofficial score report and the official score report. The unofficial score report is the print out of the score given at the test centre right after the GMAT is done. The score report will have everything other than the AWA score – because the AWA is evaluated by a person and not just the computer. Once your AWA essay score is also available, you will get access to the official score report. There will be no difference between the official and the unofficial score reports, other than for the addition of the AWA score.
Why does the score report matter? Your GMAT score gets sent to the schools that you are applying to – but not till the official score report becomes available. It takes up to 15 working days from the time you write the GMAT for your official GMAT score report to become available. Most of the B schools will want the official score report sent before the date of the deadline. This means that you need to write the GMAT at least 15 days before the deadline. It is recommended that you write the GMAT even earlier, because you will need time to work on the application essays that you will submit as part of your business school applications.
In the final analysis, keep both your preparedness and your application deadlines in mind before deciding on a GMAT test date. Use the first factor to determine the minimum time to give for your preparation and use the second to determine the maximum time by which your GMAT preparation must be done. For example, your reasoning should go something like this “I am beginning my GMAT preparation in June and want to give it at least 3 months. But the earliest deadline for a B school that I am applying to is in the first week of October. So I need to plan and write the GMAT by the second week of September”.
Question : How much does the GMAT test cost? What is the GMAT exam fees?
If you want to register for the GMAT, the GMAT exam fees is $250. The GMAT cost is the same irrespective of when you write the GMAT or in which country or city you take the test. There is no way to get a GMAT fee waiver. Anyone who writes the test must pay the full GMAT exam fees.
There are a few other GMAT fees that you need to be aware of as well.
If you wish to reschedule the GMAT exam, and you do so at least 7 days before the date on which you are scheduled to write the GMAT, the GMAT rescheduling fees is $60. If you reschedule the test less than 7 days from the date of your GMAT test, then you need to pay $250 as the GMAT rescheduling fees - essentially you have to pay for the test all over again.
As soon as you have written the GMAT, your score will be visible on the screen. It is called the GMAT score preview. You have two minutes within which you have to choose to keep or cancel the score. Say you decide to keep the score, but then later, you are thinking you should probably cancel it. You have already walked out of the test centre and then you decide to cancel the score at this stage. At this stage, cancelling the GMAT costs $25.
Note: You have only a 72-hour window from the time you finished the test to cancel a score that you accepted in the test center.
Let us say instead that you cancel the score right after you write the GMAT exam but now you are thinking that you should have kept the score. In this case, reinstating the GMAT score that you cancelled costs $50 and you can reinstate the score report. Some people would cancel the score believing that they will have the time to write the GMAT all over again. But they will later find that they do not have the time to prepare or that their old score is good enough to apply to some of their target business schools. In such cases, reinstating the score report is a good option and is available for a total duration of 4 years and 11 months from the time the GMAT exam was written because the GMAT is valid for 5 years.
Question: What are the other GMAT test costs?
You can get an in-depth analysis of your performance in the GMAT exam with a report called the Extended Score Report (ESR). The ESR will give you a good idea of the average time you have taken for your questions and how well you have answered your questions. If you are writing the GMAT more than once, this is a helpful report to have. You can get this report for the first attempt of the GMAT exam, and analyse your performance in that GMAT test. Based on your analysis, you can do additional preparation and therefore be able to score better the next time you write your GMAT test. This report that analyses your GMAT costs $30.
Also, when you are writing the GMAT, you have the option of choosing 5 schools for which the GMAT will send you official score reports for free. If you are applying for more schools, then you need to make sure that your official score report is sent to the schools. You ask the GMAT to send these score report but sending each of these reports of your GMAT costs $35. When we say you can choose 5 schools to send the report to, what we mean is 5 programs that you are applying to. What’s is the difference? If you are applying to both the full time MBA program and part time MBA program at the same B school, you need to send two score reports - one for each of the programs you are applying to. So if you chose only one of the two programs in your first 5 free schools, then you need to pay $35 for the second score report - even though it is the same school.
One last number - once you receive your official score report, if you are not happy with the AWA score that you have got, you can ask for your AWA essay to be re-evaluated. If you ask for the re-evaluation, then the cost for getting the re-evaluation of the GMAT essay done is $45.
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