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What Changes to Expect on the GMAT Online Starting April 8, 2021

Joa Ahern-Seronde
Joa Ahern-Seronde
March 2, 2021
In 2020, GMAC (the makers of the GMAT) started offering the GMAT Online. Starting April 8, some noteworthy changes will go into effect and the AWA will return.
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As test centers closed due to the pandemic, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) quickly pivoted to offer the GMAT Online. The new online format premiered in April of 2020 and has already undergone significant changes in response to user feedback. If you’re thinking about taking the GMAT Online, you may find the changing requirements and format confusing. Fortunately for you, we’re here to help you navigate new and upcoming versions of the test, starting with an overview of original features, already changed features, and upcoming changed features. Below that, we'll get into the details!

Original GMAT Online Features

  • Online whiteboard only.
  • No AWA section.
  • No alteration to order of test sections.
  • Wait 7 days for official score, no unofficial score prior to that official release.
  • Limited to 1 attempt per person.

Already Changed GMAT Online Features

  • You can now use a physical whiteboard or the online whiteboard, according to your preference.
  • You can now take the test up to twice, with at least 16 days between test dates.

Upcoming Changed GMAT Online Features (April 8, 2021)

  • AWA will be a required section again.
  • You can choose the order of your test sections.
  • Your unofficial score will be displayed on screen once you complete the test.

Always True of the GMAT Online

  • Virtual proctoring is required.
  • 24/7 appointments available, with scheduling up to 24 hours before test time.
  • Complimentary unlimited score sending to any and all programs of your choice.

How many times can I take the GMAT Online?

When the GMAT Online was first released, you could only take it once, no retests. Not great for test-takers who don't have the option of taking the GMAT at a test center. Thankfully, you are now allowed one retest, which means you can take the test up to twice with at least 16 days between test days.

It’s important to note that your online GMAT attempts count toward your 5 GMAT Exam attempts during a rolling 12-month period and your 8 total limit. HOWEVER, any GMAT Online attempts taken prior to September 23, 2020 do not count toward those limits.

Is the exam proctored?

The GMAT Online is monitored virtually by a human proctor. The exam will be recorded starting with the check-in process when your proctor will ask you to take a 360 degree scan of your room, including your workspace which should be clear of everything except required or permitted testing items.

If you have a technical issue during the exam, you can raise your hand or start a chat in the exam window to communicate the problem to your proctor who will work with you to resolve it.

What testing materials are permitted?

Let’s start with what items are NOT permitted. During the exam and during breaks, you may not access personal items such as mobile devices (cell phones or tablets), headphones, watches, wallets, purses, bags, coats, book, pens, pencils, paper. Hats or head coverings are also not allowed.

Originally, you were required to use an online whiteboard function as scratch paper. Due to negative feedback GMAC now allows you to use a physical whiteboard with an erasable marker in addition to (or in lieu of) the virtual whiteboard.

You are allowed to have water in a clear container, but eating, smoking, and chewing gum are prohibited.

What is the duration of the GMAT Online?

Currently, the total test time is approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes plus one optional 5-minute break. After April 8, 2021, total test time will be 3 hours and 7 minutes with two optional 8-minute breaks.

On average check-in takes 15 minutes and can take up to 30 minutes during peak periods.

What is the structure of the GMAT Online?

If you take the GMAT Online before April 8, 2021, the exam will include only the Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning sections, which must be taken in that order. After April 8th, 2021 the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) will be added to the online exam, and you’ll have the flexibility to choose the order of your test sections.

When can I see my scores?

Your official score will be available in your mba.com account within 7 business days. Starting April 8, 2021, you’ll be able to view your unofficial score on your screen immediately after you complete the exam online, but you’ll still have to wait 7 business days for your official score. GMAT scores will be valid for 5 years.

What else do I need to know?

GMAC provides an overview of the GMAT online and FAQs on their website, but it can be a bit of a chore to go through. (There is a handy infographic on the About page that delineates current exam features and the upcoming changes on April 8th).

We’ve put together some fast facts to help you find some of the information more easily.

  • Appointments for the exam are available 24/7, making scheduling easy. You should register for the GMAT Online at least 24 hours prior to your test date/time.
  • The registration fee is $250 USD which includes unlimited score sending. Currently the reschedule fee is $25 and the cancellation fee is $100, but those rates go up on April 8, 2021. After that date, the fees vary depending on much advance notice you give before rescheduling or cancelling.
  • System requirements for taking the GMAT Online are...complicated. And they depend on whether you are taking the test before or after April 8th. The link above provides detailed information about technological requirements as well as links to system tests.
  • GMAC has a separate application process for test-takers who require accommodations. If you require accommodations, you’ll need to gather relevant documentation and submit an accommodation request form to GMAC. Approval can take up to 20 business days so we recommend that you schedule your test after you’ve been approved.
  • Other resources you should check out include the Online Whiteboard practice page and the Interactive GMAT Exam Tutorial, and this overview of the Security Measures for the GMAT Online.

Preparing for the GMAT Online

Practice, practice, practice! As with any standardized test, the key to improving your score is to take as many practice tests as possible. No matter the format you’re choosing for the GMAT exam, you should practice the test in conditions that are as close to actual testing conditions as possible. The more you’re prepared for exactly how the test will go, the more attention you’ll be able to devote to performing your best.


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