How To Effectively Prepare For The Online GMAT
The Graduate Management Admissions Council recently decided to make the online GMAT a permanent option.
Originally introduced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the at-home GMAT was meant to be a temporary solution to shuttered in-person test centers. After multiple extensions to cutoff dates, GMAC decided to ultimately make the at-home exam a permanent solution.
Testing at-home can have both its advantages and disadvantages, from cheaper testing fees to increased distractions at home. Business Insider recently spoke to testing experts and instructors on how applicants can best prepare for the online GMAT.
IMPORTANT RULES TO NOTE
One of the key rules to note about the at-home GMAT is that candidates are only allowed two GMAT online exam attempts. All online exam attempts will count towards a candidate’s five GMAT exam attempts during a rolling 12-month period and eight total limits.
With differences in each test takers’ at-home environments, GMAC requires all test takers to meet minimum system requirements and minimum acceptance workplace standards for its online exam. External, connected devices such as monitors, extended keyboards, writing tablets, a touchscreen stylus, or any other similar on-screen writing devices are all banned from at-home test taking environments.
“The biggest thing GMAT takers at home should know is: Always be ‘head up’ and look at the screen during the test,” Ibrahim Firat, the founder of Firat Education, tells Business Insider. “In the event that their heads are down for some time, there is a chance the proctor may cancel his/her test.”
Additionally, online GMAT test takers are required to use an online whiteboard feature that records written notes to the proctor. Experts stress the importance of prepping for the exam without physical pen to paper notes.
“My best guess is that, on average, test takers will need a couple of weeks to get to the point where they can do everything they need to do using the online whiteboard,” Stacey Koprince, content and curriculum lead at Manhattan Prep, tells Business Insider. “It’s true that I only had about 72 hours to get used to the online whiteboard before I took the official GMAT, but I’ve been working with this exam for two decades. It’s likely that students will need longer than I took. And, frankly, I could have made good use of another couple of days.”
UTILIZE PRACTICE TESTS STRATEGICALLY
Not all GMAT practice tests are created equally. GMAC has two official GMAT practice tests available for free to test takers. These two practice tests are designed to match the real exam’s format. But test takers can also choose to prepare using practice tests prepared by test-prep companies. Experts say that practice tests from test-prep companies may not be an accurate indicator of your real score.
“The reason is that the test-prep companies generally make their test harder than the actual test in order to better prepare their clients,” Ingram tells Business Insider.
When it comes to practice tests, experts generally recommend starting with the GMAC practice exam as a baseline to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. It’s important to take the baseline practice test prior to studying in order to give yourself an accurate representation of where your performance stands.
“This will replicate the test setting at home and give you a good idea about what adjustments you need to make at home prior to taking the official test,” Firat tells Business Insider.
After getting a baseline of where you stand, experts recommend highlighting your strengths and weaknesses and moving onto test-prep resources and programs to improve.
“After four weeks of solid work on the above steps, review for one week, take practice test two, and repeat the steps above for another four to six weeks, but more targeted and focused,” Firat tells Business Insider.