Major Changes to the At-Home GMAT: Writing Assessment, Longer Breaks, Section Order & more
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Soon the GMAT™ online exam will further align with the test center exam. Upcoming enhancements include: Your unofficial score report displayed immediately after your exam, Select Section Order, two optional 8-minute breaks, and the addition of the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA). Save the date: Registration for the enhanced GMAT online exam begins February 17 for appointments on April 8 and beyond.
April 10, BREAKING NEWS: GMAC just announced immediate GMAT Online scoring, select section order, an extra 8-minute break, and other important, long-awaited updates starting 4/8/21!!
There's still no ESR (Enhanced Score Report) option, though, and GMAC still only allows one retake for the online exam.
Four Key Enhancements Starting on April 8
Plan your future testing strategy with these changes in mind:
View your unofficial score immediately: Leave the suspense for the movies. See your score on screen after completing your exam so you can plan your next steps.
Select your section order: Choose which section order to take the exam in, just like the test center exam.
Take two 8-minute optional breaks: Why have one break when you can have two?
Write your Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA): Show off your analytical writing skills to your target programs.
Dates to know:
February 17: Registration opens for the enhanced GMAT™ online exam: Save the date. Register beginning February 17 for appointments on April 8 and beyond.
Now through April 7: Current online exam is available: Still here. You can confidently continue to meet your business school goals with the current online exam.
The GMAT Online Exam, the at-home version of the top business school admission test, will now include the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), the GMAT essay section, previously only part of the traditional test center GMAT.
The move comes as the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the owner and administrator of the GMAT, makes the GMAT Online Exam a permanent testing option.
The online GMAT was previously launched to support MBA and business master’s candidates unable to get to a GMAT test center after the coronavirus outbreak. To respond quickly, some GMAT features were omitted from the initial GMAT Online exam launch, including the AWA section.
Now, alongside the introduction of the GMAT AWA, GMAC has announced that the GMAT Online Exam is here to stay, providing additional flexibility for test-takers.
Joy Jones, GMAC’s chief product officer and general manager of assessments, says the GMAT Online Exam, alongside the Executive Assessment Online for Executive MBA and part-time MBA candidates, has become a “vital standard option.”
The changes provide “test takers around the world with the confidence to test in a test center or online to meet their business school application needs,” she says.
GMAT CHANGES AIMED AT ‘EVOLVING NEEDS OF CANDIDATES & B-SCHOOLS’
The latest changes to the GMAT were clearly designed to respond to perceived shortcomings in comparison with the GRE. The at-home GRE allows test-takers to access their unofficial score at the end of the test, and also allows them to cancel their score at that time if they prefer. The at-home GMAT did not previously allow for a preview.
But the main difference between the two at-home tests had been duration. The omission of the Analytical Writing Assessment of the GMAT made the test much shorter — it could be completed in just two hours and 37 minutes versus the three hours and 45 minutes for the GRE at home. Now testing times will be similar for the two exams.
The GRE’s at-home test contains six sections with a 10-minute break following the third section and one-minute breaks between the remaining sections. Test-takers are required to remain in their seats for the one-minute breaks but are allowed to leave their seats during the 10-minute break; unscheduled breaks are not allowed. The GMAT at home will take 30 minutes for one question in the AWA, 30 minutes for 12 questions in the Integrated Reasoning section, 62 minutes for 31 Quant questions, and 65 minutes for 36 Verbal questions. And, according to GMAC, will allow for “more and longer breaks.”
GMAC’s Joy Jones says B-schools urged the addition of the writing test to the at-home GMAT. “There was an interest from schools to include the AWA online, and we worked to make this happen to support application cycle seasonality,” she says. “We’ll continue to make investments that support our schools and test-takers with enhanced and comparable online and test center exam experiences.” The AWA is “an integral part of the GMAT exam,” GMAC says in its announcement, “providing business schools with important insight and candidates with the opportunity to demonstrate critical thinking and the ability to communicate ideas.”
In one key way, the GMAT has always been superior to the GRE: GMAT test-takers get their official score report by email within seven days, while official GRE scores take 10 to 15 days to get online from ETS.
Regardless of how the latest changes are received, the evolution of the GMAT will continue, Jones says.
“The GMAT exam is a powerful tool for both business school candidates and admissions professionals to help make ‘right fit’ decisions for MBA and business master’s programs, which are seeing record numbers of applications,” she says. “We believe that test-takers globally should have the ability to choose how they test to achieve their best on exam day in pursuit of their goals. Our ongoing enhancements to the GMAT online exam help to ensure the options are consistent and that we continue to meet the evolving needs of candidates and business schools.”
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