How to approach your preparation during the GMAT Coronavirus delay
Covid 19 (Corona Virus) is a serious threat. Staying healthy and keeping others healthy by following CDC and WHO Coronavirus guidelines is critical. Err on the side of caution. Stay safe. Keep others safe.
OK, now back to the GMAT coronavirus delay. Yes, Pearson Vue closed all US test centers halting in person GMAT administration. Now some test centers are opening up again but availability depends on where you live. Most people are not within a reasonable distance to an open test center. You can travel for GMAT as one of our students did but really only do that if you're nailing your practice tests have a good shot at your final GMAT score.
Since the Pearson test center shutdown, GMAC has announced an at home GMAT option, GMAT Online. Registration for at home GMAT is now open. There were initial, very annoying, tech issues with signing up for an online GMAT that seem now mostly resolved. Also, initially we felt that the lack of scratch paper and presence of the the online GMAT whiteboard was a major drawback but we've changed our mind on that. We also initially thought that no online GMAT score cancellation meant that schools would automatically see your score. That's not the case. The online GMAT score is on a separate score report and schools only see the score if you actively transmit it.
There are some advantages to the online GMAT:
- It doesn't count towards your total 5 GMATs per year or 8 GMATs per lifetime (this is why you can only take one of them).
- It's cheaper to register ($200) and to reschedule ($25)
- It's available 7 days a weeks 24hrs a day so it's more flexible in terms of scheduling
Also, there may be a silver lining to practicing with the GMAT whiteboard: it streamlines your process and that could also benefit you on an in person test. We think the GMAT Online Whiteboard isn't that bad.
Should I keep studying or take a break during this GMAT Coronavirus hiatus?
Should I take the GMAT online or wait for in person? That really depends on your situation.
Just starting out with your GMAT Prep
Easy. You’ve got at least several months ahead of you and by then it’s not unlikely that we’ll either have a better handle on Corona or Pearson will have figured out a way to provide testing that keeps risks acceptably low. Considering that the economy is grinding to a halt and many sectors are slowing down you will probably have a multi month lull at work and a rare opportunity to focus on the GMAT. This pandemic is horrific. No doubt about that. But this extra study time is a silver lining. If you’ve been planning to tackle the GMAT it’s a great time to get started. Not to mention: you might want to get going on your MBA applications.
This is a little trickier as you might already have had a test planned or at the very least been eyeing test dates in the no-GMAT-window. Even if you’ve started the final sprint towards test day it might be a good time to slow things down to take an honest inventory of your GMAT skills.
Are your quant basics really rock solid or are 45-45-90 triangles drifting into the ether every once a while? On critical reasoning are you often deciding between what you consider are two right answers? Getting lost on dense reading comprehension passages?
Rather than marching forward into competition mode it might make sense to spend more time building up your individual skills. You could take another 6 weeks for that and book a test for June, which, should remain a viable in-person test date.
If you’re running low on materials look to:
- GMAT Official Practice Questions
- GMAT Advanced Guide
- Official Guide for Verbal
- Official Guide for Quant
- GMAT Paper Tests (these are old but the verbal is still pretty good. The quant is OK but on the easier side).
Also, I’d use LSAT to study for GMAT verbal. There’s an almost unlimited supply of LSAT reading comprehension and critical reasoning questions.
With all of that in mind I’d wait on practice tests until at least May. Let’s blast them once you’ve got a solid test date planned. Appointments are filling up rapidly so you may want to book for June now.
On the launchpad
Worst case scenario: you were 100% prepared and had a test booked March 17th. Sorry about that. It’s a bummer. But all is not lost.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist/obsessive person in terms of test preparation and enjoy the challenge of studying (probably why I’m a GMAT tutor). So, for me, test day being postponed would be an opportunity to improve even more. A bunch of years back I slept through an early morning GMAT. I’d been in a GMAT-study-bunker for too long so missing the test did feel like a mini-catastrophe.
I had to reschedule to a few weeks later. Looking back, those three weeks of extra studying really helped. I was aiming for a 760 and snagged a 770. If you’re running out of fresh questions same advice as above but I’d day:
- Exam Pack 1 and 2 (these contain Official GMAT Practice Test 3, 4, 5, and 6)
- GMAT Focus 1-4
- Atlantic GMAT Quant Review Quizzes (these are free for two weeks so only activate when you need them)
Also, if you’ve already done official tests 1-6 you can still retake them. Yes, you’ll see repeats but there is still value there especially if you haven’t done them in a while.
But what if you’re burnt out?
Well, this is a great time to take a break. Leave the GMAT behind for a few weeks. Again, especially if you’re well prepared, I don’t think 3-4 weeks will derail your GMAT prep and, for some people, the break could help put things in perspective. And even if you do get a little rusty you’ll shake that off relatively quickly once you get going again.
What if the GMAT is delayed beyond June?
Not impossible. For people just starting out I don’t think another delay or even two would have a big impact (unless the testing backlog made getting a GMAT appointment very difficult) in that you’ll still be somewhat early in the preparation. For mid-cycle people follow the “on the launchpad” advice. For the people who were prepared for March 17th there’s just no way to spin it: you’re going to have to dig deep and keep at it. Hopefully we’ll publish an updated guide providing some advice if there is another delay. The other option is switching to the GRE which is starting to look better and better.
It’s not unlikely that you’ll have some time on your hands so regardless of whether you continue studying or take a break this could be a great moment to do some extra reading. I’d go ahead and read the Economist and pick up a challenging novel. Read actively every day. So even if you’re not studying you’re still working on reading skills which are fundamental to GMAT success. Here are some suggestions for using Economist articles for GMAT verbal improvement.
Covid 19 is going to change the way we conduct our lives over the next bunch of months. In the big picture the GMAT delay is a very minor issue. That said, I know how vital the GMAT can feel so, again, I just want to reassure you that GMAT skills are durable and that if you do need a break you should feel AOK taking one especially if you’re feeling stressed about the day to day we’re now living in. Stay healthy everyone.