GMAT Online vs in person?

Should you take a GMAT online or in-person?

Before September 23rd it was absolutely in your best interest to take an online GMAT.

-It didn’t count towards your 5 yearly or 8 lifetime GMATs

-It was cheaper to schedule and reschedule than the in person GMAT

-You didn’t have to report the score to MBA programs

-No need to travel far and wide to find an open test center

-For some, taking the test at home is less stressful

You could even take two online GMATs and have all of the above benefits.

Well, things have changed and not for the better

Starting September 23rd online GMATs do count towards your yearly and lifetime GMAT limits.

That takes way a big positive and makes it so the online GMAT is no longer a 100% recommend. Still, it’s got advantages. Mainly, it’s widely available.

Should you take an online GMAT instead or an in-person test? That really depends on:

  1. Is in-person testing widely available in your area?
  2. Are you comfortable testing in-person?
  3. Would you be more comfortable testing at home?
  4. Do you mind not having a break between quant and verbal?

I’ve taken two online GMATs and I find it very stress free taking the exam in my own space. That’s a big plus for me. I also don’t mind not having a break between quant and verbal. Would I choose that? No. That said, for an in person GMAT the break is lightning fast 8 minutes and that includes having to sign in and out with the palm vein reader. So it’s not much of a break anyways.

We have some students who are adamant about taking the GMAT in person. Others are the opposite and are hoping to get things wrapped up with the two online tests they have available. If you actually have in-person GMATs available in your area it really comes down to personal choice.

Still, there’s no ESR available for the online GMAT (does that matter?)

Yes, it’s nice to have an ESR. It can certainly help diagnose test day issues especially those related to time management. Is it a deal breaker? I don’t think so.

What if test centers get locked down again? Does that change the GMAT online vs in person debate?

Yes and no. It’s true that you only have 2 online GMATs available. So, if you use them now, don’t get your score, and then we have a winter lockdown and test centers close, you might be out of luck for an in-person retake. Yes, that could happen. My hope in that scenario is that GMAC will allow a third GMAT online. If you want to be super cautious in terms of maximizing your chances of having GMATs available no matter what then it could make sense to your in-person availability while we have it. That said, while I might mention this to students as an option it’s not something I would put a lot of emphasis on. I would take whatever test, in person or online, you feel comfortable taking.


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