GMAT Tutor Andrew Geller at Home with GMAT Online

I took the GMAT Online. Here are my takeaways and score predictions.

I’ve been writing a lot about the GMAT online and the GMAT whiteboard trying to give my perspective on the worthwhileness of the online/at home GMAT test and the usefulness of the whiteboard. Atlantic GMAT tutor Matt Abuzalaf went ahead and took the online GMAT last week and today I’ve followed suit with my own plunge into online proctored testing.

My general GMAT online experience

The online exam was smooth except:

  1. My test unexpectedly quit mid quant section. It bounced back 10 seconds later.
  2. I had to retake photos of my ID and confirm the date of validity.
  3. I spilled my breakfast yogurt on my keyboard about 15min before needing to log into the exam. Luckily all was OK. 

Besides that not much to report. I had little communication with my proctor “Elaine” ahead of the test and no communication during the test. 

Everything else felt very normal and the Pearson Vue software worked as advertised. I did test my configuration ahead of time and would suggest you do the same.

Elephant in the room: How was the online GMAT whiteboard? 

I didn’t really notice the whiteboard. It didn’t feel like anything special. I used it when I needed it and that was about it. Did it disadvantage me somehow? I really don’t think so. Not that I could perceive. If I knew what to do I was able to setup and solve. If I didn’t know what to do then I was as stuck as I’d be with pad/pen. 

There wasn’t a single calculation that I couldn’t do well within a reasonable amount of time with the whiteboard. I wouldn’t even say it ever slowed me down.

It felt very similar to the Online GMAT Whiteboard practice tool from MBA.com. And the experience in general mirrored this quant section that I did with the whiteboard last week and posted on the Atlantic Youtube channel. It’s worth checking out the video to see how I work with the whiteboard. I added per question comments to give some analysis. 

You're a GMAT tutor of course you did well and didn't mind the whiteboard!!!

Yes, I've been GMAT tutoring for over a decade so have a deep conceptual understanding that helps me minimize the number of calculations I need to make. Also, my GMAT whiteboard positivity (or lack of negativity) isn’t intended to discount the experience of people who’ve struggled with the tool. It’s possible that depending on how you work that the whiteboard could tangle you up. Still, I’d argue that if your workflow gets thrown off by the whiteboard then there are most certainly things there in your GMAT processes to get cleaned up and organized. If you have a decent GMAT problem solving process the whiteboard is neutral.

How did I score on the GMAT Online?

Unfortunately we'll have to wait on the specifics but here are my impressions. It wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t a disaster either. I didn’t feel very challenged on the quant side but at the same time I didn’t feel 100% in the zone. I also felt that many of the questions were on the easy side of things. I know that doesn't quite square with not being in the zone but that’s just how I felt.

I didn’t get any combinatorics. No probability. No functions. No overlapping sets. No standard deviation. The lack of those things felt strange but is probably totally normal in that the content balance can be different from GMAT to GMAT while the concept balance remains the same. 

My quant timing was middle of the road. I dumped too much time into one question early on that caused me to rush just a little but I made up some time on a few quick ones down the stretch and skipped a few so I did get to see every question and had enough time so that I’m pretty certain I got the last two correct. 

On verbal things felt standard. For whatever reason I also had this rattled feeling. Maybe I’m a little overworked or overtired or a little stressed for obvious reasons. Dunno. Still, I felt that I got the great majority of questions correct. I can’t really place any that I felt I got wrong. But there were a couple sentence correction questions on which I picked confidently but still felt a tiny bit wobbly on. I felt that the four I eliminated were almost definitely out but didn’t feel amazing about the correct answer.

I’d estimate Quant from 46-49 and Verbal from 44-48 with a total range from 730 to 770. For reference my last 5 official GMATs: 780, 770, 760, 760, 740.

UPDATE: I got my online GMAT score. 750. q48 v46. So somewhat in the middle of the pack in terms of scoring. Maybe a little bit below average but again pretty close to the middle. Keep in mind that for the rest of my GMATs I was doing way more GMAT studying and was in MUCH better test taking shape.

Should I take the GMAT Online? I really don't want to. That whiteboard stinks.

I’d recommend taking the GMAT online:

  1. It doesn’t count towards your yearly 5 GMATs or lifetime 8.
  2. The score doesn’t get reported to schools unless you actively report (it’s not on your regular score report with your in person tests). 
  3. Learning how to succeed with the whiteboard could improve your performance once we get back to in person testing. 

Yes, you do have to splash out the $200, spend the time to take the test, and, if you want to get the most out of it, retool for a couple of weeks using the GMAT whiteboard. 

If the goal is: best GMAT score possible then GMAT online is a no brainer even if the score isn’t your peak. In pursuing massive GMAT scores most people end up taking multiple GMATs anyways. Online GMAT is a nice freebie not monetarily but in terms of your total GMATs allowed.

How should I prepare for the GMAT Whiteboard?

I'd take about two weeks to immerse yourself in GMAT whiteboard quant work. I'd do about 6x10 question quant quizzes and two official GMAT practice tests (at least quant sections but best to just go for the whole enchilada if you can.) I'd use the first 2 or so 10 question sets to get a sense for a general workflow. Do those untimed. Then I'd do a timed set. Then I'd do an Official Practice test. Then 2-3 more 10 question sets timed and then another practice test. I'd spread this work out over 10-14 days depending on your schedule.

Here are some resources for the GMAT Whiteboard:

GMAT Whiteboard Best Practices

6 things you need for GMAT Online

Working through a 62 minute quant section with the online GMAT whiteboard

It's a new tool. It's possible that you'll start off feeling very frustrated: that's OK. That doesn't mean that you won't succeed in the end.

Online GMAT Conclusion

Regardless of whether you’re just starting the competition mode of your prep and the GMAT online is your first test or you’re trying to put the icing on the cake with some final attempts. It's worth it. Even if you have access to in person testing. The GMAT online is a great option to squeeze in an extra GMAT ahead of admissions season and potentially improve your process for subsequent attempts. 

Still not convinced? That's OK. Taking the GMAT online isn't necessary for a great GMAT score. I would argue though that the flexibility to adapt to new conditions is not only a helpful GMAT skill but life skill as well.

Follow up with any questions - good luck!

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